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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, June 29

Baseball Records & Jazz

A little more on baseball. The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of several surprise teams in MLB this year. Last night they won their fiftieth game against only twenty-eight losses. That’s their best start ever and makes them third best in both leagues, trailing only the Houston Astros and the hated LA Dodgers. They’re such a fun bunch to watch. They’ve pulled off twenty-eight come-from-behind wins. Now, that’s exciting baseball. In baseball, almost all records can and will be broken, but there are two records from the past that will probably stand forever: Ted Williams’ season average of .407 in 1953 and Joe DiMaggio’s fifty-six games in a row with one or more hits in 1941. One would think the Williams .407 would be reachable, but in all of baseball, he’s the only one to maintain an average that high for a whole season. He also did it in 1941 - .406 and 1952 - .400. With today’s pitchers—bigger, stronger, faster, with far more pitching tools than in the past—batters can’t hit them at a 4 for 10 pace for an entire season. Then there’s Joltin’ Joe’s 56 in a row. No one since then has come within shouting distance of his record. No one in the future will either.

In most sports involving a ball, the eyes have it. Players who see the ball more clearly and for a longer duration will be more successful than those who don’t. Ted Williams swore he could see the stitches on the ball when his bat made contact. Golfers with amazing hand-eye coordination will tell you they see the ball as they hit it. In all sports involving catching, kicking, or striking a ball or puck, it’s all-important to see the ball until after the ball or puck has been caught or struck. The eyes have it, and it’s the single most important factor in sports success.

I’m a longtime jazz fan. I was going to say “old time” but I’d rather not think of myself as old. But not just any kind of jazz. There are all sorts of music that fall under the jazz label—big band or swing and small groups like trios of bass, percussion and piano; Dixieland, male and female vocalists, fast, slow, loud, soft. From my youth in the 40’s and 50’s, I loved the big bands—Glenn Miller, the Dorseys, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Les Brown, and Benny Goodman, to name only the best-known. But my all-time favorite was Stan Kenton. His jazz was louder than most, more innovative than most. I listened to all of his “Artistries” over and over and even today I can hear note for note in my inner ear his most famous “Artistry in Rhythm.” Louis Armstrong’s Dixieland turns me off; jazz that’s too loud or too fast turns me off. I guess I’m saying that quiet jazz piano and a quiet female jazz singer like Diana Krall or Carmen McRae turns me on. I’ll always regret never going to a club to listen to either of these women. It was always something I’d do sometime, just not today. And now it’s too late.
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