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

THE GOOD NEWS: JOEY PANIK, ALL-STAR

THE GOOD NEWS: JOEY PANIK, ALL-STAR

(7.07 No.72 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos

Joey Panik rushes out of Bruce Bochy’s office,
Bochy just having informed Panik
That Panik
Is now
All-Star Joey Panik,
Will be playing second base,
For the National League,
In Cincinnati next week;

A manager’s job,
Is full of talking about things gone wrong,
About trying to keep bad things from happening;

And now,
To give out pure good news,
To watch a kid’s face transform to the edge of happy tears,
In a season that’s been a cornucopia
Of mediocrity and injuries,
It’d be nice to enjoy this feeling for a while,
To not let the game’s decisions,
The moment-to-moment struggle,
Distract from telling Joey Panik
That he’s an All-Star;

Bochy groans,
As he pushes up,
From his desk chair,
Off to work.

—end of poem

PABLO’S IMPENDING BLUES

PABLO’S IMPENDING BLUES

(6.04 No.61 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos

Red Sox 4—Twins 4
Top of the ninth;

Joe Mauer bunts,
Brian Dozier races to third,
Catcher Blake Swihart grabs the ball, fires,
Low, at third baseman Pablo Sandoval—

Pablo, the man who forsake my Giants and me,
Pablo, who took the dough
and the New England flintiness
Over the laid-back love washed over him by San Francisco Bay—

Swihart’s throw,
At a target made by the upside-down V
Of Pablo Sandoval’s legs
And Mother Earth,
Enters ankle-high,
Zips into left field;

Dozier slides safe into third,
Pops up and scoots home
With the go-ahead run;
Pablo Sandoval hangs his head,
Just as he did a few innings earlier,
Javelining a throw over first base,
Into the Twins dugout;

Pablo Sandoval’s average is down to .239,
He’s hit 5 homers,
5 doubles;
Just 17 RBIs!
Hair-on-fire sportscasters and bloggers have badgered
The Sawx
Into forcing Pablo to sometimes abandon switch-hitting;

Are you having fun yet,
Pablo Sandoval?

(Red Sox 4—Twins 8)

—end of poem

PABLO INSOMNIA + THE HEIGHTS + BLOOD ORANGE + YOU CAN’T MANAGE WITH YOUR HEART

(5.12 No.35 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

PABLO INSOMNIA

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,
Ever;

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

http://www.SteveHermanos.com

* * * * * * *

(5.13 No.36 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

TO THE HEIGHTS OF PARNASSUS

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,
Manicured,
Not being from these-here parts;

Well,
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;
“Really?”

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,
Watching,
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—

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

(A’s 9—Red Sox 2)

http://www.SteveHermanos.com

* * * * * * *

YOU CAN’T MANAGE WITH YOUR HEART

(5.13 No.37 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

By Steve Hermanos

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

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;

Cleveland?

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,

Cleveland,
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.

http://www.SteveHermanos.com

* * * * * * *

BLOOD ORANGE

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
Three,
2010, 2012, 2014
World Series;
And maybe we’ll bag another,
Before the end of the decade:

The Big Orange Miracle

http://www.SteveHermanos.com

PRODIGAL PABLO SANDOVAL

(5.12 No.34 — 162 Baseball Poems 2015)

THE PRODIGAL PABLO SNAGS ANOTHER BAUBLE

By Steve Hermanos

Pablo returns to San Francisco,
Quietly—

He’s gathering in the lobby of the St. Francis Hotel,
With Giants’ Bruce Bochy, Larry Baer, Bobby Evans,
Where Mr. Baer holds out a ring box,
Pablo opens it
The 2014 World Series ring,
Dons the $18,000 ring;

Does he say, “Thanks”?

Yeah, I’m sure;

I know that guy,
He does his talking with his bat,
His glove,
His body;

That big opening in his face,
Is best at
taking in hoagies & pizzas & Smashburger;
Not spouting words;

His hand-eye speed is Einsteinian,
Ruthian,
Quick as Groucho Marx’s wit;

So all that nasty stuff,
That emanated about our Giants,
Is washed away in a hug of Bruce Bochy
And Larry Baer,
And a big handshake for new G.M. Bobby Evans;

In 20, 30 years he’ll be signing autographs alongside
Tim Lincecum and Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias,
And we’ll be one team again;

After the smiles in the St. Francis lobby,
The pats on back,
The goodbyes and good lucks,
After the ring is stuffed in his pocket,

