Thursday, June 23, 2016

Massive Books Addendum

Oh cruel fate, who waits until I have composed and posted a piece about massive books to put before me a massive book that I had been, lo these many long years, in search of for my own edification. The worst thing about blogs (Twitter, Facebook, self-publishing, etc.) is that bloggers can just put up whatever they feel like and the best thing about blogs is that the bloggers can just put up whatever they feel like. So here is my one book addendum to my massive books post from last week.

The Mysteries of Paris by Eugene Sue

When I realized I was writing a mystery/detective novel, I started digging deeper into the genre, learning more about its roots and reading more the pulp fiction that drew me to the form in the first place. I was already a fan of Edgar Allen Poe's detective stories (which are fucking quicksilver), the hardboiled Americans and Sherlock Holmes, but I wanted to know more. I wanted a deeper well to draw from as I played with the genre.

One book kept coming up as being a major early influence in mystery, detective, and pulp fiction, a serial novel set in the Parisian underworld: The Mysteries of Paris by Eugene Sue. But, despite being a smash bestseller in France (think of it as the equivalent of Dickens' serials, but perhaps even more popular) a major influence on Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, a fundamental work in terms of politics (again, much like Dickens) and a major part of French literature, including (I suspect at least) influencing Jean Genet, it wasn't available in English.

On the one hand, it was kind of shocking to be unable to find a reliable edition of what was so clearly an important book, but on the other hand, part of its importance made it particularly difficult to translate. Sue included argot, the dialect of the Parisian underworld, a dialect so distinct, he included footnotes to translate the argot for his French readers. Essentially, the translator has to translate two entirely different versions of French and to somehow do it while communicating how foreign each of the Frenches is to the other. It is a daunting task that forces a number of difficult decisions. Oh, and as, you've gathered, it's massive. As I finished the research for my detective novel and moved on to other projects, The Mysteries of Paris slipped to the back of my consciousness. And then, right after I post about massive books, there it is in the store's mystery section. There might have been a yelp of joy.

So, if you're a fan of pulp fiction, social realism, Les Miserables, slang, argot, crime fiction, stories with characters named Slasher and Schoolmaster and Songbird and Rudolphe (think you can spot the rich one?) that opens with a fight in an alley, and, of course, massive books, The Mysteries of Paris is another to add to the tower.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

On the Primary between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

Settle in folks, this is going to be a long one as it will collect just about all of my thoughts about Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over the course of the primary and get them out of my head so I don't die of an aneurysm. For my particularly anxious readers, let me spoil the ending a bit; as it stands now, I will be voting for Hilary Clinton in the general election. But not without some concerns.

I am concerned, not really by the fact that Hilary Clinton has a long history of connections, both political and personal, with Wall Street, because you could say that about nearly every single mainstream politician in America, but by how she doesn't seem to understand why voters want to see the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs. When she was questioned about the speech, about why she would take $250,000 from one of the most destructive forces in the American economy, she gave one of her most unsatisfying answers to any question that was asked of her. She took the money because it was offered. Perhaps the only more distressing answer she gave over the course of the primary was about her relationship with Wall Street while she represented them as a Senator in New York. Apparently, she told them to cut it out. Which, if we're to judge from the 2008 housing market crash and Wall Street's subsequent, relentless efforts to suffer no consequences from their (sometimes criminal I would say) actions and endure no reasonable regulations to prevent future crises, they didn't particularly listen to.

I am also concerned, not really by the fact that she used a private email server while she was Secretary of State or even that she used said server in clear violation of U.S. regulations, or even that she and her campaign have offered very flaccid explanations for how and why that choice was made, but, as above, by how she doesn't seem to understand why the American people have a stake in where and how the communications of one its most powerful leaders would be stored. In short, she doesn't seem to get that the American people have a right to know who she communicated with, how she communicated, and what she said as she lead our foreign policy and diplomacy, and the regulations around emails and servers are designed to protect that right. I understand that, in the moment, during a negotiation, secrecy can be vital, but the only way for the people and subsequent leaders to learn from the efforts of a previous leader is if we have access to their process. Not everyone who wants access to her records is on a Benghazi witch hunt. Clinton (and so many, many leaders before her) doesn't seem to understand that we can trust in her ability while rigorously investigating her efforts.

