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Derrida Cubs, Lacan Yankees
January 6, 2012

Well that didn’t take long. A friend of mine (who always has interesting things to say) sent word of a terrific essay, “Jacques Derrida Was a Cubs Fan,” written by Professor Shawn O’Hare. O’Hare is the Chair of the English Department at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee, and in 2008 he published a hysterical little piece that  asks which ball teams famous theorists would root for.

Now while combining baseball and literary theory may be a bit unusual, don’t think there isn’t a lot to say about baseball and literature in general. O’Hare’s essay is included in an entire volume devoted to baseball, literature, and culture—and that volume is part of a series! Anyway, I may be a simple Cub fan, but O’Hare really knows his baseball, and here is a sketch of some of his conclusions:

  • Derrida—Cubs (and keep in mind this was written in the previous decade): “As we approach the 99th consecutive  year since the Cubs last won a World Series, only a Deconstructionist could be loyal to such a pitiful organization. Think about it: When Jim Hendry assures the fans that Jason Marquis is worth $7 million a year—the same Jason Marquis who was actually left off the St. Louis Cardinal’s 2006 roster as they marched to a World Series championship—the only way a Cubs’ fan can respond, can sort through the official Cubs propaganda, is to Deconstruct the message. After all, Marquis’s ERA was above six in 2006 and opponents batted .311. Yet, Hendry and the Cubs have faith that Marquis (and by some claims the equally overpaid Ted Lilly) will bring that elusive title to Wrigleyville. But Derrida would know better.”
  • Lacan—Yankees: “In other words, our self-image is constantly in flux because we are not able to fully judge our surroundings. Sure sounds like George Steinbrenner to me.”
  • Saussure—A’s: “Such a philosophy seems right out of the pages of Moneyball and meshes well with A’s General Manager Billy Bean’s commitment to walks, on-base percentage, and the fantasy baseball manager’s nightmare, the WHIP.”
  • Jameson—Marlins (my how things have changed): “By MLB standards, the Marlins are working class, and after their impressive season in 2006 with a team salary that was less than $15 million . . . there is something to be said for scrappy youngsters in Miami.”
  • Said—no team, but a fan of individual players: “The tide of colonization has been reversed and the game is changing for the better.”
  • Greenblatt—Mets: “Greenblatt would be a Mets fan because he would appreciate the Mets as a team created by absence. When on the same day in 1958 the Dodgers announced that they would 1eave Brooklyn and the Giants declared they were abandoning Coogan’s Bluff, the largest city in America was left without a National League team. For generations this was heartbreak (my father, who was born in 1943, has never forgiven the Dodgers). The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club realized this from the beginning and used that to its advantage to lure the abandoned fans back to the Polo Grounds and eventually Shea Stadium. We can see this in the team colors (the blue of the Dodgers and the orange of the Giants) as well as the “NY” script on the team’s hat based on the Giants’ insignia.”

Excerpts from Shawn O’Hare, “Jacques Derrida Was a Cubs Fan: Critical Theorists and Their Baseball Teams.” Baseball/Literature/Culture: Essays 2006-2007. Eds. Ronald E. Kates and Waren Tormey. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. 139-44.

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