I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this.
It is the time of year when the long nights and horizon hugging days make me especially contentious and disagreeable, arguing with people who should be my friends and allies over infinitesimal differences between teams who’s fundamental distinguishing characteristics are the color of their uniforms and whether I have a good video for them or not.
Of course I’m talking about Baseball. What else would I be talking about?
Unlike some other contests I’ve been fairly satisfied with the choices since the Divisional Series were decided and I’m not going to be especially unhappy regardless of who wins. The Tigers are the team of my heritage, I was even born close to their Stadium. I’ve been to San Francisco and think it’s a remarkably beautiful city and the weather is outstanding.
On the other hand we have St. Louis and the Cardinals.
It’s better than Kansas City (Missouri or Kansas) but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. What makes it special to me is the type of Baseball they’ve played there, at the same Mid-Western stand, for over 120 years (yup, they’re older than I am and I was in my mid-30s in 1923). It is real Baseball of the hard slide with sharpened spikes variety, the one without fences so the only Home Runs that count are the kind where you can circle all the bases before there is a play at the plate.
No 5 run Super Slams with exploding scoreboards and clowns, 6 Doubles will do quite nicely thank you.
Since last year (they were World Champions you know, 7 games over the Rangers) I’ve come to appreciate the Cardinals strengths, good pitching- starting and relief, good hitting, and good defense. Smart management and base running.
They don’t have many weaknesses, the personnel changes that led some to discount their prospects this season seem to have effected them hardly at all. They are farm deep in talent yet willing to deal to improve. When you think about dictionary definitions of the Senior League you can do much worse than to simply frame the most successful franchise in the history of the sport except for the Yankees.
Can they lose tonight? Sure. They’re not a ‘Team of Destiny’, they play pretty good Baseball. They’ll be starting Lohse (16 – 3, 2.86 ERA) against Cain (16 – 5, 2.79 ERA) which I feel gives them an edge. Should the City by the Bay emerge victorious you may hear some grousing from me that the Giants were full and enthusiastic participants in the Quisling exodus of the Senior League from the only baseball city you’ll ever need, but that’s just me being objectionable and obnoxious.
And now, while I still can, I give you…
The Rally Squirrel
Senior League Games are carried on Faux.
to be such a one sided wipe out.
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that –
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.