Of course, the whole private email server and the desire to hide her process from public view makes perfect sense if she did in fact sell State Department influence through donations to the Clinton Foundation as she is suspected of doing. So, I'm also concerned that there is a chance both candidates of both major parties will be under Federal investigation while running for President of the United States. (For that matter, I'm also concerned that the beginnings of the Obama drone war were under Clinton's time as Secretary of State which, oddly, didn't seem to come up during the primary, so I won't spend any more time on it here.)

And I'm concerned that the Clinton campaign essentially laundered money through state Democrat committees to avoid all the regulations on individual donations to a campaign. The shifting of money back and forth from PAC to committee wasn't illegal, of course, but it essentially rendered the illegal act irrelevant.

And then there is the constant “evolution” of her policy beliefs, which continued during the primary under pressure from the Sanders campaign. And her reputation as being noticeably vindictive against those who oppose her, a reputation that might have made it difficult for Sanders to built an effective foreign policy team. All of which points to the fact that Hilary Clinton wants to be a powerful steward of the status quo; a status quo that is changing the climate, creating and sustaining vast disparities of income inequality, and moving far too slowly on issues of racial, gender, and other forms of oppression.

Which is not to say that Bernie Sanders ran a perfect campaign or is the perfect candidate. I think his superdelegate strategy is hypocritical (which he has now essentially abandoned). Yes, I agree with him and his campaign that he is a stronger candidate against Trump, but if you condemn the superdelegates for overturning the will of the people when you win the popular vote, you can't turn to them for support when you don't.

Furthermore, I think he could have handled the “Bernie Bros” problem better. It should be noted, however, that the media's coverage of the “Bernie Bros” and Clinton supporters responses to them were at best, lacking in broader context and actual rigorous examination of the phenomenon, and, at slightly worse, lazy clickbait journalism, and, at worst, calculated attempts to deflect and distract from legitimate critiques of Clinton's policies and record. Essentially, a malignant strain of misogyny and toxic masculinity is not a Bernie Sanders problem. A malignant strain of misogyny and toxic masculinity is a left-wing politics problem. (Well, it's an everything problem, but I'm considering a particular version of it here.) It was a problem for Occupy Wall Street. It is a problem in the anarchist community, the communist community, the atheist community, and the scientific community. It is baffling, maddening, and disheartening that essentially every single version of humanism that is active today, in nearly every form of expression or set of priorities, is riven with some minority level of misogyny. Or to put this another way; there is always at least one fucking asshole at every rally and every meeting, who thinks he's the fucking savior of the world and everybody who doesn't bow-down to his bullshit, reductive, rehashing of someone else's ideas is a tool of the establishment or a bitch or whatever, who can't wait to mansplain about NAFTA, and who thinks that because of his awesome politics every woman who shares said awesome politics should want to sleep with him unless she's a dyke or a prude or a secret Republican or whatever. To Bernie Sanders himself, and, I imagine, to many people working in his campaign, these assholes just became part of the scenery.

So, in some ways, I can't blame him for his tepid responses to their antics. Sometimes, it seemed as though Sanders forgot he was talking to a wider audience than he was used to (more on this later) and sometimes that worked for him, as he avoided the word-salad sound bytes so many politicians stumble into when talking to an imaginary focus group, but, in this case it was a wasted opportunity. Sanders had a chance to confront the misogyny and toxic masculinity constricting all left-wing politics, to bring it out into the open, and to invite feminists to offer solutions to the problem. He could have connected it to the misogyny that plagues Clinton from all sections of the political spectrum, and he could have used this moment to change how the mainstream media and the baby-boomers in power talk about and understand online harassment and contemporary misogyny. But he didn't.

I think he missed a similar opportunity for similar reasons in his use of the term “rigged.” Sanders and his supporters repeatedly, relentlessly, sometimes annoying declared that the system was rigged in favor of establishment status quo candidates because, well, it is. As anyone who has done any kind of work with the left, either as a progressive Democrat or with third parties or special interest groups or even in Unions, knows, the deck is intentionally stacked in overt, but also subtle and structural ways against any kind of meaningful change to our political system. But, if you're a moderate Democrat, you would never see those riggings and so Sanders continued use of the term “rigged” looked like an old white man whining about not getting his way.

