Monthly Archives: January 2013

Alex Gonzalez and the art of fielding

Alex Gonzalez, in his element.

Alex Gonzalez, in his element.

I’d like to take a moment, if I may, to sing the praises of defense and its superiority over the offensive side of baseball.

The best part of the game is when a favorite team is in the field. The pitcher controls the tempo as much as the opposing batter will allow and, if he puts it in play, it’s in the hands of the fielders. When those hands are as delicate as a field hockey club tied onto some brute first baseman’s forearm, watching the ball be kicked and muffed and dropped can be a frustrating experience. Typically, the guys who play at the major league level are sure-handed enough to have fewer errors than games played, at least.

But when a fielder transcends mere capability and approaches something else, something approaching art, there’s little as exciting in baseball. And reading about the ficticious Aparico Rodriguez and his zen-like student Henry Skrimshander in Chard Harbach’s The Art of Fielding let me with memories of Alex Gonzalez, who enjoyed a remarkable career (and may well again in the future), but truly found a place in my brain when he anchored the Red Sox’ infield in 2006. Continue reading


Suffering through the hot stove season

I'm excited to watch Shane Victorino in Boston in 2013. But it can wait.

I’m excited to watch Shane Victorino in Boston in 2013. But it can wait.

The other morning, I had the radio dialed into 98.5 FM in Boston, typically a fun antidote to the screaming banshees of the other stations, and the other screaming banshees that infiltrate that same station after 10 a.m. I won’t delineate between them, because they’re all aggressors of the amazing and endless lack of discourse on sports radio. But, again, Toucher & Rich are usually better than that.

On this morning, they were talking Red Sox, about their various positional holes, about the potential for 80, 85, 90 wins, about how much money they’ve dished out on short term deals to the likes of Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Ryan Dempster, about where the young guys fit in, about the goals of the front office, and on, and on, and on.

And, in a move that’s increasingly rare for me before 10 a.m., I turned off the radio and went back to Neil Young and Crazy Horse on my iPod. Because, in the winter months, I find little quite as annoying and pointless as baseball talk. Continue reading