The Baseball Desert

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Pinstripes and pop

If you're reading this post, which is hidden away in an obscure corner of the blogosphere, then you're probably one of two things: either a good friend of mine or a blog addict.

I love baseball, but over the past couple of years, I've also come to love the blogs that have sprung up around the sport. Baseball is highly conducive to analysis - the pace of every game leaves plenty of time to talk about what's going on on the field, and the fact that teams play 162 games a year gives us plenty of opportunity to follow their changing fortunes six months a year - and nowhere is the analysis more frank and interesting than on baseball blogs.

If you look on pretty much any baseball blog around, you'll find a list of other blogs that the author finds interesting, and The Baseball Desert is no exception. The list on the right is fairly small compared to the 'blogrolls' on other sites, but it's a deliberate choice on my part - I know that there are plenty of other worthy blogs out there, but the ones I have listed are the ones I read on a regular basis.

When I first dicovered the world of baseball blogs, I was like a little kid on Christmas Day, unwrapping fifty-seven presents all at once and not knowing which one to play with. However, after a couple of months of craziness, I realised that, unfortunately, there's just not enough time to read everything that's out there (even for a guy who almost never switches on the TV) - there are still only 24 hours in a day, and reading everything that I would like to read would leave me less time to follow the games themselves (or read or listen to music or spend time with the family or continue my own blog). So, choices had to be made, and I narrowed the list down to about a dozen blogs, all of which I read pretty much on a daily basis. What I like about the blogs is that there's no party line - people say what they want to say without looking for approval from the powers-that-be. I'm not saying that ESPN or or Sports Illustrated are not worth reading, I'm just saying that blogs make me feel that I'm getting the 'real deal' - insider information, in the sense that it's coming from the fans at grass-roots level.

All of this is just a long-winded way of saying that it is rare that I add a blog to my 'daily-read' list, but it happened today. In one of those 'link-to-a-link-to-a-link' moments that we all know so well, I ended up on a Phillies blog called Shallow Center, and began to read. I liked the tone and I liked the style (two fairly obvious prerequisites for a good blog), but something else caught my eye, something so rare that I did a double-take before realising that my eyes weren't deceiving me - Shallow Center's author Tom lists the albums he currently has on his CD Changer, and amongst those listed was Waking Hours, by Scottish band Del Amitri. I thought I was the owner of the only blog in the universe to mention both baseball and Del Amitri, but it appears I was wrong.

Del Amitri are one of rock's best-kept secrets. They had precisely one hit in the US - Roll To Me - which, ironically, was both not representative of the band's oeuvre and, in my humble opinion, actually not a very good song. Outside of that, they've made a string of great albums, filled with fine tunes and clever, funny, bittersweet lyrics. Tom responded to an e-mail I sent by saying that Del Amitri were "criminally underrated", and I agree. So, in the absence of anything enlightening to say on the subject of baseball, I'll leave you with a little taste of melancholy, courtesy of Scotalnd's finest:

Surface Of The Moon

Snow in a soulless city covers up the cracks in the road
As a wastrel buys her cigarettes and wipes her pretty nose
Like a part-time Elvis imitator these streets I knew so well
Have been pasted beyond recognition with a temporary smell

Now the midnight train eases out leaving everyone marooned
And without her it might as well be the surface of the moon

From the well-swept streets of Jackson Heights to the dockside drudgery
Everything's now a replica of what it used to be
And since they tarted up the trenches and painted the bridges blue
It seems less like a home to me than just a place they bury you

Now we're lit up like a cathedral in our frozen concrete ruin
And without her it might as well be the surface of the moon

So I need her and I love her that is true
But I'm stuck here like some shipwreck still holding on to you
So when they beat out the tramps and patch up the slums
Everything will be fine
There'll be a new facade for us to hide behind

So on the ancient trails of our coupling in the places we used to meet
I am amazed by the lack of memories that I thought would flood through me
And the riverside where we first kissed has now been reduced
To a phoney old world market where only shoppers get seduced

Now your arms embrace me strangely in your unfamiliar room
And for all I care it might as well be the surface of the moon