Pablo Sandoval is driven onto the Bay Bridge,
Glimpsing his old ballpark down to the right,
Gazing at it for a moment,
The memories,
As the black SUV carries him towards Oakland,
Where he dons his Red Sox uniform,

And in the top of the 11th inning,
He hits the game-winning home run;

It’s another great day,
For Pablo Sandoval,
And not,
For the San Francisco Giants,
For me.

http://www.SteveHermanos.com

162 Baseball Poems

This might be the dumbest idea I’ve ever had: I plan to write 162 baseball poems this baseball season. What’s the point of it, other than there are 162 baseball games in a major league team’s season? I guess the point is that I’ll figure out the point along the way. Or I won’t figure out the point and I’ll have 162 baseball poems of wildly varying significance and quality. Perhaps one way to approach it is to not worry about it too much. It’s like going on an around-the-world journey or climbing a big-ass mountain: just make sure you’ve got a bottle of water, snacks and go.

Also, I write haikus, and haikus are so short I’m not counting them as full-length poems. I think I’ll count them as 1/10th of a poem. Or 1/9th of a poem—9 players on the field or in a lineup. That’s about right.

Also, I live across the bridge from San Francisco. I go to a good amount of Giants games, and some A’s games. I’ll try to write about all the teams this year, but I’m not promising anything.

* * * * * * *

Note: (4.5 No.1) means April 5th, Poem Number 1. Writing out the whole date seems distracting.

Feel free to email me if you’re confused, or have comments.

Here we go:

* * * * * * *

PLAY!

(4.5 No.1)

We’re spinning
mid-air
zipping in
past Chris Carpenter
Thwopping David Ross’ mitt—

Strike one
Has been pitched
By Jon Lester—
& so it has commenced;

sweep up the tree needles
burn the dusty wrapping paper
in a Papal puff
announcing
This new season;

It’s all 0-0
And millions of us
Are brimming,
Hope flowing down our sides,
Fronts and backs—
There is zero disappointment;

Lester fires a fastball,
Matt Holiday slices it off into right
New guy Jorge Soler bobbles it,
Heywood rounds third and his foot
Claps home plate
1-0;
Cubs fans groan;

Imbalance,
Like the Big Bang,
birthed.

(Cardinals 3—Cubs 0)

* * * * * * *

NEW COKE

(4.5. No.2)

You notice that
Rectangular pane
Of virtual glass
ESPN 2 is hovering
Above the plate,
As if an off-season suggestion
By Star Wars’ George Lucas,
Or Sci-Fi writer Harlan Ellison,
Or perhaps those
Who sold us
New Coke,
The Edsel,
Windows Vista (or 8),
The Extreme Football League,
Or Gerrymandering?

The world’s better off without any of that,
And now I’ll switch to
Where that virtual pane
Of glass does not exist—
Ahhhhhh, radio.

* * * * * * *

Low on Wry: R.I.P. Lon Simmons

(4.6. No.3)

The world today,
Has been depleted of
Wry;
That special sauce
Of great baseball broadcasters;
Cracking apart
A rain delay;
Or while 9 men
Are standing still,
And we’re waiting;
Lon Simmons,
Giants broadcaster,
All through San Francisco
(Plus some significant A’s),
Has decided to go on
To a field full of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson,
Satchel Paige, Mickey Mantle, Lefty Gomez,
Addie Joss, Josh Gibson, Christy Mathewson,
The greats and the characters,
The drinkers and the teeth-grinders,
Floating above it,
Behind home plate,
Lon’s splattering descriptions
And quips;
It’s one thing,
That’s gonna be wonderful,
On the other side.

* * * * * * *

(April 7. Poem #4)

Popup over 1st twisting high
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt
Jerks after it,
Halts (as if shot),
Hops,
Stops (the ball plops foul);

Blasting onto the field,
Trainer Dave Greshner, Manager Bruce Bochy
Assess and comfort
Bent-over, stationary
Brandon Belt;

Last year it was his thumb,
Then a concussion on a ball thrown at him,
The year before, his kinked neck,
A strained elbow,
A shaving accident,
A pedicure gone wrong,
An old lady cutting him off at Whole Food,
Cracking his rib on her shopping cart;

Gingerly,
Brandon Belt walks off,
Disappears down the dugout,
Inoperable.

