Saturday, August 18, 2007

How Unwittingly He Talks About Himself...

Cardinals’ Virtue

I include this story because--so much--it seems to be Dr. Krauthammer's story, too.

In the fable, the farm-boy phenom makes his way to the big city to amaze the world with his arm. At a stop at a fair on the train ride to Chicago, he strikes out the Babe Ruth of his time on three blazing pitches. Enter the Dark Lady. Before he can reach the stadium for his tryout, she shoots him and leaves him for dead.

It is 16 years later and Roy Hobbs returns, but now as a hitter and outfielder. (He can never pitch again because of the wound.) He leads his team to improbable glory, ending the tale with a titanic home run that, in the now-iconic movie image, explodes the stadium lights in a dazzling cascade of white.

In real life, the kid doesn’t look like Robert Redford, but he throws like Roy Hobbs: unhittable, unstoppable. In his rookie year, appropriately the millennial year 2000, he throws it by everyone. He pitches the St. Louis Cardinals to a division title, playing so well that his manager anoints him starter for the opening game of the playoffs, a position of honor and — for 21-year-old Rick Ankiel — fatal exposure.


Anonymous prairieson said...

This is what makes baseball the quintessential American sport. Anyone can play it -- it's not that difficult to learn and in most ways it is not as dangerous as some other sports -- but few can play it well. And like many institutions in America, it has its share of dark history, including the infamous Black Sox episode. There have been other smears against the game throughout its long history. But maybe it is because baseball itself does not fail, only the imperfect humans that play it, that ensures there will always be a diamond, four bases and a pitcher's mound in America's future.

Barry Bonds and others like him have brought a kind of shame to the sport but like the many other slams against baseball, baseball itself will shrug it off and wait patiently for the next Roy Hobbs to resurrect the honor of the game.

(The femme fatale in "The Natural", played by Barbara Hershey, was a member of a religious cult, possibly with roots in ancient Egyptian religions, that believed taking the essence of a giant in life, such as Roy Hobbs, ensured them godlike status in the afterlife -- there have been some strange religions in the US and this was just one. In the movie, she did not "disappear" but threw herself out of the window after shooting Hobbs -- it was part of a ritual.)


11:17 AM  
Anonymous bobcat said...

Loved the last line; this was his story!

6:09 PM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

I didn't know about this. If my Twins are in it, then I pay attention to baseball. How does this relate to Charles Krauthammer?

3:39 AM  

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