"We’re sitting on the bench in San Diego," Ellis says, "and I ask him, ‘What would you do to make this team better?’ He says, ‘Let me get back to you.’ That’s the one thing about Zack. He won’t give you an answer right away. He’ll go do research.
"He comes back an hour and a half later and says, ‘I thought about what you said to make the team better. The first thing I’d do is trade you and sign (Braves impending free agent Brian) McCann this winter.’"
“‘You’re the one position on this team that we can upgrade,’” Ellis continues, recounting what Greinke told him. “‘You’re a good player. You’ll catch on somewhere for sure. We can probably get a nice Double-A starting pitching prospect for you.’”
Late on yesterday’s dazzling, post-summer afternoon in the Bronx, each batter and infielder moved and ran with his own autumnal sharp-shadow cutout barely attached at the foot. The brilliant, reminding light was relentless; it never let us up, enamelling…
After Week 2, your favorite NFL team is 2-0. Here’s how to characterize their success so far, from teams that are fulfilling expectations (Broncos) to those taking advantage of their schedule (Texans) to the just plain lucky (Dolphins).
“Part of the dark magic of the game is that even after you analyze everything that can be measured, then given some vague weight to intangibles, many teams’ seasons still don’t seem to make sense. That is because no word is more central over a six long months than ‘team.’”—Thomas Boswell (via mightyflynn)
BOSTON — Trading for Jake Peavy looks wiser now, and Peavy hasn’t even taken the hill.
The value of an additional starter was highlighted on Thursday night, when Henry Blanco’s grand slam highlighted the Mariners’ 7-2 victory Red Sox at Fenway Park. In salvaging the series finale, Seattle avoided the sweep at Fenway Park. Boston dropped back into a first-place tie with the idle Rays, though technically it sits percentage points behind Tampa Bay.
Matched up with Felix Hernandez, Dempster didn’t give his offense much of a chance. The right-hander tiptoed his way through trouble early in the contest, before falling off the wire in the fifth.
Kyle Seager started the frame with a triple, aided by Shane Victorino’s misplay in the right-field corner. Kendrys Morales brought him home with a first-pitch single. An out later, Justin Smoak doubled off the very top of the Green Monster. After walking Dustin Ackley, Dempster wasn’t so lucky with Blanco. The lifelong backup catcher whipped an 0-1 fastball inside the Fisk Pole to put the game out of reach.
Blanco has two homers this year; both have been grand slams.
Seager and Morales, meanwhile, have been two of the biggest thorns in Boston’s side this season. Seager reached base three more times and Morales had four more hits on Thursday. In seven games against the Red Sox this season, Seager is 13-for-35 (.419) with four extra-base hits. Morales is 16-for-31 (.516) with four extra-base hits.
Dempster had made a habit of allowing only solo home runs this year — 18 of the 20 long balls hit against him this season had come with nobody on. Blanco made sure he was an outlier Thursday.
Dempster allowed a season-high seven earned runs in six innings. He walked five and struck out six.
This is the fourth straight start in which Dempster has appeared in some way diminished, in either effectiveness or velocity. He’s been knocked around in three of those, and in the lone outlier, he barely touched 90 miles per hour. (His normal velocity was back on Thursday, for what it’s worth.)
It was in late May that Dempster experienced a similarly futile phase. At that point, he was dealing with a groin issue. His recent results at the very least suggest the possibility of a recurrence.
Dempster rebounded from that slump in May. He came back to toss quality starts in seven of his next eight outings. But for the time being, he appears vulnerable.
And that’s in part why Peavy is a Red Sox now. It’s not Dempster’s struggles specifically that motivated a move for Peavy; Clay Buchholz’s uncertain health was a bigger single factor.
But the general uneasiness about the rotation — and the present lack of clear and suitable backup plans — inspired Boston to pursue Peavy aggressively. Peavy’s arrival Thursday forced the Sox to send the hitherto effective Brandon Workman to Pawtucket; the plan is for the rookie to return to the bullpen soon enough.
But if Dempster proves to be injured or continues to be ineffective, Workman could find himself in the rotation quickly. Even if Dempster rights the ship, he could prove to be the odd man out if and when Buchholz gets back on a mound.
So while Dempster’s start Thursday was disconcerting, it would have been more so had Peavy not been in the fold.
Dempster’s woes rendered the workmanlike dominance of Hernandez less noteworthy on Thursday. Seattle’s star right-hander was unusually shaky early in the contest, allowing four hits to the first 10 men he faced. He settled in from there, however, limiting the Red Sox to just two more in his seven innings. He struck out eight and walked two.
Hernandez has won his last four starts against Boston.
