Like an Elvis sighting, but better.
Alex over at Bronx Banter has been giving his readers pieces by different writers as a holiday gift. Today was a lovely package for Red Sox fans (well, most of them, anyway)-- a piece by Edw. (can't call him anything else but ee-dee-dubya-period), who has remained all but silent since his entry the morning after the World Series announcing the end of Bambino's Curse.
In that post (and in the one on Bronx Banter, he promises to come back in the spring. Having heard from him several times over the course of the 2004 season about how burned out he felt with baseball writing, I wasn't altogether surprised when he said he'd be taking a long break. But from a selfish perspective, I've felt a small but vivid pang of loss whenever I begin making the rounds of baseball blogs every morning and can't start where I've always started--Bambino's Curse.
Not the end of the world, I know, but since mid-2003, checking Edw.'s blog and posting to his comments section was a vital part of my day. His blog was the hub of Red Sox Nation on the Net, at least for the circles I run with. His comments section was how I met Red and Amy and Joe and Deane (Deane, where are you? I miss you, too) and Dan and Steve Brady and Brian, and so many others. From the nucleus just named, the Surviving Grady clique was formed, along with the message board, which has since become another constant in my day.
Bambino's Curse was the reason this blog got started--Edw.'s what you call my blogfather. Because his blog showed me that you didn't have to be posting charts and graphs to talk about baseball; that baseball is appreciable as a philosophical and literary phenomenon as well a mathematical and physical one. Edw. and I have frighteningly similar viewpoints on baseball-as-morality-play (his term, to be fair).
I've always learned to write by reading. I went through a phase in my early teenage years where I wrote exactly like Stephen King. I went through another phase in college where I wrote exactly like Anne Sexton. It's not something I'm ashamed to admit--whenever I've written something in the style of another author, I've learned a tremendous amount. And then usually, what I've been inspired by about a particular writing style gets smoothed and blended into my own style, and I leave the rest behind.
If you like my writing here, a large chunk of the credit goes to Edw., and his measured, erudite style, his literary and cultural references, the parallels he draws between sports and moral life.
Edw. has inspired me personally, also, especially in my life as a fan. After Game 7, he wrote what remains, for me, the single most breathtaking piece of sports-related writing I've ever seen, called "On the Via Dolorosa, Sure Footed," which begins with the soothing, "It hurts, doesn't it? I know it does..." and ends on this profound note:
Faith and hope shall sustain as it has before and as it always will to anyone who dares to attempt the journey from home, to first, to second, to third, and to home again, bearing fame and the spoils of success.
It still brings tears to my eyes to read that piece. Go read it, if you haven't already, and read it again if you haven't in a while. It bears repeating.
When the Sox beat the Yankees this year, I wrote the following to open a rather confessional email to Edw.:
Last night as they mobbed Alan Embree, the first person I thought of was my father. The next person I thought of was you.
So though I understand and of course accept his decision to discontinue BC, you could use the word crushed to describe my feelings when I learned of it. You could also say, if you want to continue the understatement, that I've missed him.
And then, today, there's this piece.
But baseball, like life, continues. And in its constancy, its endurance, day to day, season to season, from boyhood, to middle age, and beyond, it will remind me and counsel me to live not just in the moment, without past or future, but also to realize that it is the timeless, eternal moment wherein our real lives exist.
Or said another way, "Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don’t care if I never get back."
See you in Spring when everything is new again. (You’ll find me, not among the dead but the living.)
Like a breath of fresh air.
Spring can't come soon enough for me this year, for so many reasons.