World Series 2017, Game 7

World Series 2017, Game 7

By Steve Hermanos
SteveHermanos@yahoo.com

*   *   *

Houston’s George Springer watches the baseball float wide;

And so it begins,

This World Series Game 7;

 

We’ve had a few of these 7s in recent memory;

The Giantsumgarner besting the Royals in a heart attack in ’14,

The Indians-Cubs marathon in the Cleveland rain in ’16;

Now;

 

Springer hits a liner along the left field line, double;

 

Bregman half-sac bunt to Bellinger;

Yu Darvish covering first,

Bellinger Frisbees it past Yu!

Springer scores;

Bregman to second;

 

Astros 1 – 0 Dodgers!

 

Bregman steals third on a napping Yu;

 

Altuve a pool-cue shot off the end of the bat, a la Bregman,

To Bellinger;

Who chooses to step on first rather than,

Nail Bregman at home;

 

Astros 2 – 0 Dodgers!

 

Yes, we are liking this,

Middle L. and I,

Appreciating the Astros, and,

As Giants and Yankee fans,

Don’t like Joc Pederson as much as I,

Didn’t like the Whinin’ ’dgers of ’77 and ’78;

 

What’s in 40 years?

 

Well, Clayton Kershaw’s doing Rockette kicks in the bullpen—

That’s different;

 

Anti-raciscm-school undergrad Yuli Gurriel,

Flies to right;

 

Bottom 1st;

 

If you’re askin’ me,

An 0-2 scoreboard,

Would focus the mind,

Of a champion;

So let’s see,

If these ’dgers,

Have that championship organ,

Inside;

 

Astro pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr., slider, strike uno;

Chris Taylor launches a liner splitting Springer and Gonzalez,

Double;

 

Now it’s young Corey Seager with the old man’s back;

Seager K’s on a curve;

 

Justin Garden Gnome Turner,

Bald spots spreading as the games go along

(Lord, I know all about it);

HBP,

And the gnome takes first;

 

Second and first, one out;

 

Cody Bellinger,

Looking to atone for his shenanigans in the neighborhood of first base;

Vicious cut, foul;

K’s on a curve;

 

Now it’s Yasiel Puig,

Just the best, IMHO;

You don’t mess with this guy,

But we shall see;

Takes a trio of pitches dotting the edge of the Fox TV rectangle;

1-2;

HBP;

 

Bases loaded with Trolley Dodgers;

 

First inning Level 10 tenseness;

 

Pederson swings for a grand slam,

0-2;

 

Shot to Altuve,

Altuve soft-tosses to Gurriel;

3 O U T S;

 

Let us pause to consider,

While beer and pizza and trucks are seductively parading on the TV,

The ’stros,

Birthed in ’62,

(the same year as I),

Christened the Colt .45s,

(I retain my original name,

To the best of my knowledge);

 

They’ve never tasted a championship,

These 55 years, (this, their 56th season of trying);

So much futility and Nolan Ryan;

So much futility and Bagwell and Biggio of the Steroids Era;

So much futility and the Rainbow Uniform so loud and terrible it’s great;

 

This Houston,

With a surreal cube of Hurricane Harvey water dumping on it,

More water in the air than air,

These Houston folk need this,

Championship quest,

To quell the mind of black mold,

Insects the size of dinner plates,

Ruin;

 

Top 2nd;

 

Brian McCann,

The type of catcher every team needs;

Block bullets in the dirt;

Encouraging his pitchers like cornerman Bundini Brown encouraging Ali,

Hit just enough;

How he refrained from swinging at that curveball,

I’ll never know: walk;

 

Marwin Gonzalez;

Sharp liner to the right-center fence;

McCann like a gravel truck on an uphill,

Grinds to third;

 

Josh Reddick chops to second to Bellinger,
McCann must remain at third;

One out and pitcher Lance McCullers at bat,

 

I’ll let Joe Buck tell it:

“An RBI for Lance McCullers and it’s three nothing;”

 

Logan Forsythe fails to play on the grass,

Sets up in the dirt,

So McCullers’ soft grounder,

Scores slow McCann;

