I don’t think I understand baseball anymore


I detest David Bentley Hart, everything he writes makes my lip curl in disgust, and his recent op-ed in the NY Times is no exception (although, given the downward trajectory in the quality of their opinion pages, that’s no surprise). It’s a hate piece, and the hyperbole is practically Lovecraftian in its florid descriptions of the target of his hatred. That target is…the New York Yankees. Jeez. I know that opinions of the Yankees tend to be passionate, but would you believe this is a description of a baseball game?

Not that the horror is easy to recall clearly. The trauma is too violent. Memory cringes, whines, tries to slink away. One recollects only a kaleidoscopic flux of gruesomely fragmentary impressions, too outlandish to be perfectly accurate, too vivid to be entirely false: nightmarish revenants from the dim haunts of the collective unconscious … monstrous, abortive shapes emerging from the abysmal murk of evolutionary history … things pre-hominid, even pre-mammalian … forms never quite resolving into discrete organisms, spilling over and into one another, making it uncertain where one ends and another begins. … It really is awful: ghastly glistening flesh … tentacles coiling and uncoiling, stretching and contracting … lidless orbicular eyes eerily waving on slender stalks … squamous hides, barbed quills, the unguinous sheen of cutaneous toxins … serrated tails, craggy horns, sallow fangs, gleaming talons … fragrances fungal and poisonous … sickly iridescences undulating across pallid, gelatinous underbellies or shimmering along slick, filmy scales. …

And what raucous yawps of elation they emit, like sea lions crying out in erotic transport. How languidly and grossly they intertwine with one another — how clumsily, lewdly, indiscriminately — like lascivious cephalopods merged in seething tangles of prehensile carnality. And somehow, without having to see, one knows things about them: that the categories “parent,” “sibling” and “mate” are only hazily delineated in their minds; that they suck nourishment from cellulose, heavy metals and cactus spines; that, should they grow hungry on the journey home from the game, they may pull over to the side of the road to devour their young. One simply knows. …

I take back the “almost” in “almost Lovecraftian”. Ol’ HP would be telling Hart to dial it back a notch if he were editing that bit. Also, if baseball was anything like that, I’d be at the stadium every weekend.

But there is one good paragraph — only one! — in the whole overwrought piece. This one.

America — with its decaying infrastructure, its third-world public transit, its shrinking labor market, its evaporating middle class, its expanding gulf between rich and poor, its heartless health insurance system, its mindless indifference to a dying ecology, its predatory credit agencies, its looming Social Security collapse, its interminable war, its metastasizing national debt and all the social pathologies that gave it a degenerate imbecile and child-abducting sadist as its president — remains the only developed economy in the world that believes it wrong to use civic wealth for civic goods. Its absurdly engorged military budget diverts hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public weal to those who profit from the military-industrial complex. Its plutocratic policies and libertarian ethos are immune to all appeals of human solidarity. It towers over the world, but promises secure shelter only to the fortunate few.

Hart’s point, of course, is that America has become almost as evil as the New York Yankees. Almost.

Comments

  1. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    As a Red Sox fan, needless to say I find the Yankees to be the embodiment of all that is wrong with the world. Yet their fans did have the good sense to boo Rudy Giuliani when he showed up at the stadium recently, so they can’t be all bad.

  2. janiceclanfield says

    Doesn’t this guy have better things to do? What a epic waste of time and energy.

  3. jrkrideau says

    No wonder the USA is the Evil Empire. Clearly baseball is the route to all evil.

  4. anchor says

    Whatever his point is (or was), five will get you ten that he was bombed while writing it. It’s impressive that one can actually see a keyboard in the glare.

  5. Susan Montgomery says

    Meh. He sounds like a Red Sox fan that got a Bucky Dent ’78 card in his bubblegum.

  6. daved says

    Oh, look on the bright side. The Yankees have the second-best won/lost record in baseball so far this season, and they’re still 4.5 games behind the Red Sox. So, despite all that overwrought prose in the Times, things could be worse.

  7. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    @Susan Montgomery,

    I take it you got an ’04 David Ortiz card.

  8. cartomancer says

    Are you sure he was talking about Baseball, rather than today’s Trump-Putin meeting?

  9. doubter says

    So am I the only one hear who laughed out loud reading that? The section PZ quoted is an excellent Lovecraft parody!

  10. Susan Montgomery says

    @7 No, but I’m from Philly and the Kent Tekulve card sat about as well.

  11. screechymonkey says

    And what raucous yawps of elation they emit, like sea lions crying out in erotic transport

    Pardon me, good sir, but may I inquire as to why you have chosen to denigrate sea lions in this fashion? Do sea lions not possess the right to engage in sexual congress, and to make the customary noises associated therewith? I await your reply respectfully.

  12. woozy says

    and the hyperbole is practically Lovecraftian in its florid descriptions of the target

    I find that utterly impossible to believe was not intentional.

    ghastly glistening flesh … tentacles coiling and uncoiling, stretching and contracting … lidless orbicular eyes eerily waving on slender stalks … sickly iridescences undulating across pallid, gelatinous underbellies or shimmering along slick, filmy scales. …

    Admittedly, my bitterness over the Orioles’ dismal play this season might be distorting my perspective a little.

    Okay, it might not be that funny but it was definately a joke. Either you missed it, or you like to explain other people’s joke. But there is simply no-way that wasn’t an intentional parody of Lovecraft.

    Pretty funny one. I just finished “Sherlock Holmes and Shadwell Shadows” last night so ” lidless orbicular eyes eerily waving on slender stalks” is rather fresh in my mind.

  13. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Admittedly, my bitterness over the Orioles’ dismal play this season might be distorting my perspective a little.

    On the bright side, their poor play has led to me being able to land cheap tickets to games AND not having to wait in line for nachos. Almost makes up for the state of their starting pitching!

  14. laurian says

    David Bentley Hart is absolutely right. The NY Yankees are a horror only exceeded by their fans.

    Go Mariners!

  15. says

    To be fair the Yankees did just receive a sweet heart deal for mere peanuts from the Marlins. MVP of the NL last years for basically nothing and 30 million in cash. Oh and the Marlins were just purchased by Jeter with other people’s money. Oh and he fired a bunch of long time employees including a guy dying of cancer over the holidays.

    Yankee Legends. Great Old Ones. No difference.

  16. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    So I guess there’s a sportsball team, and another sportsball team…and… slow, quizzical head tilt

  17. llyris says

    Some people are far, far too invested in how other men play with their balls.

  18. blf says

    Some people are far, far too invested in how other men play with their balls.

    Does this include women’s teams, or are you just one of traitor don’s trolls ?

  19. says

    If anything, I find avid Bentley Hart being too…restrained…in his description of the NY Yankees and their fans.

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