FENWAY PARK

IT’S NOT EASY TO GET INTO FENWAY PARK

(7.25 No.96 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
SteveHermanos.com

We’re doing our annual flight into the Boston suburbs,
Visiting Aunt Ellen,
And since the 2015 Red Sox are losing substance,
The fat team almost see-through,
I figure the tix should be cheap;

But no,
For equivalent seats,
I’ve got to dig deeper for the last-place BoSox
Than the second-place Giants;

I was here in 1999,
With Aunt Ellen,
And my buddy Chuck,
The Home Run Derby,
Watching Mark McGwire
Steroidally pumping homer after homer
Twice as high
As the Green Monster,
Cheering as balls clanged the
40-foot Coke bottles,
Halfway up the light towers,
Shot after majestic shot;

Well here, now, July 25, 2015;
“What do you think?” I ask Little L., Mrs. L.,
They like it:
The brick façade, grand yet unobtrusive,
The old ticket booths-turned-shrines
to the winners of pennants and World Series;
The sign: Green Monster Seats
The aromatically-grilled foot-long hot dogs;
The wooden seats;

My $100 per ticket hard price cap,
Puts us in right field,
Reading the autographs on the Pesky Pole;

We look straight across the diamond at fans
In the third-base stands,
Squarely facing us;
If I knew any of those Bostonians,
I’d recognize them without my binocs;

Top of the 1st,
Mrs. L.’s favorite player,
Gone from the A’s
To the Red Sox last year,
Now on the Tigers—
Yoennis Cespedes—
The man with the strongest wrists in baseball,
Swinging Fred Flintstone’s club,
Into a Steven Wright knuckleball,
Zipping above the Green Monster,
Slapping the green Advil sign,
Dropping along the face of the Monster
onto the field;
It should rain Advil,
Every time a Red Sox opponent hits that sign;

Tigers 1—BoSox 0

Bottom 2nd,
David Ortiz slaps a double;
Hanley Ramirez hooks a wicked bouncer
Into left;
Ortiz chugs ’round third,
As hard as his spongy knee ligaments will permit,
Yoennis “Mrs. L.’s Favorite” Cespedes,
Charges the ball,
Twists his body,
Hurls a canon shot towards home,
Old Ortiz choo-chooing,
The ball bounces once,
Into catcher James McCann’s mitt,
Who brings the tag down,
On Big Papi’s big shin,
Out!

Red Sox fans protest,
Little L. high fives a nearby fan in a Tiger shirt,
As the umps wait for the replay from Secaucus,
And somewhere nearby,
The spirits of
John McNamara and Don Zimmer,
Dick Williams, Pinky Higgins and Joe Cronin are screaming
At umpires Al Barlow, Ed Runge, George Honochick,
And Nestor Chylak;
Neck-vein-bulging, red-face arguments
Have mostly evaporated;

Now the pixels display,
Clearly,
Ortiz was tagged,
Before his big foot,
Touched home plate;

Pablo, our Pablo,
All grown up,
Pablo Sandoval,
In his Red Sox pajamas;
From the vicinity of the Pesky Pole,
It’s hard to examine our Pablo, across the field at third base,
He retains the hands of Bruce Lee,
But his body…
Somehow he has acquired,
The yams and buttocks and fleshy arms
of Elizabeth Taylor in her fattest years;
and he’s hitting about as well as she did;

Strolling solo along the top
Of the layer of field seats in the cooling shade,
Things concentrate,
The baseball is distilled,
The water of the rich stew is boiling down,
As I get closer to the line of pitcher and catcher;

It’s about 80 rows of seats,
Up from the field,
The fans packed in tight,
In the arc from first to third,
200 columns spread in expanding rays;
The fans studying every feathered nuance;

Smashing a one-hopper to the Tigers pitcher,
Big Papi barely moves out of the batter’s box;
The ball pops out of the pitcher’s glove,
He bends to pick it up, bobbles it bounding towards the foul line,
Big Papi jerks from 1st to 4th gear,
Chugs at first base,
The throw beats him by 10 feet;
These fans boo Big Papi’s lack of effort;

They won’t have much longer to boo the big man,
As he seems to be aging in fruit fly years;

The crowd at every team’s home field
Is its beating heart;
And this scene of booing Red Sox fans,
Contrasts so,
To, say, Le Nouveau Yankee Stadium,
Its scads of close empty wide seats;

