Friday, 27 February 2009

A Modernist Lineup (Paraphrastically Heretical Brooksian Version) (Because the number of people who will understand the references to modernism and baseball number in the high single digits.) The prototypical leadoff hitter should radiate self-importance. He has one job and one job only: to get on base. He has one style and one style only: ostentatious scrappiness. Leading off the for modernists is Ernest "Papa" Hemingway. If our shortstop must be a Derek Jeter clone, I can think of no one better than Joseph "The Con" Conrad: criminally overrated and not nearly so versatile as his ardent supporters insists. His once merely poor range has so deteriorated people point to where he is and exclaim: "There he will be!" But if you need someone selfish to ground selflessly out to second, "The Con" will move the runner along. Slot him in the #2 spot. Ignoring the sage advice offered by The Book because it is only written in one language, our three-hole will be manned by the greatest hitter world literature has ever known. This transplanted Irishman mashes from all sides of the plate. One minute he counsels. The next he does this. He is the only player to hit for the cycle in seventeen languages. Batting third and playing every position on the field (but mainly first): James "Stephen Hero" Joyce. Batting fourth and patrolling left field to the pounding pulsation of his own alliterative drum is our other once-in-a-generation genius: Ezra Being Ezra! (He''ll bat cleanup until it suits him otherwise then be traded to another nation.) In the fifth slot is our "Three True Outcomes" specialist. With him it's either French, English or Nonsense. Remember this name because he will go on manning the hot corner for years to come: Samuel "Come In" Beckett! Occupying our "second leadoff spot" and platooning at second are F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. (Whichever one is upright come gametime gets the start.) Their range may be limited but they turn a mean double play. Virginia Woolf roams center field and bats seventh. She covers more ground in a sentence than Willie Mays did in a day and makes it look so easy. Framing pitches behind the plate is the incomparably erudite H.D. She frames the plate so convincingly a generation of umpires have deferred to her strike zone. Like most cerebral catchers, her own output suffers from a severe case of "analysis paralysis." Our ace on the mound is mercurial southpaw T.S. Eliot. Inscrutable but somehow effective, Eliot averages six brilliant innings before converting to Church of England and lulling teammates and opposition alike into a death-like sleep. In sum: Hemingway, rf Conrad, ss Joyce, 1b Pound, lf Beckett, 3b The Fitzgeralds, 2b Woolf, cf H.D., c Eliot, p

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