(Giants 6—Diamondbacks 7)

* * * * * * *

April 8

That’s Him (Haiku 1/9th)

Adrien Gonzalez
3 homers and a single—
Can’t ignore him now

(Dodgers 7—Padres 3)

* * * * * * *

April 9 (Poem #5)

Amidst the blooming aroma of hot French fries
A pair of pigeons zips
Over the packed concourse,
Serving as the Air Force flyover
For the Oakland Coliseum,

Real fanatics
Real players on the field,
No TV glass or virtual anything;

Here in the last rows of Section 116,
Under the overhang,
The field in green checks,
The players hear our clapping hands
Our loud encouragement;

We’re here to see Kendall Graveman,
Part of the passel of compensation for
Trading A’s All-Star Fan Favorite Josh Donaldson
To the artificial surface of Toronto;

(Off the A’s carrousel: Donaldson;
Onto the A’s carrousel:
Brett Lawrie, third baseman
Sean Nolin, pitcher
Kendall Graveman, pitcher
Franklin Barreto, 18-year-old shortstop)

So we’re here to see Graveman
Make his first major league start,
See part of what we got for Hero Donaldson;

And I’m filling my scorebook with new A’s
Ben Zobrist (Rays), “Country Breakfast” Billy Butler (Royals), Brett Lawrie (Jays), Ike Davis (Pirates, Mets, Bad News Bears),
And no-names Canha and Semien,
I, a middle-aged, baseball expert,
Mildly baffled and indignant
At the speed of the spinning carrousel;

Top 1st, no outs, a walk and a hit—
Rookie Kendall Graveman first a pickoff to centerfield,
And the runners advance to 2nd and 3rd;
Adrian Beltre chopper to 3rd,
Lawrie fires home; catcher Vogt drops the ball;
Fans groan: 1-0;

Fat Prince Fielder knocks a single to center: 2-0;
No out, runners on 1st and 2nd,
Anxiety floods
Those paying attention;

Kendall Graveman’s 1st A’s inning ends 3-0:
That’s a 27.00 Earned Run Average;

But up here in the cool shade of poured concrete,
Surrounded by a moat of empty green plastic seats,
And fortunately,
My concrete ceiling shields the view of the hyped new scoreboard,
Though the powers-that-be
Replaced the ancient yellowish bulb scoreboard
That rimmed the thing lip
Of the 2nd deck
With bands of
Computerized LEDs
And though I don’t much like “upgrading”
The strips look good
In the old stadium
Stylish and bright and not flashing too much,
Contrasting nicely
With the static forest
Of fading green tarps
Covering 17,000 upper deck seats;

They’ve got fans here
To watch baseball,
Leave your sushi remnants in the
Heating greenhouse of your car;
But they’ve also got
Ike Davis batting
And I might be as good a hitter as Ike Davis,
Neither of us deserves
To be on the field.

No one,
Except the Visa Card company
Knew I was headed to this game,
Until,
Scorecard and peanuts packed,
Iced tea sports bottled,
Mrs. L. entered the house
Her canvass bag crammed with work drawings and plans;
Like being caught playing hookey,
I disclosed my destination,
And she said, “Have a great time.”
What a life!
What a wife!

Graveman surrenders 2 runs in the 3rd,
3 in the 4th,
And is gone,
His first Big League start
As successful as the Charge of the Light Brigade;

Notice the CLOCK beyond centerfield,
At the third out, set at 2:30, counts down,
And play begins near :30,
Shaving, I believe, that :30 off every inning,
And the batters don’t stray much from the box,
And the game goes by quite crisply,

Though it’s a mess for the A’s,
And everyone’s missing Josh Donaldson.

(Rangers 10—Athletics 1)

* * * * * * *

CHAMPIONS

(4.13 No.6)

My black shoes
Step from concrete stands,
Onto the crushed brick that rims the grass of the field of the Giants,

Joe Panik cracks batting practice hits,
Giants and their coaches stand around the batting cage,
Analyzing Panik, chatting to each other;
Those not in uniform shuffle near the dugout,
Some writers interviewing Giants prez Larry Baer,

As Nori Aoki’s bat smacks liners,
In an hour and a half,
They’ll bring out the third World Series trophy,
Raise the flag of 2014 triumph;

Is this the best place in the world right now,
Better than a café in Paris, a beach in Tahiti,
A card table in Vegas, the lip of the Grand Canyon?

And why are you here, poet,
In the company of the daily journalists who cover the Giants?
Now I’m interviewing Mrs. Larry Baer, asking her,
“The Giants’ve won 3 World Series in 5 seasons. What does it mean to you,
personally?”
“Personally?” she asks, then answers, “Momentous,
Our children don’t realize what an unbelievable era,
We’re living in.”
(So pleasant and confident in her role as Wife of The Boss);

And so I will ask the same question to
Former Prez Peter Magowan,
To sports writer Ray Ratto (“To me it’s meaningless”),
To ushers, fans, beer vendors, a photographer,
Compile all the answers into my latest sports column for the
San Francisco Marina Times;

And so red field dirt speckles the rims of my black shoes,
And a security guard quietly tells me, “I hate Opening Day.”