Most importantly, he could have explained that this isn't an issue of back room cabals, plotting the exploitation of the American voter, or even of top Democrat officials specifically attacking Bernie Sanders (yes, more on Debbie Wasserman Schultz later), but rather a system of assumptions, of bureaucracy, of paths of least resistance all enforced and supported by a corporate media structure beholden to, if not the ideals of contemporary neo-liberal economics, than at least to the economics that preference short term profit over giving voters the information they need to vote in their own best interests.

Some examples. For many independents who live in closed primary states, they didn't even know they had the opportunity to vote for Bernie Sanders when the deadline to change their registration passed. It is also, relatively inconvenient to vote, especially for those more mobile and more economically vulnerable members of society (ie. those populations most likely to vote for a socialist) who either frequently change residence or don't have much flexibility in their work schedules; an inconvenience that can quickly turn into an impossibility if the polling place doesn't have enough ballots or enough stations or enough monitors (or the voting regulations are changed specifically to disenfranchise you, but we're still talking about the Democrats here). Then, of course, there is the access to experts, to other powerful members in society, to lobbyists, to long standing fund raising structures (See above about money laundering) as well as established relationships with the press that allow press secretaries and campaign managers to extort preferential and beneficial coverage in exchange for access.

The rolling primaries, in which a candidate can build up a seemingly insurmountable lead before most the country has voted inherently favors whichever candidate has the most name recognition at the start. Especially when opportunities to introduce lesser known candidates to a wider audience are so few and far between. Which brings us to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I believe that the paltry scheduling of debates and conspicuously poor scheduling of them on her part was primarily driven, not by a calculated attempt to protect Hilary Clinton (at least not in anyway that can be proven at this point), but because she assumed Hilary Clinton would be the nominee, that there would be no meaningful challenge to her nomination, and that any more than the bare minimum of debates was a total waste of time and money for the DNC. I could even go so far as to say her appalling handling of the data breach was driven more by assuming it was the kind of thing a candidate like Bernie Sanders would do, than any calculated cabalistic attempt to preserve the coronation of Hilary Clinton. And then, there are the super-delegates, which though there are some reasonable arguments for their presence, we have to remember were pretty much invented to prevent a Bernie Sanders nomination. Of course, since they're creation they have never overturned the popular delegate results, but counting them before the convention, both by media outlets as the primaries rolled along, and by the AP when they prematurely called the nomination, contributed to the idea of the inevitability of Clinton.

What it all adds up to is that no one in the establishment really has to do anything active to prevent a Bernie Sanders presidency. (And their visible attempts often actually made things more difficult on Clinton.) With maybe a nudge here and there, the media, the bureaucracy, and a primary system assuming (or built for) low-voter engagement would take care of everything. They just had to let the system run its course. (Some of you might argue that if this system was so powerful, how come it couldn't stop the outsider on the Republican side, Donald Trump? Well, as I've argued elsewhere, Donald Trump isn't really an outsider. He is a cowardly white businessman who inherited his wealth, assumes his own brilliance, and blames his failures on other people, which makes him, the prototypical contemporary Republican. The only thing different about Trump, is that he stopped using the codes Republicans have used since the Southern Strategy, to try to convince us they're policies aren't racist.) Sanders, perhaps for the first time in modern politics, had a national stage on which to demonstrate all the reasons why we keep voting but so little changes, but, as above, I think he forgot who he was talking to and assumed enough people were frustrated in the same way he was to understand what he was saying.

But, still, despite the rigging and the concerns, I will be voting for Hilary Clinton in November. Here's why.

Living in Massachusetts, in a solidly blue state (though we do like the occasional Republican governor) I have the luxury being able to vote third party without contributing to a Republican White House, and if the Republican candidate were one of the standard issue establishment offers, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or John Kasich, I would most likely be voting for Dr. Jill Stein. But Donald Trump is not one of the standard issue establishment offers. As I've argued elsewhere it is not enough for him to lose the election. We need to show the world that, though he was capable of conning a large enough minority of Republican votes in the earlier primaries to secure the nomination in a crowded field, he never, ever, ever had a chance to become President. And the only way to do that is with a landslide defeat in both the electoral college and the popular vote. America needs to show both the Republican party and the world that we are beyond the racist, xenophobic, and misogynist policies that have been hiding in the Republican platform for decades. (And then we need to punish Republican politicians for endorsing him, but that's another topic.)