For a Dodgers fan, Forsythe should be charged with a crime;

 

Forsythe must toss the ball to first;

 

Astros 3 – 0 Dodgers;

 

Gonzalez on third, two outs;

George Springer, a perfect swing;

Left-center homer,

To a cluster of bleachered Astros fans;

 

Astros 5 – 0 Dodgers;

 

There goes Yu Darvish,

This isn’t why they acquired him from the Rangers;

 

Now it’s Morrow;

Pitching for the 7th time in 7 games;

Strikes out Bregman;

 

The Gods of baseball don’t take runs away,

Just to make things fairer;

 

Astros 5 – 0 Dodgers;

 

But in this World Series of the Juiced-Up Baseball,

5 runs,

Isn’t that much;

In ’77 it woulda been huge,

Soul shredding,

Insurmountable;

 

Bottom 2nd;

 

Forsythe swat through an infield hole into left;

 

There’s Kershaw warming up in the ’pen,

Looking to atone,

They’re all looking to atone,

These Dodgers;

 

Austin Barnes;

Chopper to flying Bregman, out at first;

 

Forsythe on second, one out;

 

Kike Hernandez hitting for Brandon Morrow,

No tomorrow for Morrow;

“A weapon the Astros no longer have to face,”

sayeth brilliant commentator John Smoltz;

And it’ll be Clayton Kershaw emanating from the bullpen,

For the 3rd;

 

Kike H.,

Baggy uniform gets HBP;

Second and first, one out;

 

And we’re back to leadoff man Chris Taylor,

Line drive to shortstop Correa,

Forsythe commits the sin of flinching towards third,

Correa flips to Altuve,

Forsythe is—

Tragically for ’dgers fans—

Out at second;

Double play;

Inning over;

 

That’s the second stupid decision,

For Logan Forsythe;

 

And they’re rejoicing in soggy ole Houston;

 

Top 3rd;

It’s Kershaw,

Having talked himself into the game;

Nobody’s in baseball is Superman,

Except Madison Bumgarner;

 

Altuve flyout to centerfield;

Correa popout to Puig in right;

Yuli Gurriel, getting’ booed;

Kershaw is awarded the benefit of the doubt on a questionable strike three;

 

Our game,

To alleviate our worries from truck-driving terrorists,

And a presidential terrorist,

Twisted minds bent on destroying lives;

 

Bottom 3rd;

 

Seager whacks it to right-center, awkwardly halt-crashes past first, single;

 

Turner gets plunked again, this time near the pine tar smudges on his back;

 

Seager on 2nd, Tuner on 1st, no outs;

 

Cody Bellinger,

Swinging for the fences,

In this age of swinging for the fences;

Strike Trois;

 

Now A.J. Hinch removes Lance McCullers—

I ain’t liking it—

He’s thrown only 49 pitches,

Is pitching just fine;

 

Don’t do this A.J.!

But he does this;

 

It’s Brad Peacock after the beer ad,

And this dumb-looking spoof, “Orville;”

 

Brad Peacock, a good guy, but this makes no sense to me;

 

Puig sends it high and deep to center;

Puig spikes his bat,

Long out;

 

Third and first, two outs;

 

Joc Pederson;

 

Brent Strom jogs to the mound, pitching coach,

For goodness sake,

This isn’t planning the Invasion of Normandy;

 

Pederson, Peacock;

Strike three; three outs;

 

Top 4th;

Kershaw’s game,

Kershaw’s team,

Strikes out Brian McCann;

 

Marwin Gonzalez,

Bounces the ball past Turner to Seager, but Gonzo’s safe at first;

 

Here’s Reddick,

For some reason, Middle L.,
When he was Little L.,

Developed an irrational dislike of Josh Reddick;

 

“Why?” I asked many a time;

“I don’t know I just don’t like him;”

 

He was an Athletic, a Dodger, and now an Astro,

With a fifty million dollar contract;

 

Kershaw’s curve bounces in the dirt and kicks away from Barnes;

Gonzalez to second;

 

Reddick bouncer to Seager to Bellinger, out;

 

Brad Peacock has as much chance as I would,

Against Clayton K.;

 

And again I say,

5 runs,

Ain’t much in this World Series,

 

(Hey Applebees,

What is that mound of high-definition grease-on-a-bun,

And why would anybody exchange their legal tender for it,

Much less put it in their mouth?)

