(5.12 No.35 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)


By Steve Hermanos

Pablo Sandoval is back in San Francisco,
With the Red Sox,
Having vanquished
the A’s tonight,
The game-winning homer,
In the top of the 11th;

I’m in my living room,
At 3:48 a.m.
The autographed photo of smiling Pablo with the bat on his shoulder,
His framed baseball cards,
The San Francisco Chronicles proclaiming championships,
The rectangles of glass and plastic,
reflecting blankly,
blue and black,
In the darkness;

Is he out tonight, still,
After swatting the game-winning homer?
Him, and Big Papi, and Hanley,
In a private room at some swanky restaurant,
Stuffing hundreds in the hands of waiters and bartenders
To stay open, and serve them more,
“What’s the most expensive bottle of Champagne you got?”

In my silent living room—

Little L. and I are going, tomorrow
(later today)
To A’s-Red Sox,
We’ll see Pablo,
Unscreened by the TV lens,
Or computer,
Not reproduced—
Nothing between him and us,
But pure Oakland air;

Little L. has said that he’ll boo Pablo;

But, but, but…
Even though it’s the (hated) Red Sox…
Even though, in 2010 Pablo ate himself out of the lineup…

I’ll heat water for tea,
Let the blue gas flame tell me something;

Who hit 3 homers in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series,
And brought a second championship to the Giants?
Who hit over .400 in the 2014 World Series,
And helped bring a third championship to the Giants?
Who caught the last out, after a nightmare of outfield foulups
threatened to let in the tying run in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series?
Whose hands are faster than Bruce Lee’s?
Whose smile repeatedly lit up 43,000 fog-blasted fans?

The sky is lightening to blue,
The black is going,
And this night’s sleep is ruined as roadmeat;
I hope my lack of sleep doesn’t later
create costly work blunders;

Shaving early,
I’ve poured out and separated
this huge fetid stew
of emotions,

And thusly I resolve,
That no matter what ghastly homers,
Unbelievable catches and throws,
He might perpetrate against my teams,
That I’ll never,
In my life,
Boo Pablo Sandoval,

It’d be as obscene
As booing
My very son.

* * * * * * *

(5.13 No.36 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)


By Steve Hermanos

We’re up,
In Section 209 in Oakland,
Little L. and I, amidst
The fattest of fans
Like icebergs,
Draped in A’s green and gold,
Having risen from the sea-green seats,
Only their jaws and jowls are active,
Mawing variously-molded brown fried sustenance;

The Red Sox go down quietly in the 1st,
And other than the massive A’s fans,
We’re surrounded by Red Sox,
In their cutely-styled caps,
And clean clothes,
Not being from these-here parts;

Neither am I—
From NYC;
But Little L. is a native,
As we lustily cheer
Marcus Semien whacking a high arc,
Off the top of the wall—triple;
Josh Reddick singling in Semien,
Stephen Vogt cracking the ball,
arcing past our eye level,
Into the right field seats—homer!

I shout, “That one’s for Copley Plaza!”
The Red Sox fans are mute;

A’s 3—Red Sox 0

Bottom 2nd,
Brett Lawrie singles,
Eric Sogard doubles him in;

We’re high-fiving
The meaty hands reaching out
From the green-and-gold mountains,
Brown smiles break through the fat;
The Red Sox fans are mute;

A’s 4—Red Sox 0

Bottom 3rd;

Josh Reddick homers;

“That one’s for the Back Bay!”

A’s 5—Red Sox 0

Red Sox fans are mute;

Stephen Vogt and Max Muncy walk;
Brett Lawrie singles,
Loading the bases,
“More runs!” we yell;
Red Sox fans are mute;

Eric Sogard singles to center,
Vogt and Muncy score;

A’s 7—Red Sox 0

Red Sox fans are mute;

Little L. tells me,
His great
Phys Ed teacher
Is at the game;

My opinions are mixed
about technology,
These phones,
Distractions from real life,
I tap tap tap;

5 minutes later,
Mr. P.E. is at our seats,
To Little L.
It’s like the president of the world
Has sat with us;

I ask where he’s sitting,
And he points down,
And far away,
to the Red Sox dugout;
Incredulously, I ask, “What?”

“The second row;
I know some people;
I think there’s an extra seat”;

Marcus Semien cranks a homer;

“That one’s for the Prudential Center!”

The Red Sox fans are quiet;

A’s 8—Red Sox 0;

After the Dot Race,
I grab the two stuffed bags,
And we three depart the land of happy icebergs,
And whispering Red Sox fans,
Descend the concrete steps,
To field level,
Zipping past ushers,
Who let us by for no particular reason,
Maybe because I’m Little L. is cute,

Mr. P.E. leads us,
To the second row,
Behind the Red Sox dugout,
Introduces us to his friend,
And I won’t be rude and ask,
“How did you get these tickets?
Are you really a high-tech C.E.O. and teaching
P.E. is a cover persona?”
As Billy Butler grounds out
For the bottom of the 7th,
And the Red Sox return to the dugout—
Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, and look,
There’s Pablo Sandoval,
The same as last year,
The year before that,
The year before that,
And all his years with the Giants,
But he’s wearing a different uniform,
Maybe it’s like seeing
Your high school buddy
For the first time
In a suit
It’s still the same guy,
But the familiar rags are gone—

Little L.’s mouth is open
And he’s not booing,
He’s not moving;
He’s never before been
This close to major league players,

As Mike Napoli,
Before entering the least-appointed
dugout in the Majors,
tosses a ball into the stands, near us;
Little L.’s eyes are wide as a baseball;

He sits on my lap,
Mitt on,
As we can see the sweat
On Shane Victorino’s bare head,
We can see Pablo coming back to the dugout
After grounding out,
And after innings;

The game swiftly ends;
Little L. leaning on the dugout roof,
Holding his glove up to the field;
Mike Napoli rolls a ball up the roof,
To Little L.,
Who snags it;

Those around us cheer the kid,
Little L. is numb with delight,
I give him a hug;

Maybe he’ll keep this ball,
And the memory of this night,
And pass it down to his kid,
Or kids—

I can’t wish for too much,
When life is so great.