But it is also more than just voting against Trump. The status quo, that Clinton is so desperate to steward, shows every sign of finally shifting to to the left. Or rather, the leftward shift of the American people that has been going on since at least Bush's second term is finally reaching such an overwhelming critical mass, aided significantly by the nonsense of Congressional Republicans during the Obama administration, that defending the status quo, means defending gay and trans rights, equal pay for equal work, aggressive environmental policy, fair wages, and a host of other policies and issues that defined the Democrat party until Bill Clinton. So if a bill raising the federal minimum wage lands on Hilary Clinton's desk, I believe she would sign it. Especially if Sanders is successful in using his new influence at the convention to create a progressive party platform. (Which if you're wondering why he is still "in the race," that's why he's still in the race.) Same goes for continued improvements in health care policy, climate change policy, and Wall Street regulation. Furthermore, should Clinton win, there will be significant pressures on her “legacy,” to do the kind of things that Obama and FDR did, which, will, I believe, continue her “evolution” leftward. Finally, if nothing else, and especially if Republicans retain Congress, I think Clinton will be an able steward of the gains made during Obama's presidency. It isn't much, but the alternative is far worse.

There is no such thing as the perfect candidate. Almost by definition, no human being is actually capable of being President of the United States of America. Bernie Sanders better represented my beliefs and would have fought for changes to the status quo we need to continue progressing towards a just society. But, though Hilary Clinton has her flaws, I believe she will, at the very least, protect the gains made during the Obama administration and steward this country through the collapse of the Republican party as we know it to a time when those changes to the status quo are possible.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Five Massive Books to Have on Your Radar

Though I can't say for sure why, I love massive books. They're so ambitious and so labor intensive that I'm automatically rooting for them to be good. Furthermore, there is something, almost comforting to me, to read a book over a long period of time rather than just crashing through it, to have it weave its way through my life. In some ways, a massive book is like you're favorite diner, you don't necessarily eat there every day, but it's nice to know it's there for you. Some of my favorite massive books, I've been reading for years, sometimes going months without picking them up (Parallel Stories, Earthly Powers, The Dying Grass, Ulysses) but always eventually returning to them, either as palliatives between other books or just because I feel like it.

I don't always need to be reading a monstrosity, but I'm glad I live in a world where writers are writing and publishers are publishing cinder block sized novels. So, here are four new and forthcoming massive novels (in ascending order) to keep on your radar.

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

If there can be such a thing as a “buzzed about out-of-print book” then DeWitt's 2000 debut is a “buzzed about out-of-print book.” Her second book Lightning Rods is a deeply unsettling, pitch-perfect satire of corporate culture. She had another book called “Your Name Here,” that may never have found a publisher that was a stylistically chaotic post 9/11 novel. So it was somewhat baffling that her absolutely adored cult classic would remain out of print. And yet it still took a few more years for New Directions to finally bring The Last Samurai back into print.

In The Last Samurai, Sibylla makes three fateful decisions regarding raising her son Ludo; to raise him without his father (and with good reason if she's to be trusted as a narrator), to use The Seven Samurai as her short term solution to the absence of positive male role models in Ludo's life, and to educate him (roughly) in the tradition of John Stuart Mills and Mr. Ma (famed cellist Yo Yo Ma's father). The result, so far, is somehow, Helen DeWitt is able to cast a kind of literary side-eye at those few pedants for whom the recitation of a catalog of esoteric data counts as knowledge while celebrating the real joy and fun that comes from knowing things. The narrative voices are infectious and the style and formal inventiveness are just familiar enough, that I think this might be the perfect book for someone who doesn't read a lot of experimental fiction, to try to stretch themselves a bit.

Gesell Dome by Guillermo Saccomanno

I had just gotten back from BEA, so the last thing I needed in my life was another galley. But then I got back into the bookstore and saw this massive galley described as “True Detective through the lenses of William Faulkner and John Dos Passos. Throw in “dozens of sordid story lines...various murders, corrupt politicians and real-estate moguls, and the Nazi past,” and the fact that Guillermo Saccomanno is a two-time winner of the Dashiell Hammett Prize and “Argentina's foremost noir writer,” and well I had no choice but to add this 616 page doorstop to my pile.

