If you’re someone who has been looking to take part in the consumption frenzy that is Black Friday, but have no desire for things like TVs, preferring instead to buy baseball ephemera, you’re in luck.
Here are a few deals going down this week where you can plunk down your dollars and walk away happy. Also, if you see any deals not listed, leave a comment, or tweet at me, bro.
Homage: Sign up for email touting Black Friday goodies. No idea what that will be though.
Mitchell and Ness: 40% off with code VIP2013
Ebbets Field Flannels: 20% off with code Small13
Blowout Cards: A number of baseball card boxed sets are on sale with additional lightning sales during the day.
Steiner Sports: Many autographed baseballs cut in price to $89.99.
Your Local Team Store: If you live in an MLB city, there’s a good chance that the stadium’s team store is holding some kind of event and/or sale on ticket packages. Check the appropriate official website for more info.
McFarland Books: Publisher of many baseball books has a 20% sale through December 31st with code HOLIDAY.
I’ll be updating this post as more come in (there will certainly be something through the MLB.com shop at least), so check back if your checkbook is too full.
That’s a joke. No one uses checkbooks anymore.
245.0: Utterly random in Paris.
I would like to interrupt the regularly scheduled RQ guy narrative to bring you this never-to-be-sent which is directed more to one of my Tumblr friends than it is to you. (I’m sure you’re not offended since you — the real you — probably isn’t and likely never will read this anyway.) Said Tumblr friend has been an ex-pat living in Germany for… I don’t remember the number of years she says she’s lived there, but it seems like a lifetime. She hardly ever talks about her former American life and when she does I glean from her fleeting narratives a curious dissonance.
It occurs to me that other than a photo that I posted from London, I haven’t posted much evidence of my summer trip to Europe. I remember how when this Tumblr friend of mine found out about how I originally didn’t want to go to Europe — remember that? remember my adamant, and whiny, reluctance? — she gave me the ol’ tongue-lashing. She’d said things like It makes me sad that you’d pass up such a great opportunity and You should really think this through. Basically, like everyone else to whom I’d confided my reluctance about going to Europe, she thought I was being an idiot — and I was, though of course I wouldn’t be able to see that until I actually got there. And now, of course, I miss Europe like cray cray. (Wait, is “cray cray” still a thing? Because I kinda like saying it.)
So, here’s a photo with a funny story. First, the setting: this is in Paris somewhere very close to the Jardin des Tuileries. Now, the context: those pants that I’m wearing just came from that boutique I’m standing in front of. They were a surprise purchase, to say the least. In the months that preceded our trip, Ma kept emphasizing that Parisians were very stylish people and that we should try to dress up to their standards. I let Ma go on and on about what shoes she wanted to wear even though I was skeptical of her conviction because everything she was talking about sounded like stuff that TV and the movies depict of Paris but to me couldn’t possibly actually be Parisian. Come on, I thought — they can’t be that bad.
Everything changed on the day we were scheduled to go on a citywide bus trip that culminated in an evening visit to the Eiffel Tower. I was wearing the shirt that you see in this photo but it was paired with shorts — and drawstring beach shorts, no less! I remember once reading that Rick Steves recommended not wearing shorts when traveling through Europe because that was a very absurdly American and touristy thing to do. That very recommendation was thrown in my face when Pop, Ma, and I fell into the line for our bus tour and I noticed that all the guys were dressed either in collared shirts and slacks or, in some cases, outright suits. At first, I didn’t even think they were going on the bus tour. Maybe they were on their way to the opera?
They were all speaking English — with English accents.
"Excuse me," I said, politely breaking into one of the conversations.
Two towering men of at least fortysomething years tilted downward to regard me with bemused smiles. For some reason I got the feeling that I had stepped into Lord of the Rings.
"Quick question," I pressed ahead. "Are you guys going on the bus tour?"
"That’s right," one of the guys said.
"Really?" I said, taken aback to such a degree that I literally stepped back. "You guys look so nice."