 

Bottom 4th;

 

Forsythe saws it off to the right;

First baseman Gurriel refuses to dive and get his uni dirty;

Bregman to Gurriel, one out;

 

In the first row, Larry King doesn’t look as jovial,

As his talk-show days;

 

Barnes popup to Bregman; two outs;

 

Kershaw to the plate;

The star gets a hand;

 

Since it’s L.A., he HAD TO take the wheel,

Drive the careening Dodger bus,

Try to overtake the Astros,
But I don’t think so;

 

Down 5 runs,

With 16 outs to score 5,

We’ll see if Kersh can do some offense;

 

Strike three;

 

Well, these Dodgers;

Can you feel sorry for billionaires?

Not really;

They last won it in ’88,

When I wore a younger man’s clothes,

“La da da diddy da,” sang Billy Joel,

But in reality I’ve got about half the same wardrobe,

And my wife is way-more wonderful than Christy Brinkley;

 

Top 5th;

 

Springer strikeout;

Bregman, strikeout;

Altuve Vs. Springer; Greatness Vs. Greatness; foul out to Bellinger;

 

And so,

My God,

There’s no baseball tomorrow;

They’re showing ex-smoker Brian and his Chantix—

Nicotine withdrawal drug—

Do they make Chantix for baseball?;

 

Well, Middle L.’s still playing this November;

I’ve got a bucket of baseballs,

23 of them,

Middle L. snagged them all,

Foul balls off local minor league bats;

 

High-quality leather feels good to toss;

I’ll throw him BP before the rains arrive,

Maybe tomorrow;

 

Bottom 5th;

 

Chris Taylor,

One pitch to Gonzalez in left; one out;

 

The Dodgers only know how to swing for the bleachers;

 

Corey Seager,

Out at second base, Jose Altuve’s biting his fingernail,

Walk;

 

Red Garden Gnome Turner;

Peacock’s tossing the ball all over, mildly wild;

 

McCann visits with Peacock,

T-Mobile’s donating $20K for each homer,

Oh we don’t want to see that check;

Bouncer nicks off Bregman’s glove, single to center;

 

Another pitching change: Francisco Liriano;

How does A.J. Hinch know these pitchers can handle this?

Is there a room off the bullpen where a coach calipers,

Each relief pitcher’s balls?

 

Bellinger grounder to Altuve to Gurriel, out;
Third and first, two outs;

 

Here comes A.J. Hinch getting in his steps,

Pulling Liriano,

For no reason I can discern;

 

Now it’s Devenski,

The Lyft driver,

Who took A.J. Hinch to the ballpark this morning,

Pitching to Yasiel Puig,

Who already hit a homer off Devenski this World Series;

 

Puig fouls back a Devnski fastball,

Puig snatches at his bat;

 

(We get an in-game pimpup for a Wendy’s burger);

 

Little League liner to Gurriel;

 

A.J. Hinch hasn’t gotten burned,

So far:

 

Top 6th;

 

Kershaw remains with his finger in the dyke,

Correa looks like he’s trying to solve the Kershaw puzzle,

Correa grounds it through the infield to left;

 

Ken Rosenthal is going on about the Astros’ winning,

Their drafting, on a big tangent to nowhere;

 

Correa on second, one out;

 

McCann, fouling off Kershaw,

He, too, looking to figure;

 

McCann grounds it to short right-center,

Forsythe to Bellinger;

 

Correa on third, two outs;

 

Intentional walk to Gonzalez;

 

Mountain Man Gattis pinch hitting for Reddick;

 

Dodger manager Dave Roberts sprints to the mound for a confab;

 

Intentional walk to Gattis,

 

And here’s Cameron Maybin pinch-hitting for the pitcher with the bases loaded and two outs;

 

Turner nabs a little popup;

 

Bottom 6th;

 

The sun’s setting for these Dodgers;

