Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The ‘Stros Win!! | Lefsetz Letter

And I’m not happy about it.

Took forty years, but I’m finally a Dodgers fan. Because it’s not the Dodgers of old, holier-than-thou, all pitching and little hitting, self-satisfied even when they lost. Today’s team, and it is certainly a team, is a ragtag bunch of scrappers, a group of individuals who don’t look like they could win independently, but collectively? They continue to pull it out.

It’s all about the ninth inning comeback.

Are you a believer? I can’t say that I am. When the chips are down, I don’t think it’s gonna work out. I’m not sure whether it’s my personality, being Jewish or the attrition of time. Yup, Jews have been persecuted for 5,000 years, we’re privileged just to exist, we’re the glass half-empty tribe. As for my personality, something switched off about thirty years ago, before that I believed if I just put my nose to the grindstone, tried hard enough, things would work out. I don’t believe that anymore. I’m kinda like that guy in the Paul Simon song, when something goes wrong, I’m the first to admit it, the last one to know, but when something goes right, it’s apt to confuse me, it’s such an unusual sight, can’t get used to something so right.

Truly. I work on this with the shrink. Something great happens and I expect the sky to fall. Best to be on high alert. The world is gunning for me. And the good feeling never lasts. Maybe it’s easier to believe you’re not a winner, then you’re not disappointed.

Looked like it was gonna be a lame game. We scored three immediate runs and we had our ace on the mound. But just when we were settling in, the gods went crazy, the Astros came back. And that’s how it ensued for the rest of the game, topsy-turvy, just when you started to relax, the other team rallied.

But there were a lot of human errors, most off the field as opposed to on.

You see the managers have too much data. They no longer run on instinct. This is the scourge of moneyball. But they’re ultimately human, not computers, and they screw up. I could have managed the Dodgers’ bullpen better than Dave Roberts. As for the coach who held the runner on third, anybody who golfs knows you play to win, otherwise you lose. Take your chance, don’t expect the universe to align and come through for you later, in this case it didn’t. Never seems to.

So what we have here is probably the best World Series game of the modern era, since the sixties, when I started paying attention, and half the country didn’t see it.

The competition?

That Red Sox/Reds contest back in ’75. It’s remembered for Carlton Fisk’s home run, but really the high point was Bernie Carbo’s grand slam, to tie it up, but history is rewritten and it’s easier to give credit to the lovable Pudge.

But the game sticks out. Even more than the seventh where the Pirates beat the Yankees back in 1960.

But this was different. Because most people don’t care. The game is for oldsters and acolytes, the word is it’s too slow, and it used to be the players were denigrated for being overpaid, but now everybody focuses on the NBA, which is a much more fluid game where the stars make bank for playing but that’s oftentimes half of their overall compensation, you can end up making enough to own a team.

But I don’t want to complain about basketball. You see basketball is on the upswing. Sure, we marveled over Jordan, before that Bird and Magic, but no one thought it was the national pastime. Basketball rules today because it’s the same game all over the world and everybody plays it.

And the players are in control.

I won’t say the same thing about baseball, but you cannot help cracking up when you see the players with their funky beards. Amazing Trump hasn’t come down on them. Once upon a time baseball players were straight, now they’re outlaws, kinda like that T-Bone Burnett song “The Sixties” (from 1983):

Baseball players aren’t so square
They’ve got beards and stringy hair

I think of that every time I see Justin Turner. These Dodgers are not the jocks of other sports, oh, of course they work out, unlike the sixties players, but you feel you could really have a drink and connect, whereas you’d be dwarfed by the tall and big of the NBA and NFL.

And once upon a time, music was like baseball. Actually, it was the NEW baseball. That’s right, you put the transistor under your pillow to listen to the game and then in 1964 you started listening to music.

But then both music and baseball put money first and it decimated both.

How do you expect to grow the sport, gain new fans, when your loyalty is to advertisers as opposed to fans? It’s not illegal to start the games earlier, especially on the weekend. You had to sit through this game tonight, it was better than any roller coaster.

Yes, it’s slow. But you’ve got to sit through the contest to get the vibe, you’ve got to pay attention, sans desert, you’re not shocked by the oasis. When the hits come out of the blue, you’re elated.

And once again, in this digitized world, it comes down to humanity. You can’t even figure out what’s going on in football, it’s too sophisticated, ask any pro, you sit at home and think you know, but you don’t. As for basketball, you failed the genetic test. But baseball??

You could do it.

And at the risk of copping George Carlin baseball is not defined, you never know when it’s gonna end, kinda like the jamming of yore, “Super Session” and then “Grape Jam” and the third disc of “All Things Must Pass.” You went to the Fillmore to hear what you didn’t know more than what you did. Hell, the Allman Brothers perfected this paradigm and became the biggest band in the land and the Dead survived on it.

But lessons go unheeded.

So it’s the top of the ninth and the Dodgers are behind by three. All they’ve got is three outs. Do you believe?

It doesn’t matter who you know, what your bank account is, you cannot fix the outcome. All you can do is sit and watch, on pins and needles.

And you’re aware of the stress. You know you’d crack under the pressure. You wonder what’s going through the minds of the players. And the ‘Stros’ pitchers have been better than the Dodgers’. And the game has been going on for five hours. Are there really gonna be extra innings?

You either watched or you didn’t, you either were there or you weren’t.

Sure, you can read about it, get the results, see a replay, but it’s nothing like waiting, eyes glued to the set, wondering what is gonna happen.

Kinda like real life.

Baseball is an antiquated sport. It’s had a good run, but really soccer and basketball, maybe even e-sports, are better for the modern era. Used to be we’d be bored, we looked for diversion, we were willing to hang in there. Now you keep searching for something better, John Mayer was excoriated for his “Playboy” interview but he had it right, he couldn’t orgasm to the porn he was watching because his mind kept telling him there was better porn just a click away.

That’s how we live our lives. Inundated with FOMO. Always believing we’re in the wrong place.

But then we slow down and endure the baseball game and are reminded this is what real life looks like. The ups and downs. The dreams and the stamina.

It’s not about blind belief. You or me couldn’t stand in the box and get a hit, we’d be too frightened to even swing. But these are trained professionals, who’ve paid their dues over decades.

Paying your dues is out of style. Everybody’s got a megaphone and is asking for attention. Used to be you had to do the work first.

But it’s always about the work. That’s what’s screwed up music and baseball, they put the work last, and the money first. A great song will triumph. Sure, it might need a push, but once you hear it it doesn’t matter who did it, what genre it’s in, you can’t get enough of it, it makes you feel good. And the same thing with a great baseball game…you tolerate the commercials for the nougat, the essence of life.

It was all on display tonight. Didn’t matter what the commentators said, it was all there on the field. After 162 games and multiple playoffs this was it, a contest between the best, so well-matched that you never thought you had it in the bag, could never become complacent.

Memories are made of this.

That’s right, all this emphasis on new and different is overdone. And it didn’t matter whether you were rich or poor you saw the same game. It’s all about experiences.

And tonight’s was life-affirming and unforgettable.

But you probably missed it.

“The Sixties”:




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