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Halladay's no-no over the Internet airwaves

Yes­ter­day after­noon I watched Roy Hal­la­day's no-no on the Hot Cor­ner, which is Major League Baseball's con­ces­sion to the Inter­net. The Hot Cor­ner allows you to choose a sin­gle cam­era angle from which to watch the game, which has the advan­tage of show­ing you stuff you might not see in the mul­ti-cam­era, fre­quent-cut-away tele­vised expe­ri­ence. The down­side is that you miss every­thing that hap­pens out­side of that sin­gle cam­era frame, which, as it turns out, is a lot. When Hal­la­day was pitch­ing, I chose the angle that kept the cam­era on his face the entire time, and this time I didn't miss much because every sin­gle impor­tant moment hap­pened right there. You could sense (not "see" exact­ly) the flow that Hal­la­day was in; the announc­ers kept remark­ing on how "calm" he looked, but it wasn't calm­ness as much as it was qui­et, focused inten­si­ty.

DocThe final out.

The New Yorker's Roger Angell even men­tions the flow in a blog entry about the game:

Pitch­ing his no-hit, 4–0 mas­ter­piece against the Cincin­nati Reds last night, the Phillies’ ace Roy Hal­la­day restored the smooth­ing, almost sym­phon­ic sense of plea­sure that lies with­in the spare num­bers and wait­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties of every ball­game. Even from a dis­tance, at home again in your squalid liv­ing-room loge, you felt some­thing spe­cial this time about the flow of pitch­es, balls and (most­ly) strikes, the inex­orably approach­ing twen­ty-sev­enth man retired …

And of course the Philly fans were deeply engaged through­out the game. In the lat­er innings, each strike was cheered, and Reds bat­ters received hearty, cas­cad­ing boos each time they asked for time to try to dis­rupt Halladay's rhythm.Red doctoberThis guy brought the right sign to the game.

The remain­der of the post-sea­son will have to be pret­ty remark­able to out-shine this unique achieve­ment. (And I per­son­al­ly hope that the Giants are up for it).

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basketball ideas ixd

Flow states and flow triggers

Last night, Lynne told a sto­ry about a friend who, upon see­ing movie star James Fran­co in the New York sub­way, expe­ri­enced a feel­ing of ecsta­t­ic clar­i­ty, of time slow­ing down. I don't recall if Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi cov­ers celebri­ty sight­ings in Flow, but this sounds like a state of flow to me. Wikipedia sums up the flow con­cept as "a men­tal state of oper­a­tion in which the per­son is ful­ly immersed in what he or she is doing by a feel­ing of ener­gized focus, full involve­ment, and suc­cess in the process of the activ­i­ty."Bill DeR­ouchey recent­ly men­tioned the ingre­di­ents that, for him, trig­ger a state of flow: "Bri­an Eno [ed: I'm guess­ing his music here, rather than, say, see­ing him on the sub­way], Koy­aanisqat­si sound­track, iso­la­tion, old rocksteady/ska and (yes) the LOTR tril­o­gy." There was an ensu­ing #flow­state dis­cus­sion on Twitter.David Halberstam's book about the late 70's Port­land Trail­blaz­ers, The Breaks of the Game, con­tains a nice descrip­tion of for­mer Blaz­er Bill Walton's pre-game rit­u­al:

[Wal­ton] loved the day of a game, par­tic­u­lar­ly an impor­tant game. It was a time which belonged com­plete­ly to him, a time pure in its pur­pose. On the day itself, he did not ana­lyze the game, he had done that the night before, thought about the team and the play­er he was going against in the most clin­i­cal way pos­si­ble. The night before was the ana­lyt­i­cal time. The day of the game was dif­fer­ent, it was an emo­tion­al time. He always took a nap on the day of a game, wak­ing up two and a half hours before the game … This was the time in which he felt the rhythm and tem­po of the game, almost like feel­ing a dance of his own. He played his own music, from the Grate­ful Dead … and the music helped, it flowed through him and he thought about the tem­po he want­ed to set and how he could move. He would sit in his home or his hotel room in those hours and actu­al­ly see the game and feel the move­ment of it. Some­times he did it with such accu­ra­cy that a few hours lat­er when he was on the court and the same play­ers made the same moves, it was easy for him because he had already seen it all, had made that move or blocked that shot. He loved that time, he had it all to him­self, he was absorbed in his feel for bas­ket­ball.

An ingre­di­ent to Walton's secret sauce: The Grate­ful Dead. In the same jam fam­i­ly, I would say, as Bill's Phillip Glass go-to, Koyaanisqatsi.All of which of course made me think of my own flow­state trig­gers. The more I think about it, though, my most reli­able trig­ger is run­ning, but a glass of water and the Base­ball Ency­clo­pe­dia also can do the trick. Music is not as essen­tial to me; some­times silence is bet­ter, some­times I need some Ani­mal Col­lec­tive. For Rev­erend Green is pret­ty reli­able.