(Rockies 2—Giants 0)

* * * * * * *

A GUY IN A BASEBALL UNIFORM ON A HORSE

(4.13. No.7)

Four mounted horses on the warning track,
42,000 screaming fans;

One of the riders dismounts,
Madison Bumgarner,
Wearing cream colored uniform #40,
Mounts,
Accepts the triangled flag from manager Bruce Bochy,
Slowly Bumgarner guides his horse along the warning track,
The fans are laughing/cheering,
Bumgarner stops at the centerfield wall,
Hands the flag up to Sergio Romo,

Romo and a passel of Giants ascends the bleacher,
Backs slapped,
Hands slapped,
Curve round to the cable car,
Run the flag up the pole:
2014 World Champions,
Fireworks blast;

Let us not ponder
Our team’s crappy injuries,
Loss of Panda,
3-4 record;

We shoulda had
This ceremony
In the fall,
During the drought,
Keep this team,
For months,
Off the field;

Banish these thoughts, man!
Get a beer,
Celebrate!

(Rockies 2—Giants 0)

* * * * * * *

ARENADO

(4.14. No.8)

Gregor Blanco pops foul,
The ball dropping towards the rolled tarp,
Rockies 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado,
Sprints away from the diamond,
Full speed snags the ball,
Smashed tarp,
Helicopters onto the tarp, low fence
(as Giants fans ((traitors)) brace him);

Angel Pagan tags from second,
Racing to 3rd,
Arenado rises from the tarp
Like a God from an ancient epic,
Throws the ball like a bolt of lightning,
And Pagan is safe at 3rd;

This joins the pantheon
Of the best baseball plays ever;
Go Google it,
It’s there;

Now most everyone’s a fan
Of Nolan Arenado.

(Rockies 4—Giants 1)

* * * * * * *

HARD KNOCK

(4.16 No.9)

Letting Little L.’s hand go,
At baseball camp,
I watch the infield practice;
Warm, windless,
Behind the fence;

A grounder approaches Little L.’s friend,
Who doesn’t bend low enough,
The ball scooting through his legs,
He turningly steps left cleat atop right laces, trips,
Falls on his ass,
Bang!

Life teaches us—

Is it an endless river of failure?
Or a river of success, roaring past
Occasional Failure Boulders?

I’m standing here,
In foul ground,
Turning aside,
Not even competing anymore,
Occasionally doting out blathering advice;

I’m choosing the metaphor of a thousand-layer cake, or thousand-layer moussaka,
Put that fat wedge on its side,
Somehow
Mine out the caviar, the truffles,
The oysters and French fries.

* * * * * * *

HEROES

(4.16 No.10)

I’m talking with Andy Baggarly,
All-Star baseball writer,
In a bar on San Francisco’s Union Street,
He’s signing his books;

Right now, just me and him and a hefty guy in a Bumgarner All-Star jersey,
And up on the TV,
There’s Miami Marlin Ichiro Suzuki,
Sliding towards home plate at Queens’ Citi Field,
The Mets catcher reaching towards Ichiro squirming—
Like an Octopus doused in paint thinner—
For the plate;

Out! deems the ump!

We three watch the replays,
Ichiro’s slow-motion hand groping towards the plate,
Like Michelangelo’s Adam reaching for God’s finger,
The catcher swiping after Ichiro;

And in the Marlins dugout,
Ichiro removes his helmet,
Revealing an ancient warrior’s head of gray;
As the umps don the earphones,
And the unseen Judge of Secaucus,
Rises from his Barc-A-Lounger,
To eyeball his TV,
Deeming Ichiro

Safe!

Ichiro and Baggarly,
Two greats.

(Mets 7—Marlins 5)

* * * * * * *

NO ADVICE MARRING THE PERFECT MOMENT

(4.16 No.11)

Little L.’s standing down the yard in the twilight,
Shaking off a sign;
I’m on a kiddie chair, pink plastic,
Holding out my mitt over a blue rubber square
With the number 3 on it;

Jon Miller’s description of the Giants game blooms
Like a million red roses,
Out the portable radio;

I’ve suggested to Little L. 100 times
To throw overhand,
But he twirls like Luis Tiant Jr.,
His back to me, then fires sidearm—
Strike;

My sore arm tosses the ball through the evening;

I’ll let a future coach be the hard-ass.

