The Adopter of the Bulls

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I’ve just picked up Ben Ward from his on-campus apartment at Duke University. He’s a philosophy professor and dean for student development at Duke, where he’s worked for two decades. He’s also co-founder and director of The Pitchforks, Duke’s premiere all-male a cappella group. It’s not surprising that Professor Ward has amassed a huge network of student contacts over the years, but it’s remarkable just how well he nurtures these relationships. He sends out regular email updates, organizes meet-ups with alumni and invites current students to do homework and listen to music in his apartment, where more than thirty-five thousand CDs — most of them classical — line the walls.

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Durham Bulls win in ninth: Walk off

Monday, August 12, 2013
fans hugging

Photo by Ivan Weiss.

A little standard reportage of the morning-paper type:

    Chris Gimenez hit a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth inning last night to break a tie and give the Bulls a 5-2 win over the Charlotte Knights. The Bulls went into the inning trailing 2-1, having scored their lone run on (yet another) Charlotte error. But Leslie Anderson hit a one-out single against Taylor Thompson (1-1), and Shelley Duncan followed with the inning’s key hit when he lined a double into the left-field corner, moving Anderson to third.

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Right Field Jail Blues

Sunday, August 11, 2013
Durham County Detention Facility

Photo by Frank Hunter.

Behind home plate at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, right of the Blue Monster between the Goodmon Field sign and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance Company logo, in the shadow of the tower-tall courthouse that obscures it from the view of DBAP patrons, sits the Durham County Detention Facility. There, sleazy bails bondsmen, frustrated loved ones, pissed-off sheriff deputies, and prisoners of various offenses from drunk and disorderly conduct to murder go about their daily routines.

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Karma, Chameleon: Durham Bulls beat Charlotte Knights

Sunday, August 11, 2013
lemonade vendor

Photo by Frank Hunter.

The Triple-A troika that includes luck and momentum, both of which I’ve been writing about lately, is completed by karma. (Nice little alphabetical run there, k-l-m.) “As ye sow, so shall ye reap” is more or less the western analog to karma (or, more prosaically, “What comes around goes around,” which even Ratt knew).

What last night’s game suggested is that karma and luck are in some way intertwined, or perhaps that karma sometimes disguises itself as luck (chameleon, indeed); or at least that competing karmas — last night, those of the Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights — can result in strange outcomes such as last night’s, in which the Bulls beat the Knights, 5-2.

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Momentum: on losing 12-1

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sid Luckman.

In 1940, the Washington Redskins hosted the Chicago Bears in the eighth annual National Football League Championship Game. Washington had beaten Chicago 7-3 in a regular season game a few weeks earlier, and that was the difference in their records when they met on December 8, almost exactly a year before Pearl Harbor. The Redskins finished the regular season 9-2, the Bears 8-3.

The Bears decided to use a formation that was brand new at the time: the T Formation, which is now standard (thanks in no small part to this particular game).

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Dreaming of the Big Time: Baseball Camp with the Durham Bulls

Friday, August 9, 2013
baseball camp

Photo by Ivan Weiss.

An army of kids stream into the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, their eyes wide. This is it, the big time, the world’s best minor league field, and they’re about to take it like the Visigoths took Rome.

They’ve made it to the show.

Okay, so maybe it’s just one of the baseball camps the Durham Bulls sponsor every summer, but it feels bigger than that. Not only are these kids going to play on a professional field, they’re going to be coached by professional players.

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Failure? On a win, a loss, a cliché

Friday, August 9, 2013

Virgil Vasquez revisits the scene of his 2010 traffic accident, August 7, 2013. Photo by Ivan Weiss.

The notion that baseball is a game of failure has been front and center this week. My colleague Sam Stephenson quoted John Szarkowski to that effect yesterday (“the game is devised to make failure the rule”). I’ve parroted the line plenty of times, myself: it’s got some truth to it, as all old saws do. For our current weekly “Lineup Card” article” at Baseball Prospectus (it’s free, check it out), each writer chose a baseball cliché to pick apart.

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Szarkowski on Luck in Baseball and Photography

Thursday, August 8, 2013
Kate Joyce's hands

Photographer Kate Joyce’s hands. Photo by Ivan Weiss.

Yesterday’s Paris Review Daily piece drew the attention of the outstanding photographer in Raleigh, David Simonton, who sent me this quote from the late John Szarkowski, the legendary longtime head of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In a book on photographer Garry Winogrand, the Szarkowski wrote this:

Most of Winogrand’s best pictures — let us say all of his best pictures — involve luck of a different order than that kind of minimal, survivor’s luck on which any human achievement depends.

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Concentrations: Durham Bulls lose fourth straight

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Virgil Vasquez, detail. Photo by Ivan Weiss.

Durham Bulls starter Jake Odorizzi had a poor outing last night, and he knew why: too much nibbling. He’d seen the Rochester Red Wings ambush Durham starters the previous two nights, crowding and leaning out over the plate and attacking Matt Buschmann and J. D. Martin. Buschmann and Martin threw a combined 11 2/3 innings on Monday and Tuesday, and in only two of them did the Red Wings see more than twenty pitches.

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“The Liminal Space” in the Paris Review Daily

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Hiroshi behind scoreboard

Photo by Ivan Weiss.

Bull City Summer Director Sam Stephenson writes about the tension between art and journalism for our latest installment in the Paris Review.

For the past thirty years, the photographer Hiroshi Watanabe has split his time between Tokyo and Los Angeles. I met him at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park when he reported for his first day of work on the Bull City Summer project. He’s a compact man who moves carefully but fluidly; at age sixty-two, he resembles a boxing trainer or a retired gymnast.

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