Co de Ha rm on ics

mastering the routine play



a baseball kind of hero

He was a boy, a baby really, not more than a few months old, still in diapers, a pacifier dangling from his mouth.

She was wearing a baseball cap that collected in its palm a bundle of blond curls with some red highlights.

He stood at the plate, legs apart and knees slightly bent, his bare toes solidly sinking into the drenched dirt.

The rain fell in puddles, there were no boys left in the field. She stood in the center of the mound ready to sink to the bottom of a river to throw him a ball. The sweat and dirt on the girl’s knuckles were eating away at the already beaten leather of the baseball. The ball was dry at its core, heat-dried from the girl’s touch. She was fired up but bathed in the pouring rain. Her bare toes tore away at the earth beneath.

Poised on his tiptoes, the boy balanced a very large wooden bat.

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this is where paris baseball is played

Baseball is played along an impressive line that cuts Paris in two. This line, which starts with a castle in the Bois de Vincennes and ends with another one in Saint Germain-en-Laye, travels along Rivoli and the avenues Sainte-Antoine and Champs Elysées. It is threaded by the Arche de Triomphe and the Grande Arche at La Defense, it cross stitches the palaces and gardens of the Louvre, and is held taught by the jumping boy on the golden pole at Bastille.

If you whip this line across the ocean, you’ll find Yankee stadium or maybe Fenway Park, another set of palaces for a decidedly different set of people. Or perhaps you’ll hit an old abandoned ballpark in another French speaking city, Montreal.

But you don’t have to leave Paris to play baseball. Simply go deeper into the woods of Vincennes and navigate through hundreds of soccer fields where you’ll find two regulation baseball fields and a single softball field. This is where Paris baseball is played.

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Amateur Baseball, or The Chaos of Unearned Runs

The general bad level of play in some amateur baseball leagues flattens out individual skills. There is a point at which the number of fielding errors, passed balls, etc., as well as gratuitous walks and all sorts of mis-judgements, become so numerous that everyone – best or worst – contributes equally to wins and losses. Systemic bad play, in other words, makes everyone equally productive and non-productive. Furthermore, individual skills and statistics seem so unreliable to predict future performance that, win or lose, there seems little use of strategy in a game where there are more errors and unworked walks than hits. How does one design a team around that?

This is the dilemma.

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First Game, Bunting to get on base

Every game of baseball is an argument – an argument about how the game should be played. (Bill James)

we all bunted, all of us almost all of the time

Today we played the game like I never would have wanted to. I wouldn’t have asked my hitters to bunt as often. No, « often » is not the word. We all bunted, all of us almost all of the time – every batter in every part of the order, with runners on base or not, with none out or more, in early innings or late, with a high score or not. Given the result, though, I’m no longer sure what I had against the bunt. We scored something like thirty runs over two five-inning games; the other teams, who were carelessly swinging away, scored a mere two runs in comparison.

Our coach asked our beginners to bunt for hits, and he asked our best to bunt to advance runners. Everybody bunted and got on base. On my first time at the plate, pumped to hit, I was given the sign to bunt and I went after a low, unbuntable ball. I’m not used to bunting. And nobody really asks me to bunt since they like what I do with my swing. The next few at-bats, I learned to pull back the bat and not chase bad pitches with my stationary bat. But on the good pitches, let me tell you, I began to let rip nice slow bunts along the first and third base lines, proudly beating them out for infield hits.

Of course, this kind of strategy works well when the team facing you can’t field the bunt. That’s why the coach put a pause on our bunting when one of the relief pitchers proved himself adept at fielding the bunt. Otherwise, today’s game was an argument in favor of small ball.


Uncounted Events Part 3

The previous season should now be put to rest – in this blog and in my mind – with the realization that amateur baseball is not recorded nor recordable history. There is no history to the amateur game, it is not even witnessed by anyone except the players.

Digging up the truth of the past is impossible if the events of the past are not recorded. And even if they are recorded, they would be incomprehensible. The scoresheets are either missing or not accurate. The past makes no sense – neither when it happened in the first instance nor afterwards under any retrospective point of view.

The point of this article is that Power hitting is not useful when there are large amounts of errors, passed balls, wild pitches, stolen bases, and careless judgements. All bets are off in understanding the outcome of such games. Count the people on base, count the number of errors, and you’ll get the best prediction. A homerun is equal to a walk.

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