It’s summer, the time to undertake all those ambitious, heady projects that seem seem out of our grasp during the rest of the year, like finally learning Spanish or painting the living room or reading all of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. To that end, I’ve been reading Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities, to be specific. It’s a gorgeous novel about love, both unrequited and not, about sacrifice and atonement. The plot of the book revolves around the French Revolution. It is not a baseball novel. Now you may ask what A Tale of Two Cities has to do with the Indians 12-5 loss to Cincinnati. As it turns out, there are a number of surprising parallels.
1. A Tale of Two Cities starts with “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Today’s ballgame started with “It’s a beautiful day for baseball.”
2. The novel takes place in two big cities (London and Paris) that share a complex love-hate relationship and whose residents frequently visit each other by making a great journey (The English Channel). Today’s inter-league game took place between two big cities (Cleveland and Cincinnati) that share a complex love-hate relationship and whose residents frequently visit each other by making a great journey (I-71).
3. In A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton makes the ultimate sacrifice, taking the place of Charles Darnay on the guillotine. He does so out of unrequited love for Darnay’s wife. In today’s game, we were 0-10 with runners in scoring position. Our players sacrificed their batting averages out of unrequited love for a winning score (and an RBI or two).
4. During the Reign of Terror immediately after the revolution, Charles Darnay is one of many men and women who were accused of being an enemy of the Republic and put to death strictly on the basis of heresay and gossip by their neighbors. Before today’s game, Reds Manager Dusty Baker continued to badmouth Cleveland pitcher Derek Lowe by insinuating that Lowe had been “drinking at the ballpark “ three or four years ago when the feud between the two first started.
5. A couple of times during the latter part of the novel, Dickens talks about the Carmagnole, a red-clad (or blood-stained), knife wielding, violent crowd who roam the streets at will, singing La Carmagnola and terrorizing those who aren’t a part of their mob. Today, Cleveland faced a red-clad, bat-wielding crowd of ballplayers who roamed the bases at will, singing Take Me out to the Ballgame and terrorizing those who weren’t part of their team.
6. Many of the British characters find French ways to be off-putting. Clevelanders traveling to Cincinnati are dismayed to find that those in the ‘Nati think The Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant.
7. A Tale of Two Cities ends with a death. Today’s game ended with a 12-5 loss and a sweep.