I've also been a fairly large fan of kooks over the years, and have gathered a large amount of information on that subject as well
Sometimes it's nice when both topics collide and synthesize together, then I can read one book or article and gather information on both baseball and human kookery at the same time.
The Story of Baseball
I look at baseball as just one long story. One long history. The weird thing about it is that the records, annals, statistics, and data recorded on this story are probably more immense and accurate than any other historical collection on earth, which makes it a pretty accurate story (unlike the rest of history subjects). It's an interesting collection of data dating back to the 18th century and this story has a total of 17,786 characters in it, which is a lot to keep track of.
Guanzhong's story had 978 characters in its 4 volumes...and I must say, it seemed excessive at the time. Yet, compared to the Story of Baseball, 978 doesn't seem like many characters at all. The Story of Baseball has roughly 18 times more characters involved in it than Three Kingdoms.
Each and every one of these characters has a backstory. Each and every player who has been involved in the game was an individual human person with their own unique contribution to the story. Thousands of them have died now and are just memories but at least some facet of their contribution to the Story of Baseball will stand the test of time.
Archibald "Moonlight" Graham was indeed a real man, who in real life, did indeed make it into one game in 1922 for the New York Giants when he was sent in to replace George Brown in right field for one inning. Like the movie suggests, he did indeed go on to be a doctor after his brief stint as a contributor to the Story of Baseball.
Graham is just one of the 17,786 characters involved, and though he just stood in right field and did nothing for 5 minutes, his name has stood the test of time.
Pitcher Jim Bouton and his 1969 book Ball Four seems to be the likely culprit that lead to a domino effect of every ex-player writing his memoirs and sending it off to the printing press. After players set the ball in motion, soon after it was coaches (Lasorda), then umpires (Luciano), and anyone even briefly associated with baseball wanted to contribute their opinions and memories of their time being associated with it.
Now we don't just have stats, records, dates, and other stuffy facts but we have opinions, thoughts, regrets, observations, and other empirical data. We basically have a big Talmud of baseball writings containing everyone's associated personal interpretation of it. It's kind of interesting, I guess.
I've read some bad books, ok ones, good ones, and some really really good ones over the years. For instance Dick Allen's "Crash" is very good, Dock Ellis' book "Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball" is great, Bill Lee's "The Wrong Stuff" is top notch, Warren Cromartie's "Slugging it Out in Japan" is very interesting, Curt Flood's "The Way It Is" also is very interesting. Oh and No Big Deal by Bird Fidrych is real good too.
I think what makes a book written by an old baseball player good is when they are a bit eccentric and fun. I was thinking about which guys should write books before they die (in order to contribute their opinions to the Baseball Talmud). I'm sure Darrell Evans probably has some funky shit to say, seeing as he has claimed some fucked up stuff over the years. Evans hit over 40 homeruns in two seasons, once in 1973 and again 13 years later in 1985. What rejuvenated his swing to make him belt 40 homers again at the age of 38? According to him, aliens came down to earth and shared with him, and his wife, the secrets of life. I can see him having some interesting things to write about.
|It's a boring dimension...|
Then there's Darren Daulton, who claims to have seen the 5th Dimension of space-time while lining a ball down the third base line back in 1993, and who claimed to have traveled to the 4th Dimension on several occasions, has just put out a book. It's called If They Only Knew, and I don't think I want to read it because I think his kookiness is just a shtick to sell the book. I don't think he is a genuine kook at all and I'm sure he's just in it for the money. Darren Daulton is a bozo. Besides, everyone knows the 5th Dimension is just a bunch of boring old intersecting fucking tesseracts anyway.
What About John Wetteland?
|This guy was a good pitcher.|
I saw John Wetteland pitch for the Expos at Olympic Stadium when I was a ten year old kid. He used to come out of the bullpen and walk over to the mound while Wild Thing played in the background. He'd come into the game to shut it the fuck down and preserve the lead that the other players took eight innings to create and hold. The man threw 100+ mile an hour fastballs, sliders, and curveballs. His arm was a highly potent and highly efficient strikeout tool.
I watched him again as a thirteen year old kid on T.V., when he joined Tim Raines on the 1996 Yankees and was the MVP in the World Series that year.
Any data or backstory on Wetteland is kind of odd. Any article written about him, or any interview with him, is equally odd. I don't mean it in a bad way though, I mean it, like in way like, that this guy probably thinks about a lot of stuff, you know?
He's absolutely right in what he says around 3:20 in that video. I mean, John could just tell a kid what he did, but maybe if said kid stepped off the mound and stated "chicken salad sandwich" then the advice wouldn't work out for him. It sounds strange at first but John is trying to explain the chaos theory and the effect that tiny minute micro-cosmic actions can lead to a chain of reactive effects that can alter outcomes of future situations...
"Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos."
(From Wikipedia)He seems pretty honest and down to earth in his interviews. In any interview, John seems to be able to get off topic and onto some pretty cool tangents. Here's an excerpt from an interview by Baseball Prospectus where he gets to talking about not believing all information you hear,
"Even in science. Just because somebody has PhD next to his name, I don’t just sit there and nod my head. That’s one of the things I hate, and one of the things that really disappoints me about us as a society. We seem to be so spoon fed. “Spoon feed me the information and I’ll nod my head and go on about my day”—disseminate it without even thinking about it. The Big Bang Theory. How come particles exceed the speed of light in the amount of time that they do? Now, you have to take half, because it comes from a single point; it can’t go one end to the other. It’s relative, so you take half. But it still exceeds the speed of light. We all know that. There’s a convenient explanation, but it doesn’t tell me anything.
I want to know, you know. Even the questions I know that I’ll never answer. That’s why I love Michio Kaku. He has this book that I read about things we thought that we would never do, like go to the moon, fly in an airplane, and yet we did, mostly over the last 100 years. What’s in store for the next 50 years that isn’t a part of our reality now? I mean, who would have thought 20 years ago that ion engines are something we’d be using now? And that’s really cool to think about, because we need alternate sources of fuel. You can’t do solids if we’re going to do any real traveling up there. The problem is that you have one hydrogen atom per 10 square feet of outer space. So there are all kinds of things. Garrett Olson and I were just talking about that. We spent about three innings, me, him, and Brian Sweeney.-John Karl Wetteland
I think the question asked by the reporter was about the difficulty of changing from a starter to a reliever early in his career, but I don't think it mattered what the question was, because either way, J.K. Wetteland was going to unload a narrative of human mental restlessness that was cooking up in his noodle all day. I know, 100%, that this is not a shtick. He's just an honest guy who thinks about the future. Wetteland is just contemplating the inherent roadblocks associated with light-speed space travel. Oh, like you haven't?
Here's John responding to question about the homerun Edgar Martinez hit off of him back in 1995,
"That was a watershed moment for me," he said of Martinez's grand slam. "I detested failure and all of 1996, I pitched with the memory of my failure in '95. From then on I understood how to process certain things because I kind of went through the fire. You get refined. I'm the kind of guy who likes to kick my own rear end."- J.K. Wetteland (source)
"I remember this was before [John] Elway won his Super Bowls and I was thinking, 'Am I going to be another Elway and be great in the regular season, but just can't get it done in the postseason?' " Wetteland asked himself. "So I decided in '96, that I don't care if I throw the ball 30 feet up the screen, I'm just going to let it go."
Such poetic language. Why doesn't he just sit down and write a few books? What does he have to lose? They'd probably sell millions of copies. Might as well keep going with some more quotes while we're at it,
"I was always a little different, I'd go to the library, read up on tepees, build one in the front yard and sleep there." (source)
"I’m the black sheep. Everyone else is doctors or presidents of marketing for big companies and all this stuff and I’m just a baseball player." (source)
"There’s so much more going on in this world. Sports is not an escape for me. OK? And I think therein lies the difference. For many people it is. It’s the Roman Colosseum all over again. And that’s OK. It’s awesome. It’s healthy, cathartic. It’s not that for me. It’s something I need to execute. There’s a whole different perspective I have and that’s why maybe I can’t enjoy it the same way. I only watch baseball to learn from it, not to enjoy it." (source)
"I understand sequencing and all that sort of stuff..." (source)
"It’s the small things that count, the tiny tiny things.Wade Boggs ate chicken at the same time every day. Do you think that eating chicken really made him a 330 plus hitter? It’s the fact he did it always at a particular time and after that he was “Everything’s OK.” For me it was getting to the park and doing all the crosswords. That was my transition from my home life. Now I exercised my brain at something that was neither here nor there. Now I could get into my work..." (source)This next quote needs a bit of setup first. John liked to write quatrains and couplets of poetry on the lockers at Dodger Stadium as a 22 year old rookie. This is a sample of some of J.K. Wetteland's early free-style writing,
INVISIBLE COWS CONTROL MY DESTINY.
COSMIC WARLORDS MAINTAIN MY SOUL.
THE ROOM SMELLS OF BURNT PLAID.
I AM SERVING DOUGHNUTS ON ANOTHER PLANET. (source)
If there's one of the 17,786 characters in the Story of Baseball who needs to contribute a full length book to the repository (or reliquary) of data which compromises the Baseball Talmud...it looks like its John Wetteland. I guarantee anything he writes is going to pretty interesting.
A Suggested title for the book..."John Wetteland in the Chaotic Cosmic Universe of Baseball"