 

Charlie Morton,

The millionth Astro pitcher;

 

Joc Pederson,

Bloop single to center;

 

Logan Forsythe,

A fastball on the corner, or just barely off, ball four;

 

Pederson on second, Forsythe on first, no outs;

 

Barnes; infield fly: I love that rule and trying to explain it;

 

Eithier bats for Kershaw,

Who successfully kept the dam from collapsing;

 

Eithier seeking ether;

 

Smacks the ball to right;

 

Pederson scores,

Forsythe to second, Eithier on first, one out;

 

Astros 5 – 1 Dodgers;

 

Here’s Taylor, strikeout; two outs;

 

Seager smashes into the ball,

Bat shattering,

A shard pinwheeling at Charlie Morton,

The ball pinwheeling to Carlos Correa,

Who fires to first, OUT!

 

(The bat shard slices at Morton’s pants’ thigh,

Just patting it);
Three outs!

 

Top 7th;

 

Oh we’re thinking back,

To the World Baseball Classic,

To March,

When we began viewing the pros this season;

Well the wheat is in,

The grapes harvested,

It’ll all be quiet tomorrow,

November, December, January,

Time to dip into the books of nostalgia;

 

Kenley Jansen, 7th inning,

Very odd,

But they’ve also got Sandy Koufax,

In the first row,

And they might need him,

Don Newcombe’s 91,

And he’s, too, in the house;

 

Springer smacks it to center,

Taylor makes a sliding grade A catch;

 

High cheese strikes out Bregman;

 

Here’s Altuve,

The littlest big man in baseball;

And that’s the beauty of this sport we love;

It’s a man with a stick trying to hit a 100 MPH ball;
It’s a man trying to field a 115 MPH grounder;

Ball four;

 

Stolen base;

 

Altuve on 2nd; two outs;

 

Correa; popup; three outs;

 

Bottom 7th;

 

9 Dodger outs remain;

 

Here’s Justin The Garden Gnome, popping up to first:

 

8 Dodger outs remain;

 

Cody Bellinger, with a thousand orange jerseys on the right side of the infield;

Why can’t these guys bunt towards third base,

Which is 95% as valuable as a homer;

Strike three;

 

7 Dodger outs;

 

Yasiel Pu-eeeeg;

With no one on base;

The most he can hit is a one-run homer;

Grounder to short to first;

 

6 outs; inning over;

 

You know,

I lived in NYC,

During 9/11,

And cheering the Yankees,

Cheered us all;

 

Game 4 in ’01,

Witnessed with my own eyeballs, ears, and brain,

Jeter becoming Mr. November,

And the crowd went crazy with catharsis,

You need the skin tingling, the mind delighting with amazement,

Catharsis,

(Those Yanks lost in 7 the next week,

We were thrilled to care,

Through the final game of 2001);

 

And so, to all Houston baseball fanatics,

I’m rooting for you,

I hope you get your catharsis,

After all this biblical flooding;

 

Bottom 8th;

 

Charlie Morton, 31 pitches, looking fresh;

 

6 outs to go;

 

Joc Pederson, swinging for Long Beach,

Looks like he’s itching to go to Hawaii,

Strike three;

 

5 outs to go;

This is where,

Things can go weird;

Calling Mr. Steve Bartman…

(Google him, youngsters);

Forsythe,

Fly to right, two outs;

 

4 outs to go,

And it’s quiet in Dodgerland;

 

Austin Powers Barnes,

Slices deep to right,

Cameron Maybin secures it;

End of inning;

 

And while they’re trying to sell us Eliquis (whatever)—

We’ll give Dodgerites their sympathy,

At 29 years with no championships;

O.K., enough;

 

Bottom 9th of this six-month season, seven if you include the WBC,

Organized ball;

Go grab your mitt, a baseball and an eager kid,

Toss it;

 

Astros 5 – 1 Dodgers;

 

Chasen Utley pinch hitting, Utley, gray haired and at the end,

Strikes out;

 

2 outs to go;

 

On the bench, Joc Pederson’s bewildered;

 

Chris Taylor,

Mighty cut and it seems the ball magically went through the bat,

Broken bat and Altuve scoops and throws—out!

 

Final Dodgerland Out;

 

Altuve to Gurriel, and that’s that;
The rocket blasts off,

Outerspace!

 

The Astros hoot on the field,

Wriggle into drab-gray hoodies proclaiming their victory;

 

They led this game the whole way,

Most of it by 5 or 4 runs;

 

And it was like waking up to waters creeping into your home,

Gathering the baby and wading into the street,

The body of water moving,

Getting deeper,

You gotta feel with your sneaker for the pavement,

But nothing’s knocking you over,
The baby is dry,

And you’re across, to safety,

All those Trolley Dodgers flailing down the river;

 

Good for Verlander, Springer, Altuve, Maybin, Carlos Correa, A.J. Hinch, ex-Yankee Brian McCann, Charlie Morton, Carlos Beltran, Luke Gregerson, Gonzalez, Alex Bregman, ZZ Top bassist Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Gurriel, and a million Astros fans;

 

(Oh look!

Carlos Correa’s to the side,

On one knee,

Opening a ring box,

In the direction of a supermodel-looking woman;

 

Oh Correa!

You 23-year-old!

If, in six or eight or ten years your marriage corrodes into civil war,

The triumph of this evening’ll be destroyed for the rest of your life;

 

But, oh well,

Don’t listen to a poet,

As old as the ’Stros);

 

Houston, you’re gonna have a great party,

In a day or two,

And out here in NorCal,

We’ll hoist a beverage,

Crack an array of Halloween candy,

And toast you,

Champions,

Too.

—End of poem

The Royal Blue Dot From Space

 

ROYAL BLUE

 

(11.3.2015 No.168 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

 

By Steve Hermanos

@HermanosSteve

SteveHermanos.com

 

—I—

 

Today,

From the International Space Station,

Looking down,

At the fat part of America,

In an expanse of post-harvest dirt,

At the center of a splatter of concrete,

Blooms a mass of Royal Blue;

 

A million fans in the plaza of a city of 1.2 million,

That’s a nice batting average;

 

Well they waited 30 years for this,

In a league of 30 teams;

It only seems fair;

 

Jonny Gomes,

Who grew up playing ball 30 miles from where I’ve typed,

All these poems,

Who came aboard the good ship Royals late-season,

Who didn’t play a moment of the post-season,

Who played only 12 games,

Takes an American flag and announces,

 

“Hey, guess what?

Cy Young winner,

Not on our team—

We beat him;

 

“Rookie of the Year,

Not on our team—

We beat him;

 

“MVP of the whole league—

Sorry guys, not on our team,

But we beat that guy too!…

 

“We whooped their ass!”

 

—II—

 

Victory,

Yes,

Victory;

 

From Mesopotamia,

To Troy,

To Yorktown,

To Appomattox,

To the Yankees and Dodgers and Reds and Cardinals,

To the end of the year,

The harvest,

Your birthday,

It’s an easy thing to get behind,

A celebration;

 

Why can’t we celebrate—

Look, I didn’t burn the toast!

Little L. beat me in chess!

I got a new job that doesn’t suck!

I bought great underwear on sale for $7!

My car is still running!

I’m not sick anymore!

No one’s bothering me!

I’m in love with my wife!

 

Bring in the stage, the marching band, the microphone,

A party so humungous,

They can see it,

From the Space Station.

 

LAST PLACE PHILLIES PHANS REJOICE!

PHILLIES RESURRECTION

(9.11.2015 No.132 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
SteveHermanos.com

Phillies Phans Phrantically Rejoice!
Not their dead-last .386 winning percentage,
Not the gloom
Of bloaty contracts given formerly-bloaty players,
Of franchise players Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley glamming it up in L.A.
No!

