The present-day draw of our national pastime
World Series fever.
It’s a sickness for which I pray
they will never find a cure.
Its allure is both senseless and sensual.
Hear the sounds of cheering crowds,
home plate umps and sliding into third.
Smell the fresh mown grass
and the oiled leather gloves
(not to mention the unmistakable fragrance
of those stadium vendors’ dawgs).
Feel the chill of a cool October night
and the warmth of the bright lights overhead.
Taste the salted nuts and Crackerjacks,
while you watch a game
you first watched with your grampa.
Is it any wonder our national pastime
is enjoyed best in the present tense?
Against the backdrop of applause,
a uniformed ambassador
emerges from a dug-out embassy.
He advances to a diamond-shaped
table of negotiation.
His eyes meet his adversary’s.
No words are spoken,
but the interchange has begun.
An airborne handful of horsehide
traveling nearly a hundred miles an hour
strikes an awaiting hand gloved by nothing but cowhide.
A vocal evaluation
of the placement of said pitch
(announced with dramatic confidence)
meets with the approval of a crouched catcher
but not of a betwixt batter
who shakes his head in disbelief.
Determined to swing next time,
he fails to make contact with the speeding blur of white.
As the third pitch sails outside,
the batter blinks his eyes and cocks his head
but can’t believe his ears.
Without a doubt the man in black
(with the authority of a man of God)
casts a pall of mourning
on the somber congregation.
His unexpected benediction
leaves them suddenly silent with angry grief.
In an attempt to express their sorrow,
the stunned mourners cry out something about
the umpire’s need for medical treatment
related to his obvious visual impairment.
But all is not lost.
The cost of victory is about to be paid.
A wooden cylinder drills a white stitched ball
deep into right center field.
The cheering fans beyond the ivy-covered wall
watch the wind-swept fly die
beyond the reach of a leaping outfielder
and land in the outstretched hand of a wide-eyed child
(convinced dreams do come true).
And holy horses too.
You can’t help but be grateful for
those sacred barnyard animals
whose lives were sacrificed
in order for their skins to equip a game
that refuses to die
and whose popularity
continues to defy explanation.
There’s no way to say just why it’s so.
It just is. That’s all.
Though terror stalks our peace of mind
and nations flirt with war,
when the final score in the fall classic
finds your team on top
all is right with the world.
at least for a week in autumn.