"Thanks, mate," said the other, cheerily.
"What’s the occasion?"
The two guys stared at each other and then turned to me, bewildered. After a moment one of them finally proclaimed: “We’re in Paris, mate.”
In a panic, I scanned the vicinity for any sign of clothing shops. When I spotted the boutique in the photo, I told Ma that I had to step away from the line for a few minutes.
"Hurry back. I think we’re gonna board soon," Ma admonished, ever-vigilant about punctuality. We weren’t actually due to board for at least another half hour — more than enough time for me to replace my absurdly touristy American shorts.
In the boutique, I expected to be dismissed or treated indifferently. This was Paris, mate! Instead, the young clerk beamed at me as if he had been tending to an uneventful day of retail sales and I was the first legitimate prospect to visit all day.
"Parle-vous anglais?" I asked.
"Little bit," he said, to my dismay. Time was running out and I had to be very precise. I took a breath and pondered what I would say next.
"I need slacks," I began uncertainly.
The clerk echoed my uncertainty. “Slacks…?”
I sighed and thought some more. “Pants.”
The clerk hopped over to a display of jeans in bright tones of red and yellow — much too casual than what I had in mind. And then I saw a display of khakis: simple yet classy.
"Those," I said, pointing to the khakis and forcing a smile so that he wouldn’t think I was bossing him around.
"Ah. Yes. These are good. What size?"
Oh shit. European size!
"Um, I only know American size," I said, feeling my face go hot.
"American…" the clerk said, his voice falling with dismay.
I reminded myself that precision was the key.
"I’m fat," I blurted to him. For added effect, I dramatically brought out my arms and then circled them around my hips like moons orbiting a planet.
The clerk stared, wide-eyed. He returned the khakis he had retrieved and then snatched a new pair to offer me.
"Try this," he said. "It is European 45. Very big. Maybe it is equivalent."
I crossed my fingers without considering whether or not that was a gesture that translated into French culture. I gratefully took the khakis from him and dashed into the dressing room, which was really a glorified closet scrunched up against the stock room where boxes overflowed with garments seeping from recently shorn tops.
The pants were a disaster. I feared nearly tearing the fabric simply trying to fit in one of my legs. It wasn’t too long before I dashed back out to the tiny sales floor and I was so desperate that I didn’t care that I was only in my boxers.
The clerk had been organizing a display of lower shelf collar shirts when he looked up at me, hopeful at first and then hapless the next. He shook his head and I shook mine. And then he dug around in one of the shelves and pulled out another pair of khakis, quickly reading the tag on them before handing them to me.
"This is the largest size I have," he said. "You wish to try?"
In the dressing room, I slid into them with a precision that I had never experienced with American clothes. I had been used to wearing pants all my life that were a little to a lot baggy. The closest approximation that I had for these khakis was to call them skinny jeans — except that they were khakis, and rather than being “skinny,” they were… just right. The most fitting, if not perfect, size that neither too loose nor too constricting.
Back on the sales floor, I announced with relief to the clerk: “I’ll take it.”
"They are good?" he said excitedly.
I stuck my hands into the pockets. “They’re perfect.”
They were size 53 — enormous by European standards, and certainly a self-consciously large number for me. As for the cost, you don’t want to know.
Back home in America, I told this story to Spencer at a time when the span of weeks had created some distance between myself and the situation.
"So let me get this straight," Spencer had said over coffee at Mission Pie. “You freaked out because you were the only one in shorts so you decided to pay a bazillion Euros for new khakis? Only you would have a pants emergency while going on a tour of Paris. Only you, Joseph.”
In my defense, they weren’t a bazillion Euros. But the equivalent in American dollars was way more than I would ever have paid for pants, even the nicest dress slacks, stateside.
