Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 11-09-20: Brief Everett Update, Getting Medieval in the Sube, Baseball History Pitch by Pitch

 1. Although the CAT scan results are pending, it appears that the abscess that has remained in Everett's abdomen is gone. The team's plan is to remove the drainage tube. The nurse Christy talked with reports that Everett is tired, is sleeping more, and wants to stay in bed. 

I delivered cards to Everett today by taking them to the welcoming desk at Kootenai Health. Christy learned from the nurse that Everett received and read the cards. 

I toyed with the idea of doing something else in Coeur d'Alene, but decided to drive straight back to Kellogg after delivering the cards.  I always tilt toward what's become known as "an abundance of caution". 

2. I've contemplated purchasing a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker so I can listen to books on audible while driving. Today, though, I wondered if it would work to listen to The Pillars of the Earth using my smart phone and putting an ear bud in one ear. It did. I could hear what was happening outside the car at the same time that the story transported me to 12th century England. Unless, over time, I'm unhappy with this approach, I'll hold off on purchasing a speaker.

 I started reading The Pillars of the Earth back in July, put it aside for quite a while at some point this summer, picked it up again and committed myself to finishing it -- and today I did just that.

I enjoyed the great span of this novel, the way it developed over about fifty-one years, set primarily in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, featuring the parallel development of the building of a new cathedral and the stories of a handful of characters, all, in one way or another, connected with the cathedral. As the plot deepens, so do these characters -- some mature into wisdom, into a deeper understanding of love, service, and acceptance of their suffering; others persist in destructive ways and never repent; others are chastened, and, in one way or another, own up to their grievous acts, deeds motivated by greed, lust, mendacity, a thirst for power, and meanness. At the center of it all is the long and often tumultuous process of financing and constructing the new cathedral.

I didn't realize, as I cruised down I-90, listening to John Lee read this story, that Follett's book concludes with the events leading up to and climaxing in the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. Throughout the novel, Follett explores the tension between spiritual power and earthly power, between virtue and service to God on the one hand and the efforts, on the other, of characters to seize land, increase their wealth, and usurp those holding governing positions. The ongoing conflict between spiritual strength and brute physical force reaches its peak, not only with the murder of Thomas Becket, but in what occurs in the aftermath and brings this epic novel to its profound conclusion.

3. Having finished The Pillars of the Earth, I decided to change things up a bit. I turned to baseball and, through audible.com, ordered Tyler Kepner's book, K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches. Over ten chapters, Kepner devotes one chapter to one kind of pitch and looks at baseball's history through the development of that pitch. He begins with the slider, goes to the fastball, then the curve and, over the course of the book, devotes his other chapters to the knuckleball, splitter, screwball, sinker, changeup, spitball, and cutter.

 Kepner draws upon countless interviews with pitchers past and present along with others involved in the sport. Kepner also draws upon the voracious reading he's done over the years of oral histories, biographies, memoirs, and other materials by and about pitchers and pitching. He also writes some autobiographical passages that are fun. 

I'm into chapter three right now and the stories have been enthralling. Kepner's insights into baseball are smart and illuminating.  Moreover, Kepner works to sort out the changes that have transpired in baseball in the last several years and connects them to contemporary approaches to pitching and to managing pitching staffs.

Tyler Kepner is the baseball writer for The New York Times. I don't know if he's written anything yet on Kevin Cash's decision in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series to pull Blake Snell in the sixth inning. I'll look into that before long. If he hasn't, it certainly would not be difficult to extrapolate from what he has to say about major league pitching in, say, the last five years to figure out how he might analyze Cash's crucial (and, as it turned out, misguided) decision to replace Snell at that juncture in Game 6. 

No comments: