/ Games / But also / Social Epistemology /
World Series gets must-see moment
I didn’t see it. I unplugged my TV when things went digital a decade or so ago, declined to buy some translator box: infinite stagger of upgrades. If I’d been allowed to have a career or make a living, if I hadn’t both integrity and intelligence, then who knows? As is though I read about it, just now.
I didn’t play much baseball myself. There have been great series, all my life, that I got swept up in whether I was a normal fan or not. Ordinarily at a baseball game, unless you’re the sort of fan who spends every moment calculating what the pitcher should throw, how likely the pitcher is to be able to throw it, what the better should be looking for, what the batter’s chances of connecting well no matter what he’s looking for, everybody is just standing around. At home, they stand around, then there’s a commercial: and they stand around and there’s another commercial. At the park even the half-assed fan knows: we’re waiting for the pitcher. Or, we’re watching the fielder with the big can tug at his jock … because there’s nothing else happening to look at. But: now and then, there will be runners on base, some kind of a shift is on, the batter loops one to shallow center … and suddenly you could work at a three-ring circus and still not be able to follow what happens next: you may be asleep, but that right fielder knew to get behind the center fielder, this runner knew to go there, that player’s throw was expected by the catcher at home … everything happens, in an instant. I’m an ordinary fan, I’m a less-than-ordinary fan: at home, even after they’ve replayed it a half-dozen times, I still don’t know what happened: and have no idea how the players and coaches and commentators seemed to know.
Once upon a time you were a peasant, and didn’t know shit. The knight said, The Vikings are coming: give me your crops, Here, hold my horse, Give me your daughter … The priest said, God wants you to this and this, give me your money, give me your son, give me your wife … You didn’t see the Vikings, you didn’t see the God … The priest says something in a strange language: and you didn’t know shit.
But if you went to a game, played on a diamond, with grass, and pennants, you expected to be able to see whether the ball was hit over the fence or not over the fence.
In the park the fans scream He was safe; the umpire signals He was out! Tear the place down! What does the priest say? What does the knight say?
Once upon a time, you didn’t know shit, but you knew when the priest took your son away, you knew when the knight took your son away … But then Priestley says, “There’s something you can’t see, called oxygen!” And Reed says, “There are things you can’t see! The doctor must wash!” And Mme Curie says, “There are things you can’t see!” turns black and purple, and falls over dead.
And now millions of people are watching people run around the diamond in St. Louis, and somebody is called safe after he’s been tagged out, and Cards are cheering, they don’t know why, and Boston is saying “Huh?” they don’t know what.
But then again, when you were the boy taken by the knight, and these knights rode at those knights, and artillery skittled rock shards from the stone wall into your eyes, and if you wen’t blind from that you’d be blind from the smoke … no one dreamed they could know what was going on. That’s what you needed the priest for. And the knight too.
There are of course things I do follow, do see, that others don’t see, or see poorly, or see slowly.
I see why that guy is about to turn awkwardly on the mountain and then fall, butt over head. I see why Fischer played the bishop and left his queen exposed. I see why the camera lingered an extra moment on that minor character in the Perry Mason courtroom.
And I see why the priest, and the knight, want you to feed them.
And I see why you do feed them.
PS I was glad to grab the image of Bobby playing a Byrne. The game I recall above was against one of the Byrnes. Bobby was I think eleven. A minute later I recall further: that game was thence called the Game of the Century!
Butt Over Head
How could I tell the guy was about to tumble? Other than that he was on skis? on a somewhat challenging intermediate slope? and that anyone could see as well as guess that he was inexperienced? terrified? No: I knew specifically what was about to happen, and specifically why. I’d been skiing for myself half the morning and with the kids the other half. bk and his friend were eight or ten years old, and intermediate skiers at best. I was trying to get them over an intermediate hump: get them to gain control. All our time together I’d been telling them, Get your weight forward on your skis. The kids, like anyone would, were sticking their face what seemed to them forward, but only by sticking their can out rearward. The effect was the opposite of what I was recommended. Terrified of going forward, downhill, in command, they were cringing backwards, back up the hill, their ass over the tails of the skis, their shoulders behind their boots. I was telling them to get their shoulders and head and hips on top of their boots, slightly ahead of their boots, shoulders square to gravity. Now you can make your skis work for you: the edges biting the snow. True, but not natural. Controlled skiing is not natural. So I took the kids of the side of the slope. It was less steep there, there was more snow. We weren’t slipping anywhere, we actually sat: and looked at the slope, just by the crest. “Here comes a guy,” I said. “Watch him.” Guy comes over the crest, sees it steepen. He turns his skis sideways to slow himself. Uh oh, this is hairy. He turns across the gravity line. Fine, good. But he looks to the side of the slope, riveted on the direction he’s just faced. Wrong. His ass goes back, over his tails. He overturns, even turns back up the slope slightly. Gravity gets hold of his ass, he starts accelerating backwards, downhill. No, no, no. Poom. Into the snow. Wipeout.
“What did he do?” I ask bk and Chris. “Here comes another guy, watch him.” Same thing. Same exact thing. Now the kids are into it, laughing. We’re not laughing at the hapless intermediates. We’re laughing because the mechanics are so clear!
“Now, watch me,” I say: almost needlessly, because they already see it. I traverse the slope, I turn. My skis pass through the fall line, and immediately I force my shoulders back square down hill. My skis bite! My weight is right over the balls of my feet, and I’m swiveling, back and forth across the fall line: facing down where I don’t want to go: not out of control, dominating that stretch of danger.
The kids get up. They try it. And I never again saw them skiing like kamikazes, with their ass over their tails.
A minute later another father and son pair flash by, going fifty, maybe fifty-five, the son almost in the father’s shadow: in synch. Wow.