Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kingman's Style

From chapter 5 of Dan Epstein’s very enjoyable Stars and Strikes: Baseball and American in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76

The Yankees’ crosstown counterparts weren’t starting off the season too badly, either. Despite their impressive pitching staff, few expected the offensively challenged Mets, under the guidance of rookie manager Joe Frazier, to be much of a factor in the NL East. And yet, they played 13-7 ball in April, thanks in part to the bat of their one major offensive weapon, right fielder Dave “Kong” Kingman. Kong – or “Sky King,” as Kingman preferred to be called – hit 36 homers for the Mets in 1975, and appeared to be on track for even more in ’76. The free-swinging Kingman rarely walked, and struck out around four times for every home run he hit; yet, despite an ungainly swing that Sports Illustrated’s Larry Keith likened to “a very tall man falling from a very short tree,” the 6’ 6” slugger specialized in gargantuan rainbow shots that seemed to pierce the very atmosphere before returning to earth. “Dave’s style is to swing hard in case he hits it,” said veteran Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool. “When he’s connecting, the only way to defense him is to sit in the upper deck. I’ve never seen anybody hit the ball farther.”

Nor had too many other people. On April 14, with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field, Kingman launched a moon shot off of Cubs reliever Tom Dettore that sailed over the left field bleachers, carried across Waveland Avenue, and headed up Kenmore Avenue, where it finally caromed off the air-conditioning unit of a residence three houses up from the corner. Variously estimated at traveling between 530 and 630 feet, Sky King’s blast was widely adjudged to have been the longest home run ever hit at Wrigley. Though the Mets lost that game 6-5, Kingman came back the next day and sent two more baseballs flying out of the park and clanging off building facades along Waveland, with his second of the game plating three runs to give the Mets an eventual 10-8 victory. The three tape-measure blasts in Chicago came as part of a spree that saw Kingman hammer seven homers in seven days.

With his jaw-dropped power – even his infield pop-ups were awe-inspiring – and angular good looks, Kingman could have been a major New York celebrity, but the only swinging this bachelor ever did was on the field. A moody introvert, Kingman preferred to lead a solitary existence at his four-bedroom home in rural Cos Cob, Connecticut, where he spent his downtime building furniture in his garage. “I prefer a private life of my own. I like to live quietly,” he told sportswriter Jack Lang. “I enjoy playing in New York, but I don’t enjoy living in the city. I like peace and quiet. I like to get away from it all. I enjoy woodworking. I enjoy making things.”

* * * * * * *

Me, nine, ten years old, my dad a big Mets fan. Stretched out on the living room floor in the suffocating, air-conditioned-less heat, watching the Mets lose one game after another. Kingman was always exciting (at least to my father; I don’t even know if I understood the game all that well back then or even had the willpower to give it more than a half-inning’s attention). My brother even had Kingman’s autographed 8 ½ x 11, if I recall correctly. I also remember going to several games at the old Shea stadium, and even being quite close to the field one time, maybe a dozen rows behind the third base dugout.

Ah, memories from my youth …

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Five Years

Well, today marks the fifth anniversary of the ascendency of St. Humble the Obtuse.

I still orbit Rome, though it is now of a vastly increased radius and tugged at by many, many gravitational pulls. The strongest, I suppose, is sedevacantism, the belief that the Chair of St. Peter, the papacy, has not been held by a legitimate Pope since Pius XII died in 1958. Other massive bodies pulling upon my soul and intellect range from Zen and Mahayana Buddhism to the philosophy of Sartre and Nietzsche. Toss in the Kantian positivism of modern day physics, sprinkle in a heaping dose of Mary Baker Eddy and Billy Graham, serve with plain old head-in-the-sand ostrichism and copious amount of Foster’s lager, and you got the space between Hopper’s ears, served as a high-caloric delicious dish devoid of nutritional value.

And what has the Humble One done to ensnare my soul – and the souls of millions others – for Christ? Well, he’s brought the Church down to us. Instead of looking up to something transcendent, he’s brought the angels and saints and the otherworldly beauty down to us to – to use a favorite expression of his – to mix with the smell of sheep. Forget about raising your eyes to a higher glory above; enjoy the scent of your fellow fallen man. Oh, and let your conscience be your Christ.

I have never felt more alone and adrift in my life. Perhaps it’s midlife crisis; I did turn 50 six months ago. I have unsuccessfully searched for a solid mooring all my life since my parent’s divorce in my early adolescence, and thought I finally found it, via the wife and children, in my two-decade return to the Catholic Church. But when old Benedict abdicated and we got this snake-oil selling clown, I realize again I am set asea in a raft without oars, blindfolded, spinning around fathom-free poles, lost in the Northern Atlantic depths in the early morning hours as the big ship slowly slides down into the darkness.

What to do, what to do? Keep on keeping on, I suppose. Not much else to do unless I suddenly decide to radically –

But I digress.

Why do I dislike this man so intensely?

- Amoris Laetitia and his silence towards the “dubia”

- The false humility for the cameras

- His selling out of the largest group of Catholics in the world, those in China

- The perpetual verbal diarrhea called airplane interviews

- “Who am I to judge?”

- The salivating desire to please the liberal intelligentsia (Laudato Si)

- Those monthly politically correct Vatican videos

- Francis’s Little Book of Insults (google it)

- The constant drive to tinker with millennia-old doctrine

- The syrupy simplicity of his teaching (check his twitter feed)

- The promotion of Fr. James Martin to Vatican communications director

There – eleven reasons, one for each faithful apostle, right off the top of my head. Perhaps I’m being disrespectful. Maybe, maybe not. I take this seriously. This man’s capitulation to modernism is no laughing matter, nothing to shrug off, nothing to sigh about. This is Eternal Life and Death we’re talking about.

Anyway, it’s now been five years. Five long years …

Sunday, March 11, 2018

New Revolutionaries

WHITE-HAIRED JESUIT HIPPIE: Where are all the Catholic Millennial activists???

ANSWER: At Latin Mass on Sunday morning.

(paraphrase of a recent witty – and correct – answer c/o priest blogger Fr. Dwight Longenecker)

Count me in.