I’ve challenged myself to write a poem, or at least a line or two of verse, alongside each Mets game in the 2016 season. And this is the inaugural post to what will be, if I hold to my promise, a marathon season of both baseball and poetry.
162 games. 162 poems.
Get ready for some bad poetry about a good baseball team that is favored to return to the championship. A team that is known for breaking hearts and falling just short. A team that becomes, especially when young, an underdog love. A team that’s like a late-night barfly that, despite all drunken argument, is right. And poems, written by a poet whose aesthetics are questionable and whose chosen syntax may mimic poor baserunning tactics.
Tonight is Day One. It’s 2 AM, I’m half-drunk, and I watched the Mets lose in honorable fashion to the Royals, which is the first time in Major League Baseball history that the teams from the previous season’s World Series met again on Opening Day. It was a good game, with a solid but short Mets rally late in the game that couldn’t overcome a 4-0 deficit.
Mets 3, Royals 4. Harvey gave up a handful of runs over far fewer pitches than his opponent, Edinson Volquez. And the Mets’ $27 million investment, Yoenis Cespedes, botched an easy catch, which scored a run. He also struck out to end the game with runners on the corners.
Opening Day, Harvey Day
It’s not gathering rosebuds, it’s the hard slider
that bloomed from the rosin bag
behind the mound, where Harvey scrapes his cleats
as if stomping out a butt behind the bar
where he’s about to go back in and snap a pool cue
over his knee after he picked a fight with the reigning
town boxing champ. Harvey gave up the shutout,
and the batter steps in and Harvey’s fastball flits
across the corners of the plate and the batter fouls off
to bring it full count, and another mad puff
from the bag, a kick of dirt, the set, the stretch,
the push, here comes strike three. In the stands
the fans watch the new banner wave above
centerfield, the one Harvey hates, the one he helped
to lose. Days before the New York papers
cried murder about his bladder blood clots
as if it’d end the season before it even started, after
a World Series where Harvey pitched a shutout
into the ninth before he gave up a run
and all the momentum. All he wants is to shut
everyone up. And if he doesn’t get it today,
which he didn’t, he gave up four runs and left
in the seventh, then what the tabloids print
tomorrow could mix up his mind for better
or worse, depending on what Harvey wants:
fuel, or fire.