There are those who walk among us in their twilight and inspire us to think that, warts and all, our world still remains a lovely place to be simply because such people still walk among us. In a time when sports seems to yield up more dubious and disreputable characters among its active players, we are comforted to know that some of our past athletic subjects prove better people than they did players, however great they were as the latter.
At least the Texas Rangers, so far, haven’t seemed to go out of their way to turn Josh Hamilton into public enemy number one. The New York Mets, conversely, seemed unwilling to counter when a New York sports columnist decided to trash R.A. Dickey during a weekend on which the club was working details to trade the Cy Young Award incumbent to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Allen Barra has dared to say what others, seemingly, can’t bring themselves even to think. The New York Yankees, who may or may not survive the postponed American League Championship Series Game Four, will be a rebuilding team once this postseason ends, perhaps one way or another, though no one now expects the Yankees to survive the current round. Possibly including the Yankees themselves.
Of the current aggregation, and not even thinking about the fallen Derek Jeter, who was performing well enough before he stumbled uncharacteristically into an ankle fracture, Barra thinks the Yankees are bound to retain first baseman Mark Teixiera, despite a second consecutive season of falling performances that are tied, perhaps, to increasing injury proneness, though he, Barra, would still try to unload him.
There are times—in cyberspace or otherwise—when stumbling upon something you missed when it first arrived can sting rather than charm. Especially if it’s a fine essay on baseball jargon, and you discover you’re just as guilty as everyone else of making mincemeat out of it.
The essay in question is Allen Barra’s, from The Atlantic, in June. He took a good, long look at what’s become of baseball’s language and was not amused. More saddened than infuriated, Barra decided, with apologies to Yogi Berra (whom Barra admires for his syntax as much as his baseball virtuosity), that he wished baseball people really hadn’t said half the things they’ve said since, oh, around 1980.
* Bernie Miklasz (St. Louis Post Dispatch) remembers Bob Forsch—who died at 61, a week after he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game Seven of the World Series—as a straight shooter who was an underrated pitcher . . . and maybe one of the few Cardinals who went out like a professional when the rest of the team was too busy imploding in Game Seven of the 1985 Series . . .