This isn’t how I figured I’d go out.
Nope, I figured the crushing responsibilities of adult life would simply overcome me one day, and I’d perish while sitting in the front of the computer and suddenly remembering I’d forgotten to pay my estimated taxes, or I was three years overdue for a dental cleaning, or I’d never canceled that auto-billed subscription to the Anti-Depressant of the Month Club (October was chocolate-covered Paxil).
For me to have outlasted this website, well, it’s almost unbelievable. (And super-frustrating to the bank that sold me that variable life annuity a few years ago under the assumption that there’s no way I’d make it this long. Suck it, Farmer John’s Savings & Loan! Betting on my death is no way to run a lending institution!)
Baseball has been part of almost all of the highs and lows of my life. It was there when I proposed to my girlfriend up on the big scoreboard, and it was there when she shook her head and told me she preferred to be alone rather than spend our lives together. It was there when I caught that home run ball, and it was there when the force of catching that home run ball carried me over the railing and into the visitor’s bullpen. And it was there, on the hospital television set, when I tried to wake up from the emergency surgery but was frozen in my own body. And it was there, on the gravedigger’s radio, when I was buried alive. And it was there, under second base, when I finally dug my way out, clawing a tunnel from the cemetery over to downtown Boston and up into Fenway Park, before, as my head emerged from the dirt, I was spiked by Dustin Pedroia and ended up back in the hospital once more.
It was there for me this past August, when I renounced my years of Royals fandom, admitting to the world that I finally understood that they would never again make it to a World Series, at least not in my lifetime.
And it was there for me this past Yom Kippur, when I broke the fast with a Shake Shack hot dog at Citi Field, that I found in a dumpster, left over from the season’s last homestand. Okay, that was a mistake. I shouldn’t have eaten that.
Even without NotGraphs, baseball will continue. I assume. I mean, maybe it won’t. Maybe the powers that be will realize that the game can’t survive without folks like me writing about it. But probably not. And so, I’m sure, even without NotGraphs, baseball will continue to be there for the ups and downs of my life, like the up of when the elevator takes me to my meeting with Not Just a Bit Outside, and the down of when the elevator doesn’t come to retrieve me and I tumble down the shaft.
Indeed, together, we have tumbled down shafts, and flipped our bats every which way. We will continue to do so. And although we may or may not all succumb to Ebola, we will eventually succumb to something, and in that moment of succumbunce, we will look to baseball to help guide us home. I think that’s probably an appropriately Hopeless thought to end on, don’t you? Have a particularly hopeless end of the World Series, fine readers. A particularly hopeless end.
[This may also be Jeremy Blachman’s last NotGraphs post, depending on whether the Series extends past this weekend. If it does not, he’d like to say thanks to the readers and commenters for making this a fun place to write, and to Carson for giving him the chance. He will probably write again about baseball, somewhere, at some point, so follow him on Twitter @jeremyblachman for more about that. Or, if the series goes to 6, he’ll see you on Monday. And Tuesday. And maybe Wednesday. If anyone wants to send a final Ask NotGraphs question, now would probably be your chance!]
Hey there, Icers. By “Icers” I don’t mean cans of Icehouse brand brewski, though I still call those Icers, too. Icers is what ol’ Dale’s been calling his acolytes lately.
“Acolytes” is a big word, isn’t it? Meaning has to do with something religious, I think. I do not mean to claim that all you Icers come to worship in the Church of Dale or something. I just kinda mean that we’re all in this together, you know? It’s a term of friendship, the way I mean it. Hell, I’m an Icer, too. We’re all just human aluminum, chillin’ out in this big Coleman cooler we call “Earth.” Some of us are soon to be cracked open and chugged up, the rest of us’ll be left in here ’til the ice melts. Huh: I guess that’s a metaphor for global warming or something. Listen to me, gettin’ all metaphorical and whatnot. Seems like every time I talk to you Icers on the ol’ NotGraphs modem here I end up gettin’ wistful or woozy or nostalgic. I guess that’s just a part of me; I guess that’s just a part of NotGraphs.
So, y’all’ve probably heard by now that NotGraphs is goin’ outta business. Gettin’ foreclosed upon. Happened to my uncle back in the early aughts—his house got foreclosed upon, I mean, or he did, or the mortgage did—however you wanna put it. He passed not too long after.
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Flummoxed, anxious and angry that he had done this to himself, the writer took a big swig of tequila and gazed once more at the list of 30-plus story ideas, in search of the one idea he could turn into the promised, and surely long-awaited, narrative.
Idea 1: More stories from the future about how people celebrate Jeter Day.
