Still thinking about Giants slugger Joc Pederson. Last week Joc was heckled by local bigots at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Joc îs a famous, player, though he is a different kind of face of baseball. Not only has he played for four different teams—the Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, and now the Giants—but in four different regions—Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Northwest—in the past two seasons, during which he has won two, count’em, two World Series rings. He is quirky, outspoken, and well-accesorized! He can pull off a full string of pearls as he eccentrically did with Atlanta last “Joctober.” As a hitter, he has a flare for the dramatic, but also can be streaky, suffering frustrating slumps. Joc’s always struck me as a big kid. He walks like his diaper is full. He’s a buster, a slugger. His name is “Joc.”
It’s the eighth inning. Giants down by one, but with a man on. Joc steps into the box, but then out again to kindly request the hecklers’ quiet. They, however, do not oblige. Joc takes a deep breath, steps back in, watches a pitch for a strike. The hecklers scream in glee. The next pitch, he clobbers, out of the park, giving the Giants the lead. As Joc crosses first, he pretends to tear open his jersey like Superman, but really he is more like the Incredible Hulk.
The Hulk represents a model of the human mind called the hydraulic theory. Mental energy is like water. Pressure builds up and then must be released. Ask Dr. David Banner, “Don’t get me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Heckle Pederson, and Joc smash!
Freud toyed with the hydraulic theory at certain points. Alchemical Taoists elaborated a hydraulic theory into exercise, eating, meditation, and sex, all essential aspects of la dolce vita de Dao (道). In classic Western literature, the precedent is Achilles, whose spirit or will is roused into anger. See the first word of Homer’s Iliad. “Achilles’ wrath, to Greece the direful spring/ Of woes unnumber’d, heavenly goddess, sing!” There is something awesome about the hero’s anger, however terrible or tragic its repercussions. When Agamemnon insulted Achilles, the young hero sulked and the Greeks fell to their Trojan foes in droves. But when the Trojan Prince Hector killed Achilles’ beloved friend Petroclus, he redirected the hero’s fury and so began the fall of Troy.
Is there a use for anger? We need spirit. When the spirit is dissipated, there is cowardice. When the spirit is unleashed, there is the danger of recklessness. Anger becomes dangerous aggression. But when the spirit is focused, when Joc adjusts his pearls (figuratively speaking) and steps back into the box, focusing on the pitch coming down off the mound toward him and ba-boom! His spirit can be measured, specifically 110 mph as it bounces off the scoreboard, which presently reports that the Giants now possess the lead. After Joc crosses home plate, he turns to those who had heckled him and thanks them for the inspiration.
Photo of Joc Pederson after homering in Milwaulkee (Monday 25 April 2022) collaged over Jeff Koons “Triple Hulk Elvis I” (2007)