Late last week, as I stepped into a faculty meeting a few minutes early, a colleague told me it had been 9 degrees when he'd arisen that morning to feed his chickens. But then, after the collective groan, he gripped a yardstick, swung it a few times in slow motion, and used the phrase "quick wrists." Ah, news of Spring Training has reached the barren north! In the media this news has been bittersweet, but I have vowed I will not lament the coming of the baseball seasonlike Jason Giambi at his press conference, I will not even mention the "s" word that hovers over the game. Nor will I mention Juiced, nor the Bash Brothers, nor syringes, nor "the Cream," nor "the Clear"no! Fie on it, I say! This is the time of hope, of rebirth, perhaps even of a finite sort of redemption (read: A-Rod) or recompense (read: Carlos Beltran) or, dare I say it, reconciliation (read: Washington, D.C. and baseball in the beltwayPres. Taft, where are you, throwing from the crowd in a bowler hat?). As my remedy, I will instead ascend to the sphere of metaphysics: to wit, Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter's Box, edited by Eric Bronson, the latest volume in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series. Ah, metaphysics, the pleasing retreat from the darkness of flawed particularity.
But I've found, in reading this volume, that baseball resists Cartesian reduction. If the philosophic task is to address the universals, and the literary task to celebrate the particulars, then the close and enduring connection of baseball to literature makes sense. So also does the resistance of baseball to philosophy, except the anti-philosophies of a Yogi Berra or a Casey Stengel.
Hence, this volume feels a bit contrived, an intriguing ...1