“Rain Delay: Toledo Mud Hens, July 8, 1994,” by Martin Espada

This poem by Martin Espada was published in his 1996 book of poetry titled Imagine the Angels of Bread, and Espada worked as groundskeeper for the Triple A Toledo Mud Hens for a time. This piece paints such a vivid picture of rural America; it’s certainly the kind of scene I would expect to find in a movie set in a small town.

*

Despite the rumors of rain,
the crowd spreads across the grandstand,
a hand-sewn quilt, red and yellow shirts,
blue caps. The ballgame is the county fair
in a season of drought, the carnival
in a town of boarded factories,
so they sing the anthem as if ready
for the next foreign war.
Billboards in the outfield
sell lumber, crayons, newspapers,
oldies radio, three kinds of beer.

The ballplayers waiting for the pitch:
the catcher coiled beneath the umpire’s alert leaning;
the infielders stalking with poised hands;
then the pitcher, a weathervane spinning in the wind;
clear echo of the wood, a ground ball,
throw, applause. The first baseman
shouts advice in Spanish to the pitcher,
and the pitcher nods.

The grandstand celebrates
with the team mascot
prancing pantomime in a duck suit,
a lightning bug called Louie
cheerleading for the electric company.
Men in Caterpillar tractor hats
rise from seats to yell at Louie
about their electric bills.

Ballpark lit in the iron-clouded storm,
a ghost dirigible floating overhead
and a hundred moons misting the grey air.
A train howls in the cornfields.
When the water strikes down,
white uniforms retreat from the diamond,
but in the stands
farm boys with dripping hair
holler their hosannas to the rain.


Baseball rituals and superstitions on Friday the 13th

A lot of people get anxious on Friday the 13th, in the same way they get anxious around black cats or freak out about a broken mirror. There’s even a name to describe this apprehension of the date: paraskevidekatriaphobia (but don’t ask me to pronounce that).

Anyone who’s ever watched Major League knows that baseball players can be particularly superstitious. And while most ballplayers likely are not offering tributes to a Voodoo shrine, major league players do find more subtle ways to try to draw good fortune to their performance.

Major League (1989)

Some of the most common rituals include kissing religious necklaces, making the sign of the cross, pointing towards the sky after a home run, eating a particular meal before a game, or even not grooming (or, perhaps, grooming a particular way) on game day. When a team is behind, the rally cap has become a popular way among players and fans both to try to help their team rally to victory.

During a winning streak, some players will refuse to wash their hats, helmets, or uniforms — and some fans will do the same. Some players will abstain from sex on game day, or, in the spirit of Bull Durham, during a winning streak. If a particular bat or glove is deemed “lucky,” it will become a popular item among the players of a team.

And, of course, if a no-hitter or a perfect game is in progress, nobody should ever, ever talk about it.

Wade Boggs was known as a particularly superstitious player, even nicknamed the “Chicken Man,” due to his routine of eating copious amounts of chicken every day. According to Boggs:

It started in ’77. I had a Minor League budget and a growing family to feed. Chicken was cheap and I really felt better eating lighter food rather than a lot of heavy meat and gravy. Then I noticed my batting average going up. Ever since I’ve been a `chicketarian.’

Sporting News

In addition, Boggs would write the Hebrew symbol for life, “Chai,” in the batter’s box before every at-bat, and he also made sure to take 117 ground balls (some places report the number was 150) during every practice. Something about Boggs’s routine definitely worked for him, considering his five batting titles, 12 All-Star Games, and induction into the Hall of Fame.

Other famous players with superstitious rituals included Joe DiMaggio, who would always run from the outfield and touch second base before going into the dugout. Pitcher Tim Wakefield would eat a pound of spaghetti before any game he started, and Justin Verlander is said to eat tacos before every start. Mark McGwire used to wear the same cup from his high school playing days — at least, until it was stolen.

There’s not much information specific to Friday the 13th superstitions among baseball players, but no doubt, they exist. When the upcoming date was brought up with Phillies manager Pete Mackanin on Thursday, May 12th, 2016, Mackanin responded, “I wish you didn’t tell me that.”


Schroeder can play

Perhaps Schroeder should consider playing a different position. Catching can be murder on the fingers.

Schroeder baseball


WatchMojo’s Top 10 Dumbest Baseball Mistakes

Here’s an amusing Top 10 video posted by WatchMojo a few days ago. To be fair to the players featured, we all make stupid mistakes sometimes, and these individuals were just unfortunate enough to have them featured in front of a huge audience — and now replayed for anyone who missed them the first time around. Nevertheless, some (if not all) of the incidents highlighted here will leave with a nostalgic smile on your lips while you scratch your head.

