That hole you felt in your life last week?
A hole so vast that you might even describe it as a black hole?
Yeah, that was me. Better put, that was not me. That was my absence.
Let me explain: Once in a blue moon, the higher-ups here at FanGraphs allow the lower-downs here at FanGraphs to sweep the change from beneath the vending machine – it vends pithy quotations from Master Cistulli, if you’re curious – and put it toward a brief vacation from these the salt mines of jocular prose. Having collected a fair amount of the aforementioned coinage, I filled my tank and headed to the mountains of West Texas, careful to leave behind a pair of Paschalian NotGraphs posts in efforts to thwart any War of the Worlds-style panic that might result from my leave-taking.
Still, the emptiness you experienced – a vacancy, like dark energy, that you couldn’t quite explain – must have been terrible, and for that I apologize.
To the point: Upon one high mountain I visited the McDonald Observatory, whose various telescopes are directed at the celestial sphere that enfolds us, embraces us, connects us to its luminaries in ways that remind us that we too are stardust; we too are golden; we too are Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Who we are not, however, are Cabrera, Sale, Neshek & Yoenis.
Indeed, they are stars of a different magnitude, powered by the five-tool fusion that mocks our earthly restraints, and now during All-Star week I honor their glory by presenting a catalogue of eponymous constellations that the telescopes somehow missed.
Editor’s note: It’s best that you do this at night.
Editor’s additional note: It’s also best that you do it outside.
Editor’s other additional note: You might as well grab some beers.
1) Gaze to the north. Now, focus on the star cluster that resembles a right-handed pitcher delivering a third-strike fastball on the outer third. (It’s uncanny, isn’t it? And the Greeks thought they had mastered figure-ground perception.) Now, look above the neck, to what constitutes the face. See the blue star on the left? Like Rigel in the constellation Orion, it owes its color to the extreme temperature of 11,000 Kelvin, or just slightly hotter than Laredo in mid-July. Now, find the object just to the right of the blue star. See it? It’s a brown dwarf, which owes its color to a mass too low to sustain hydrogen-1 fusion. But you knew that. What’s important is what you’re seeing, and what you’re seeing is the constellation Scherzerus Borealis.
2) Gaze to the northeast. There you’ll see a brown dwarf crammed against a crescent-shaped contour of very bright stars. On the opposite side of this pert yet elegant contour is a phallic cluster beneath whose gaudy tumescence a colorful nebula appears to be gazing upward, mouth agape. Recently, the International Astronomical Union deemed the brown dwarf “ESPN” and the colorful nebula “The MLB Network.” The constellation is Jeter Major.
3) Gaze again to the northeast, turning slightly to the left. Do you see the shoulders upon which an American city is hoisted? Look upward now, to the star-making smile, and upward again, to the cascade of stellar threads. What you’re seeing, on the whole, is the constellation Andrewmeda.
4) Now look to the west. Do you see a constellation that should barely qualify as such? Its limbs, shall we say, point hither and yon, so much so that the constellation seems at cross-purposes with itself, one part moving this way and the others that. What you see, as ungainly it might seem, is the constellation Penceus. (Astronomy note: Many of the wittier astronomers have begun calling it Orion Minor.)
5) From Penceus, shift your focus slightly eastward. There, just above the apparent horizon, you’ll see a cluster of stars that no one – not even experts – had identified until last year. The stars are tightly packed, stout in configuration, and marked by a heavy astral mane. It’s Ursa Norris.
6) Now, with your eyes still in the western sky, look farther south. Find the thoroughbred’s haunches, its muscles defined by twinkling stars. Now look higher, along the croup and the back, until you reach what seems a set of wings. Congratulations, amateur stargazer! You have just found Puigasus.
Next week’s subjects: the Kuiper Beltre and Pedroia the White Dwarf.
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.