?October 15. Handwriting analysts believe that the closer the dot of an i is to its base, the more attentive to detail the writer is. Thank goodness for J.C. Martin's lack of attention to detail. Martin's dot over the "i" is the graphological equivalent of a passed ball, which reminds us that if the Mets backup catcher had tended to the detail of staying outside the first baseline while running out his notorious bunt in Game 4, Oriole reliever Pete Richert's throw wouldn't have struck Martin's left wrist, and Rod Stupid might never have scurried around from second with the winning run.
Graphoanalysis can tell us more. Seeing that "T" crossed well above the stem, one would suspect Ron Taylor of being a dreamer. But a stopper out of the bullpen, as Taylor was, should believe that nothing is impossible. So should a doctor, which Taylor is today, for the Toronto Blue Jays.
For contrast, look at third base coach Eddie Yost's autograph. The "t" is crossed squarely in the middle, suggesting practicality—exactly what you'd expect from a guy who drew 1,614 career walks, and what you would want in the coach's box at third. Today Yost lives in semiretirement in Wellesley, Mass., repairing antique clocks.
A far-forward slant indicates a willingness to reach out to others. Good thing that, after his retirement from baseball, Ed Charles worked as a talent scout for the Mets.
Those who underscore their signature envision themselves on a line of movement. They are self-reliant, it is said, and sometimes unusually motivated. Hodges was the only Met who underscored his.
If there was only one, best that it was the manager.
I have always thought of strikeouts and Ron Swoboda together, as a sort of hand-in-hand, bat-in-hand-back-to-the-dugout couple. That may stem from Swoboda cracking a pair of two-run homers off the Cards' Steve Carlton on Sept. 15, obviating Carlton's 19 strikeouts and giving the Mets a 4-3 victory. Or from my being at Shea with my grandfather on a day Swoboda chose to whiff four times. Baseball normally passed my grandfather by, but this was so prodigious an exhibition of ineptitude that even he was impressed. Soon afterward he sent me a clipping from
The New York Times
about some Czechoslovakian politico named Svoboda, and a note suggesting that an Eastern European exile awaited the failed slugger. I was duly amused.
Two years ago I had the chance to conclude that Ron Swoboda might have been amused, too. I was in Phoenix, covering a meaningless early season basketball game between the Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Soon after tipoff, as I sat in the press tribune above halfcourt, another foot soldier of the Fourth Estate slid into the seat beside me. We began chatting. He was full of gossip and spoke with a cynical edge—about the travails of the Arizona State athletic department, and Phoenix's prospects for a pro football team, and a particular Suns rookie who looked good out on the floor.
He introduced himself as Ron Swoboda, sports anchor for KTVK-TV in Phoenix.
The man who had sprawled his form blindly across Shea's rightfield greensward to preempt Brooks Robinson's liner in Game 4 was now my peer. I couldn't permit us to talk merely sports; we had to address transcendent things.