Author - Paul Schatzkin

It Breaks Your Heart

baseball

A few thoughts on the end of the 2022 Major League Baseball season, starting with some of the truest words ever written on the subject:

Baseball is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

A. Bartlett Giamatti – Commission of Baseball, 1986-1989

…and I’ll add a few thoughts now that the  2022 season is over, and since baseball played such a big part in my summer

One of the many summer nights I spent at the ballpark.

I watched a lot of the World Series, but it was really kinda boring.  Thankfully I had lots of other things to multitask with – photo editing for the book – because the games themselves were mostly… well, long periods of strike outs punctuated by occasional home runs.  I got a lot of work done.

But jeezus the games still go on forever and I must have lobotomized the part of my brain that saw the same commercials two (or was it three… or five…) hundred times.  Mercifully, I don’t remember any of them.

I don’t care much for the new playoff format.  I’ve never been a fan of the whole ‘wild card’ business that lets a team that hasn’t ‘won’ anything a chance to appear in ‘The Fall Classic.’  This year, the format allowed a team that had finished the regular season in third place in their division to reach what Bob Costas has more correctly labeled “the MLB finals.”

Fortunately, a team that won their division prevailed in the ‘finals.’  Unfortunately, that team was the Houston Astros.  But I’m happy for Dusty Baker, he finally won a World Series as a manager (only the second Black manager to do so).  I remember Dusty Baker playing for the Dodgers when I lived in Los Angeles – and that was a millennium ago.

Smiling because only winners get to the World Series, and when this was taken it as usually the Yankees.

When the first rounds of major league expansion in the 1960s dictated a playoff for the pennant, you still had meaningful divisions – east and west – and the winners played five (later seven) games before the Series and it was all  still over by the middle of October.

As Keith Olbermann has opined a few times on his podcast, if a third place team can make it to the World Series, then what is the ‘regular season’ even for??

In the good old days,  your team either won the pennant and went on to the World Series – which was played on sunny warm days in early October – or went home for the winter.  Now it’s frozen night games (or, worse – indoors!?!?) in November.

November?  You do. not. play. baseball. in. November.  That’s football season.

George Carlin put it best:

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything is dying.

George Carlin, “Football -v- Baseball”

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I’ve written elsewhere about my 4th-grade fascination with Roy Campanella.  When I was poking around to find an image to illustrate ‘It Breaks Your Heart’ I found this photo of Roy:

baseball, campanella, ebbets, giamatti, carlin

…at what was left of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn as it was being torn down after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

And, finally,

Inscribed on a wall at First Horizon Park, where I worked four days a week all summer.

*

Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on February 14.

Peak Pegram – Autumn, 2022

And here it is November.

I always liked the morning after Halloween when I was a kid, because that meant it was November– the month of my birthday.  Maybe I’ll say more about that when the time comes (Nov 15).

In the meantime, it has been a surprisingly colorful autumn here in Middle Tennessee.  I say surprising because it has also been very dry, and that usually means that the foliage turns brown before it has a chance to show the full range of color that comes with some seasons. This hear has been pretty spectacular, actually (Photoshop helps,  but ya gotta have something to start with) and I’ve been taking pictures during my daily jaunts around the neighborhood here in Sunny West Bumfuque.

 

Most years, I go on some kind of ‘Fall Tour’ to some colorful place.  Like last year I drove all the way to Quebec City – the most European city you can drive to from Tennessee (and with the top down most of the way).  That was during the first few months of my self-imposed exile from ‘the socials’, and I never did post any of those photos, like, anywhere. I’ve started doing that now. 

It’s all mostly gone now.  My yard is covered with dead leaves, and Winter is Coming.

Here’s some instrumental music to listen to while you’re sitting by the fire:

Fall Tour 2021
Retrospective #1: Gettysburg

I have always been interested in American history.  Even when I was failing every other subject during my junior year high school, I did well in an American history class.  I am an attentive student of the ‘Early National’ period, owing in large part to my devoted following of Clay Jenkinson’s ‘Thomas Jefferson Hour” podcast (and I’ve been to Monticello like four times – I should dredge up some of those photos, too).

In 2011, that general interest in the subject drew me into a partnership with songwriter/producer/guitarist Thomm Jutz, songwriter Peter Cronin and a host of Nashville’s finest as Executive Producer for ‘The 1861 Project’ – a series of three CDs released to coincide with the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.  In the course of that project, learned a great deal about the ‘War Between The States’ (aka ‘The War of Northern Aggression if you’re from the South) and in particular the gory details of the Battle of Gettysburg.

When I started thinking about a destination for my annual ‘Fall Tour’ last year, I decided it was finally time to see Gettysburg for myself.  I spent the better part of three days there, finally seeing for myself all the spots I’d read about: The Angle, Seminary Ridge, The Seminary Cupola, Little Round Top, the Highwater Mark of The Confederacy.

I’ve never done anything with all the photos I took during that trip, which also took me to Cooperstown NY (Baseball Hall of Fame), Quebec, Canada (the most European city you can drive to), New England (Alice’s Restaurant), my old stomping ground in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Here’s some photos I shot during the first leg of the trip. Over the next coupla/few weeks I’ll post some from the other stops. I’d gotten off the socials a few months before that trip, and hadn’t fired up this site and My Dunbar Project until a few months after – so this is the first time I’ve shown this stuff anywhere.

