August 30, 2015

Seventh Inning Stretch

I want to be a fast ball:
a four seam or two seam rising, exploding fast ball
painting the black over the middle of the dish,
high and tight, good cheese.
The batter will sense I'm coming,
yet I'll hum by him before he swings. 
I want to be slapped into the glove
and rotated across the Ace's familiar hands
held, caressed by fingers that know every pockmark, odd stitch,
the factory's familiar brand
and then just hurled clocking in the high nineties or hundreds.

The top of the first, the bottom of the ninth,
bases loaded and the hitter standing proud,
the foul ball that rolls out on the third base line.
I want to be a routine double play,
a can of corn, a circus catch
the closer throwing the bunt out at first base,
the play that doesn't make the highlight reel.
I want to be a Texas leaguer, an infield fly,
Once I missed a pop fly and caught it in the face,
the runner made first and raced around to second base
as my eye bruised up and swelled shut.
It kept me from playing for a day or two.

I want to be a Louisville slugger,
weights draped around my neck  as the fireman warms up,
swings the bat from side to side in the hole.
I want to be the plugger.
I want to be the bat,
the varnished wood, the sweet spot,
the brand burned into the side, the white tape around the narrow grip.
The lucky bat for the home run king that swings it at a ferocious clip,
I want to be the first bat for a ten year old.

I want to be the tools of ignorance, the grass stained pants, the home team's offensive chants,
the catcher's mitt tied together around a ball to break it in,
the black stitched webbing, leather cross section.
I want to be the lightly padded part in the glove
 that makes the catcher grimace when he catches heat.
 I ducked into a fast ball once and took it on the cheek. 
Now I'm wary of grounders, line drives, and balls that come down with the sun behind their back
and still flinch when balls are thrown my way.

I want to be a baseball game,
the slow pace,
the Bronx cheer,
the reliever nailing down a victory in the rubber game,
the announcer calling names,
the field crew raking sand,
the vendors working the aisles
and the rhubarb and the pickle
and the strangers that will stand and sing,
the organ music warming up
"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks,
I don't care if I never get back..."

August 19, 2015

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