Monday, October 11, 2010

Roy Halladay, Ted Williams, Artur Rubinstein - All Partners??

When I think of the word 'performance,' I consider the term 'the art of' in the very same context. To explain:
In watching the performance of Roy Halladay, in pitching a no-hitter last Wednesday, in the major league playoffs which will lead to the emergence of the best baseball team in the world of 2010, I was struck by his brilliant tactics in overpowering the hitter facing him, one after the other, until his creating an almost perfect game came into being.
The choices made in carving out a masterpiece; deciding which of his impressive repertoire of pitches to throw, each of which was a decision required of the moment, until all of the 28 batters he faced (Halladay allowed one walk) were denied a hit, reminded me of the process of creativity and the choices made therein that we see in the performances of the great artists, and the study and the quality of decision-making demanded by that artist in order for that performance to be defining - for Halladay to decide upon a fastball, or a curve, or a pitch at different levels of speed and location; well, is it not the same kind of thing that we have to undergo in order to achieve the needs required by a Bach, or a Liszt, etc. that face us in the same manner that a batter stands there challenging a Halladay?
I think of the book (yes, a book) dealing with the art/science of hitting written by arguably the greatest raw talent in the art of hitting, and the last baseball player to bat over .400 in a baseball season; his name, Ted Williams, who, as an aging batter hit a home run in his final time at bat in his final game - reminds me of Horowitz in his overpowering performance of the great "A" flat Polonaise of Chopin, in Moscow, not too long before his passing.
Curt Schilling, a pitcher who retired just a few years ago, would end up opening a large notebook after almost every game he played in, so that he could record his view of the performance in order to enhance the quality of his next appearance, or to note as to how better he could pitch against a particular opponent the next time around - seems to me the same kind of thinking required by any performer at a high level, no matter the medium of performance it might be, whether it turns out to be a baseball bat, or a violin, or a football, or a brush with an array of colors held by a Picasso.
The word 'performance' is the bottom line reality faced by us all, no matter what level, or what tool, or what event creates the need for that magic word to be actuated.

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