The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Friday, April 13, 2007


So it Goes

First things first: this site turned six years old on Monday, and as with last year's milestone, I was too busy to stop and serve notice via this blog. Yes, I wish I'd had the time to bake myself a cake, but I'm hardly complaining. The busyness has become business, and the idea that I could make it through an entire offseason gainfully employed while writing about baseball is something I wouldn't have believed back in 2001. I thank all of you reading this who helped make it possible.

Moving right along, the first Hit List of the regular season is up over at Baseball Prospectus. It's a new time slot, chosen to maintain some domestic harmony (my wife puts up with a lot of writing-induced tunnel vision over the winter, and clearing my schedule for her days off was overdue) and to prevent me having to punt so many of these puppies due to summer weekend travels. Hopefully, it's not quite so counterintuitive as it appears at first glance. Thursday is often an off day for many teams, which helps with turnaround times as far as keeping the list's stats fresh, and Friday marks the end of the work week for most readers, plus it's traditionally a day when BP has been somewhat light in the content department.

The Mets top the list this week, followed by the Indians, Padres, Angels and Brewers -- a nice mix of teams thanks to the early date. The Yanks are eighth, the Dodgers are 14th, and the 30th-ranked Nationals look like they may give the '62 Mets a run for their money. No Simpsons reference in this week's list (d'oh!), but I did get to call upon Sesame Street, Samuel Beckett, Sam Horn, the Sausage Race, and Slaughterhouse-Five.

The last was intentionally topical, since Kurt Vonnegut passed away on Wednesday, and discussions of his demise dotted my conversations and my web reading as I prepared this week's list. The first Vonnegut novel I ever read was as an assignment, but it wasn't for an English class; Galapagos' take on the future of human evolution was required reading for my introductory biology class at Brown (and I note with pride that my professor for that class, Dr. Kenneth Miller, has become a high-profile opponent of creationism who maintains that evolution doesn't contradict religious faith). That Vonnegut would wind up on the Bio 20 syllabus wasn't all that surprising; the brother of a prominent scientist, Vonnegut's commitment to science was a key tenet of his worldview. Such were his politics that he noted just prior to the 2004 election, "No matter which one wins, we will have a Skull and Bones President at a time when entire vertebrate species, because of how we have poisoned the topsoil, the waters and the atmosphere, are becoming, hey presto, nothing but skulls and bones."

I didn't really get hip to Vonnegut until a friend slid me a musty, dog-eared copy of Breakfast of Champions about a decade ago. How I missed Slaughterhouse when I was such a fan of Catch-22 I'll never know. Vonnegut quickly became one of my favorite novelists and cultural presences. His anti-authoritarian stance, economical style, black humor and ultimately his humanity made for an unmistakable voice that elevated even his most minor works, while placing his major ones among the greatest novels ever written, period. I don't recall him ever writing about baseball, but I've appropriated the title of alter ego Kilgore Trout's novel, Now It Can Be Told, more than a few times here and in the Hit List.

If you're ever stuck in an airport bookstore without reading material for a flight ahead, grab a Vonnegut novel; it's the surest bet there is for a few laughs and some deep thought at 30,000 feet. His is a voice that will be truly missed. As the man liked to say, "So it goes."

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