This week in RetrOgrAde, let’s discuss “affect.” Not the verb, but the noun—as in the psychological feelings that result from some force, some encounter, some event, some “thing.” That’s the topic for this week. What “affects” result from some force, encounter, event or some THING that is A’s baseball. Let’s talk about the affects that, to this day, you close your eyes and picture it, see a clip, here someone describe it, and the same feeling emerges again—transported in time.
Ok, so here’s an illustrative example: The Stew Stare. It always THRILLED me to see a close up of Stew on the mound. What a look. Talk about intimidating. I LOVED when he pitched. I can only imagine the affect for batters who had to face him. For me, the affect was confidence. That stare, his split-finger fastball, the #34: It built confidence to the point where you’d feel sorry for the opponents (ok, not really, but it sounds good). When I see Stew this year on A’s post-game and he’s concentrating, it reminds me of the Stew Stare and those old feelings emerge.
Here’s another example: 2013, Sean Doolittle is a rookie, and Hello Kitty is his companion backpack. Stuffed with all of the favorite snack items of his more experienced peers (Jerry Blevins being the most senior, I believe), it gave you a warm feeling when you watched him walk toward the left field bullpen bench. The Doolittle smile. The Hello Kitty backpack (and later to include a ride-along unicorn). The affect: That wonderful feeling of kids on a ball field.
Next, think Grant Balfour, the unified head banging in the bleachers, all in time with the music as he moved toward the mound. The affect? Oakland. It just felt OAKLAND. This is different than the feeling with the speedy 1-2-3 fire-ball closer, #43 Dennis Eckersley. His longer hair. His speed of delivery. His 1-2-3 innings. There’s a reason they had him in fire gear on a magazine cover. His entrance in and the affect: Close the scorebooks, this one is done. Pure confidence!
Cowbells. For me, when I hear or see cowbells, it takes me back to when I was a kid in the 70’s going to the games. There were a lot of cowbells, it seemed. It makes me feel the heritage that is baseball, after all—cowbells are an original noise-maker for fans since the 19th century and reminds us that baseball began in pastures and sandlots. Tradition. Maybe that’s the right word to describe the affect of a ringing cowbell.
So what is something that you see or hear that immediately stirs an emotional reaction? Anyone have a particular affect, for example, in seeing decorative bunting during playoffs, the bleacher flags in the outfield or something else that moves you? You see it, you hear it and then you feel it? Share in the comments below and let’s kick off this weekend series with some RetrOgrAde memories!