You know, baseball gets a bad rap these days. Whether it's steroids, or the length of the games, the increased specialization of players, the supposed reliance on homeruns, or the lack of complete games. In particular, over the past week the game has endured several black eyes. A-Rod's testing positive and admitting steroid use. Tejada pleading guilty to lying to Congressional staffers. Robbie Alomar's health has been called into question. Former catcher Jim Leyritz, who is charged with vehicular manslaughter, has had his bail revoked. The Marlins ballpark proposal seems like it's falling apart. It's easy to forget, frankly, how awesome the game is.
So, since it's Valentine's Day for a few more minutes, (and a very happy Valentine's Day to all of you), The Common Man thought he'd wax poetic about the five things he loves most about baseball. Be warned, The Common Man claims no impressive talent, just enthusiasm. And so, without further ado:
5) The Wild Card
The purists say the Wild Card,
is an abomination,
that rewards the mediocre teams
who should be on vacation.
But the Wild Card, every year, adds some extra spice,
to seasons that once would have been dead.
And millions of fans who would be depressed and alone,
can watch Buck and McCarver instead.
(hmmm...maybe there is a downside to this Wild Card.)
4) The Trade Deadline
Every year in July,
The rumors, they fly,
And there's an excitement that hangs in the air.
Who will get CC?
And who will get Manny?
And who gets the hero who will take the team there.
To the land of October,
Of game winning homers,
Of pennants, and races, and cheer.
And who gets shut out?
Who goes on without?
Who sadly says “wait ‘til next year?”
3) Johan Santana
Once there was a man from Tovar,
Whose left arm would take him so far,
Twice the Cy Young,
The heat dost he brung,
But it’s the change-up that’s made him a star.
2) Joe Mauer
God of summer, dome, and mask,
Will the power come?
With a slash,
A sphere rises into the gap,
Splitting the golems that guard the passage.
The blur races onward, tarrying not,
chalk and dirt churning beneath.
The golems give chase and inch closer to the white, spinning orb,
But cannot catch it before the blur turns yet again, head down.
Reaching their goal, the guardians return the sphere.
It comes closer,
Closer to the blur.
It bounces once from the ground and into the waiting mitt.
But…too late, for the blur is at rest.
Safely at third.
Home runs? Bah!
Here are some other things The Common Man loves about the game but was too lazy to put into iambic pentameter: The Minnesota Twins, the arc of a majestic homerun, the sweet swing of a left-handed batter, the umpire when he calls a third strike, a rich and glorious history that is still being unpacked and digested. And, finally, one bonus (and lazy) poem to maybe the greatest reason to love baseball.
*) All the Information That's Available to Read and Digest
B is for Bill James, who sired them all.
A is for Aaron Gleeman, an inspiration to amateur bloggers everywhere.
S is for Shysterball, whose insight and snark are keen.
E is for Everyone The Common Man is missing (The Hardball Times, Baseball Musings, Baseball Analysts, Carbord Gods, wezen-ball, Joe Posnansky, IIATMS, and countless others.
B is for Baseball Prospectus, now being shipped.
A is for All-Time leader in outs, which you can look up on baseballreference.com, the best free resource on the net, though retrosheet gives it a run for its money.
L is for Leader, as in Worldwide, and their four stalwart writers, Gammons, Neyer, Olney, and Stark.
L is for Law, Keith Law.