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One of Game Time's many virtues is that--unlike, say, the last sentence of the preceding paragraph--Angell never for a moment forces the game to carry a meaning, metaphorical or otherwise, that it doesn't ask for. A deep thinker he may be, even an intellectual, but whatever baseball's true meaning, he has the good grace to write around it; he leaves the unutterable unuttered. The lure of the game, what draws the Nobelists and the laureates, may be the elusive but ever present possibility of perfection: the no-hitter, the flawless diamond of a double play, even the ruler-straightness of a well-kept base path. But perfection brooks no summing up, and neither baseball nor its fans need a committee of scribes to stuff it full of meaning. Like Angell, the best baseball writers let the game speak for itself. In "For Openers," an essay on the occasion of Opening Day 1982, Angell meets up with a 92-year-old pitcher named Smokey Joe Wood, a member of the 1912 Red Sox who had been present at the first official game ever played at Fenway Park. Naturally, in the presence of such an oracle, Angell asks him what the game was like, and he has the wisdom to quote the oracle's answer in full. "I have no idea," Smokey Joe replies. "Can't remember a single thing about it. I didn't pitch--that's all I know. Just another ball game." Whitman couldn't have said it better.