First Win

Mets 2, Royals 0. First win of the season, won by the first Mets home run of the season by second baseman Neil Walker. Starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, a.k.a. Thor, dominated with a nine-strikeout shutout and was unfazed by close calls and tight jams. But as one announcer called him a “man-child,” another responded, “That’s no man-child, Gary. That’s Thor.”


 

That’s No Man-Child, Gary, That’s Thor

 

Twenty-three, fresh-faced out of Texas, barely a rookie

and he’s head hunting in the World Series,

his hammer a hundred mile-an-hour fastball

with that quick silvery flick that tails right in

to the framed catcher’s mitt. Wham.

Over and over, K after K, and something

just ain’t fair about this grotesque demigod

of a pitcher, a thick blonde whip of an ape

that mastered one of the few traits that sets us apart

from the rest: the ability to throw.

This guy could take out Zeus’s eagle

with a pebble thrown from the underworld.

The batter up next thinks he’s hot stuff

so he crowds the plate, waggles his bat,

then hits the dirt when one zings past his chin,

and it’s a game of who’s crazier than who—

crazy to throw so willfully wild,

or crazy to stand back up for the next one.

Day One

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.


 

openingday1

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.