It’s tempting to just shrug and move on after the weekend of torch-and-pitchforkery that greeted Chris Selley’s sarcastic reference to Edmonton in the National Post. The whole thing is almost too surreal to engage at any intellectual level. But when a mayor talks about pulling city advertising from a newspaper chain and muses about whether a newspaper should be allowed to keep publishing, that merits a closer look, however painful that look might be.
“Ineffable:These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”
Too often, a novel gets written as a formal lark: An innovative idea for how to frame a story subsumes the story itself. (See: Padgett Powell’s Interrogative Mood, which is the rare book I was unable to finish.)
Levithan’s choice of form — a dictionary of select words, in alphabetical order — tells the story of a relationship in non-chronological order. In doing so, it captures its undulations, bouncing between quotidian joys (several of the entries merit genuine lols) and mounting frustrations. It’s about as comprehensive in its examination of a relationship as Faulkner’s The Wild Palms, and it goes about that endeavor in the polar opposite fashion.
It remains my most enjoyable read from 2012, and I find myself months later periodically taking it off my shelf and reading whole swaths of its definitions.
“We are above reason; we are beyond ridicule; we see with nobody’s eyes, we hear with nobody’s ears, we feel with nobody’s hearts, but our own. Glorious, glorious privilege! And how is it earned? Ah, my friends, you may spare yourselves the useless inquiry! We are the only people who can earn it — for we are the only people who are always right.”
Considered one of the first modern detective novels, The Moonstone’s originality is hard for me to gauge. By the time I got around to the 1868 work, I had already exhausted the Sherlock Holmes catalog, most of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels and a modest selection of late-Victorian gothic works. So the exoticism of the Orient, its accompanying casual racism and a reliance on strange medicine don’t seem like anything new.
The novel’s best conceit is how it tells the mystery of the moonstone through several perspectives. The problem, though, is that all the perspectives support one another, and a chance to confuse a straightforward narrative is missed by a wide margin. Rashomon it is not.
It also drags on. By the end, I barely even cared who did it anymore.
“[Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous] joins others among MTV’s scripted youth shows that were consigned to an early graveyard like Skins, I Just Want My Pants Back, The Inbetweeners, Decisions And Boners, I Have To Go To My Unfulfilling Internship In The Morning But I’m Also A Twentysomething Who Totally Wants To Party, Life: Super Hard, Right?, and The Young And Sex-Having, only some of which we made up.”—Sean O’Neal (via hellofriend)
“This is what happens when you hurry through a maze: the faster you go, the faster you are entangled.”
A truly superlative work, House of Leaves was the best book I read in 2012, and not much comes close. It is unique in the absolute sense, and it is the scariest novel I’ve ever read.
House of Leaves is a story told through cascading mediums. At its heart is the horror documentary The Navidson Record, about filmmaker Keith Navidson’s discovery that his house expands on the inside while remaining the same size on the outside. The film is given a scholarly examination by the mysterious Zampanò, and that analysis is filtered through the footnoted commentary of 20-something Johnny Truant. Johnny is our entrypoint to this mess, with his increasingly tenuous grasp on reality meant to provoke a similar reaction in the reader.
Of course, the weirdest thing about House of Leaves is how it’s presented to the reader visually. The words aren’t always written left-to-right. There are long sections in red font, “edited out” by strikethroughs. In some parts, words have been covered by ash, represented by capital Xs. There is Braille. The “footnotes” don’t always appear at the bottom of the page, or even on the right page. In one particularly difficult section, different footnotes occupy different spaces of continuous pages — some of them are written left-to-right, some top-to-bottom, some right-to-left, some bleeding through to a mirror image on the next page, like so:
(The footnote that bleeds through is simply a list of all the things that cannot be found in the emerging space in Navidson’s house. It’s a really exhaustive list, and a very different way for an author to express nothingness.)
Then there are pages and pages with barely any words at all:
What all this visual manipulation does — and does remarkably well, mind you — is create in the reader the feelings of disorientation and isolation that bedevil Navidson the further he probes into his own house. Danielewski has managed to limn those emotions through the written word, and that is no minor accomplishment. More so than any other book I’ve ever read, House of Leaves ties its form to its function — better than Ulysses, better than Petersburg.
(Like the best episodes of The Simpsons,it also works on several planes simultaneously. Not many books contain references to The Simpsons and to Borges’ Pierre Menard within the first 100 pages. And it does it in surprising ways: Truant’s ostensibly “low” commentary is often more erudite than Zampanò’s “high” analysis. The vocabulary in this thing is pretty remarkable, too. I wrote down over a dozen words I didn’t know. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I like to think I’ve got a good handle on the English language.)