Perspective, Patience, Persistence

Jeff · May 4, 2005 at 8:23 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I am in a slump.

There’s no way around it. My post quantity is down, the word counts are lacking. Jokes that used to flow like ouzo at Socrates’ parties suddenly went as dry as a Steve Kelley column.

Worse, I’m a relative newcomer to USSM, so my dry spell left me whipsawed with regret about the impression I was making in my new surroundings. The last thing I want is to start off in a funk.

So I thought I’d walk around USS Mariner Labs seeking counsel, starting with Dave. Here’s what he said:*

“Not to worry. Historical analysis tells us that writers peak later than those in other professions and are more susceptible to prolonged slumps. I ran the numbers on some authors’ era-adjusted age at first major publication, tendency for extended writer’s block and relative productivity past 40. I think you’ll like the results.

Russell Banks	FIC	34.5	0.201	0.410	
Henry Roth	FIC	28.9	0.610	0.314	
Sharon Olds	POE	31.0	0.234	0.341	
Susan Orlean	NON	29.9	0.205	0.352		

Sure, there are exceptions, like Arthur Rimbaud and John Keats, but the past indicates that writers get better, especially if they live past their mid-20s. By the way, speaking of life expectancy, your historical comparisons indicate that you should stop writing poems.”

Encouraged, I went to Derek. Between sips of Red Hook, I gleaned the following:*

“It’s true, you’ve stunk like week-old cheese. But you’ve got fingers, right? And these fingers, they work, right? Like, they move if your brain implores them to hit keys in succession?

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, maybe you should just suck it up and write something. Especially if it isn’t about steroids. Or a transparent extended metaphor where you make like you’re talking about yourself, but you’re really talking about the Mariners.”

Then he muttered something about having a book to finish, though I thought I saw him punch up World of Warcraft.

Peter and Jason were just kind of quiet.

That silence, though, let me reflect. A baseball season is — like T.S. Eliot once said about a writer’s life – very long. The rich history of the sport tells us that quick judgments are easy, tempting and often wrong. Rewards, my compatriots’ advice affirmed, stem from perspective, patience and persistence in all things.

We can control the first two qualities in ourselves. If we’re hoping for a turnaround from someone else – for instance, a certain infielder performing below expectations upon entering a new environment — we’ve got to rely on the latter.

In this case, we’re relying on the type of gravitas that enables someone to recover from a life-threatening ailment and the type of dedication shown by carrying around a colostomy bag while fielding grounders.

We’re relying on history’s lesson that hitters peak in their late 20s. We’re relying on the energy that is youth and the earned wisdom that comes with years of major league experience.

None of these commodities guarantees the end of a frustrating spell. All of them are encouraging harbingers of better results to come.

If the artists formerly known as the Anaheim Angels can start 2002 6-14, then go on to win the World Series — heck, if I can write a post in excess of 500 words — then anything is possible. Even a great player playing like one.

*No, Derek and Dave really didn’t say these things. I made them up.


20 Responses to “Perspective, Patience, Persistence”

  1. Troy on May 4th, 2005 8:33 pm

    Beautiful. Now if the M’s would just snap out of their slump as quickly and convincingly as you just did.

  2. ahaha on May 4th, 2005 8:34 pm


  3. Jeff Sullivan on May 4th, 2005 9:02 pm

    …Or a transparent extended metaphor where you make like you’re talking about yourself, but you’re really talking about the Mariners.”

    Waaaaiiiittttt a second…

  4. Phil on May 4th, 2005 9:32 pm

    Great post.

  5. The Kid on May 4th, 2005 9:50 pm

    Maybe consider a change of scenery to break out of that funk. Take me, for example – I moved to Cincinnati and it’s been wine and roses ever since.

  6. Cliff on May 4th, 2005 10:03 pm

    According to today 2 EX-Mariners are perceived to be the Yankees saviors: Griffey and Cameron. So, as we look at our beloved M’s it could be worse, we could have a $200 million payroll with serious problems. Really, instead of whining about Sele, we could be complaining about Kevin Brown. At least Sele isn’t a flaming *******. Remember it was KB who signed a $115 million contract with the Dodgers and then forced them to pony up private plane rides for his family to watch him pitch. And the writer to emulate is P.G. Wodehouse who wrote entertaining stuff into his 90’s. (Regarding Paciorek in your previous comment threads: World Class. Loved him.)

  7. dave paisley on May 4th, 2005 11:11 pm

    So, are KB’s family declining those corporate jet rides now? I sure would…

  8. Chris Begley on May 5th, 2005 12:23 am

    I say the writer to emulate is Anthony Trollope who wrote about 80 books while still maintaining a job as a senior civil servant in Britain. And I agree. Great post.

  9. Ezra on May 5th, 2005 5:54 am

    And always remember the observation Holmes made to Watson while sufferig delusions during a tough case: “My dear Watson, strange how the brain controls the brain.”

  10. M.O. on May 5th, 2005 6:29 am

    Brilliant once again, Jeff!

  11. Conor Glassey on May 5th, 2005 7:28 am

    I love the irony!

  12. Looking Forward on May 5th, 2005 8:23 am

    Last night at the game I was trying to make simliar perspective and patience arguments to a bunch of Beltre unbelievers, not nearly as eloquently, though.

  13. SteveV on May 5th, 2005 10:30 am

    Nice contrast to Dave’s and Derek’s writing. Adds a bit of levity and human touch to go along with the mathematics. I like it. Thanks.

  14. JoeM on May 5th, 2005 10:48 am

    Love the post Jeff. It could certainly be worse…we could be Yankee fans. I’ll still take this year over last season.

  15. Dave in Palo Alto on May 5th, 2005 11:30 am

    I say fixate on Titian. Painting into his 90’s when there weren’t all that many 90 year olds.

  16. helmut w on May 5th, 2005 2:06 pm

    Sure glad we don’t have Carlos. He does NOT make enough quality outs . . .

  17. Jim Thomsen on May 5th, 2005 3:16 pm

    Jeff, I suggest you need fresh inspiration from your apparently depleted stock of Dennis-Milleresque obscure literary references.

    I recommend renting the 1969 Robert Blake/Robert Redford revisionist Western “Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here” … and then draw sage and salient parallels to young Bloomquist.

  18. JPWood on May 5th, 2005 3:23 pm

    The flow and imagination are still there, you’re simply being stultified by your chosen subject, nothing that a of Shinjuku and a ro-ten-buro in Yamagata wouldn’t cure.

  19. Shoeless Jose on May 5th, 2005 3:31 pm

    It could certainly be worse…we could be Yankee fans. You mean it would be worse to be fans of a team with a history of WS wins and an ownership that repeatedly does whatever it takes (overreacting and overspending if necessary) to do it again? To be a Yankees fan this year is like being a Mariners fan every year. And the Yankees could still turn it around.

  20. G-Man on May 5th, 2005 5:29 pm

    One reason why this team isn’t hitting:

    I just read in the Seattle Times that some of those who came to Tuesday’s game didn’t receive a bat with their Edgar Martinez statue.

    So why does Hargrove keep writing them into the starting lineup?