  • Top down and ready to roll...

While I’m at it, here’s some of the best stuff from The 1861 Project:

Greetings from Autumn, 2022

Or, What I Did With My Summer Vacation (and the rest of my summer).

Hi there, remember me? 

When I started my ‘Dunbar Project‘ about six months ago, I had expected to post things to my personal website and send out an email with some links every couple of weeks or three.  

The last post was about three months ago. 

Where’d the summer go? 

squirrel!

I was thinking this morning about how many times in my life I’ve dedicated myself to some initiative and quickly moved on to something else.  Is it just me or you too?  Sure, there have been times when I’ve gotten going on something and stayed with it.  But there are also lots of times when the best intentions  get derailed by the next distraction.  You know… #squirrel! 

So, let’s see… where were we?  Read More

What Does YOUR T-Shirt Say?

While I”m at it…

Here are a few of the more… ummm… interesting… T-shirts I saw at the ball park this summer. There were lots more, but these are the only ones I managed to get a photo of:

Actually, my favorite T-shirt I saw all summer is one I didn’t think to get a photo of.  It was blue, with a Chicago Cubs logo and white lettering that read,

The greatest baseball game in history
Was a Wednesday night in Cleveland

I didn’t quite get the reference, so asked the gentleman wearing the T-shirt to fill me in.

“Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.”

For the uninitiated, that was the year the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time sine 1908:

America: It’s Still A Good Idea

This country is an idea, and one that’s lit the world for two centuries…

––Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn in The West Wing – S2 E16

I am writing this post mostly because it’s the ‘4th of July Weekend’ and I want to encourage anybody who is reading this to listen to this:

The Thomas Jefferson Hour
Episode 1501 – 4th of July 2022

Anybody who has known me very long knows I’m a huge fan of this podcast.  I have listened to almost every episode since I first learned of it more than 20 years ago.

In a typical episode, the creator of the show, Clay Jenkinson, is interviewed as Thomas Jefferson, speaking from a 21st century perspective on both historical and contemporary events and issues; at the end of each hour Clay returns as himself to speak about what he has just said as Jefferson.

This episode is a departure from that format. To discuss Independence Day, Clay speaks with three people.  The first is a listener, Brad Crisler – from Nashville, no less;  second is Lindsay Chervinsky, an accomplished young historian; third is the venerable Joseph Ellis, one of the country’s most renowned authorities on the Early National Period (side note: it was Ellis’s American Sphinx that sparked my interest in Jefferson to begin with).

With Clay and his ‘semi-permanent guest host’ David Swenson, these three individuals offer a useful perspective on why, despite the challenges of any given moment, we shouldn’t give up on the idea that took shape in Philadelphia  two-and-half-centuries ago: that all men (and women!) are created equal, are entitled to equal justice under the law, and can effectively govern themselves through compromise and majority rule.

Murica!  It really is the best idea anybody’s ever come up with for a country – even if its origins are steeped in contradictions, and even as the institutions that were formed to implement those ideas have outlived the compromises that were necessary accommodate those contradictions.

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What Is It About Baseballs?

I keep a baseball by my desk.  I’m not sure where it came from.  Beneath the Rawlings logo there’s a stamp that says it’s an “Official Ball” from the Pacific Coast league, so I must have picked up at one of the many Nashville Sounds games I go to.

I keep it by my desk and when I’m proofreading something I’ve written, I pick it up to give my fingers something to do when they’re not flapping away at the keys.

My ‘fidget spinner’

I like the way a baseball feels in my hand.  I like the smooth texture of the leather surface, the tight precision of the laces, the hardness of the thing.

Mind you, I could never do much with an actual baseball. I never could judge the flight of a fly ball off the bat; I’d set myself where I thought it was gonna come down and … it always went over my head.   And it scared the living daylights out of me when Donnie Cohn pitched hardball in summer camp.

They say the the hardest thing in all of sports is “swing the round bat at the round ball – and hit it squarely.”  The doesn’t even take into account that the ball is coming at your head at 90 miles an hour.  Before you can even think about swinging, the first thing you have to do is not duck.

Still, I just like the way a baseball feels in my hand. It’s much more organic than one of those ‘fidget spinner” gizmos.

*

Have I mentioned yet that I’ve got a ‘part time summer job’ at the ballpark?

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Epilogue: Termination / Vindication

I suppose by now most who read this know that I got fired from my job at the Apple store in Green Hills back in January.  Don’t cry for me, Argentina. If they hadn’t pushed me I never would have jumped, and it was well past time to fly.

That job got me through several life-changing years, starting with Ann’s decision to move to Oregon back in 2016.  I think I can safely say now I’ve survived that transition and everything that came with and after it.

Time to ‘face the front of the bus’ (as my friend Philo Farnsworth III liked to say).

I’m still sorting out exactly how I will sustain my new-found freedom.   I got that ‘part time summer job’ working at the ball park (more on that here).

And I figured, hell, let’s see if I can collect some unemployment insurance.

Well, umm…. no.  Not so fast.

Read More