(A’s 9—Red Sox 2)

* * * * * * *


(5.13 No.37 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos

“You can’t manage with your heart,”
says Terry Francona,
Of the Indians of Cleveland,


Have you been there recently?
To the acres of housing bulldozed?
Scads of its denizens slow and ill-looking?

Tonight, Corey Kluber,
In the first 8 innings,
struck out 18 St. Louis Cardinals
And the record is 20 in 9 innings,
Set by Kerry Wood de la Cubs—

The Cardinals,
The juggernaut team with the best record in baseball, 23-9,
And Corey Kluber is making them look
Like neophytes—

Will? Terry Francona permit Corey Kluber to pitch the 9th,
After 113 pitches, which isn’t that much
In the opinion of poets?

Kerry Wood, too,
Seemed invincible,
And flamed out with the Cubs,
As the millennium turned,
The Cubs who last won the Series in 1908,

But during Wood’s 20-strikeout game, 1998,
Chicago was effervescent from Michael Jordan’s Championships,
Had bubbled wit Da Bears of 1985;


They possess that out-of-control, short,
backup quarterback from Texas,
They possess LeBron leading the Cavs, fighting through the playoffs,
They possess the Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame,
And a smattering of great restaurants,
And nice people and some fine bookstores,
But shining brilliance on the field of play? No;

No sports championships in decades,
The Indians haven’t reigned since
The prez was Harry Truman,
And Cleveland was not a pile of blight,,
Bypassed by America,
And the Midwest,

Man-boob capital of the world;

So Terry Francona
(from his clubhouse office,
Having been ejected from the game
For arguing)
Is now barring Corey Kluber
From taking the field for the 9th inning,
Barring him from being a warrior, a hero,
From charging after the single-game strikeout record,
From finishing one of the best-pitched games ever, ever, ever,
My God!

The fans boo Indian Cody Allen,
Relieving for the 9th;

It’s almost another joke,
A river afire,
On downtrodden Cleveland—

Cleveland, which is 8 games back,
11 wins, 20 losses,
Settled in last place, blech,
Why shackle Corey Kluber to the bench,
With 18 strikeouts and one inning to go?

But, but, but,
For the Cleveland Indians, and
Chief Wahoo,
And the Corey Kluber years ahead,
Terry Francona is correct in his cruelty;

“It’s the right move,”
Says Al Pacino in The Godfather,
The right, coldhearted move,
Protecting Corey Kluber’s arm,
And the future,
Such as it might be;

I’d’ve let Kluber pitch the ninth,
And that’s one of many good reasons,
They won’t ever hire a poet
To manage,
The Indians.

* * * * * * *


By Steve Hermanos

(5.18 No.38 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

Friday 10-2,
Saturday 11-2,
Sunday 9-8,
The Giants sweep Cincinnati,
Climbing to 20-18,
Two games above .500!
Can they break above this
Narrow band of mediocrity,
With the Dodgers 4 ½ games up,
And coming to town tomorrow?

Ah Cincy,
Remember 2012,
The Reds taking the first two playoff games
In our Fogpark,
Then on the banks of the Ohio River,
Reds fans brandishing red-painted brooms,
Pre-celebrating a sweep of the Giants?
And what happened…
Oh let me brush off
Some cobwebs and dust,
Take down this book of lustrous history:

The Giants swept the Reds,
Went on to beat the Cards,
Vanquish the Tigers,
Take the second of their glittering, jeweled triple crowns,
Parade and celebrate;
Yes, that reminiscence
Makes today better;

Sorry Reds fans,
I’m looking forward to seeing your ballpark,
To walking down Pete Rose Way,
The glory of the NL pennant in ’70 and ’72
(losing the World Series to the Orioles, the A’s),
Winning the whole shebang in ’75 and ’76,
(over the Red Sox, the Yankees):
Sparky, and Joe Morgan, Don Gullett,
Cesar Geronimo, Davey Concepcion,
Tony Perez, George Foster, and Johnny Bench,
Round shoulders, round red helmets;

Under the rim of his hat,
Pete Rose’s straight hair flopping as he ran,
A forceful black heart beat;

A team of beltless
bicentennial pants,
The Big Red Machine
Is 40 years old;

And our, the San Francisco Giants,
Is best in the NL since then,
Perhaps better,
With Bumgarner, Buster Posey,
Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval (sniff, sniff, gone),
Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, Matt Cain (D.L.),
Tim Lincecum (a shadow of his former self),
Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Javy Lopez, J. Affeldt,
a carrousel of crumbling veterans
holding up for a while;
And Bruce Bochy, outmanaging the opposition
When it counts,
In the playoffs and World Series;
Count ’em
2010, 2012, 2014
World Series;
And maybe we’ll bag another,
Before the end of the decade:

The Big Orange Miracle

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