“Hmmm. Jeter Day. In the future,” he muttered. “Well, that’s a pretty long time away. How the hell am I supposed to …?” Confounded, he turned to the second idea, which he called Idea 2. A boy’s parents are murdered by a mugger, so, as a rich adult, he fights crime at night in New York City while wearing a cape.
The writer took another swig and muttered, “OK, this is ridiculous.”
When muttering to himself, he had always got right to the point.
“It’s only 8 a.m.!”
And so he brewed a cup of Sanka and poured it into his bottle of Cuervo.
“OK,” he said, more softly now, and taking a sip. “Where were we?”
By “we” he meant himself (even if the sentence “Where were himself?” sounded not quite right), the same “self” that had done this to himself. For indeed, on Sept. 26, the writer had challenged readers to concoct story ideas, and from the best of those ideas, he’d written, he would craft an intriguing and perhaps titillating story! This was the time. Armageddon was nigh. It was now, as they say, or not ever.
But how, from among the dozens of ideas, could he pick just one?
He turned to Idea 3, which was the third idea on the list: With lower starts, greater bullpen use and injuries, have we seen the last 300-game winner?
“Oh, c’mon,” he muttered, “who do you think I am … Jeff Sullivan?”
It was then that he had an idea, his first, which he called Idea 1A: Lounging on the velvet balcony of his luxe Manhattan loft, which he had purchased with profits from his three-part series, “Have We Seen The Last 300-Game Winner?”, the writer John Paschal reaches out and, with the fiery tip of his Cuban cigar, pops the Tino Martinez balloon that hovers above the weekly Jeter Day parade. Laughing maniacally, he summons his butler, Jeeves Jr., to come hither and hold the cigar while he unzips his (i.e., Mr. Paschal’s) ermine trousers, upon which achievement he (i.e., Mr. Paschal) proceeds to pee on the great procession. Then, just as Mr. Paschal has achieved an arc of golden magnificence, a caped avenger swoops in and – BIF! BAM! POW! – takes him in for questioning in the theft of Jeff Sullivan’s work.
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“What are you doing?”
“Trying to get this chat thing to work on my phone.”
“Remind me what exactly this is…?”
“NotGraphs is doing a World Series chat.”
“Does that mean we have to watch the game?”
“Oh, so we can finish The Good Wife?”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine.”
“So then what are you chatting about?”
“I don’t know.”
“And who is reading it?”
“Are you getting paid to do this?”
“So, wait, tell me again what exactly this is and why you’re doing it.”
“I don’t know. It’s just a thing.”
“Wouldn’t you rather go to sleep? [We were up at 3AM because our son is either teething or has decided to become nocturnal.]”
“So go to sleep.”
“Okay. I should.”
“And this stupid chat site keeps making it harder for me to scroll through everything anyway.”
“Do you want me to tell you what happens during the rest of The Good Wife episode since I already read a recap of it online?”
“No. Why did you read about it before we watched it?”
“I don’t know. Do you want to watch the World Series game instead?”
“I thought you didn’t have to watch it.”
“What if I want to watch it?”
“We should go to sleep.”
Merely reading the Baseball Think Factory thread about James Shields passing a kidney stone during the ALCS is making me woozy.
I don’t watch the videos of gruesome injuries that find their way into the stream of baseball news every so often. I know Robin Ventura had a terrible injury years and years ago, Carlos Santana more recently, many more in between and since, but I’ve never watched any of them. Even Curt Schilling’s bloody sock pretty much pushed me to my limit.
Makes me think: what is the opposite of injury news? I suppose it’s the “best shape of your life” articles in spring training, but is there more than that? Do we ever hear quotes from players like,
You know, most days my shoulder hurts pretty bad, but today I felt amazing– and, sure enough, I got three hits! My body felt really great. I didn’t even take any Advil before the game like I usually do.
And I’ve rarely seen a video of a player doing a cartwheel just because he’s having an awesome day. Maybe Ozzie Smith?
I hope James Shields has a medical-intervention-free World Series.
I keep score at baseball games. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I desperately need some concrete evidence of my own existence, some flimsy bond of participation between myself as unnecessary spectator and the game I love. Maybe it’s because people always ask me why I keep score, and I want to think of a simple and witty response, the same way that someday I’ll come up with a good way to answer the question “How are you?” and I’ll be set for life. Maybe it’s because keeping score is a minute, insular form of expression, a method of translating baseball into verse, always individual, always unique; like sheet music unplayed. Maybe. Regardless, I keep score at baseball games.
