Sometimes’ Baseball Isn’t a Metaphor
By Ben Brown
The baseball season’s a week old now. So you already should be feeling queasy from the annual overdose of Baseball as Mythic Poetry.
First-time novelist Kevin Baker, 34, has just the antidote: Sometimes You See It Coming(Crown, $ 20). “Baseball is not really a metaphor for life,” Baker says. “It’s not like life at all. It’s a lot cleaner and clearer.”
On the other hand, the people who play the game are not necessarily clean or clear at all. It’s Baker’s accomplishment to have created a surprisingly entertaining read with an entirely believable roster of talented neurotics and morons who care almost exclusively about two things—winning and themselves.
Fans are irrelevant. And the beat writers are “flies,” as in flies attracted to leftovers. The central figure is an obsessive superstar with a troubled past. And there’s an egomaniacal manager who sabotages his team’s chances to inflate his genius reputation.
Baker insists characters and events—even the most comically outrageous ones—are drawn from stories of real players and teams. So fans can play the game of matching fictional characters with the real-life figures who inspired them. Not a one is an unblemished hero. Which might be about as close as you can get to a metaphor for real life.