I have been given a genius grant. That’s a lie based on a daydream, that daydream just a version of a type of daydream I’ve been having at least since 1977 when I got this card; back then instead of a genius grant the outlandish daydream was for not merely a major league baseball scout acting on behalf of the Boston Red Sox but Carl Yastrzemski himself in the role as team emissary pulling up to my house in central Vermont via limousine to offer me a lucrative multiyear contract to join him in his quest to topple the Yankees in the American League East. But let’s ignore the sprawling desperation of the second sentence of this paragraph. Onward: I am going to channel the funds of my genius grant into the staffing of a research team charged with investigating inane propositions and hypotheses. Here are three.
- Did players who appeared on the doctored cards of my youth generally find these appearances to be followed by diminishing glories and hopes? That’s my guess—that careers went downhill, that the end was nigh—based on the visceral collective memory of these cards as perversely magnetic talismans of disquieting transience, of things becoming unfixed, and into this decentralizing mist the individual hero, the idea of the individual hero, vanishes. We’re all just figures on the move, or so I propose.
- Is there a soul? If so it’s so smudged by the conflict between the desire for such and the random splinterings and humiliations of everyday life that it grows ever more impossible to see. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a soul. Terrifying as it is to me, it makes more sense that we’re all just on a brief hiatus from complete nonexistence. This occurred to me when I was pondering the reasons why Manny Sanguillen was beglobbed with a facsimile of Oakland green when he had to that point been (and after a brief hiatus in Oakland would be again) cloaked in Pittsburgh Pirate black and white and gold. I discovered that Sanguillen had been shipped to Oakland with $100,000 cash in exchange for Oakland manager Chuck Tanner, Tanner replacing Danny Murtaugh, who had retired at season’s end and then, a month after his replacement arrived, died. Murtaugh been alive for 59 years, which is not very long compared with all the years before that and after that in which he was not alive. This state we’re in right now is not our natural state. Our natural state has nothing to do with identifiable names or specific places. In our natural state we’re not even figures on the move but insensate scattered atoms. That’d be the working hypothesis of this one.
- What day had the most transactions? My guess is that it was 11/5/76. I’ve written about this day quite a lot and have even attempted for a while to make it a personal holiday—Expansion Day. I couldn’t stick with it, but who knows, maybe I will yet. It was the day of the expansion draft to populate the rosters of the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. There were a few other transactions that day too, including the unusual player-for-manager trade that brought Manny Sanguillen to Oakland. Maybe the Pirates figured that if they didn’t move Sanguillen they’d have to leave him unprotected and lose him anyway. They had a couple of other catchers, both younger than him, and maybe they figured they were set. There’s nothing really to gain from researching which day had the most transactions. Is there anything to gain by any of this? For some reason I am fucking compelled to write. Even if there’s no identifiable point to it, no money in it, no hopes. I’ll write until I’m shipped off via some binding, irreversible transaction into a smudged, doctored vestibule to oblivion of my very own. I am not stopping.