They’re celebrating that the money guys,
Have phinally,
Phinally,
Phinally!
Phired their Rasputin, their Svengali, their Dick Cheney!
The man ruining everything he touches—
Ruben Amaro, Junior;

Now, Ruben Amaro, Junior,
Is no doubt,
Nice to his kids, his wife,
Orphans and kittens;

Formerly a bat boy and player for the Phils,
His father played for them, too,
But as General Manager…
Well, it’d be like me running Apple Computer—
You just don’t want that to happen—

They’re taking the day off,
Philling the bars of Broad Street,
The Main Line,
Down around Independence Hall,
They’re dancing on the Duck Boats,
They’re buzzing ’cross Jersey to hit the beaches
One last time this year;

And though it’s September 11th,
14 years after the worst terrorist attack in
United States History,
At least,
For Phillies Phans,
They can remember September 11, 2015,
And celebrate something good,
Rising from the ashes.

—end of poem

WHY DO THEY CHEW TOBACCO, DAD?

WHY DO THEY CHEW TOBACCO, DAD?

(8.27.2015 No.115 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
SteveHermanos.com

“They chew tobacco?!” the confused child asks.
“That’s digusting! Why do they chew tobacco, dad?!”
And so, revealed to the youngster at this moment:
Baseball players chew tobacco,
The players’ cheeks and lips bulge with the bitter stuff,
They spit brown spit;

How can you, the parent, respond?
“It’s just what they do,
They’ve always done it”;
That’s Exhibit A of the charge Extremely Lame Parenting;

Over here in San Francisco,
The City Council,
Passed a measure to ban chewing tobacco at public parks,
And Mayor Ed Lee stamped it;

Since the greensward abutting the bay,
Is a public park,
The Giants de la San Francisco,
And their 29 opponents,
Will be breaking the law if they stuff a chaw;
This all, theoretically,
Is effectual, Opening Day, 2016;

Yes I’m thinking of Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn,
One of the greatest hitters ever, ever, ever,
Hall of Famer,
A chaw of tobacco stuffed in his cheek;
Tony Gwynn fans: 100,000,000
Tony Gwynn haters: 0

Salivary gland cancer,
A face chopped apart,
Chemo, radiation,
More chopping,
And dead from the cancer last year,
Age 54,
You, Tony Gwynn;

Then there’s Curt Shilling,
Former great pitcher,
Current expert baseball commentator and
Ignorant political commentator,
Is getting chopped and radiated
For oral cancer,
Oral cancer tied to tobacco chaws;

Meanwhile Giants superhero Madison Bumgarner
Admits to chewing tobacco since 5th grade;
Giants pitcher Jake Peavy,
When on the mound,
Looks like he’s
Masticating a squirrel;
Maybe 2/3rds of the guys chew, chew, chew,
Spit, spit, spit;

Tobacco is in the soul of America,
The Indians chewed its harsh-sweet, moist leaves, going back millenia;

The Americans did,
As Americans do,
Making it the most valuable export in the land,
Spreading the drug ’round the globe,
Bringing in piles of gold and mansions,
Benefacting museums and colleges;

Spittoons lined the floors of Congress,
(And still do in our Senate),
Spittoons lined bar rails,
Court rails,
Church pews,
Train station waiting rooms,
Sloshed at the end of train cars;

If you worked in a coal mine,
Wheat field,
As a carpenter,
Bricklayer,
You could shake your pouch,
Into your mouth,
Without dropping dirt on it,
Arrange the burning shreds with your tongue,
Settle it in your cheek or lip,
And get back to work,
Enjoy the pounding-heart, eye-focusing burst—
Count your coins on payday;

On both sides of the Civil War,
A hundred thousand troops chewed tobacco,
Sharpening eyesight, quickening trigger fingers;
After the CW,
When our game spread and grew with the professionals in Cincinnati,
When baseball-playing miners and farm boys were offered dollars
To take their mitts to cities and towns across America,
They brought their tobacco pouch,
Spitting jets of “juice” onto the diamond;

Few people then suspected,
That the stuff triggers cancer;

So now,
With the Mayor of Boston
commending San Francisco’s impending
chewing-tobacco ban,
Where do I stand on it,
The poet,
A guy who’s beaten the Big C. a couple times,
A guy who loves this game?