So that’s what happened in that photo. Hard to believe that that was taken in June, which doesn’t seem like such a long time ago and yet it does. Especially when I have endured the kind of week that has just passed and the kind of week that is about to unfold. When I find myself trapped in and blinded by the short-term and short-sighted hardships of everyday living, I find myself immediately clinging to anything that will bring me out of the funk long enough to get me going forward again: a childhood memory, a piece of writing from simpler times, zoning out to General Hospital, and…
There is an entire world of fanfic out there about you, Linc. I never really started to read that stuff until recently and only then it’s because I’m doing research for the paper I’m writing in my English class this semester. But in the baseball fanfic community, there’s a separation between fanfic and mainstream sports writing sites like Deadspin and probably this is why I have been mostly unaware of all the fanfic that exists about you. Mostly, though, I’ve never wanted to devolve into a creepy kind of never-to-be-senter.
In some cases those pseudonymous fanfics include pleas to not link their stories to any of the mainstream sports fandoms — or especially to the players written about so lustily, and longingly, in those fictions. Here I’ve been for the last four years writing these epistles with with some high-minded presumption that they could be a bridge between the longings of fanfic and the truths of the real world, and it turns out that according to the rules, the twain are not meant to meet.
Maybe I’ve done all of this wrong. If I liked you so much, then I should have just become a pseudonymous fanfic writer, not someone who willingly publicizes his unrequited love. And yet, it is what it is — and so I find myself lately, in moments of downtime, going into Google and typing your name.
I don’t do this often, Linc. I’ve been a fan for over four years but only now am I discovering the fanfic and only now have I been really moved to pull up Google image search results of you. These days, occasionally pulling up these photos of you is the closest I have to the magic of going to a regular season ballgame, of escaping to Europe.
258.0: Things to do in the off-season.
I’ve been thinking about Miley Cyrus — how I like her music even though everyone seems to hate her headlines, which I admit are really terrifying and absurd. But I also think about how she’s still a decent actress and a decent person overall when she’s not crazy. You should see her on Jimmy Fallon. Unlike other celebrity “bad girls,” she seems to have it more together.
It’s weird that I’m thinking about her, because I’m attaching this never-to-be-sent to a Katy Perry song. A song that I haven’t thought about in a while and only recently thought back to again because of RQ guy.
Who, by the way, was in town.
But I’ll get to that later.
My hair is… halfway-long. Here I’ve been all this time thinking that it was already long, but no, it’s only “halfway-long.”
"It’s just getting there," he’d said.
"He" being the guy at the hair products section of the Sephora that I strolled into recently. I’ve escalated the makeup usage beyond just the occasional, Linc. Now I’m dabbling it on every so often. The thing of makeup I ended up getting at Sephora is what is called, apparently (because I still don’t know much about these things), liquid makeup because, well, it’s liquid.
It comes out of a tube (like toothpaste, I guess — toothpaste for your face) and you just spread a little bit of it around your face. I do it on the morning of days that I want to have makeup. It has SPF. And a gal at Sephora had to press a high-techy gadget of some sort (which made me feel even more clueless about all things makeup) to my face to detect my color complexion (or something; she matched the beep-beep-accompanied response on the gadget to the tube of makeup she picked out for me).
As for the guy in the hair products section, for starters, Linc, I didn’t even know that Sephora sold anything besides makeup. This was how rarely I ever went to that store. But this is how retail gets you: they sell you the one thing you really wanted to buy, but then little desires inside of you start to compound and suddenly you’re thinking that you may as well look around as long as you’re here. And I thought that well, if I can touch up my face, maybe there’s something that I can do about my hair, too.
I was surprised at how down-to-earth the hair products guy was. For one thing, he kept laughing (kindly) at my reaction whenever he’d squeeze samples of product onto my hand. “Can you feel how light the material is?” he would begin, and then with what seemed to me like a kind chuckle he would add, “You’re like, ‘what the hell is this crap’?”
When he asked me what kind of shampoo I used, I confessed: “Whatever’s on sale. Right now I’m working through a big bottle of KIrkland Signature. You know, those huge shampoo bottles you get for really cheap…
"… at Costco," we finished together.
