Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Sporting Admonition

As spring breaks o’er the horizon,
our minds are stirred from their winter slumber
to thoughts of re-creation,
In keeping with the gentler clime of this verdant season.

We are called, as it were, by the lengthening of days
to pursue sports of the earth reborn:
Whither the pristine greens and tees of the links,
filled with idle banter, manners, and birdies,
Or the dust and grit of the ballfield,
sparked by the crack of fired hickory and
the pop of horsehide on burnished leather.

And though some argue the former's virtue,
few debate that the latter pursuit is the nobler,
by merit and by nature.
For, while one is not without its traps and hazards,
the other tests the mettle of its players
with each pitch, each hit, and each catch.
And, where the course meanders and slopes
in uneven pars and yards,
The diamond shines in exact symmetry and geometry
of line, angle, and plane.

Still more, it is marked by mystical triads:
three bases, three strikes, three outs;
the earthen and linear trinity of battery and batter interposed;
the latter progressing towards his destiny by three steps—
in the hole, on deck, at bat;
And, all of these bound and animated by perfect squares of three—
nine innings, nine players.

Indeed, we might compare the gallant batter,
who grabs a handful of dirt, spits defiantly, and digs-in at the plate,
facing a fierce-eyed, well-armed pitcher,
who fires a stitched and scuffed missile,
hurtling at break-bone speed, amid the din of an unruly crowd,—
Compare him to the genteel golfer,
who steps lightly from his cart,
brushing lint from his starched slacks,
picks from among his duffled and muffled clubs,
and addresses a passive, dimpled ball,
fretting over some small leaf or twig in its path, all in hushed silence.

Friends, this is the silence of walking sleep,
of soft footfalls and strokes on tidy, luscious lawns,
pocked only by small sods making space for little divots:
A silence broken only by the occasional oath
and the whirring of electric motors along ways fair and wide
and paths paved and easy.
These handicapped hackers are left to lift the pin for the slowly rolling ball
and to shag the sliced drive at dogleg's turn.
Yet, should we, the waking, not walk the line,
beat the throw, stretch the hit, cover the bases,
and, at length, come home?
Should we not barter spikes and banish plaids?
Trade putts for slugs, bags for baggers, and holes for homers?

Awaken, then, the vernal calls you! Arise from your hibernal bed!
Revive the Babe, rouse the Man!
Pull on the stockings, gird the jersey, and don the cap (to doff it hence).
Then seize the bat and swing it mighty.
For, the equinox is upon us, and the day is at hand!
Yonder breaks the bursting sun, burning mists above
the field of battle,
the batting field of mythic feats.
Awaken, friends, awaken from your dreams!
Arise and face the op’ning day!

20 Comments:

Blogger Gone Away said...

I'll never get it. My Englishness prevents me ever understanding the lure of baseball. Oh, you can point at cricket and laugh at its slow and ponderous format (four days for a match) and I'd agree. But baseball...?

In England it's a game called rounders and schoolgirls play it. :D

3/20/2005 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Remainderman said...

It took some time, but now Gone Away is asking for an altercation.

Uniformly (no matter which uniform) those who have questioned the virtue of baseball are either 1) homeless, 2) in prison, 3) deported, 4) not living right, 5) unhappy with themselves, or 6) fond of curling.

Since you are still newly arrived, we will give you a pass, so long as you promise to see as much baseball as you can this year.

Sadly, Oklahoma has no major league teams, but you could probably find some minor league play or even the local "pony" league.

If you are not thereafter converted, then you'll have to find your place among Nos. 1 to 6, above.

3/20/2005 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger palinurus said...

We love Gone Away, but we may need to change his name to Gone Too Far. I can add nothing to remainderman's fine post on the sublime beauty of the game, or his comment to Gone. I can only wish that baseball games, like cricket, went on for four days at a time.

3/21/2005 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

By jingo, I think Gone sees the emp is running amuck stark naked. At least that's the way it will look from the hammock out on the deck, if and when it warms up out there.

3/21/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Ned said...

I am not sure the folks 'round these parts are sufficiently recovered from the last season and feet are still having trouble touching the ground. There is a certain lightness to the step now that the curse of the Bambino has been lifted.

3/21/2005 05:51:00 PM  
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