The San Francisco Giants have just announced a trade of Denard Span (getting on in age, less athletic with every passing year), Christian Arroyo (came in with a big splash last year, then his batting flattened out) and two minor league pitchers in exchange for slugger and infielder Evan Longoria plus cash, from the Tampa Bay Rays. They needed a big hitter badly, and Longoria is also a great infielder, but I hope he helps to revive the old magic in the Giants’ dugout. In winning three World Series in five years, they seemed to outperform any expectations based on the sheer talents of individual players; it was always the combination of players, the team chemistry as a whole, that led to their surprising victories over teams which often seemed stronger, at least on paper.
Baseball provided me with a metaphor for the homecoming theme in Fourth World and has played a major part in both of my novels. Now as I write, I’m trying to think of a role for baseball in the third book of the trilogy. To tide you over, here’s an excerpt from Fourth World Nation:
“Suppressing his excitement, he nodded at Hank, picked up a bat and stepped up onto the field. A thousand hostile baseball fanatics, many wearing black PWE uniforms, glared at him. A metallic voice announced the substitution, to a chorus of catcalls and booing. Even the programs clutched in the fans’ hands—supposedly there to provide objective analysis of the game—reacted poorly. The crowd rained scorn on Benn as he stood at home plate, their expletives addressing everything from his Asian ethnicity to the “gouging” water rates set by Hydra. Benn, however, focused his thoughts and heard none of the noise; to his ears, the diamond was still and quiet. Behind him, the mobile QI umpire adjusted his mask. The catcher shifted stealthily to the outer half of the plate, his shoes grinding into the red clay. The pitcher Helmut rolled the ball deep in his glove, his fingers seeking its seams. To Benn’s eyes, events unfolded as if in slow motion: he anticipated the limited wind-up; the delivery from a low release point; the seams spinning centrifugally; the appearance of a red dot at the center of the ball. It was a slider, unhurried in its journey toward home plate, where Benn waited patiently. He flexed his knees, shifted his front foot forward, then planted his lower body firmly. As the ball curved low and away, Benn extended his arms and kept his body balanced. On impact, the bat exploded into a hundred shards.”
SF Giants fans, having winced at the loss of prospects Stanton and Ohtani, will now turn to Longoria and pin their hopes on him (and Posey, Crawford et al), that the dream of another World Series will not meet the same fate as Benn’s bat. Come on, Giants, let’s go!