(“We finished together.” Something about that sounds dirty, and makes me think of RQ guy — who I’ve been thinking about a lot, by the way. To such degree that he has overshadowed you — one imaginary boyfriend for another.)
Then the hair products guy started explaining this and that about this and that product that they had on the shelves, although he made it a point to say, “But the stuff you’re using now is perfectly fine. If you’re working your way through that bottle, finish it.” (Of course, having been in customer service myself for a long time, and now a business major, I’m quite aware that this is a “relationship building” tactic to hedge against the loss of a sale.)
His observation — replete with reaching out to briefly tug at what I had thought were one of the longer strands of hair — was surprising because it already seemed like I had long hair. You can tell by my reaction that I don’t often let my hair grow out. But now I am and at various times I either feel good about it or I don’t. The more hair there is, the more there is to manage. Washing it can take forever. Also, it’s an attention whore — constantly in need of brushing or some other adjustment. And yet, providing all that attention, doing all that work, makes me feel good, somehow — the same way that I don’t really need makeup, yet it adds something intangibly positive to my life that puts a spring in my step.
I don’t just want to touch up the exterior, though. I want to take care of my insides as well as how often I pay attention to how I look on the outside. The first thing that came to mind was that I need to eat more fruits and vegetables. I don’t actually know why that was the first thing that came to mind. It just seemed to make sense and felt natural. To tell you the truth, a couple of weeks ago I was eating a lot of Domino’s pizza, which has amazing buttery crust, but of course I know that it is not all that healthy. I hesitate to ponder what all of that butter, carbs, and processing was doing to my insides and how over time it was all creeping outward waiting to age/kill me prematurely, or something.
Have you heard of Farm Fresh To You? Recently, they were tabling on campus and I became intrigued by this notion of having produce delivered to your doorstep. Because I overthink everything, I had a conversation with the guy at the table that lasted nearly fifteen minutes and then I went away and didn’t come back until almost an hour and a half later. In the time that had lapsed, I thought about why I couldn’t just get the produce myself at the grocery store, and the answer was that I am lazy — which was not an expression of self-pity, at least not in this life-stage (I may have felt bad about it a few years ago), but rather it was an admission of truth: I’m lazy about buying produce and to motivate myself into eating better I needed to sign up for this delivery thing. So I did.
I’ve been good about eating the stuff. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s perishable and I want to eat it all before it goes bad. That is how I am staying on track. But what has really been helping is that Clara and I are trying to lose weight before her wedding next month. When she proposed a vegan-based diet to me, I struggled to put on supportive airs. In that moment only managed to generate what was seemingly believable conviction but then, once I got my first delivery, suddenly it became a much more tangible goal. Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and limiting my intake of animal products — essentially being vegan — all the time might not be a diet that I follow for any time beyond the scope of this wedding (I would miss eggs and dairy too much) but at least it’s a start.
I’m back on Facebook.
Yeah, I know. Insert eye-roll here.
This happened on Sunday. It happened because there were some pictures that I wanted from Clara to use for her wedding, and the only copies she had of them were on her Facebook account.
But there is also a legitimate function to keeping Facebook: I have family all over the place. I’m talking cousins — lots of them — but also aunts, uncles, and Ma. Yeah. Ma. She’s a Facebook regular. My fifty-something mom is hooked on social media.
"I noticed that you caved," RQ guy texted me the other day, "and I liked it."
What a bitch.
That is the entirety of our friendship: sarcastic text messages to each other — well, that was the entirety until last week. I’ll get to that later.
Besides RQ guy dropping into town, I have been consumed with school. The temp assignments have unfortunately dried up lately. I have not heard a peep from my recruiter. This is good news and bad news, because I don’t get tired as easily and I can focus on that elusive goal of getting A’s in all of my classes while actually understanding, processing, and even empathizing with the material and not just taking the class just for the grade. It’s also bad news because, well, I don’t get paid. I’ve been lucky that Pop and Ma are helping me out with extra cash. But the unglamorous thing about being a college student again at this age is that you spend a lot more time worrying about money, and I feel very insecure about not getting a steady paycheck.
