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Johnny Chinnici
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R.A. Dickey would have retired at 30, if not for reinventing himself. I’ll be turning 30 next month, the age at which most ballplayers’ skills begin to erode. But what about poets? Do you think there is a peak age for turning in your best verse? Do we spend more of our lives on the uptick or the decline? And what's the poet's best version of learning the knuckleball—that is, an entirely new skill to extend the career? Gosh, if poets followed the same trajectory as the typical baseball player, it would look something like this: 18 — Begin eking... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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I own plenty of baseball memorabilia, but most of it’s in storage. Here in my apartment I have a baseball signed by seven Hall of Famers; a Johnny Damon autograph; an old Ernie Banks card. I also have a neat issue of SPORT from May 1951, which my mother picked up for me at a flea market on a lark. SPORT was a monthly that predated Sports Illustrated and featured great color photography and a roster of famed sports writers. The advertisements are hilarious today, but the articles made demigods out of both the athletes and the authors. Grantland Rice... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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With the Dodgers headed to the next round of the playoffs— and the Yankees and Mets bruised–it’s hard not to imagine what NYC would feel like if the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. Frank Sinatra memorialized the Dodgers’ move with the melancholy ode “There Used to Be a Ballpark.” It doesn't take a poetry MFA to figure out that it's about the death of childhood, too. Really depressing stuff. Forcing a baseball-related song onto his humble vanity album, baseball announcer Tim McCarver included a version of it on Tim McCarver Sings Selections from the Great American Songbook (a brief listen... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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Personalities, rather than geographies, drive baseball fandom more than ever. Personnel moves via free agency, fantasy sports leagues, and streaming broadcasts online all make it less likely that you feel compelled to root, root, root for the home team. Better to find the one that speaks to your soul. For these 2013 playoffs, find your true match with this handy personality guide: St. Louis Cardinals: You believe that the best Italian food is served in restaurants with at least one table full of men playing some game that isn’t poker, but it isn’t dominoes, and you’re not really sure if... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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“I don’t like intentional walks,” my mother-in-law says, looking up from her iPad to reveal that she has been paying more attention to the game than I realized. “I always hope the next batter hits a home run or something.” Like the pitcher would deserve it for being such a wimp. I might argue with her notion. I could begin a twenty-minute statistics-laden speech about all the outcomes after putting the man on base. But I know exactly what she means: just pitch the damn ball. My team has already been eliminated from the playoffs, so I’m watching academically. It... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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Oct 6, 2013