Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hitting It Right On "THE SWEET SPOT"

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[This review was published at Amazon.com on March 17, 2005. I was so pleased with the results that, for the first time in my life, I began to consider myself a genuine writer. I celebrated by taking my Ma -- the greatest lover of baseball I've ever known -- to her favorite Thai restaurant for dinner. A few days ago, I had an enjoyable discussion about Old School baseball with John Holton HERE, and felt inspired to re-publish this review here and now.]
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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER:
Artists And Writers On Baseball
edited by Peter H. Gordon
published: 1987

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Can it really be that no one has posted a review of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER before now? Wow! "WHO'S ON FIRST?" It looks like I am!
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The recent pennant-clinching victory of the Boston Red Sox (hate 'em) over their arch nemesis the New York Yankees (hate 'em) and curse-busting Series sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals (hate 'em now -- the chokers!) inspired me to revisit my copy of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.
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"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball", Jacques Barzun tells us on page 138. But I think Foghorn Leghorn said it best: "There's something - ah say - there's something kind of eew about a kid that's never played baseball."
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And although Football has now overtaken Baseball as America's favorite sport, the game played out on a green diamond is so ingrained in the American psyche that its idioms are commonly accepted facets of our lexicon. This is illustrated by Lesley Hazleton. Moving to the U.S., she was surprised to find that much of the English she had learned in Israel originated with our National Pastime: "I could touch base, give a ballpark figure, strike out and reach first base long before I realized that these were baseball terms." (page 15)
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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER is a "gem" of a compendium celebrating the sport with baseball-themed art, photographs and excerpts from a variety of books, essays and poems. It truly reflects the mythology, the emotions, the poetry, and the mystique of the game. I like very little of the featured art, but the writing, being "uniformly" top-notch, more than compensates, and each of the smattering of photographs are worth a thousand top-notch words. This book really does get to "the heart of the hide"; a double-delicious dose of "Doubleday".
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Although free agency and the record-skewing, steroid-laden hulks like Barry Bonds with the 'Frisco Giants (REALLY hate 'em!) have killed off much of my interest, Baseball will forever be a part of who I am. Twice I witnessed perfection while in a Baseball stadium: Kirk Gibson's Game One-winning World Series homer in 1988, and the 1991 mound mastery of Dennis Martinez -- Major League Baseball's 13th Perfect Game. (Of course the combination of grilled Dodger Dogs and cold, tap beer was yet another type of "perfection" I often experienced at the old ballpark.)
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And if you're like me, then you learned some of life's most important lessons while on the green fields of Summer:
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* I once got drilled between the eyes by a hardball thrown by Craig Richardson, our team's strongest (and most erratic) arm. LESSON: Never sit on the grass behind the "Hot Corner" when Richardson is playing First Base.
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* After that, I always had one foot "in the bucket" at the plate. This was responsible for me striking out 21 times that season -- a team high that I was never able to quite match again, but leading to another LESSON: the importance of setting and trying to achieve personal goals.
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* The kid slid into second base on a steal attempt. I took the throw down from the catcher and applied the tag. And even as the umpire was signaling "Safe" I saw that no part of the boy's body was touching the bag, but the ball in my glove pressed against his calf. LESSON: Sometimes the "authorities" are wrong!
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* Called to "the hill" to pitch the Little League Yankees out of a jam, I saw that girl I had a crush on, Yolanda, was watching the game from behind the fence near our dugout. In my haste to get over there and talk to her, I fanned 3 consecutive batters. My Grandfather (the manager) came out to meet me. "You just struck out the side in order!" he excitedly informed me. I didn't know what that meant at the time and furthermore I couldn't have cared less -- I had nothing but that little cutie on my mind. LESSON: A man's love for a woman will supersede his love for the "diamond", but conversely, the diamond is a girl's best friend.
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* Growing up po' (not Third World po', of course, but American po'), one Summer my Brother and I played for a team in the "economically challenged" part of town. One day our Ma asked, "Do you realize that you're the only White guys on the team? Everyone else is Black." We both had to pause for several moments to contemplate that before answering, "Oh yeah, that's right, huh?" She later confessed that it was the proudest she ever felt of us. And she realized then and there that she had raised us well! LESSON: It don't matter what color your skin is, because when your team loses a ballgame, every player is BLUE!
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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER really captures the magic of Baseball on several levels, but best perhaps in the photo on page 63: There's Wally Joyner, a California Angel in 1986, leaning against a thigh-high stadium fence, hand on hip, one leg casually cocked over the other, gazing off into the distant outfields -- oblivious -- flawless -- looking like a Greek god. There next to him on the other side of the fence, two blonde brothers, maybe ten years old, their heads tilted upward, mouths ajar, awe radiating from their eyes, and with their bodies leaning slightly away from Joyner -- one does not crowd a god!
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If you are a literate person and a true aficionado of the game of Baseball, but my review has failed to convince you that you need DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER in your bookcase, then there is no joy in DotComville -- mighty Stephen has struck out... again.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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10 comments:

  1. 3-D. That was probably your best review ever. Love the phrasing, especially the play on words. I bet liberals hate baseball.

