Spiros's Reviews > The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. J. Henry Waugh, Prop.

The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. J. Henry Waugh, Prop. by Robert Coover
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Nov 09, 11

bookshelves: beisbol, new
Recommended to Spiros by: kpr
Recommended for: those who think Einstein may have been all wet about God not playing dice
Read from November 03 to 09, 2011

My starting line-up for the last couple of weeks of the 2011 regular season, off-days and injuries allowing:

1. Michael Bourne, cf
2. Ben Zobrist, 2b
3. Albert Pujols, 1b
4. Josh Hamilton, rf
5. Michael Morse, lf
6. Mike Napoli, dh
7. Miguel Montero, c
8. Martin Prado, 3b
9. Yunel Escobar, ss

Yes, I know that one doesn't have to set an actual line-up in Fantasy Baseball, nor pick specific outfield slots in our league; nevertheless, I did find myself at odd moments of the day, setting my line-ups, and finding myself uncomfortable if at least one of my outfielders wasn't actually a centerfielder. And yes, I know that my ill-judged decision to sit Napoli on the penultimate day of the season (when he hit two homers) probably cost me the championship of the Carl Hubble Space Telescope League.
My point? When this book was published, back in 1968, the whole idea of an obsessive accountant diligently rolling the dice to determine the fates of an aggregation of imaginary ballplayers must have seemed pretty outlandish; now there are literally tens of thousands of J. Henry Waughs out there, busily weaving our little baseball narratives. The real game produces infinitely more improbable results than any combinations of three dice rolls could ever hope to engender; all you have to do is look at the past two World Series Champions to confirm this. Even Coover's colorful names have been somewhat upstaged by such real-life occurrences as the Gooky Dawkins/Pokey Reese doubleplay combination, the Cleveland Indians outfield that featured Milton Bradley and Coco Crisp, and names such as Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui and Vladimir "the Impaler" Guerrero.
The final chapter of the book, a look into a strange, atavistic rite in the 157th year of the Universal Baseball Association, is profoundly weird: we are not sure if it is the product of Waugh's insanity, his senility, or whether (since Waugh is never referenced) the League might not have taken on its very own, independent existence.
Oh yes, and a brief confession: back when I played Strat-o-matic, in the late '70's, Bobby Bonds always seemed to get an inordinate amount of *ahem* lucky dice rolls, usually in clutch situations. The same for John Montefusco, come to think of it.
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