I’ve seen little league coaches,
Unwind a tin of snuff,
Place a dab in their lip,
Witnessed by gawking 11-year-olds—
If those dudes snap out of their unconsciousness,
By the publicity of a ban,
That’s exceedingly good;

Maybe affixing photos of Tony Gwynn’s
Chopped-apart face,
To tobacco tins—
That might be good;

On banning the stuff at AT&T Park,
Where fog banks of marijuana exhalations,
Drift over the stands, the stands, the stands—
Now if you want to make the case,
That marijuana is less harmful than tobacco, OK,
Make it;

And, I’m good with banning smoking—
Exhaled smoke is nasty for us bystanders;

But an adult chewing,
An adult fully aware of its potential destructiveness?
It’s sort of like illegalizing,
Riding a motorcycle without a helmet—
Who’s that potentially bothering,
Other than the idiot with the wind in his hair,
Atop the bike?

Who is Madison Bumgarner hurting,
Other than himself,
His wife,
His future brood of babies,
His 100,000,000 fans?

In the old days,
The days before television cameras
Pointed into the dugout,
Players and coaches would sit smoking cigarettes;

And if the Chaw Police,
Are gonna sit in the dugout with tongue depressers and pen lights,
Barking, “Say ahhhhhh!”
The players’ll slide down the tunnel to some privacy,
And over by a batting cage,
They’ll set some lounge chairs,
Around a big table,
Festoon it with packs of cigarettes,
And ashtrays;

The season is six months long,
Sprinkled with 2 a.m. plane trips,
Messed-up sleep,
Varying game times,
Nocturnal shenanigans further distracting sleep;

They chew tobacco, son,
Because they are tired, worn, exhausted,
Bone-sore, jet-lagged, hung-over, in pain;

Their steroids and human growth hormone,
Their speedy greenies,
Have been stricken from their lives,
Leaving nicotine;

Or, I guess,
They can pop,
The beans of espresso,
San Francisco’s a coffee town, right?
Men—start crunching!
But boys—life’s too short,
Go ask Tony Gwynn.

—end of poem

* * * * * * *

JAKE ARRIETA: THE DODGERS GET NO-NO-ED AGAIN

(8.30.2015 No.116 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
SteveHermanos.com

Who’s Jake Arrieta?
We all know now,
Having just no-hit the Dodgers,
Down in Dodgerland;

Jake Arrieta of the Cubs,
Scuffled on the Orioles for a bunch of years,
Traded in 2013 for Scott Feldman,
You could call him a below-average pitcher until age 28,
When, last year, he
Dropped his ERA to 2.53,
Won 10, lost 5,
And this year:
2.11, 17 wins, 6 loses;

These Cubs are playoff bound,
Now 5 ½ games ensconced for the Wild Card;

He’s up there with Kershaw, Greinke, Bumgarner,
All the best pitchers,
In this age of strong pitchers,
And hitters molded by Pilates instructors;

Jake Arrieta’s emerged from his chrysalis;
Look at him.

—end of poem

THURMAN MUNSON

AUGUST 2ND AGAIN

(8.02.15 No.101 — http://www.162BaseballPoems.com)

By Steve Hermanos
@HermanosSteve
SteveHermanos.com

I’m OK to say goodbye,
36 years after,
your plane demolished itself,
Thurman Munson, man;

Your uniform: 15
My high school baseball uniform: 15
My soccer uniform: 15;

“Why do you wear 15, Steve?”
“For Thurman Munson,
Captain of the Yankees,
MVP,
Leader to the past two World championships”;
+ my daydream
of taking the field at Yankee Stadium
(If you’d let me take your number out or retirement);

In those olden days,
News arrived
Via radio, TV,
Or paper,
Phones were corded to the wall—
as “Thurman Munson is dead!”
was shouted by
a disturbed neighborhood boy,
So I disregarded the thought
About you;

15 minutes later,
A friend told me,
“On the radio,
They just said,
Thurman Munson is dead;
His plane crashed,
He was the pilot”;

That night,
I did the only thing a stupid teenager would do,
I tried to drink 15 beers,
In honor of Thurman Munson and his number;

