Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review of "Insight Pitch" by Skip Lockwood - One of the best baseball books I have ever read - chock full of insight and intrigue

"Insight Pitch" is one of the finest baseball books I have ever read - and I have read plenty of them. Former Mets closer Skip Lockwood brings an unusual literary sensibility to the task of inviting the reader inside the mind of a major league pitcher, and ushering the reader onto the mound as Skip faces tough opponents hovering at home plate. His use of metaphor in describing baseball situations adds a depth of expression and style that is a rarity among sports books. The author wields language with the same finesse that was the hallmark of his years as a closer in having pinpoint control over where the baseball would go when it left his hand.

The saga begins with Skip's halcyon days growing up in Norwood, Massachusetts, and starring for Catholic Memorial High School's baseball team. He shares a fascinating account of the day when the representatives of five MLB teams made the pilgrimage to the Lockwood home in an attempt to sign the young baseball phenom to a professional contract as a "Bonus Baby." Skip's parents decided to leave the room while Skip was negotiating with the scout from the Kansas City Athletics. The account of how young Skip handled that negotiation is one of the most fascinating and insightful chapters of the book.

After struggling for several years in the minor leagues - unable to hit a professional curve ball with any consistency - Skip took the advice of those in the Athletics organization who had invested in him, and turned himself into a pitcher. He pitched for several teams, most notably the Mets. He finished his injury-plagued career signing as the first free agent inked by the Boston Red Sox.

Mr. Lockwood's intelligence is on full display as he shares deeply held convictions and astute observations about the game of baseball and the role it has played in his life. He earned an MBA from MIT as a Sloan Fellow. He shares in great detail the techniques he developed for visualizing a game and an encounter with a batter before they would ever happen in real time. He would visualize the situation once as if he were viewing it dispassionately from the stands. But then he would also visualize the same situation as if he were peering through his eyes from the pitcher's mound. That dual approach is exactly what Skip Lockwood the author offers to his readers here. We get to observe, as if in the stands, the life of a successful ballplayer. But we also get to see, hear, and feel what it was like inside his mind and heart as some of the ups and downs of his career played themselves out. The result is a thoroughly engaging and instructive window into America's game. Along the way, we get to experience Skip's encounters with the likes of Satchel Paige, Yogi Berra, Tom Seaver, and many other familiar baseball names.

The book is chock full of deep insights into baseball, handling both success and disappointment, balancing pursuit of excellence with a realistic assessment of strengths and weaknesses. If you love baseball, you will not want to miss reading this book. If you are lukewarm about baseball, reading this book may turn up the heat, and you may never watch a baseball game the same way ever again.



Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A Fitting Tribute To My Brother, David. L. Chase - 4/2/53 - 3/25/18

Dave and Phoebe Chase

Here is the full obituary notice for my brother, which contains a link to a gorgeous memorial video that wonderfully encapsulates Dave’s rich and full 65 years of a life well spent.

Details about services and memorial contributions are contained within.

I am heading back to Lynchburg, VA to lead the family and friends in a memorial service this Sunday evening.

Thank you for all of your loving expressions of support to me and the family.

Linked To Memorial Page

A Belated Commentary On A Triple Miracle Day

 Jacob Athyal and Harsh J. Gagoomal 
"Guards at the Taj" by Rajiv Joseph
Presented by Underground Railway Theater
Photo by Allan Sinclair

Wednesday two weeks ago was a day of Triple Miracles for me. I had planned to post this article and two reviews of the shows I saw, but those plans were overtaken by events. As many of you know, I received news of the sudden death of my brother while he and his wife were on a cruise in the Bahamas. Much of the past week and a half has been spent with the family in Virginia, so the reviews remain unwritten. But I wanted to acknowledge, at this late date, the two extraordinary plays that I saw on that day.

Miracle #1 - The much vaunted 4th Nor'easter of March delayed its entrance onto the Boston stage for about 12 hours, so that I was able to attend both a matinee and an evening performance of two plays I have been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to see.

Miracle #2 - The afternoon performance of the riveting the Huntington Theatre Company's "Skeleton Crew." The cast of Patricia R. Floyd, Jonathan Louis Dent, Toccara Cash, and Maurice Emmanuel Parent were outstanding in bringing us inside the minds and hearts of four Detroit residents whose jobs at an auto assembly plant are in jeopardy, and their lives are in chaos.

Jonathan Louis Dent, Toccarra Cash, Patricia R. Floyd, and Maurice E. Parent
in the Huntington Theatre Company's production of Skeleton Crew
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
© Photo: T. Charles Erickson.

Miracle #3 - The gripping drama "Guards at the Taj" Presented by Underground Railway Theater. Jacob Athyal and Harsh J. Gagoomal were memorable as childhood friends who grew to be guards at the public opening of the Taj Mahal. The play, written by Rajiv Joseph, is a deep philosophical reflection on the nature of beauty, especially when juxtaposed with mayhem and gore.

Harsh J. Gagoomal and  Jacob Athyal
"Guards at the Taj" by Rajiv Joseph
Presented by Underground Railway Theater
Photo by Allan Sinclair