Art of Fielding 51-60: Breaths and Bruises

many a tattoo ago - Jamie Sabau

"He'd never been there before."

Hinted at a bit in the last Book Club, I slagged on Owen early. I was really down on his character for being a hodgepodge of "smart gay undergraduate" stereotypes, but he has really come into his own in this 10 chapter bit, being really the only selfless person (or at least executing selflessness decently) in the book. "Buddha" is right; Owen is an emotional gyroscope, keeping everyone calm and saving Sophie Skrimshander and then Schwartzie in a single night. I remember the Aparicio Rodriguez quote about how a shortstop has to be the calming individual in the field, which Henry clearly isn't. Maybe Owen is?

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Speaking of Henry...Henry's walk is a very familiar type of brutal, and even though the passage took place in the spring, I read it in winter and shivered while reading. Am I the only one who thought Henry was going to commit suicide when he swam into the lake?

Also: "The next town north. He'd never been there." is a beautifully turned passage about how Henry has sacrificed so much to be baseball, and how cruel baseball has ended up being to him.

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I really agreed with BigBabyBruce here, but Angeeh didn't. What do you think:

Seriously, doesn’t anyone see what is monumentally fucked up with this kid? All he’s ever wanted to do is play baseball. We don’t even know what his major is. He went to Wetish on a whim to play baseball. When he got there Schwartz didn’t find him. So, what did he do? He sat in his dorm room, made friends with the only person he talks to, his roommate. He goes to class, and he goes home. He eats, and he plays ping pong with Owen. He doesn’t do anything.

Then, Schwartz does find him he completely controls ever aspect of his life. Henry will go out to parties, but it doesn’t sound like ever has ever enjoyed them. He doesn’t talk to girls. All he does is work out practice, play, and keep to a strict diet. It’s no wonder that when one really bad thing happens Henry doesn’t know how to deal with it. Instead, he just works out 24/7. All anyone, including Schwartz, does is just pat him on the back. Chin up! Go get ’em tomorrow! They created a monster and watch it completely destroy itself.

I get that Henry is an introvert, but typically introverts are highly independent people. Henry is the exact opposite. Pella is the only person who really seems to try to help Henry, because she knows exactly what he is going through.

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Of course, Henry didn't commit suicide. Instead, he fucked Pella. The bruises are creepy, and I'm still not really sure what to think about this. I'm not angry at Pella; she and Schwartz broke up despite their obvious feelings for each other, and her and Henry have some sort of charismatic cachet that nobody else understand. As scary as Schwartz's future may be, he at least as skills respected by society that Henry and Pella don't. Anyways, I'm sure y'all have some thoughts on this relationship. Let me hear them.

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"The unburdened beast comes standard" is perhaps my favorite bit of dad-speak in the book. I can't wait for the day I come back from a run, see my wife talking to some doddering type, and unleash such brawntalk.

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Because I'm the kind of guy who uses words like "brawntalk", I'm also the kind of guy that finds mewling contrition even sadder than failing. Henry's decision to quit and Guert possible house purchase are both just very...sad. This could just be my callousness, but c'mon, buck up Henry. Why quit the team? And why purchase a house? Maybe I just don't get this, if someone could care to explain.

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Henry, and everyone's reactions to him remind me of one of my favorite scenes from Game of Thrones. "Some people will always need help. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth helping." For as much as we may slag on Dusty Baker for whatever reason, it is absolutely inarguable that he handled Joey Votto exactly correctly. Could you imagine what would happen if some Kirk Gibson shitheel told Votto to man up to his panic attacks?

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