Now, in 2015,
No one else in the world
is poring over,
The August 3, 1979
New York Post,
Its Major League standings devoid of
Rockies, Diamondbacks,
Teams from Florida or D.C.,
The Expos remaining the Expos;

You burnt, crushed in the pilot seat,
I’m still awaiting the reincarnation;

The sportswriters despised you because
You didn’t talk to them,
Didn’t care about feeding the press;
Boston’s Carlton Fisk disdained you,
And I met a guy in Boca Raton
Who played with you in the minors,
Who, in the locker room, fought you
And his knee ligaments tore in the battle;

But so what? I don’t care about minor-league ligaments;

September 2, 1979,
Senior year, high school,
I stitched a finger-wide
Strip of black felt
Onto the right short sleeve of
my number 15 soccer jersey—
Copying the Yankees uniforms’ black strip—
The only guy
Running the field,
In mourning;

To inquiring opposing players
and spectators,
I explained, “It’s for Thurman Munson”
Trotting away;

(You want to be a writer?
Start out functionally depressed,
Overflowing with strange ideas,
Then have your boyhood idol
Immolated);

In Spring 1980,
The same scissors
messily cut from the same black felt swath;
The same needle sewed a strip,
Myself,
Onto the right sleeve of my baseball uniform,
15;
Bury the dead with sewing skills;

And I guess I’ve said goodbye,
To all of your Topps baseball cards,
To every eBay newspaper,
Slicing the package open,
Transporting to
August 2,3,4,5,6,

1979;

Too much nostalgia is a bad thing,
I guess;
It can keep one living in the past,
But I like a past of
Thurman Munson tagging out Steve Garvey at the plate,
Thurman Munson making Sparky Lyle a great relief pitcher,
Thurman Munson forging Ron Guidry into a star,
Thurman Munson hitting .476 in the World Series of 1976,
Thurman Munson joyously reaching out to Reggie Jackson after Jackson’s
epic 3rd home run
sealing the 1977 World Series,
Thurman Munson fighting the Red Sox,
Thurman Munson winning again in ’78,
a world of Yankees and John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd and Gilda Radner,
And new girls and new bars,
New paintings in new museums,
New parties, new long late-night taxi rides,
Discoteques and 3 a.m. dinners,
And we’re World Champions again, man!

So, yeah, it’s August 2, 2015,
I am almost old
as Babe Ruth,
when he died;

We’ve got all these,
Technology gadgets;
The game is still the game,
The guys make a ton more money,
Fenway Park is the same;

36 years is a long time,
Isn’t it?
Hello.

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

HUNTER PENCE AGAIN

HUNTER PENCE AGAIN

(7.07 No.74 — From 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos

Giants 3—Mets 0
Top sixth, no outs,
Curtis Granderson on third,
Having tripled;

Ruben Tejada slaps a drooping fly ball
Down the right field line;

Tongue out,
Glove out,
Hunter Pence slides towards foul ground—
Pence, who’s been out two weeks with wrist tendinitis,
Pence, who’s been missed like the only sane guy in the office
has gone to Google,
Pence, who’s been in the dugout for this
7-game losing streak;

Just above the grass, Hunter Pence snags the baseball,
As Curtis Granderson sprints towards home;

Pence awkwardly rises, awkwardly whirls,
Awkwardly cannon-fires the ball,
Towards home,
Where Giants catcher Andrew Susac,
Deploying body language,
Of a guy waiting for a bus,
That’s over the horizon,
To make Curtis Granderson believe,
The situation’s urgency is softened;

Susac grabs that sharp throw,
Spins and slaps Granderson’s leg—
Like one of those nature shows
Where a Barn Owl snags
A stunned field mouse,
For lunch—
Home plate ump Doug Eddings
Lustily punches the air: OUT!

And for the first time
In forever,
37,000 Giants fans roar together in ecstacy,
At our guy out there,
In right field;

And as we nestle back to our seats,
Murmuring amazement,
so many of us,
Now are thinking of Panda—
Pablo Sandoval, away in Boston—
The second otherworldly hero, gone;

At the third out of the inning,
Hunter Pence jogs in from right,
And we roar once again;
Welcome back.

(Giants 3—Mets 0)