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 GROUNDS

(4.22 No.17. Part of 162 Baseball Poems)

THE GROUNDS

Like a complicated military campaign
We gather sandwiches, coats, mitts, a baseball,
Cheese popcorn, Cracker Jack, bubble water,
Coke, paper towels, sweaters, knit World Series caps,
A parka,
And drive across the Golden Gate Bridge,
Little L. playing his video game as I state,
“This is the most beautiful bridge in the world!”
and I get the response the gathering fog gets;

Walking towards the ballpark,
My arms ache hauling our two bulbous bags
Of clothes and snacks,
While Little L. tosses the baseball against concrete steps,
Snagging the rebound with his mitt;

Outside the stadium on the grass triangle,
I throw the ball as high as my sore arm permits,
He’s a dervish out there, in his orange Giants shirt,
Camping under popups like he’s Brandon Crawford;

After diving catches, he gazes at the passing fans,
to see if they’ve seen him:
Everyone ’cept the Dalia Lama wants to be famous;

I’ve brought the lightest mitt from my collection,
To alleviate the load,
But its leather worn thin from thirty years of pounding,
Permits my hand to sting from Little L.’s hard throws,
Permits my middle and ring finger
To stray against the loose pocket,
To get binged on the tips into numbness;

We munch snacks and sip soda on the green triangle,
The fans flowing past,
The stadium looming,
Bumgarner Vs. Kershaw looming;

This is where poetry serves me,
So,
years and years later,
I recall.

(Giants 3—Dodgers 2)

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)

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

162BaseballPoems

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.