"As the Jints take the field for the top of the ninth, Seth Stein ruminates. He is thinking about baseball as History. How this extraordinary game is not just a game, but--perhaps more than political machinations or global events or wars or changes in governments--a metaphor that represents, in some profound way, History itself. How its metaphorical criteria include the passing down of passions and information to future generations, the learning of life lessons, the learning from past experience, the learning from winning and losing, the overcoming of obstacles, the coping with ebb and with flow, the performing of actions under pressure and a microscope, the creation of a crucible in which ordinary events and people can be transformed, momentarily, into heroic entities.
"Baseball has always been and always will be, he is thinking, a sign of the times, a continuum. Thanks to its fans, players from the past--some long gone--live in the present and well into the future. Their personae, their statistics, their records, the numbers on their backs, even their most insignificant and stupefyingly idiotic idiosyncrasies live on compellingly, entering the brains and hearts of countless millions of passionate strangers, generation after generation, to be buried with their bones or burned with their ashes.
"Then there are the eternal routines and rituals that remain changeless, from 1869 to 1951 to 2033 and onward. The faithful maintenace of dizzying stats and the parochial lingo known to every true fan and the mindless infield chatter like no language known to humankind and the pregame fungo and the warm-up pitches and the practice catches in the outfield and the on-deck circles and the dugout ribbing and the dumb practical jokes and the rhubarbs and the ground rules and the spitting of tobacco juice and sunflower seeds and phlegm. Reminds Seth of the old Bill Veeck quote: 'Baseball is the only thing besides the paper clip that hasn't changed.'
"And this pennant race of 1951, and this final, climactic playoff game that Seth feels privileged to be witnessing, what more glowing example could a person find of metaphor, of History?"
-- Bob Mitchell, Once Upon A Fastball