On August 30, 2014, I attended a game at Safeco Field between Seattle and Washington. The Nationals won 3-1; it wasn’t a very good game. Here, posted for your brief diversion, is my scorecard from that game (click to embiggen):
The sidebar says that this is my 567th post for NotGraphs. Which means I, on my Monday-Thursday schedule, barring unplanned Series delay, will end at either 570 posts, 571 posts, or 572 posts, depending on when the World Series is over. I mean, obviously the series will only go 4 games, since the Royals are unbeatable, but just in case an official scorer screws up, or the ghost of Ewing Kauffman stops haunting all of the other playoff teams….
I thought I’d check some baseball card numbers from the past to see if I had a preference between the three likely end points.
There’s a chance this could be my last post for NotGraphs. And though it has been easily the best place I’ve ever written for, I am kind of glad to see it die. It is like a great painting in my life, a great painting I will smooth down with epoxy and other preserving agents, and there will be no memories of burnouts or angry commentors or mean bosses. Just the beauty of trying to be funny and sometimes succeeding.
So it’s in that context that I encourage you, dear readers, to tell me which of these freely and legally available photos best represents the Post World Series, or if the Royals wins, Post Apocalyptic NotGraphs?
Credit: Michael Gäbler
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Here at NotGraphs, we like to write the words “Here at NotGraphs.” This helps to distinguish us from people at other locations – people who might write the words “Here at Mensa” or “Here at Sticky Steve’s Wonderful World of Gently Pre-Owned Hustler Magazines.” Here at NotGraphs, writing “Here at NotGraphs” also gives us a shared identity, even if, here at NotGraphs, we actually live far apart from each other and only rarely invite the others over for pepper pickling or quilt quilting. (This is to say nothing of pepper quilting, which, if done incorrectly, can sting.)
Here at NotGraphs, this inclination to write “Here at NotGraphs” also serves to remind us that, you know, we really do write for NotGraphs, often in the same calendar week and always with the same source material, i.e., Shecky Greene’s Wonderful World of Gently Pre-Owned Jokes, even though there is no actual here here. Sadly, however, this sharing of identity and material will have its rendering unto immutable history when upon the final out of Joe Buck’s Global Series of Base-ball our blog shall notch its appointment with the executioner.
Here at NotGraphs, we will no longer be here at NotGraphs.
And so, in recognition of the many achievements here at NotGraphs, and in a valediction to the writers who are still – what’s the word I’m looking for here? – here (sort of), I present to you the First (And Last) Notty Awards.
Exit through the gift shop.
Best Writer Of A Post About The First And Last Notty Awards
Best Editor Of A Post About First And Lust Notty Awards
Best Writer Who Goes By The Name Carson Cistulli
Best Writer Whose Name Includes That Of A U.S. State
Mississippi Matt Smith, Iowa Mike Bates (tie)
Best Writer Whose Name Evokes The State Of Iowa
Iowa Mike Bates, Patrick Dubuque (tie)
Best Use Of A Middle Initial
David G. Temple, Robert J. Baumann, Carson C. Stulli (tie)
Best Misspelling Of The Name “Dane”
Best Alternate Spelling Of The Name “Dane”
Navin Vaswani, Dayn Perry (tie)
Best Englishman Living In Central Mexico
Craig Robinson, Nigel Smythe-Gonzalez (tie)
Best Non-Englishman Living In The United States
’Murcan John Paschal
Best Writer To Enter Witness Protection As Rolando Blackman
Best Writer Whose Name Sounds Like That Of A Network Anchor
Best Writer Whose Name Could Have Been Spelled “Zack”
Zach Reynolds, Dayn Perry (tie)
Best Writer Whose Surname Includes The Word For A Distilled Liquor
Bradley Woodrum, Bradley Steeltequila (tie)
Best Writer Whose First Name Is “Bradley”
Best Writer Whose Surname Is The Word For A Place Of Worship
David G. Temple, Patrick Dubuque (tie)
Best Writer At Assuming Dubuque, Iowa, Has Many Places Of Worship
John Paschal, Pat Robertson (tie)
Best Writer At Not Actually Writing For NotGraphs
Pat Robertson, Nigel Smythe-Rodriguez, Rodney Steeltequila (tie)
Best Writer Of The Hopeless Joe Series
Hopeless Joe (accepting for Mr. Joe will be Rolando Blackman)
Best Writer Of The Ironic Jersey Omnibus Series
Patrick Dubuque (accepting for Mr. Dubuque will be Patrick Des Moines)
Best Writer Of Minimalist Short Fiction Starring Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre (with Dayn Perry and Mitch Albom)
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