October 19, 2003

Poetry on Deadline

The knights of the keyboard were the first bloggers.

Pressure: writing a newspaper story, due within a minutes or hours of the event, which can define the rest of your career. Gammons wouldn't be Gammons today if not for the Hallelujah Chorus after Fisk's home run:

Globe beat writer Peter Gammons started typing, "And all of a sudden the ball was there, like the Mystic River Bridge, suspended out in the black of morning." In 1975, typewritten pages were filed to the Globe on a telecopier, and it took six minutes for each page to transmit. Employing more than one telecopier, Gammons would file eight pages of new copy in 15 minutes. He was writing faster than the machines could transmit. -- Dan Shaugnessy

If Updike hadn't been there in the bleachers of that lyric little bandbox of a park to see the Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, would he have been Updike? Or, listen once more to Red Smith after the Miracle at Coogan's Bluff:

Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.

Down on the green and white and earth-brown geometry of the playing field, a drunk tries to break through the ranks of ushers marshaled along the foul lines to keep profane feet off the diamond. The ushers thrust him back and he lunges at them, struggling in the clutch of two or three men. He breaks free and four or five tackle him. He shakes them off, bursts through the line, runs head on into a special park cop who brings him down with a flying tackle.

Here comes a whole platoon of ushers. They lift the man and haul him, twisting and kicking, back across the first-base line. Again he shakes loose and crashes the line. He is through. He is away, weaving out toward center field where cheering thousands are jammed beneath the windows of the Giants' clubhouse.

At heart, our man is a Giant, too. He never gave up -- Red Smith

If you get it right and get it in, it goes into your collected columns when you retire. If you don't, maybe there isn't a book at all.

Gordon Edes gets tonight's amazing matchup exactly, and does it in a quote! (For visitors joining us from remote lands where Mudville is but a distant rumor, tonight's 7th game is the best 7th-game pitching matchup in history. The best Red Sox pitcher ever takes the mound for the feared and detested Yankees tonight in what may well be his final game, ever. His opponent is only half-way through his career, but may well be even better; if Pedro retired today, he'd still be the third best pitcher in Red Sox history. The other great pitcher is Cy Young, in whose honor the annual pitching award is named, a legend of antiquity. Notice, too, how a pitcher alludes to the internal fantasy game of baseball -- and perhaps, indirectly, to Robert Coover; it's a small world and a long season.)

"It's going to be unbelievable," Sox reliever Alan Embree said. "You now have your dream matchup.

"Several kids have lived this dream 100 times. Some of them are Pedro. Some are Roger." -- Gordon Edes