One night, I came home and I was putting down my backpack and liberating my aching feet from my sneakers when Clara, who was settled comfortably on the living room sofa while the TV was tuned to some Netflix show, said to me with a yawn, “I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever.”
It’s not only that I have just been secluding myself in the library to do my homework. (By the way, while studying I have crossed paths with some of my classmates, who have, kindly, given me a hard time about taking the material so seriously. I think their reasoning is that these are introductory undergrad classes and that the real work lies down the road. I get it. I probably should be taking it easy right now so that I don’t burn out when I get to the upper division coursework. But… I dunno. Maybe it’s because I was raised in vigorously stereotypical “model minority” ways to do well in school — even though I didn’t do that well in college, the first time. But I just feel compelled to be serious about every class, that whatever I learn in one class is going to help me in another, throughout the major, possibly in all of life.)
I’ve also been keeping busy with church. Alas, God has seen fit to make me earn my keep in a way that gets in the way of communing with my faith family, so there are a few key church-related events that I will have to miss this month. My heart is legitimately broken, Linc.
Last week, RQ guy stormed into town.
(At this point, I have got to give him a better pseudonym. Maybe I’ll name him John. Ha, ha, ha. He would love that. Or hate that. Either way, he’d probably bother me about that.)
RQ guy’s actual visit isn’t as dramatic as writing that he “stormed into town,” but the feeling he left behind for me feels that way.
Later, at the conclusion of his visit when he boarded his plane on the way back to Chicago, I confessed to him that after our first coffee meeting, I felt a little bit deflated.
"I was headed back to campus," I’d told him, "and everything just felt weird. I felt disconnected from downtown. Downtown, man. Where everything is happening. It was a beautiful day, too. The sun was out. It’s like something was reminding me, Dude, you’ve lived in San Francisco for thirteen years and it’s awesome. And yet, something about seeing you made my life feel incredibly dull. Am I too young to have a mid-life crisis?”
"Yes," RQ said, with characteristic frankness. But then he added kindly: "Don’t think of it as a mid-life crisis, though. Think of it as a wakeup call. What do you want to do next?"
Be your boyfriend, I thought to myself but did not dare say out loud.
So much went through my mind during the week of RQ guy’s visit that this section of this never-to-be-sent will need to be its own epistle, Linc. I will write it soon, just not now. In the meantime, you seem to have gone quiet again after the noisily anticipated announcement of your contract renewal that had followed another period of quiet. You really know how to keep a low profile; coincidentally, when I dragged Spencer with me to have drinks with RQ guy on Friday night, her conclusion was that he seemed low-key. In the next never-to-be-sent, I’ll write about how RQ guy seems to be just as imaginary as you are. But like they say, Linc — you never forget your first.
Read the rest: "Why I Quit Major League Baseball" (The New Yorker)
Of course, this scholarly revolution never came to pass in the majors—in 2012, only 4.3 per cent of big-league players had earned a four-year college degree—but Mathewson nonetheless helped change the perception of the game. His writings advanced the idea that baseball players aren’t empty vessels in the field, operating primarily through instinct and raw talent. They are analytical thinkers who must be able to execute and amend strategies on the fly in order to outsmart their competitors.
Have you ever dreamed of winning a World Series? Do you want to wage war against the forces of Luck, Chance, and Random, Unfeeling Chaos?
Then you’re in luck. Over at Sports on Earth, I created RACE TO THE WORLD SERIES: THE BOARD GAME.
After years of research, data mining, and painstaking crayon work, you too can win the World Championship of your dreams with this incredibly lifelike simulation of baseball.
Click through to check it out. And if you do play it, let me know how it goes.
I’m extremely amused. And I want to play.