If you haven’t already, by all means get yourself a copy of the Nov. 27 New Yorker, and read the Roger Angell season recap.
I’ve loved Roger Angell as long as I’ve loved baseball — I remember reading The Summer Game as fast as a young boy could read a pretty thick book and realizing to my happy amazement that there were other collections, too. I devoured accounts of seasons that had come and gone years before I was born, learning the names I’d soon know by heart (Mays, Robinson, Koufax, Yaz) and soaking in the ceaseless, easy beauty of baseball expertly chronicled, interrupted by sudden spikes of joy and troughs of depression. He made it real, made me wish I’d been there, made me grateful that he had been there to tell me what happened.
But reading Angell on the subway today, I realized something new: just how much we owe him. Not just as writers or as baseball fans — I knew that already — but as bloggers.
Yes, Angell talks to players and managers and umpires and officials; he goes into the locker room and the press box. But he also watches from the stands or in front of the TV. He’s a professional and a partisan. And it’s this double vision — being simultaneously a smart, reasonably neutral observer of the on-field and front-office goings-on and a hopelessly lovelorn fan — that each and every baseball blogger tries to emulate. Bill Simmons gets and deserves a lot of the credit for teaching a generation of sports bloggers to cheer at not being in the pressbox, but it was Angell who paved the road the Sports Guy walked down.
And more simply, a lot of his piece concerns the 2006 Mets. And when the last pargraph ended, to my amazement and embarrassment I started to cry. Not a-bit-dusty-in-here eye-rubbing, not a momentary sniffle, but a shocked dissolve, like a little kid.
Read it. It’ll happen to you too.