Fenway’s are close, full, narrow;

Yankee Stadium’s heart beats,
’Cause cable guys,
Have hooked in
A half-billion-dollar-a-year
life-support-machine;

Here, today, it’s the fans,
And with century-old I-beams
Supporting the upper deck,
You’re ensconced in a lovingly-cared-for
antique vessel,
Gingerly moving through the days;
Something to be passed along to the new,
When we, the old,
Are buried in a field,
With—hopefully—thick grass growing above,
And children tossing high pops,
Laughing and running,
Making diving catches,
Imitating their heroes,
Impressing friends and strangers,
Away from time;

And our next visit,
I promise,
We’ll sit here,
The field level,
Between 1st and 3rd,
In the beating heart of baseball.

(Tigers 5—Red Sox 1)

—end of poem

PANDAVISION

PANDAVISION

(7.21 No.92 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve

Panda,
I watched you yesterday,
Your swings versus the Angels,
A doubleheader created
By the first Anaheim rainout,
Since Bill Clinton rode the interns;

Panda,
You look like you’re
Eating everything—
Cars ’n buses ’n decommissioned factories,
Mothballed airplanes,
Wharves,
Bridge abutments,
Sidewalks;

Panda,
I’m surprised you can move,
Off third base,
But your speed has only partly diminished,
Carrying your box-car gut,
Hippo legs;

Panda,
Your cheeks fattening,
Like a pair of infant ducks,
Are slicing your vision,
Rendered unable to detect
Curveballs
And sliders
Diving through the strike zone;

Bill Clinton,
You of the insatiable appetites
For girls with big hair, for food,
Now all, seemingly, quelled,
How’d ya do it?
Which team of shrinks deprogrammed you?
How’d you go from McDonald’s
To vegan?
Can’t you orchestrate
A Panda intervention?

Well,
Panda’s got
That $85,000,000,
Funnel-caking to his bank account
Over the next 4+ years;

Maybe Panda doesn’t care,
That before the contact’s up,
he’ll be sitting on a lounge chair,
On a beach
In Venezuela,
His flowery shirt unbuttoned,
Revealing the hairy stomach mountain,
Laughing as surfers fall into the sea,
As he’s brought
Platter after platter
Of greasy animal parts,
Frosty caloric drinks,
And dessert;

You see,
Life,
For those talented at endeavors,
That minisculely reward–
The rest of us–
Is hard.

—End of poem

ALL THE GAMES

MLB RADIO

(7.21 No.91 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos

Most technology dehumanizes,
Takes us away from other earthlings,
Isolates us in satellite offices,
Or home offices;

We communicate without being anywhere,
Particular;
When I’m driving, talking on my cell phone,
And the other person,
Is driving too,
The lack of stationary center
Of conversation,
Disorients,
Makes me feel weightless;

Yes I have the iPhone,
The beloved MacBook
(no Dick Tracy watch, yet),
I’m firmly part of our 21st century,
It’s billion cameras,
Watching us 8 billion humanoids,
We’ve shrugged off
Our rights
To privacy,
Too entertained
To assert
Much of anything
Beyond food cravings
Shoe cravings
Memorabilia cravings;

At least love,
It seems,
Isn’t getting thoroughly compressed—
Thank God—
When friends are face-to-face,
And leash their gadgets away,
People remain interested in people,
It seems,
And in love;

When videogames transmogrify into sex games—
Look out!—

But now, July 21, 2015, 6:56:55 A.M.
I’ve got my MLB phone app,
Listen to any game,
Across 3000 miles,
Appreciate the great radio announcers
In Cleveland,
Boston,
Detroit,
Seattle,
Pittsburgh;
Bone up on Spanish,
Check the standings,
Every player’s lifetime stats,
All in less time than it takes
For Wade Miley
To prepare a pitch;

And unlike TV,
I can paint the house steps,
Clean my desk
(which forever needs cleaning),
Toss never-again-to-be-read books in a box
To go to the library,
Cook Steve’s Spaghetti Dinner;

Yeah, we’ve set ourselves up,
For a nasty future,
But right now,
We’ve got great tech
Bringing us a menu
Of wonderful games;

And this device in my pocket,
A Fitbit,
Which is displaying
That I’ve only taken 435 steps
Today;
Stand up and get to work,
Robot!

