Not All Cubs Fans

I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life, all things considered, and can’t complain. That penultimate word–can’t–weighs down on me from no direction in particular, an invisible, unseen force. It shouldn’t be like this. It shouldn’t be about me. I’m no one in particular–just a hobbyist, a fan. Being a sports fan is something I do and am for fun. But not only is it a source of pleasure, it can also be a way of making connections to people who aren’t like me. As a little kid, my ability to rattle off trivia statistics delighted older fans and provided a way to start making friendships with those near and far, even as I struggled to master the social skills needed to bond with my own peer group. Sports can sometimes have this power–the power to be used for good.

I was born outside the Chicago area but had already moved away by the time I fell in love with baseball. Most of the baseball hats on display weren’t Cubs hats, but a few were, and every so often I’d get thumbs-ups or high-fives for my little T-shirts. Baseball team affiliation is something innocuous enough that it’s a way to identify onesself as one of a relatively small “in-group” and display comparatively benign loyalties. Just as the sport as a whole was a bridge for me to make connections, team affiliation became a way to signal a postive form of pride, when I was almost too afraid to do so in most other ways. How dare I take any pride in my country, when people like me in so many ways (birth place, skin color, religion) were responsible for so many atrocities? On the internet, where one-liners and point-scoring were the currency of the day, citing one’s atypical neurology could too easily turn into an excuse, so better not hide behind that either. At least T-shirts and virtual avatars could still endure.

When I was twelve I started learning that there was no safety in this approach. Oh, I don’t mean that the mistakes of one fan would be redistributed as collective guilt; people (some people) can deride an individual scapegoat much more easily. No, I mean the second-order response of assuming all other fans were content to mock the failings of their fellows, rather than hold the players accountable. Of lumping us all in the same boat.

I don’t mean to claim any higher ground than is due–that kind of attitude leads to the backlash present in, say, the “Best Fans St. Louis” running joke. Some people probably think my dreams of true egalitarianism are naive. I’m just one voice, and a quiet voice at that. But I have to try.

All this is just to say that, in the slightly ironic spirit of #victorinooutsforcharity and the slightly tiresome ads that companies do (apparently some of them just pay a flat fee anyway, but, welp), I’m going to be donating $5 for every Aroldis Chapman save (with the Cubs this year) to Wings Program. I hope I don’t need to be very wordy about it here or elsewhere, and I’m not sure if posting this defeats the purpose. But please know, if you’re reading this; in the midst of all the nihilistic hand-wringing and disdain that will follow for people like me, or maybe it just feels like it from amid the distortions I squint through, I’m here too.

Spring Training

I was writing this last April, taking part in a hard fight with many avid bards (and an all-star grading). As it’s March again, I bring it back. Happy Spring!🙂

All limbs in whirls that lash, craving maintaining.
A small rain falling in an arid land, draining
What was a farm. This day it’s scalding, blazing.
This fall, I cry, will flash with wins amazing.
In a mad wind, kids flip backwards and wind
Till arms display what avid fans will find.
I pass as a baby, rattling silly stats
That sat amid this mix; minds, balls and bats.

I’ll sit in any chair, skip that which is shaming
Past failings, past draws. It saps will, blaming
What was. In this dry warmth; again I’ll start
Planning against panic, playing any part.
Till that day wins banish a final wraith:
I am a fanatic, invisibility sparks faith.

Slide, Utley, Slide!

This blog has been dormant for some time, despite the amazing baseball that’s been going on this year, and my life has been changing a lot since then too. The blog may well go back to being dormant, I don’t know.

However, after the NLDS Game 2, John Thorn put out the call for song parodies of this 1880’s classic, and John Thorn doesn’t have to ask twice.

I played a game of baseball down at old Chavez Ravine
The crowd was intermittent, and the heat was fierce and keen
A nobler lot of people there might have chanced to play
But you would never hear that said from teammates in LA.
The game was quickly started while I sat on the bench
Waiting for Mattingly to call upon a would-be mensch.
Hernandez drew a walk and then it was my turn to bat,
Eked out a quiet single and there was no need to spat.

(Chorus):
Slide, Utley, slide; the fray will never end
Slide, Utley, slide; your havoc they’ll suspend
If your blows are just too crushing, and you aren’t duly blushing
They won’t take you to Flushing; slide, Utley, slide!

Twas in the seventh inning they called me in, you’ll find
But once I got to first, moving along was on my mind.
But something was the matter, sure I couldn’t see the ball
But my slide into the base broke down Tejada’s leg and all
I was running down the baseline, I figured that he tripped
For when I tumbled into him, he got severely flipped.
‘Twas a most unpleasant feeling, though at first they called me out;
We both were ratlled, and that’s when the fans began to shout;

They overturned the play so to the base I got to go
The way they took Tejada out, it must have been a show.
On Gonzalez then depended the victory or defeat,
And he came through to show the world that we would not be beat.
Five to two was the score of the game when we got done,
But when I got suspended I thought that was much less fun.
The news got home ahead of me, they said I couldn’t play;
The fans told me that I should sue, and then began to say…

World Cup Found Poetry: “Ribbon” (Germany/Argentina)

Like tigers, and they win
to enjoy the sunshine
with a ribbon tied around
the Redeemer statue:
a troublemaker-in-chief.
Don’t wear any, of course.
Wednesday o’clock;
that rat-tail hair style.
That looks like gold dust,
a lot of tears.

World Cup Found Poetry: “Key” (Netherlands/Argentina)

Daylight is saying its final goodbye.
A kickboxing expert
in the vocal ascendancy.
may just be the tears of a heartbroken
grinding intensity,
because there’s blood on that
golden key.
The reason for the flood:
bluff and double-bluff.

World Cup Found Poetry: “Yellow” (Brazil/Germany)

The movie Monsters
both wore yellow,
haunted by what happened
(whatever you want to say)
the day they took the Tube.
The frustration isn’t
a morbid fascination;
otherwise there’s no space.
You and I are pinching
cause I’m running out of words.
This towel was,
struggling with illness,
a place to hide his face.

World Cup Found Poetry: “Property” (Netherlands/Costa Rica)

The honest guy card
still makes him feel young.
There’s no hotter property than
its volcanoes.
Continuing to explore
a titanic struggle.

World Cup Found Poetry: “Creaking” (Belgium/USA)

How famous a movie
slightly creaking
with cold feet.
Trouble now, it’s Hazard.
On his chest, that’s a new one on me.
The sometime-saxophonist
can plot a route
on an island.

World Cup Found Poetry: “Kiss” (Argentina/Switzerland)

The kiss of what? The kiss of life!
Dancing from him,
the tightly-stitched
big boy pants.

World Cup Found Poetry: “Accordion” (France/Nigeria)

Pedaling furiously:
telegraph his intentions
to hit the high notes.
An accordion factory
to face the music.