Monday, August 3, 2015

Amish kids listen to Kris Kross and follow the Phillies

On Friday, New Republic published Kent Russell's examination of Amish baseball.

Amish kids listen to Kris Kross and follow the Phillies

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Things are going to be okay. I know this because baseball season is just around the corner.

On Friday, New Republic published Kent Russell's examination of Amish baseball. If you're anxiously awaiting the arrival of Opening Day, it's the one thing you have to read today. Russell spent days streaming Moneyball and Bull Durham on his tablet in Lancaster County fields (hooray, irony!), hoping to catch a glimpse of Amish kids throwin' it 'round the horn. When he finally managed to catch them on the diamond, he ran to his car, grabbed his glove, and joined in like a 2013, grown-up version of Smalls.

He's a baseball nerd writing for baseball nerds. It's impossible to read the piece without imagining Terrence Mann dictating excerpts.


Baseball is constant

What baseball is is anachronistic. This is what’s most celebrated about it, the single narrative sweep of a game that’s changed little if at all over the course of seven generations—how me and a farmer sent forward in time from 1860 could sit down and enjoy nine innings with few or no expository leanings-over necessary.

But this is also what makes baseball so oppressive, so dense with history and numbers and precepts. If you want to get into it, you have to be OK with yoking yourself to the game’s considerable weight. It’s like an inheritance, a gift old people want you to accept, maintain, and someday pass on. Which, really, is the last thing any one of us wants when he’s young.

His feature offers a glimmer of spring on a snowy Monday in late March. The way Russell describes their poor mechanics. The sly smile of a young boy driving a horse and buggy while listening to Kris Kross. The players taunting each other in the field after a grounder bloodied the shortstop.

If you're longing to smell the grass, feel the dirt crunch beneath your feet, and hear the roar of the crowd, the prescribed medication for the day is reading Russell's feature.

I’ve played enough to feel OK saying: Never before had I seen a team of young men be so good without also being repulsively cocksure. These guys had a prelapsarian sweetness about them, this straight joy that I last knew as an adolescent dicking around with my friends Friday afternoons on a pebbly field behind a RadioShack.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch Field of Dreams until my eyes bleed. [New Republic]

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