—end of poem

18 INNINGS OF SIGNIFICANCE

18 INNINGS OF SIGNIFICANCE

(7.19 No.90 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos

Painting the inside stairway,
I’m cool, while the sun bakes exterior surfaces,
Shirtless, lumpy, hairy,
No one in the house,
Listening to Mets Vs. Cardinals,
Going into Extras;

The Mets ’n Cards
Have played shift-long games,
Into the wee, murky hours,
Into delirium;

Wasn’t there a 25-inning game,
in the ’70’s?
A 20-inning game in the 2010’s?

The team emanating from the polluted swamps of Queens,
The team from The Exact Middle, the polluted Mighty Missip:
Together, America!

And as each step is painted,
In a greenish-taupe picked by Mrs. L.,
The Mets get a run in the top of the 13th;
The Cards tie it in the bottom of the 13th;
Inning after inning,
Juan Lagares goes 2 for 10,
Wilmer Flores is 3 for a zillion,
Lucas Duda is 0 for 7 with 2 walks,
Colton Wong is 1 for 8,
Pete Kozma 0 for 6;

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom
Pinch hits,
Earns a walk;
The Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez,
A starter,
Is pitching the 15th, 16th, 17th;

The steps are done (the first coat)
And I’m swirling the off-white,
To touch up the banisters;

18th inning:
Mets’ Wilmer Flores singles;
Curtis Granderson singles;
Kevin Plawecki sac bunt, error by Carlos Martinez:
Bases loaded, no outs;
Ruben Tejada sac fly,

Mets 2—Cards 1;

Eric Campbell sac bunt,
Granderson scores;

Mets 3—Cards 1;

The Mets hold
The Cards in the bottom of the 18th,
Win;

And the Cards
Hit the showers,
The saline IVs,
Remaining the best team in baseball;

And the Mets,,
Ride the A/C bus to the airport,
Chill,
Fly to D.C. first class,
Catapulting through the sky,
In victory,
To challenge the 1st-place Nationals;

If the Mets,
Play a meaningful game
In October,
They’ll point back at this sweaty game,
And I’ll remember the steps.

—end of poem

PROGNOSTICATE!

PROGNOSTICATE!

(7.20 No.89 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
http://www.SteveHermanos.com

A reader wants predictions,
Well, here are the standings right now:

NYY 50-41 .549 —
BAL 46-45 .505 4.0
TB 47-47 .500 4.5
TOR 47-47 .500 4.5
BOS 42-49 .462 8.0

KC 55-35 .611 —
MIN 50-42 .543 6.0
DET 45-46 .495 10.5
CLE 44-47 .484 11.5
CWS 42-48 .467 13.0

LAA 50-40 .556 —
HOU 51-43 .543 1.0
TEX 43-48 .473 7.5
OAK 43-51 .457 9.0
SEA 42-50 .457 9.0

WSH 49-41 .544 —
NYM 48-44 .522 2.0
ATL 43-39 .467 7.0
MIA 38-54 .413 12.0
PHI 32-62 .340 19.0

STL 58-34 .630 —
PIT 53-38 .582 4.5
CHC 49-41 .544 8.0
CIN 40-49 .449 16.5
MIL 41-52 .441 17.5

LAD 53-40 .570 —
SFG 49-43 .533 3.5
SD 43-49 .467 9.5
ARI 42-48 .467 9.5
COL 39-51 .433 12.5

By now,
July 20
(celebrating the day,
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin,
For the first time,
Pranced on the Moon),
With 55.5% of the season’s games played out,
We know what we got,
The picture ain’t murky,
Some of it is ugly as heck;

Steve’s Law states
That a team can’t make up more than 5 games a month,
So you can be 5 out on Sept 1,
10 out on August 1,
15 out on July 1;

Now, July Moon Day,
We’ll say that’s 12 out;

But with our Wild Cards,
That means,
Every team is still alive,
But phorget the Philadelphians,
A franchise co-CEOed by Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels,
Dumb & Dumber;

In the AL, right now,
playoff-bound:
NYY
KC
LAA
With MIN + HOU as Wild Card;
And yes, right now,
If any other team,
Even lowly Boston, Oakland, Seattle
Slaps a streak of 10, or goes 9-1,
They’ll near Wild Cardville;