Ironically, this video about mistakes also includes a mistake of its own. The 1998 ALCS was played between the Yankees and the Indians, not the Yankees and the Braves.


Revenge of the baseball

This little round guy has clearly had enough of getting beat around the diamond.

Baseball comic - Ryan Pagelow

bunicomic.com


Alexa, tell me a baseball joke

If you happen to have an Amazon device that has the AI app Alexa on it, then you know that you can ask Alexa all kinds of questions, from the latest news and the weather forecast to random facts and even corny jokes. It turns out, Alexa also features a collection of baseball jokes. Just say, “Alexa, tell me a baseball joke.” Many are quite cheesy, as expected, but Alexa also manages to throw some zingers, too.

*

Question: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Answer: He got traded from the Yankees to the Mets.

Q: What do you call a baseball player who chews sunflower seeds?
A: The designated spitter.

Q: What do baseball fans in Washington DC do for fun?
A: They go to Baltimore Orioles games.

Q: What do baseball players say when they hit the showers?
A: Lather up!

A recent study claims watching sports can improve your health. Unless you are a fan of the Houston Astros.

Q: What’s the best way to hold a bat?
A: By its wings. But you really shouldn’t hold a bat.

Q: Which baseball player has the shortest commute?
A: The catcher. He only works from home.

Q: What do you call a haunted baseball park?
A: Field of Screams.

Q: Why did the baseball player put a poster of The Simpsons on his front door?
A: Because he wanted to knock a Homer.

Q: What did the softball say to the baseball?
A: Do you even lift, bruh?


“Spring Training,” by Philip Raisor

There’s a lot of great imagery in this poem. It’s also quite nostalgic, full of memories expressed by the narrator. This piece was published in Philip Raisor’s poetry collection, Headhunting and Other Sports Poems.

*

I carry my spikes and step on the field an hour
ahead of the others. Last day of March with April
offering tickets for the new season. I’m full of sun
on wet grass, in love with blistered benches.

A sparrow sits on the backstop, watching, ready
to dart if I catch its eye. I drop my bag on home plate
and swirl my foot in the dust the way my cousin does
with his fingers on the skin of a drum head. Next year

he’ll be released with the others who spent mornings
breaking windows and trashing vacation homes
like drunks in the right field bleachers. Here, I’m alone
with a sparrow and the smell of a baseball morning

settling around me like a comforter. I start trotting
to first base, the ankles loosening, then the knees,
as the dust begins to lift into the breaking light.
Around second and third I stretch my arms

in a rotary motion ready to fly. A hand waves back
from a passing car, someone who knows me
or remembers rising one morning when the game
of who you are is played out in your mind,

and around you a stadium full of fans begs you
to do what you usually do in the clutch. The bat I pull
from the bag for the first time is my father’s
Louisville Slugger, thirty-three inches, wood barrel.

I thought enough time had passed, the attic dust
hard in the grooves. I stroke it slowly like a weapon
you love to touch but would never use. He hit .304
at Omaha the season he was drafted, all-star

rookie-of-the-year. He said we’d join him soon.
Then that other draft. He would have been here.
I swear he would. The silence feels oppressive now.
I dig for a scuffed ball and throw it up, shoulder high,

but let it fall. A natural hitter, my father said, holding
my hands. I grip the tar-stained handle. Tears blur
the wall that’s so far away it looks warped. I aim
for marrow deep inside, April hungry for the kill.


Bawled out by Snoopy

Poor Charlie Brown. His baseball woes go back a loooooooong way.

0423-peanutsbaseball1


“Along Came Ruth,” by Ford Frick

This poem by Ford Frick ends with the line, “Nothing’s simpler than that!”, which is quite fitting, as this piece is pretty straightforward. This was published in Ford Frick’s memoir, Games, Asterisks, and People: Memoirs of a lucky fan.

*

You step up to the platter
And you gaze with flaming hate
At the poor benighted pitcher
As you dig in at the plate.
You watch him cut his fast ball loose,
Then swing your trusty bat
And you park one in the bleachers-
Nothing’s simpler than that!

Ford_Frick_at_1937_All-Star_Game - Library of Congress

Ford Frick at the 1937 All-Star Game (Library of Congress)


We’re not going to lose

Considering nobody knows when the first game of this MLB season is going to be played, it kind of feels like everyone has already lost in 2022.

peanuts baseball 3

Charles Schulz