By the time you reach your seat, grounds-crew
is raking the mound and infield,
lineups revealed, caps stretched, bats pinetarred.
Umps scuff and scar a new box of balls.
Clear the field. All rise. Yell, Play ball!
The first ball’s a feeling out process,
a guess who’s got their stuff, first basemen’s
chance to kick some dirt, to bend and stretch
his mitt, sketch out his good luck icon.
The first batter gets on often, fakes
a bunt to take a look, who’s aware,
who’s asleep. Scares a shot down the line,
gets on, but can’t score this time. Pop up
flipped to third base and two iffy K’s.
The hometeam displays more promise, slow
but showing patience, a gork single,
a drilled liner, pop-up and one run
across before the first frame is done.
The second is a fun vengeance, lines
that define the batter’s box erased,
middle space of the lineup, contact
hitters who crack fouls, fake steals,
deal a hit and run, first and third,
score and an absurd double play ball.
The hometeam all go down in order.
The third is a blur, cold stretch of hits,
walks, hit batsmen, someone caught stealing.
The crowd squeals, rises as a ball
flies towards center, all gasping until
it falls, still into the soft webbing.
The visitors head out while we chant
and hiss and boo, but can’t mobilize
a noble effort, a heroic
charge, as a digital zero’s hung
on our rung out in centerfield.
We yield to the shouts of vendors
and score at least a hotdog and beer.
The fourth means our pitcher nears the heart
of his arm, starts back through the order,
fastball a blur, curve popping, slider
turning on a dime, only the hot
hitters have any chance, and the best
miss good pitches, loop long slow foul
balls shallow along the third base line.
In the end they combine for two hits
and two left. At the split we’re still tied.
The guys in the bottom are big bats
and though this cat has his first class stuff
something in the crowd ruffles his hide
long enough for him to slide a pitch
on the meat of the plate, a glitch hit
a legit four hundred feet over
the Perfect Autoparts sign. Two – One.
From the first pitch of the fifth something’s
wrong, a string of shake offs, extra trip
to the rosin bag, rip down to first
stopped by a great play, next the worst curve
you’ve ever seen swerved long and foul,
on base on an error. A pulled change
and they’re first and third. Great range pulls in
a sinful shot to third. A brief hope
that we may get out of it. Nope. Next
the wheels come off. When we check the score
they’ve posted four runs. We’re down Five – Two.
In the bottom, we do no better,
although one batter gets on and moves
around on an error, our proof of luck
is a sacrifice that sucks us one
paltry run. We stand to get a stretch.
In the sixth a new arm, a new life,
our man rife with fire barrels down
the first two batters, frowns at the next,
checks the sign and whips a split finger
that blurs into the dirt. Three up. Three strikes.
In the bottom, we hike to the top
of the order and don’t stop until
we’ve plated two on a double, near
one more when the wind steers a ball back
onto the warning track, and back down.
The crowd bubbles around
and mingles, heads down to the bathrooms
and zooms over to grab some nachos.
In between innings, they show play games
on the scoreboard, name the player, year
and team. Winner here. One lucky fan.
The seventh stands up fear, when the first
two batters connect on cursed stingers
through the middle, which brings up the switch
hitting son-of-a-bitch shortstop, who
luckily grounds back to the pitcher.
Two K’s and were hitched back in. Our half
starts with a brushback, an awful call,
a long fly ball that goes nowhere. Down
one. Two rounds to go. We are drunk, drowned,
frowning from exhaustion, bored, tired.
As the eighth transpires, no good comes.
When the inning is done the score stands
the same. The ninth lands on us down one.
A ballgame is none more than a day,
warm and lazy, outside and cheering.
We get the first strike out. Jeer loud
at their slugger, crowd of enemies.
Then quickly they are done. And our side
rose in belief. Out strides their defense
who play deep, and a tense blooper falls
in. We all rise. Arena of fools.
The next batter drools at the tired
pitcher. The wiry manager stays
put, and pays when we deposit one
long home run over center. We walk
off all talking smack. Victorious.