The Roadways of Italia & The Conforto Sixth Sense

The roadways spiral out here in Italia, through majestic and lumpy (is that even a thing?) hills that could be described as rolling, but these hills don’t seem to follow a pattern that one associates with rhythmic rolling at all. They seem to run their own wayward course, jutting up in different shades of amber, stretching out the horizon line left and right, up and down, creating a kind of patchworked, overlapping y, x and z-axis all at the same time.

Every now and then one will catch sight of a villa or a cottage tucked inside one of these hills, like a tiny bug you notice on the wallpaper. But looking closer, these structures hold beauty in them as well. Glimpses of terracotta orange and brown if you squint quickly before it gets too far away. Lines of cypress trees guarding the exterior, long driveways and metal gates with tiny postes and oh well it’s too far away now…

These roadways have been here longer than any in the world. The Autostrada was first conceived and built by a dude named Piero Puricelli in the ’20s. It’s first iteration spanned from Milan to Varese, and he cut the inaugural tape while sitting in an 8-cylinder Lancia Trikappa with a poet (?!) named Gabriele D’Annunzio.

Several thoughts here. First one: Lancia Trikappa’s were really freaking cool, but how can you sell a car with the name Lancia Trikappa?

Second thought: This was the start of the entire highway system as we know it. This road would multiply into more roads – the Firenze-Mare Roadway, the Birgamo-Milan Roadway, the Pompeii Roadway, and by the 70s Italia’s map was spider-veined with freeways. The rest of the world had caught up by then, but who cares? Autostrada is where it’s at baby.

Let me know what you think next time you’re zipping past those amber patches and jutted-out mounds, when you’re snaking through an almost too-low tunnel and your vision pinholes for a few seconds, even maybe a minute, and the blackness takes over. Then you turn a darkened corner and suddenly the blackness evaporates, and there you are again in the unreal sunshine, spiraling through those hills both majestic and lumpy.

***

When Michael Conforto swings the bat now I hold my breath, because of reasons too depressing to type so I’ll just link it. Even over here in Italia, while I’m exploring sun-soaked spots like this one….

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…there is a sixth sense in me somewhere that cringes out of reflex, wincing with an unholy kind of dread. Chris MacNeil in the attic trying to find where that weird sound is coming from kind of dread. For every time Conforto unlocks the bat and creates force into the air I worry about his danged shoulder.

It’s only been one game – and what a game it was – but as Mets fans go I am hesitant to stare at Mr. Conforto from now until eternity (or at least until something worse happens to someone else) without waiting for the other shoe to drop. That bizarre silence after he fell to the ground in a heap. I don’t wanna hear that kind of silence again.

Allora! Things come, things go! Mets are 5-1, best start since 2006. Good things happened that year, no?

 

An Ode to the MLB Condensed Games

Just a word or two on the Condensed Games that Major League Baseball uploads to Youtube every day. Turns out they’ve been around since 2011 or so, but I’ve only known about them since 2015. Anyway, they have become one of my favorite time fillers – for reasons I shall now explain:

  • They only show the pitches that result in a play in the field or an out in an inning. So thusly they move fast. And something is always happening. (Then again I’m a believer in the idea that something is always happening in a regular full-coverage 3 or 4 hour game also. Whatevs)
  • They use the sounds of the game: crowd noise, balls smacking against bats, gloves smacking closed, cleats crunching the dirt, and inaudible yurps from players and umpires and coaches. But they do not use the play-by-play, obviously, because it would sound very weird and annoying to hear half-snippets of a Gary Cohen narration (as lovely as it is) being chopped up every 2 and half seconds. I assume they use the audio track from the field, and simply mute the announcing track…but how does the crowd noise always stay consistent? They are cutting to the next play every 2 seconds, which means they have eliminated minutes of time, yet the crowd doesn’t skip a beat. Maybe someone is literally sitting there putting an audio fade from one cut to the next as they edit together the thing in an MLB broom closet somewhere. Come to think of it that doesn’t sound like too terrible a job.
  • It is very democratic. Because they use only the sounds from the field, there are no loud or special calls for homeruns or big strikeouts. The routine fly ball is given the same respect as the three-run homer. The only difference is the crowd noise, which increases when something big happens. It creates an odd serenity to the experience, akin to being at the game itself. This is, I think, what I like about it the most.

***

Mets just took two games from the Phillies, and both seemed like they were played in a strangely dark and empty wind tunnel. Watching the Facebook feed on Wednesday night I could see light faintly reflected off the sides of this metaphoric wind tunnel, every now and then illuminating the players with a yellowish glow. April baseball in the Northeast is fun.