Send in the scholars

A lot of folks linked to John Updike’s “Hub Fan Bids Kid Adieu” essay this week, myself included. Today HuffPo’s David Margolick analyzes it. That’s interesting enough and worth your click, but this passage is the best:

Nowadays, when nostalgia is big business and every sports milestone is hyped, such an event would be covered exhaustively and bathetically. And if that milestone concerned baseball, the game of choice for intellectuals slumming as regular Joes, the press box would be filled with PhDs on day passes, producing an orgy of grandiloquence.

Ain’t that the truth. The Neyers, Laws, Pintos, Dierkeses, and Marchmans of the world are always good enough for the day-in-day out, but it always seems like big media feels it necessary to call in some non-baseball scholar or intellectual to wax pretentious whenever something really big happens.

I guess that’s harmless enough, but I can’t help but wonder how much the world of science, arts, and letters would appreciate it if all of the baseball writers got together and published a book on Shakespeare or Keynesian economics or something.

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  1. christopher said...

    Isn’t that a somewhat hypocritical stance for a blogger to take?  If baseball writers had interesting insights into Shakespeare, I would hope they would publish them.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Moderately hypocritical, I’ll admit. Like I said, harmless enough, and I’m certainly not going to say who should or should not write about baseball if they feel like it.  I just think that, you know, some decent baseball knowledge (as opposed to a credential) helps such pieces.  George Will, for example, has a ton of it.  Some others, not as much.

  3. kendynamo said...

    speaking of great works of literature, craig, how goes your reading of the fantastic adventures of yorrick and ampersand?

  4. Ben said...

    I’m a classic egghead PhD baseball fan: my favorite thing about the art museum I work at is that our collection boasts the earliest depiction of a guy hitting a ball with a bat (from about 1300). But look: after Updike’s essay, my favorite piece of baseball writing is Bart Giamatti’s “Green Fields of the Mind.” Giamatti was about as ivory-tower as they come. Eggheads can do justice to the game, even serve it honorably. And is there any more vivid proof of the beautiful marriage between arcane intellectualism and an irrational love of baseball than this site?

  5. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Ken—just finished it last night.  Though I can’t say it was life altering in the way Watchman was when I first read it—I’m older now, so nothing will be—I really, really enjoyed it.

  6. kendynamo said...

    cool dude, glad you liked it.  definitely thought it was a fun read.  it’s nice to know that despite being able to land more glamorous credits like writer/producer for Lost, BKV still enjoys the medium enough to continue making quality funny books.  now we’ll just have to see if 9 fingered shia lebouf can pull off a credible yorick brown on the big screen.

  7. Preston said...

    It’s not surprising to me that this happens – eggheads can be fans too, and what better way to get into a meaningful game than to write about it?  I agree that it’s far better when the writer understands the game, of course.

    I will say, in addition, that I’m glad we get these pieces every once in awhile.  I enjoy Neyer, Law, etc., and I think they do a very good job of presenting interesting analysis of the game and players – which is what I want 95% of the time.  But I can’t recall ever feeling touched by their words, wanting to go play ball after reading one of their articles.  Baseball is a wonderfully intricate game that greatly benefits from statistics and detailed analysis, and I’m fascinated by that side of it, but it is also a game of poetry (see Joe Posnanski’s latest post), and for that, I’m happy to turn to those who’ve made a living with their prose.

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