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    1. Thanks, BLOOD BRO. And I agree wid ya -- I think it was not only my best review but protly the best words I ever strung together for any reason. (Believe it or not, I believe I was half-sober when I dun it, too!)

      Like I said in the Introduction, right after I wrote that and submitted it, I started thinking of myself as a true writer. (Then I took Ma to that Thai restaurant at 43rd and Olive. I don't know if it's still there, ...you Black-hating racist shortstop!!:o)

      >>... I bet liberals hate baseball.

      Of course they do. It's the "AMERICAN" Pastime.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  2. Oh my goodness, they deleted that sort of review? You put so much time and wonderfulness into it. No wonder you were inspired to write.

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    1. Thank you, ELIZABETH! I appreciate the kind words. And, yes, Amazon.com deleted nearly 200 similar such reviews, because Amazon is far more politically driven (from the Left side of the aisle) than most people realize.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      Check out my new blog @
      (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

      Delete
  3. Al Bondigas here. Just remember, Amazon had to take their ball and go home. Translation: you kicked the shit out of the leftist filthy scum in the political debates. I remember those days well, as I was in on it a little too.

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    1. JUDGE AL ~
      In 2009, about a year after I started blogging at FERRET-FACED FASCIST FRIENDS, suddenly out of nowhere a person using "Anonymous" (but who later gave his name as Edward) left the following statement at (Link:] STOP BEING A "USEFUL IDIOT":

      Dear Stephen,

      I had intended to write to you earlier, but never found the time.

      I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed reading your reviews on Amazon particularly on geo-politics, and especially on McCarthy which I thought was a detailed and very thorough analysis. I was shocked to see that Amazon had gagged you by deleting your brilliant ripostes to the comments aimed at undermining you and your reviews.

      I think it was inevitable, since all the detritus thrown at you failed to stick, and you kept demolishing the attacks incisively and often with good humour, which served to strengthen your argument, and undermined theirs – no wonder they cut you off. They were beaten. I hope you continue to post on appropriate forums to awaken the useful idiots and expose the ‘NWO’ agents’ lies.


      Thinkin' maybe that didn't make my entire month? What a nice guy to take the trouble of telling me that. You just never know who's out there and might be silently following the stuffs you write.

      God bless Edward, wherever he is today!!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      Check out my new blog @
      (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...

      Delete
    2. Yeah, like your Warrior Poet friend. If I recall correctly, you were instrumental in him returning to the study of God's Word. You just never know.

      Delete
  4. Yeah, I remember that. You should start a new Amazon account under a different name, of course, and just re-post all your old reviews. I believe Edward is from the U.K. by the way he spelled humour.

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    1. I want to begin by saying I am offended -- OFFENDED, I tell you! -- by your narrow-minded Foebeeizm! You previously referred to our esteemed whatchamacallits from across the aisle as...

      "...the leftist filthy scum..."

      Brother, what has happened to your appreciation for the value of inclusivism and multiculturalism? When did you become such a bigot, a racist, an Archie Bunker wannabe? ...I can still recall the day when you didn't even know you wuz the whitest boy on a Black baseball team.

      How'd you go so wrong in such a sho-- ...long period of time?
      :o)

      I'm sorry -- what was the question? Ha!

      Yes, I immediately thought perhaps "Edward" was from the U.K. by his "u" in "humour". But I've also suspected, for other reasons, that he may have been Sheboyganboy Six or SigToo. Of course, it's also possible he was simply "Edward" from "York". Whoever dat bloke was, I dig him... in a very, Very JOHN WAYNE way.

      It would be very easy to open a new Amazon.com account under another name (in fact, I already have TWO!) but I would NEVER consider re-posting my reviews on their website.

      For one thing, my positive reviews would help that Anti-American, Libtard website to sell more products. (I would just be using the talent God blessed me with to help BigBitch.com make mo' money.)

      For another thing, that website does not deserve to be frequented and promoted by a God-loving man like me.

      I have, on numerous occasions, considered posting ONLY NEGATIVE REVIEWS at Amazon.com / BigBitch.com. That would actually COST them sales, while warning unsuspecting Americonned suckers away from bad purchases.

      But in the end, I decided to just not play with the devil in any way, shape, or form.

      Or as Twinkie once said:

      "Fuck 'em if they don't wanna fuck with me!"

      Now THAT'S some sound advice. Never mind that he was 100-proof drunk at the time he said it.

      A lot of wisdom originated from the Bay Street house, but not one drop of it was ever sober. Sobriety is way overrated, anyway! Sobriety is almost -- ALMOST! -- as overrated as the band U2 is! (Fuck 'em if they don't wanna play good music!)

      Love ya, Bro! (J.W.!-J.W.!)

      ~ Stephen
      DogGtor of Alcohology and
      King of Inebriation Nation

      Delete

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