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The Last Word

Posted By Alex Belth On November 25, 2009 @ 11:27 am In Bronx Banter | Comments Disabled


The baseball season never really ends anymore. Not after the last out of the World Serious, or after the awards are handed out. How can it be over with the winter meetings just a few weeks off? While we wait for the trades and rumors there is a lull, and when you get right down to it, spring training can’t come soon enough. Perhaps less so this year for Yankees fans, but you know what I mean.

Yet no season is complete until Roger Angell weighs in with his recap in The New Yorker, which he has been doing for close to fifty years, a truly┬áremarkable run. Angell turned 89 this September and is still at it. The pieces aren’t as long as they once were, but that’s understandable. It’s like wanting another great movie out of Scorsese or another great novel from Pete Dexter–after awhile, you start feeling greedy. There is still something reassuring about Angell being around to tie a bow on what we all just saw that won’t be replaced once he stops writing. It is a part of the season, just like the MVP awards, just like the winter meetings.

Unfortunately, Angell’s latest is not available on-line. It’s funny, since I get a subscription, I printed out a copy a few days ago, but it didn’t feel exactly right until I got the actual magazine last night. The print is bigger in the magazine, and there is just something about the printed word on the page that has more weight than it does on a computer screen, or even a print-out from the computer.

Here are a few highlights:

On Alex Rodriguez:

I think A-Rod will always be a little beyond us. We can used to his money more easily than to his outlandish talent and his physical gifts; standing near him in the dugout at times, I’ve had the impression that I’m within touching distance of a new species. The games this fall set him free, at least for now, and in the process released me from the ranks of sullen doubters. I’ve begun to think that if Alex Rodriguez–A-Rod, of all people–can come such a distance in one season then maybe baseball is coming out of its long funk after all.

On Chase Utley tying Reggie Jackson’s World Series home runs mark with five:

There was passing speculation that Utley would supplant Jackson in legend were he to waft another, but it died of unlikelihood. Reggie, discussing all this with the News columnist Mike Lupica back at the Stadium before the last game, simply murmured, “Come on.” He pointed to the adjacent centerfield stands, with their line of standup drinkers above Monument Park in the new configuration, and said, “My fifth is in the fucking bar.”

On Godzilla Matsui’s performance in Game Six:

I can’t remember a closing performance anything like this, or the feeling, while it was happening, that I quickly needed to thank Hideki Matsui–with a bow or something–not just for tonight but for every game of his seven years of super-pro service with the Yankees. His straight-back, left-handed stance, with that almond-colored bat held still; his broad-shouldered, slashing cuts at anything up in the zone; his slightly tilted vertical style of running; the trim black hair just touching his uniform at the nape; the cracked smile–we knew all this, certainly, but in some oddly formal and removed fashion, because he was Japanese and because he didn’t speak English easily. His silence kept him old-fashioned: a ballplayer from the black-and-white newspaper-photograph days, before our heroes talked.

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