The Familiar: Vol 3 by Mark Z. Danielewski

After having read the first two volumes I am still on board with Danielewski's massive serial novel. Near the end of volume 2, there were some signs of the various threads of the story being slowly woven together and I'm excited to see how (or even if) that continues in vol 3. One advantage The Familiar has in this list, because of Danielewski's particularly visual style, for being as massive as they are, the volumes in The Familiar read rather quickly.

Jerusalem by Alan Moore

So far, Alan Moore, one of the greatest comic book and graphic novel writers, seems to be expressly writing against the visual limitations of sequential art. The imagery that he is using (and there is a lot of it) is driven by the fluidity of the reader's imagination, aiming for a dynamism and expansiveness that is just not possible when a visual image is fixed on the page by an artist. At times, it feels like Jerusalem is a collection of everything he tried to do in comics that his artists or editors told him was impossible.

Though I can see some (maybe even many) readers not having the patience for his philosophical flights of imagist fancy, to date I find the style oddly intoxicating. To me there is an almost thrilling beauty in images I can barely wrap my mind around, so a strange emotional and intellectual state is created in my mind when faced with image after image that strains my ability to visualize.

The problem with massive books, of course, is that it takes a long time before you know if they were worth the effort. So, though there is a chance my opinion could change by page 900 or so, at the moment, it seems as though Jerusalem is a work of genius.

Bottom's Dream by Arnot Schmidt

Here's a sentence you probably didn't expect: Look forward this fall to a 1,496 page German Finnegans Wake by way of House of Leaves who's titular concept is the subconscious processing of magical transformation. This translation, the first in English, has major literary event written all over it. As you may have gathered from this post and my criticism in general, I have a soft spot for wildly ambitious works of art and, in some ways, Bottom's Dream is two wildly ambitious works of art; the German novel and the English language translation that had to deal with neologisms, idiosyncratic punctuation, colloquial contractions, warped idioms, and how knows what else the 1,493 pages I haven't read yet contain. I mean, I think in a three-column format, one column is the thoughts of the farm animals that I think were around at the start of the scene, but honestly, I can't be sure.

Bottom's Dream, like Finnegans Wake, House of Leaves, even Infinite Jest in some ways, is so different from most other books that you essentially have to learn to read it as your read it. And at 1,496 pages, you'll have plenty of time to study up.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Two Days in the Life of Mookie Betts

It was late July last year or early August, when the Red Sox were long out of postseason contention and the autopsy notes were beginning to roll in, that a strange and oddly beautiful wave of optimism began to ripple through Red Sox nation. The season was lost, but the young guys were playing well. They were playing really well. They were making plays. They were winning games. They were playing better than they had the year before. If players like Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts kept improving, and the Sox figured out a few other things (Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval) and filled a few gaps, this team could be pretty good. Maybe even really good.

And then, over the course of the off-season, pre-season, and the first few weeks of the regular season, it all came together. Hanley Ramirez moved to first base where he is clearly much more comfortable. David Ortiz's announced retirement and slightly diminished work load has re-energized his bat. Dustin Pedroia is healthy again. The Sandoval problem kind of worked itself out. Acquiring Kimbrel allowed the Sox to get another year out of Koji as a set up man. And Stephen Wright was able to hold the rotation together while Joe Kelly and Edwardo Rodriguez got healthy, David Price worked out a problem with his mechanics, and Clay Bucholz finally, finally, finally proved his does not have a spot on the rotation. (The pitching is still obviously the weak spot, but it's not so weak to keep the Sox out of playoff position.) Even moving Swihart to left field seems to have worked out.

And those young guys who seemed to be making progress suddenly became three of the best baseball players in the world. You could pick nearly any game in the last month and a half and odds are JBJ, Bogaerts and/or Betts did something remarkable, but, even with the Bogaerts leading the world in batting and JBJ's hitting streak, Mookie Betts on the last day in May and the first day of June was special.

Lead-off hitters are supposed to excel at a couple of very specific skills; get on base any way they can, see a lot of pitches to drive up the pitch count, and get into scoring position in a wide range of scenarios. In some ways, perhaps the most important skill for a lead-off hitter is the ability and aptitude to go from first to third on a single. Which means lead-off hitters tend to be faster and smaller than anybody else in the line-up and certainly smaller than the power hitters in the third, clean-up, and fifth spots. At 5'9”, 180lbs. with great speed, Mookie Betts fits that physique to a T. And thanks to good old fashioned physics with its force and mass and acceleration and whatnot, that physique is not the best for power hitters, who tend to look like David Ortiz (“husky” as one might say), Alex Rodriguez (linebackeresque), or Ken Griffey Jr., (tall and lanky). In short, lead off hitters aren't selected to hit for power.

So, it was something of anomaly when Betts absolutely crushed his lead-off home run on May 31, 2016. And it was downright weird that Betts crushed another home run in his second at bat in the following inning. Multiple-home-run games are uncommon, but not that uncommon, but two home runs in a row out of the lead-off spot is. By the second inning, Betts already had a remarkable game. But remarkable turned to historic when he hit his third home run.

No lead-off hitter for the Red Sox has ever hit three home runs in a game. The Red Sox were founded in 1901. Let that sink in for a moment. In the 115 year history of the team, on which played some of the greatest players in the history of the game, no one had ever done what Mookie Betts did on May 31, 2016. But what was even more impressive about the third home run is, by then, the Orioles had caught on that Betts can hit inside pitches. So they were pitching him outside. His third home run was an excellent pitch to the high outside corner, a difficult pitch to hit with power for even the bruisers in the middle of the line up and Mookie Betts crushed it too. And he wasn't done.

The game was pretty much decided when a fly ball was hit off Robbie Ross, Jr. (the Robbie Rossest Robbie Ross that ever Robbie Rossed a Robbie Ross) into shallow right center field. The camera follows the ball, leaving Betts out of the frame for a moment. With Dustin Pedroia and Chris Young running after it, it looks certain to be a bloop single. Then Betts re-enters the frame. It looks like he's about a mile away from the where the ball is going, but then that mile is gone in a blink and Betts is Superman sliding. Already flat on the ground, he catches the ball and slides right between Pedroia and Young. Lead-off hitters don't hit for that kind of power and right fielders don't make that kind of catch. It left Jerry Remy, who's only job is to talk about baseball, speechless. You could make an argument that Mookie Betts put on one of the greatest single-game performances in baseball history on May 31, 2016. But he wasn't done.

He lead off the very next game with a home run. And then, because a few minds hadn't yet disintegrated under the splendor of his performance, he hit another home run in his second at bat. No player, in the history of baseball, had ever lead off with a home run in each of the first two innings two games in a row. But if it was the catch that propelled his May 31st performance into the stratosphere, his second home run made his June 1 the stuff of legend.

In some ways I don't blame, Wright, the opposing pitcher for trying to do something, anything, to make sure Betts didn't hit another home run. I am 100% certain his manager or coach told him to make Betts uncomfortable or perhaps “brush him off the plate a bit.” And I think that, as a professional pitcher in Major League Baseball, there was almost no chance for an actual injury to Betts. But in the moment all I thought was, “That fucking asshole just threw at Mookie's head.” If it is possible to joyfully brandish the dancing double-bird at someone, I joyfully brandished the dancing double-bird at the Wright when the camera cut to him as Betts was rounding the bases.

It's one thing to hit three home runs in a game. It's another to hit three home runs in a game out of the lead off spot. It's another to hit three home runs in a game out of the lead off spot and make a breathtakingly graceful catch. It's another thing to hit three home runs in a game out of the lead off spot, make a breathtakingly graceful catch and hit another lead off home run the next day. Mookie Betts and the Red Sox came back to Earth relatively quickly from this little streak of magic. The weaknesses in the pitching staff showed themselves again with Bucholtz being moved to the bullpen, Kelley apparently in need of a few more rehab starts and Rodriguez oddly shaky in his first start back.

But it's another thing entirely to hit three home runs in a game out of the lead off spot, make a breathtakingly graceful catch, lead off the next day with a home run, and then crush your second home run in as many at bats after the pitcher threw one at your head. At the end of May and the beginning of June, Mookie Betts put on one of the greatest baseball performances we are likely to see.