Marlins, Dickens

The baseball season ended with a whimper last night. The Yanks went down quietly. The young Marlins, led by their crusty old manager Jack McKeon, did what they had to and little more. It seems to me as if McKeon won with mirrors. The statistics compiled by individual Marlin players aren't impressive. But they went on a tear when McKeon came out of retirement in mid-May, and that streak didn't end until last night. Why would the 72-year-old McKeon come back to manage next season after such a delicious personal triumph?

I haven't been so caught up in a baseball season since I was in elementary school. The peak event of my year was a bus trip to 8 stadiums for 8 games in 9 days. Before and after that August trip, I followed the Twins on the satellite dish. Now that the season is over, I feel a bit drained, as if I have finished an epic novel.

In fact, I am nearing the end of an epic novel, David Copperfield. It was Dickens' favorite. It is breathtaking to see Dickens bring all of the interwoven plots to a conclusion. His novels are the literary equivalent of Bach fugues, so perfectly does he bring all of the voices and themes of the novel to a grand, final chord.

As I child, I read a few of the Bobbsey Twins books. I recall one in which a father who had been away at sea for two years is rescued from a storm--right at the foot of the Bobbsey Twins' seaside house. No scene in any of the books from my childhood is so poignant to me as the reunion of the children on shore with the father they had almost given up for dead.

David Copperfield reaches its climax with an attempted rescue in stormy seas as well, with far less happy results. Perhaps the writer of the Bobbsey Twins borrowed the scene from Dickens, knowing it was a winner.

In any case, David Copperfield has raised up feelings and memories from childhood like nothing else I have encountered in the past few years. As I approach the final pages, I feel a bit drained! I can't help but admire Dickens--but when it comes to pulling one's strings, he's shameless.