Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Yogi, Peggy, Hillary and the Whole Damn Thing

Since Trump has embraced football, at least the anthem and concussion-causing tackles, Clinton would do well to ponder the wisdom which baseball has to offer.

If Hillary had listened to Casey we wouldn’t be living in Trumpastan today. No, not Casey at the bat but Casey Stengel, the sage and mentor of the great philosopher of the 20th century, Yogi Berra. Stengel said that the art of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who haven’t made up their minds yet. Hillary failed to keep the nasty nincompoops away from the mindless morons.  

Casey also warned that games are not won, they are lost. It was Hillary’s to win but she fumbled the ball on the one-yard line. Ooops, wrong sport.

Everything we need to know about life is in baseball; coherence and chaos, precision and randomness, certainty and mystery all in an eternal rundown between 1st and 2nd base. It is a board game played on grass, seemingly linear with one pitch, one batter, one inning at a time. But in fact it is simultaneous with nine players shifting an enormous step or two anticipating the strategies dictated by stats compiled by nerds. Yet when all is said and done none of it matters because each situation is its own unquantifiable puzzlement. It remains for us, like Talmudic scholars, to ponder the metaphors.

Baseball came out of the primordial ooze when some Neanderthal broke off a tree limb to propel an on-coming rock. Oh, what fun said he and the next thing we know grown men in some sort of matching pajamas are getting paid millions of bucks. Overpowering brawn is cheered but so, as in life, is a crafty klutz.

It’s been said that much of what Yogi is said to have said he never said. However his most profound statement was when he advised a slumping teammate to try swinging at strikes. Pause and consider these words to live by. First it means recognizing when a strike is right in front of you. Then it means not swinging when a pitch is out of your zone but going for it when it is.

Take it out of the ballpark. We are all standing at the plate with a bat in our hands; we’re all seekers. Few of us are finders because we are not seeing what’s right there. Poets see. They pick up what others let go by. Nobody I know swings at strikes more often than Peggy. Her bat is an antennae. She welcomes the world and makes something out of it the same way William Carlos Williams wrote how so much depends upon the red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater beside the white chickens. Peggy will write about the still life of bowls and cereal boxes at our breakfast table…even motes. As the poet Eleanor Graham put it, Life gives us moments and for these moments we give our lives.

I call these strikes. It’s alright to swing and miss. It’s even OK to swing occasionally at balls high and wide. Yogi Berra was one of the greatest bad-ball hitters and yet he rarely struck out. He almost always put wood on the ball.

Trump was on his own portable mound he takes everywhere, throwing wild pitches which his throng bought hook, line and sinker. Hillary didn’t see the fat fast ball down the middle.


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