Men at Work: the Craft of Baseball

Will, George F.

G. K. Hall, 1991

p. 324

“Baseball is a game where you have to do more than one thing very well, but one thing at a time. The best baseball people are . . . Cartesians. That is, they apply Descartes’ methods to their craft, breaking it down into bite-sized components [executing a good sacrifice bunt, hitting behind the runner; executing a run-down properly; hitting the cut-off man; judging a pitcher’s move to first; understanding a hitter’s first-pitch habits], mastering them and then building the craft up bit by bit. . . . .[Descartes’] theory was that by assembling small certainties, one could build an unassailable edifice of truths. . . Master enough little problems and you will have few big ones. Dizzy Dean once said after a 1-0 game, ‘The game was closer than the score indicated.’ He knew the thinness of margins that provide a whole run.”

pp. 328 – 329

We live in a relentlessly antiheroic age. Perhaps in a democratic culture there always is a leveling impulse, a desire to cut down those who rise. Today, however, there also seems to be a small-minded, mean spirited, resentment of those who rise, a reluctance to give credit where it is due, a flinching from unstinting admiration, a desire to disbelieve in the rewarded virtue of the few. We have a swamp of journalism suited to such an age, a journalism infused with a corrosive, leveling spirit. It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry. A society in which the capacity for warm appreciation of excellence atrophies will find that its capacity for excellence diminishes. And happiness with it.”