The Baseball cycle opens with the genesis of the game literally and closes with a gloss on the Sistine Chapel's Creation of Adam. But it's not conceived as a chronology of baseball history or the dramatic arc of a particular season. Instead, seven dancers present eighteen story vignettes (with a seventh-inning stretch for intermission) with help from music by such artists as Queen and James Brown, a slide show of baseball imagery, and a play-by-play announcer. As a timeless, multimedia mood piece, Baseball projects a surreal trip to the ballpark of our dreams.
The clichés are impossible to avoid, and Pendleton, in imagination overdrive, revels in them with cheeky irreverence. Yet he also manages to imbue Baseball with an ephemeral, nostalgic quality, referring to often improbable, yet apt, visual and cultural icons in the process. Baseball as life is the obvious subtext: the ritualized, circuslike spectacle of bats cracking, vendors hollering, and coaches signing, where memories are recycled and kids still try to grasp the crazy semiotics of baseball scorekeeping.
As that illustrious poet-philosopher Ernie Harwell once said, "Baseball is a ballet without music. Drama without words. A carnival without Kewpie dolls. Baseball is continuity. Pitch to pitch. Inning to inning. Season to season."
You might also like: