Friday, February 4, 2011


Every once in awhile we gave our readers a glimpse of the actual future. This small but potently-overwritten paragraph, from 1997, captures the essence of what has flowed from the home run explosion downhill into witch hunt territory:

Baseball's numerology is more than a mere neurosis: it is a collective fixation that swings between the poles of tradition and progress, myth and science, the ordinary and the unattainable. It takes a long time for a baseball number to outlast these polarities: "61" has probably just arrived at that point, due to the taunts and taints it endured while Roger Maris was still alive. Now that both Mantle and Maris have died, fans can finally push past the perceived affront of that number, and it can now (paradoxically) take on the same function that Ruth's old record fulfilled. We are not ready for this record to be broken, because we have just gotten over the loss of Ruth's record in the last ten years. We'd better brace ourselves, however, for more assaults--and another affront to our undigested myths--in the next few years.

(p. 217)