While cleaning out the garage, I found some Major League Baseball trivia books from which I adapt the following quiz. Google not and see how many of these you can get right:
1. No player has hit .400 since major league baseball extended the length of the season from 154 to 162 games. Who was the last player to hit .400 over 154 games?
2. On the final day of the 1910 season, Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie was in second place in the American League batting race. The St. Louis Browns gave him some help by placing their fielders in the wrong positions and “losing fly balls in the sun”. LaJoie benefited with 8 “hits” in the doubleheader. The Browns assisted Lajoie because everybody hated the guy who was leading the batting race. Who was he?
3. Lajoie had the highest batting average in the league that year, but did not win the batting title. Why not?
4. The legendary Bob Feller pitched his first no hitter in 1940. What was his ERA at the end of the game?
5. Hitting for the cycle is an extremely rare feat and only one player in history accomplished it three times across two leagues. Who was he? Hint: Think of a word people might use for an infant, and, the father of the Munster family.
6. In 1973, Yankee Ron Blomberg drew a bases-loaded walk off of Luis Tiant and thereby made baseball history. How?
7. In 1979, Atlanta Braves pitcher Phil Niekro led the league in wins with 21. Who led the league in losses?
8. Los Angeles was a hitter’s nightmare in the early 1960s. Don Drysdale won the Cy Young Award in 1962 and his teammate Sandy Koufax won in 1963 and again in 1965 and 1966. What L.A. pitcher won in 1964?
9. Bob Gibson had perhaps the most dominant performance by a pitcher in world series history in 1967, when he pitched three complete game victories, giving up only 3 runs in total and netting 26 strikeouts. Yet he only won 13 games during the 1967 season. Why?
10. Knuckleballer Ed Rommel once gave up 29 hits in a game but won anyway, but if he is remembered at all it is because of something he introduced to baseball after his playing days ended. What was it?
A question sparked by Victor Hugo’s eccentric exile house in Guernsey.
The oddest tourist attraction in Guernsey must be the town house on a hill above St. Peter Port in which Victor Hugo lived from 1856 to 1870, as an exile from Napoleon III’s autocracy, at first forced, and later self-imposed. The exterior is conventional. The interior was remodelled by Hugo to his own designs, with the help of Guernsey craftsmen but no professional interior designer or architect.
Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental guardian and legislator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
–Edmund Burke, “Reflections on the Revolution in France”
It’s nowhere near the most important thing I have ever learned from Mark Kleiman, but his blog post on filbuster reform contained a title phrase I didn’t know: “Go the whole hog”. This was not the usage in the West Virginia of my childhood (where no small number of people raised hogs). Rather, we omitted the “the” and just said “Go whole hog”. But I checked on Google and Mark’s phrasing is a common usage, with which many people have been going hog wild for some time.
As words will sometimes do, “hog” triggered a happy memory. My Babe Ruth league baseball team won our county level competition and travelled to compete against the champs of McDowell County, whom we played at their county fair. I was not a consistent enough hitter to bat third in my team’s lineup, nor powerful enough to hit cleanup, but I was perfect for the number 5 slot in the order because I had a knack for hitting hard line drives where the other team’s players weren’t, allowing me to drive in some runs if and when the true sluggers ahead of me in the lineup left anyone on base.
As in a storybook, I was up to bat in a crucial ninth inning situation. We were losing 6-4, but had “runners on the corners” (first and third base). The crowd, most of whom were probably at the fair primarily to participate in pie baking contests, ring toss booths and the like, nonetheless became engaged in our game, which heightened the excitement.
I started badly, fouling off the first pitch and completely whiffing the second. The hometown crowd was cheering the pitcher on to throw the third strike that would end the game. But somehow I kept my composure and hit his next pitch right on the button into the left centerfield power alley.
The field we were playing on was part of the county fairgrounds and wasn’t really intended for baseball. As a result, there was no outfield fence. With nothing to stop it, my line drive bounced a few times in the outfield out of reach of the racing defenders, caromed off a drain pipe and rolled down into the tents where the livestock competitions were being held. There the ball came to rest in the pen of a champion hog, who immediately ate it.
I was rounding second base as this happened. The outfielders started to yell that it wasn’t fair because they could not get the baseball. The opposing manager charged out onto the field screaming that I had hit the equivalent of a ground rule double and should have to stop on second base with the player on first base only advancing to third, thus maintaining a 6-5 McDowell County lead.
The umpire look flustered for a minute but then made the call that turned me into a hero who had carried his team to a dramatic victory: Continue reading “In a Pig’s Eye”
Why are young scholars afraid to write understandable prose?
Post-doc writes in draft paper: “Conceptually, it seems reasonable to argue that bi-interactional similarity facilitates cohesion in incipient affiliates of Alcoholics Anonymous by triggering likeability and cohesion in self and observer, thereby infusing social and individual identity with a subjective sense of connection”.
Me, scribbling note to post-doc in margin: “Does this mean that people like AA more if the people at the meeting are like them? If so, why not just say that?”.
I have had these exchanges with young scholars more times than I can count. I understand fully why they don’t “just say that”. They have been trained to believe that the fewer the people who comprehend you, the more scholarly you are. They have been taught to value lingo over clarity. And they believe — accurately — that their career success depends in no small measure on impressing other people who write in the same impenetrable style which they are trying to emulate.
But I go on writing my “Why not just say that?” comment year after year. I don’t do it because I expect to be listened to right away, but because I hope that when these brilliant young people are on the other side of career security, they will remember dimly that someone, somewhere told them it really is okay to let other people understand what you think.
The second picture that caught my eye in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid recently (I discussed the first here) was this small grisaille diptych by Jan Van Eyck, a portable desktop prop for a rich man’s or woman’s devotions.
What is going on here? This is a real bleg not a rhetorical question. It’s not an image of the Annunciation, but an image of statues of the Annunciation. At the time, SFIK real devotional statues were polychrome; so the statues are not only imaginary but deliberately unrealistic. At the same time, they are gem-quality perfect simulacra. Why the layered distancing, almost as complex as the White Knight’s? Continue reading “The name of the saint is called “Haddocks’ Eyes””
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