“The Battle for a Baseball Season,” The Daily (July 24, 2020)

On the July 24, 2020, episode of the New York Times podcast The Daily, host Michael Barbaro chats with reporter Mike Schimdt about the 2020 baseball season, which had difficulty getting off the ground due to disputes between owners and players on how to safely and successfully play ball amid the 2020 outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The episode compared the troubled negotiations of the 2020 season with that of 1994, which was halted following a contractual dispute between players and owners that resulted in a players’ strike. In archived audio recordings in the episode, fans respond to the canceled 1994 season. To the question, “So what are you going to do [now that the season has been suspended],” one fan replied:

“I already know what I’m going to start doing. I’m going to start rereading Dante’s Inferno, because that’s where I think they should send the whole lot of them.”

You can listen to the episode here or read the transcript here.

Sante Matteo, “The Journey Home in Baseball: The Bible and the Divine Comedy” (2020)

“In the middle of of our industrialized cities, surrounded by concrete, metal, and plastic structures, baseball parks enclose a green field, a vestigial ‘paradise’ in the original Persian sense of the word.  Within that symbolic space a ritual is routinely performed.  Throngs of worshippers (spectators, fans) participate vicariously while members of a revered priestly class (players, coaches, and umpires) re-enact the story of humanity’s exile from Eden and the perennial longing to return there: to make it all the way around back to home base.

“Circling the bases—itself an expression redolent of another perennial quixotic human quest: that of squaring the circle; or inversely in this case, circling the square: the bases forming a square, or diamond, that the base runner circles–and reaching home constitutes a journey analogous to the one that Dante undertakes in his Divine Comedy.  Finding himself lost in a dark wood, Dante sets off–with Virgil and then Beatrice as his first- and third-base ‘coaches’–on a voyage that will take him first through the circles of Hell (first base),  then the slopes of Purgatory (second base), and then the planetary and starry spheres of Paradise (third base), all the way to the Empyrean (home plate), where the souls that have achieved salvation dwell in the presence of God.” [. . .]  — Sante Matteo, “The Journey Home in Baseball: The Bible and the Divine Comedy,” KAIROS Literary Magazine, May 1, 2020

Contributed by Sante Matteo (Miami University, OH)

Dante’s Inferno in Cleveland (the Indians’ baseball stadium)

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Contributed by Eric Goldwyn (Bowdoin, ’02)

“Alchemists Needed for Mets’ Golden Anniversary”

mets-logo “Two years ago, I quoted Dante in warning Met fans to expect nothing. (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”) That still works in 2012. But Mets fans need to take stock of the hope and humor that course underground, like a long-forgotten creek under a municipal dump.” [. . .]    –George Vecsey, The New York Times, March 31, 2012

“For Mets, Gloom and Doom…”

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“‘Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.’ That’s what I would write if I felt like paying $395 for a commemorative brick outside the Mets’ ballpark. That sentiment from the poet Dante Alighieri’s Inferno is applicable to the new baseball season, normally a time of hope, but not in Queens, not this year and maybe not anytime soon.” [. . .]    –George Vecsey, The New York Times, April 2, 2010

“In Italy’s Dugout, Piazza Embraces a New Role”

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“Piazza is one of four American coaches on the staff with varying levels of the Italian language at their disposal. As they sat in the dugout before the game, they spoke to one another in English, with one even floating a ‘Godfather’ reference in the spring breeze. Once the game started, they showed some genuine command of the language of Dante, Calvino and Boccaccio, particularly when they made references to pitches they nicknamed il cambi (the changeup) and il slider (well, the slider).” [. . .]    –Joshua Robinson, The New York Times, February 27, 2009