* * * * * * *

(Haikus #2-5—April 16)

Bumgarner lets go
Ball spinning invitingly
Paul Goldschmidt homers

* * *

Bumgarner folds over
Failure not before witnessed
In this dimension

* * *

Giants losing tying
Losing tying now losing—
In twelve painful frames

(Arizona 7—Giants 6)

* * *

Our huge treasury,
Once overspilling with ’10, ’12, ’14 gloriousness—
Now I see the floor

(Giants 3 wins—8 losses)

* * * * * * *

(4.20 No.12)

FRONTIER JUSTICE

All a-flutter
Is sports radio
With the A’s’ Brett Lawrie
Getting plunked and almost-beaned
By various K.C. pitchers,
After Lawrie slid like a toboggan
Into K.C. shortstop Alcides Escobar
Who couldn’t crawl off the field without help;

After firing 99 m.p.h.
In the vicinity
Of Lawrie’s head,
Kelvin Herrera pointed at his own head,
Which threateans, “The next one might go to the coconut,”

Escobar will be O.K.,
Lawrie will be too,
They’ll all be O.K.,
Herrera will get a suspension;

Talking about violence,
Or threatened violence;
Time to shut up, find a ball, toss it.

* * * * * * *

LACK OF RINGS

(4.21 No.13)

So we didn’t go to the Giants’ ring ceremony,
Where they gave out
40,000 championship rings;

$135 a ticket,
$270 for me and Little L.,
$405 for Mrs. L. too,
$12,475 for the neighborhood;
Or zero to stay home and not freeze;
I cheaped out;

The next day,
Little L.’s friend show us his ring,
Glittering and chunky,
2014 World Champions;

Those rings are nice.

* * * * * * *

PATRIOTS DAY

(4.20 No.14)

They’re playing Major League baseball
At 11:15 am,
Fenway Park Time,
8:15 am on my XM radio,
Dropping Little L. at school,
We hear the first pitch pop;

At my office, I listen through my computer,
Noticing No Pablo Sandoval
In the Red Sox lineup;

The Orioles Wei-Yin Chen,
Is pitching;
And the Red Sox announcers tell me,
“Pablo Sandoval is struggling
Versus lefties,
Hitting oh for 13;
In 2014 he hit only .199
Against lefties”;

Has it started?
So soon?!
This Boston doubting,
Of Pablo,
Whispers of regret;

In San Francisco,
We didn’t publicly
Chitter-chatter
About Pablo’s lefty/righty splits;

At each of last year’s World Series games here,
Probably 1,000 fans,
Out of the 42,000
Knew about Pablo’s .199 from the right side;

We believed
In the whole fella,
With the silhouette of Frosty The Snowman;
He hit .429 in last year’s World Series,
With 12 clutch knocks in the 7 games,
Kung Fu Pandaed the heck out of 3rd base,
And after Gregor Blanco/Juan Perez’s penultimate heart-attack muff,
Pablo camped in foul territory
under the final fly ball,
And sealed the Tiffany trophy,
In a baby-blue box;

We here in San Francisco don’t dissect our heroes,
Into miniscule parts,
And complain if a section’s not perfect;

Because no one is perfect,
Nothing,
Except, perhaps, victory.

* * * * * * *

(4.21 No.15)

T-SHIRT

My friend Mike,
Texts me a photo:

A t-shirt,
Featuring Oakland A’s’ Rickey Henderson,
Holding 3rd base aloft,
The steal that
Broke Lou Brock’s all-time record:

“Everything I learned about stealing,
I learned
In Oakland.”

* * * * * * *

(4.22 No.16)

THE NEW GUY

Arcing towards the right field line,
Yasiel Puig’s foul ball,
Giant Justin Maxwell,
Races after it—

My squinty, cynical eye discerns
There’s no way he’s gonna snag it,
That this 4-1 Giants 8th inning lead,
Will remain tenuous with Dodgers on 2nd and 1st,
Puig at bat, dangerous Adrian Gonzalez on deck,
The Giants 6 games behind the Dodgers
in this barely-birthed season

—As Maxwell slides through the crushed cinders,
Catches the ball, jams his knee into the wall,
Tosses the ball to hold runners from scoring;

Puig, in the dugout, applauds the replay;
Gonzalez grounds out;

Just for gravy, extra sauce,
And what-the-heck let’s go for a second round of filet mignon,
In the bottom of the 8th,
Maxwell smacks his first homer.

(Giants 6—Dodgers 2)

* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *