$1 Billion And The Met Can't Hit A Change-Up

Published 3:04 pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

I couldn't believe my eyes.

The headline atop the front page of the New York Times declared “$1 Billion Gift Gives Met A New Perspective (Cubist).”

Wow! What a lucky baseball player!

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But which New York Met was given the $1 billion worth of Cubist art and how, I wondered, would Cubism help him ply his hardball trade?

Glancing in astonishment at the article, I read, “In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art.”

Wait until the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals hear about this.

How this will improve the Met's earned run average or on base percentage wasn't made clear, however, and I was still left guessing the identity of the specific Met benefitting from this magnificent, though quizzical, largesse. David Wright? Lucas Duda?

The front page photo accompanying the article didn't help a bit, either. It was of a painting by Picasso entitled “Woman in an Armchair (Eva).” I stared at that painting for hours. I couldn't see a woman. I couldn't even see the armchair.

But I did begin to see the light. Perhaps if the Met could look at that painting and see a woman in an armchair he could also see a down-and-away slider at 91 miles an hour.

Picasso was notorious for painting people with extra body parts, no body parts, or a mixture of human and animal body parts. Eva, sitting in the armchair, looked like a junkyard, the human equivalent of a calculus equation and a fraternity house on the Saturday night of Greek Week all rolled into one.

If Eva were a missing person, this would be my description of her to the police:

There appear to be two hat rack pegs, several dead fish, a cute bunny, part of a newspaper, the skin of a snake, several smoked sausages and part of a trench coat-all comprising this woman Eva who is supposed to be sitting in what we are encouraged to accept as an armchair.

Then I recalled the great baseball film Bull Durham and Annie Savoy's advice to pitching phenom Nuke Laloosh about breathing through his eyelids. Maybe this $1 billion collection of Cubist artwork was meant to rearrange the Met's approach to baseball in the same way.

Thinking back to my own days of high school baseball, I can recall several times when my glove suddenly seemed to go all Cubist on me. One minute there was a glove on my left hand, then a ball was hit toward me and the glove seemed to become a colander full of unpeeled turnips or part of the Grand Canyon's yawning expanse, with people on the backs of donkeys traveling down to the Colorado River in hopes of finding the baseball.

My glove appeared to transform from something manufactured by Rawlings to something painted by Picasso.

The players on the opposing team didn't seem to mind but I won't repeat what my coach would scream at such moments-he sounded like he was shouting with seven Cubist mouths.

Cubism is apparently considered the most influential art movement of the 20th Century, but how is it going to make any member of the New York Mets play better baseball?

Picasso never hit a change-up or a screwball. Sure, he painted plenty of them-checkout “Weeping Woman” or “Woman With A Flower”-but Picasso's WAR average (Weird Women Above Replacement) doesn't make him Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout, just better than fellow Cubists Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp, neither of whom would cause Justin Verlander to quake in his spikes.

There were only two solutions to the mystery of this donation to “the Met.” Either it was Mr. Met, the team mascot, the one with the giant smiling baseball

head-and that could have been dreamed up by Picasso-or, no, it couldn't be could it? Could I have gotten it so wrong? Could my brain suddenly have done inside my head what my glove did at the end of my left arm in high school? In this case, turn into a head of cauliflower?

Yes, I have a vegetable for a brain. Re-reading the story carefully, I see that the gift to the Met meant the Metropolitan Museum of Art, not a member of the New York Mets.

Excuse me while I go sit down beside the woman in the armchair.