1. When I daydream of life being just the way I would like it (and it's an idle daydream, I know), I imagine, among other things, living near a thriving independent bookstore right here in town. Since I don't, and since I'm staying close to home these days, I order books online, often through Better World Books (betterworldbooks.com). A while back, I discovered another website, called Bookshop (bookshop.org). It provides a platform for independent bookstores nationwide to sell books.
On his poetry broadcast a while back, Billy Collins read two poems from The Music Lover's Poetry Anthology. I decided to order it and I went to bookshop.org to do so.
Today the book arrived from Columbia Books in Columbia, MO. I've never had a used book arrive in the mail in such pristine condition.
When I feel more free to get out and about more, I'll shop for books at shops in Wallace, Coeur d'Alene, Spokane, and other nearby places that have brick and mortar independent bookstores.
I'll also continue to patronize Better World Books and Bookshop online. Sometimes the books are a bit slow in arriving, but I don't care. I often forget I even made the order so, like today, the book's or books' arrival comes as a surprise. That's fun.
2. Poetry and baseball. Baseball and historical fiction. Lately, I've been spending many hours of my days with poetry and baseball and historical fiction and baseball.
My reading and my spectating has filled my days with different levels of pleasure and suspense.
Today I put aside the poems about music by Rumi, B. H. Fairchild, Li-Young Lee, Lisel Mueller, and others and tuned into the rhythms and suspense of baseball.
In today's first game, the Dodgers electrified viewers in the first inning when Corey Seager launched a two-run homer and Justin Turner followed with a solo blast off of Braves' ace Max Frier. The Dodgers also had their ace, Walker Buehler on the hill, and, for the six innings he pitched, the Braves couldn't touch him. Frier settled down in the ensuing innings and gave way in the seventh to two Braves' relievers, Darren O'Day and Chris Martin. The Dodgers never scored again. The Braves eked out a run in the top of the seventh off of reliever Blake Treinen, but Pedro Baez in the eighth and Kenley Jensen in the ninth blanked the Braves. The Dodgers won 3-1 and the two teams will play Game 7 Sunday evening.
3. I wrote yesterday that I thought if the Rays were going to defeat the Astros, they'd need a strong pitching performance from Charlie Morton and would need better hitting up and down their lineup.
Charlie Morton came through and more. He dominated the Astros until he left the game with two outs in the sixth inning. He kept the Astros' hitters off balance with his variety of spinners, sliders, and fastballs and pitched with startling efficiency, throwing only 66 pitches.
The Rays rely heavily on analytics, on making strategic decisions based on mathematical probabilities. I grew up watching a different brand of baseball. Not that long ago, if a starting pitcher was dominating a team the way Charlie Morton did tonight, there was no way he would have come out of the game.
But, when Jose Altuve hit an infield single, moving George Springer to third base, the Rays' arithmetic and their game plan for how to manage their pitching staff dictated that Charlie Morton come out of the game. Reliever Nick Anderson replaced him and had to face the Astros' most disciplined, and, I think, most reliable hitter, Michael Brantley.
At this juncture in the game, the Rays held a 3-0 lead. The blistering Randy Arozarena had slammed a two-run homer in the first inning and Mike Zunino added a solo shot in the second.
Brantley represented the tying run at the plate. The Rays had lifted their best pitcher during one of the premier outings of his career.
My stomach muscles tightened.
Soon I relaxed a bit. Brantley grounded out to second. The inning was over.
The Rays added a fourth run in the bottom of the sixth and then survived a two-run Astros rally in the top of the eighth and closed out the Astros in the ninth to win Game 7 and advance to the World Series.
The Rays will face a powerful opponent in the World Series, either the Braves or the Dodgers.
Unlike the Rays, whose team is composed of lesser known players, many having been cast off by other teams in Major League Baseball, both the Braves and Dodgers have some of the best known players in baseball, stars like Ron Acuna, Jr., Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Corey Seager, and others.
The Rays' approach to baseball is cerebral -- often unorthodox. They will utilize a large percentage of their roster in the World Series, continue to rely heavily on several pitchers pitching a few innings per game and on the tightness of the defense. Lastly, the Rays will hope to get, if not more hitting, at least timely hitting on offense.
My guess is that they will come into the World Series as underdogs.
They seem to relish that role.
Here's a limerick by Stu: