Friday, June 08, 2007

The Unkindest Cut of All

It seems that Dodgers enthusiasts who have been sticking with their baseball team despite this season's nail-biting losses or -- in the case of tonight's game -- nail-biting wins in late innings should be exempt from certain intellectual property restrictions that would prohibit explaining their fan culture to outsiders. A case in point would be the distinctive obsessive-compulsive rituals of batter Nomar Garciaparra that have captivated long-term loyalists.

In its article on this now famed Dodgers hitter, "Batter Up! Not So Fast ... Dodgers all-star Nomar Garciaparra performs a painstaking ritual every time he steps up to the plate. But don't call it a superstition," a Los Angeles Times reporter links to a YouTube video that purportedly shows Nomar's bizarre routine, known as the "Nomar dance" to locals.

Unfortunately this key footage has been pulled "due to a terms of use violation." It seems like this is a classic case where copyrighted material is needed in order to provide necessary illustration for the sports writer's criticism, since he obviously intended for it to be viewed in conjunction with his prose. Thanks to these takedown notices, fans of Nomar's bizarre behavior at the plate have to make do with terrible Nomar footage like this.

Please. Someone. Live dangerously. Post a proper video of Nomar's dance again.

After all, it's perfect YouTube material, as Henry Jenkins and other scholars of the genre would say, since it's part vaudeville, part scientific demonstration, and part document of fan culture. Besides, anyone who has every done a walk cycle animation on a computer will be interested in how each frame of Nomar's motions depends on such a tightly orchestrated sequence of movements that restarts from the beginning if he is interrupted. He looks like a kind of baseball automaton with a precise but extremely inefficient algorithm. Nonetheless, he's a gorgeous hitter of great soaring baseballs, and it is beautiful to watch him when he actually connects with a sophisticated pitch at the plate.

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