Over in the NL,
Cut out garishly-painted Miami,
Colorado is gone into thin air,
Milwaukee’s shoelaces are tied together in a Gordian knot
Of sausage casings,
Leaving Cincinnati tipping off the ledge,
Arizona, losers of 6 straight, might win 6 straight,
And San Diego’s proving pre-season prognosticators all wrong,
But maybe, just maybe-might
let their talent shine in Ws;
Wash,
St. Loo,
The Dodgers,
Pit and the Cubs,
Would be in,
With the Giants one game out,
The Mets, two;

And as the summer wrings out
The losers,
In our zero-sum game,
We’ll be left,
With 10 playoff teams;
And the 500 other,
Major Leaguers,
Will go home losers,
With abundant spending money;

But what do I PREDICT?
BAL, KC, THE ANGELS,
MIN Vs. HOU in the Wild Card;
The Yanks’ plethora,
Of creaky bones,
Will crack;

WASH, ST. L., The Trolley Dodgers,
Pitts and The World Champ Giants;
The Cubs’ll fade;
But the Mets…
If they trade for a fine hitter…
Maybe the Mets;

Yes, apologies to those who desired
A straight answer;
much of the murk
of the season,
Remains;
Though St. Louis,
K.C.,
A Missouri World Series?

—end of poem

* * * * * * *

THE BOOS & THE MOBS

THE BOOS & THE MOBS

(7.19 No.88 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
http://www.SteveHermanos.com

Why is it,
When a player decides to take
His bat and mitt
To another team
For bigger bucks,
When he returns,
We boo?

Well,
I guess,
If some old girlfriend,
Who dumped you,
Showed up,
And you,
From behind a tree,
Or in the top row of a stadium,
Anonymous,
Could boo,
You’d probably boo;

Through watching and caring,
I become a San Francisco Giant,
Almost as surely as I am an American,
And when the highly-skilled-and-successful Benedict Arnold
Goes over to the British,
I boo;
When Robbie Cano,
Jilts the Yanks,
Pledges his allegiance to the Mariners,
In return for a boatload of cash,
Fans cloaked in anonymity boo;

Fanatics booed Barry Bonds in Pittsburgh,
Booed Roger Clemens in Boston,
Reggie Jackson in Oakland, and in Baltimore,
And let us not forget,
That in Philadelphia, at a football game,
They booed Santa Claus;

The border between a crowd and a mob,
Is it based purely on actions?
When Giants bleacherites
Toss peanuts at a row of drunk Phillies phans,
Is that crowd action or mob action?

A few years ago,
When they scissored the ribbon,
On the new section of Bay Bridge
(what a generic name!)
there was applause and no booing;
When a new school is opened: no booing;
When close-ups of Pluto appear on our screens,
A few people say it’s a waste of money, but, maybe 5%;

All our fan-dom, of sports,
Our booing and peanut-tossing,
Filling our lives,
With meaning.

* * * * * * *

RETURN TO THE BRONX

RETURN TO THE BRONX

(7.18 No.87 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
http://www.SteveHermanos.com

Two winters ago,
Yankee second baseman Robbie Cano,
He of the smoothest swing since Rod Carew,
Of a .311 lifetime batting average,
Turned his back on the glitz,
The glitter, the fawning,
The gilding, the bombastifragialistication,
That is the New York Yankees,
In our 21st century;

With the empty sets,
Of blue, cushy seats,
Ringing the Yankee Stadium infield:
Sometimes money is invisible;

And Robbie made the murky decision
To take $240 million from the
Up In The Corner Of The Country Mariners,
Rather than the $185 million from the Yanks,
He’d’ve made up that delta,
And many times more,
On the side selling sneakers and deodorant and burgers,
In the biggest media market in the hemisphere;
(Why do I always expect a ballplayer,
And his hangers-on,
Swilling ten-thousand-dollar
Bottles of Champagne,
To make an intelligent life decision?)

The Yankee fans,
Actually at Yankee Stadium,
boo Robbie Cano as he settles
Into his batting stance,
In the top of the 1st inning;
Michael Pineda fires a fastball,
Cano slashes at it,
And through the humid summer day,
The ball traces a familiar arc,
Slicing high from center,
And over the left-center wall;

They boo Robbie as he rounds the bases;

In the 6th inning,
He cranks a homer to the upper deck in right;
His familiar sweet swing not now a Yankee swing;
The boos rain;

(Mariners 4—Yankees 3)

—end of poem