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Danny Duffy Callup: A Special Call to Bibliomancy

What is this? Click here for an explanation of bibliomancy.

The day's big news is that the Royals have promoted left-handed starting pitcher, Danny Duffy, who will start on Wednesday. How can I make sense of this news? In times of crisis or excitement it is especially important to turn to the forces of power and wisdom throughout the universe. This seems especially true regarding Duffy, who took a sabbatical last season in order to... well... no one has ever said. Of course, because he was a valued prospect, the Royals allowed him to leave and return amicably.

Today's bibliomancy lessons come from The Friendly Club and Other Portraits, an odd little collection of essays by Francis Parsons published in 1922. My original plan was to turn to page 68, because Duffy was ranked the 68th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. However, page 68 is completely blank in The Friendly Club and Other Portraits. So we shall turn randomly to page 116-117 and see what Fate has placed before us:

"Another literary "cotery" of of which Mrs. Sigourney was the presiding genius, met generally at Daniel Wadsworth's home. Some of the poems and papers read at the first of these clubs were published bu Goodrich in a short-lived periodical called 'The Round Table.'"

Sigourney was a much-loved sentimental poet of mid-nineteenth-century America. There is a town in Iowa named after her. I read quite a bit of her work for my comprehensive exams and... well... nobody was more sentimental in the cheap sense of the word than Sigourney. There's been a considerable effort to reclaim sentimental literature as a legitimate expression of deep human emotions and an attempt by many female writers to find means of expression in a culture that silenced them. (Sigourney's husband hated her writing and it was a long-standing battle between them that she published at all.) I'm sympathetic to that reading, but an hour spent reading poem after poem about dead children, dead fathers, even dead pets has a way of turning one into a modernist quickly. Worse yet, it's the same poem every time: sickly sad and sweet and ending in heaven with the Angels.

This passage was clearly sent to me from above to make me consider Duffy's leave of absence due to a loss of "love for the game" and his subsequent return. Oh heart, how strong are thy passions!

"We find gossipy sketches of Jeremiah Wadsworth, Dr. Cogswell and his deaf and dumb daughter Alice, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Theodore Dwight, the poets Brainard and Percival, Dr. Strong...."

Without knowing any of the details, Duffy's journey remains oddly tantalizing and yet impossible to comment upon. It came on the heels of another minor leaguer retiring to become a priest, and more generally, the Greinke story. We just don't know. My impulse is not to be sentimental.

Onto page 117:

"But the great world called the future "Peter Parley" and his ambitions and love for variety away from the place of his earliest literary experience to foreign residence and travel and to the little brown house that he afterward built at Jamaica Plain."

(What a brutal sentence.)

But Duffy did return to baseball, either burdened by his ambitions or driven by them. The scouts love him and he's consistently posted great numbers in the minors. His worst stint was last season's brief return to Rookie Ball, where he posted a 3.38 ERA. His career ERA in the minors is 2.59. In seven starts at Omaha this season, Duffy as a 3.00 ERA, a 10.8 K/9 rate and a 4.30 K/BB ratio. His career numbers in those two stats are 10.5 and 3.65 respectively.

The essay I'm quoting from is about the author "Peter Parley" who wrote stories for children. At age 22, Duffy is still a baseball child. Parley was part of a new generation of authors in children's literature who were looking to expand and improve the genre. Duffy is part of a new Royals pitching generation that is looking to not suck in a Kansas City uniform.

Parsons' prose is hammering my will away, so I'll not quote another sentence from page 117. Paraphrasing, there's a long sentence about how Parley was able to overcome his feeble health due to his determination. Seems fitting and also scary, regarding any pitcher. Fighting through injuries almost never works.

And so, our lessons from Francis Parsons and The Friendly Club and Other Portraits ends on a chilling note.