The Man Stew (a poem for '09)

Yeah, tom s. beat me to it. Fortunately I can prove that I was working on this from the end of this season, so... brainwaves, man. Brainwaves. This pastiche is not meant to be read as a serial, but I'm serializing it anyway. Here's the original. It's also not finished yet, so stay tuned for the full 433 lines.

And now for something completely different. Epigraph:

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

- T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men


The Man Stew

a pastiche poem


February is the cruellest month, calling
Pitchers and catchers to report, mixing
Memory and grit, stirring
Dull muscles with springing stretches.
The World Classic kept us warm, covering          5
Last season with P.R. drama, feeding
A little life in dried up players.
Spring surprised us, coming over Lake DeWitt
With Barden and Thurston; Khalil stopped at the threshold
And the rest went on in sunlight, into the field,   10
And rooks had their cup of coffee, and their golden hour.
I ang not a maching, I'm jes' Albert.
And they walked off like children under the Arch.
Our Carpenter, he swung and went down,
And I was frightened. He said, fuck this,
Fuck, hold on tight. And to rehab he went.
On the mound, Motte fired himself free and away.
I read VEB, much of the night, and the DL'd go north.  
Who are these hitters in the clutch, what prospects grow
Out of this farm system? Son of Dunc',
You cannot say, or guess why you made the team,
A heap of broken bones which the writers beat.
And the cold wood gives no protection, the pen no relief.
And the fake beards fail to save. Only  
There are long shadows under lefty Redbirds,   25
(Come into the ninth with a ginger goatee).  
And they will show you something different at second
The outfielder diving for first at morning
Now your infielder at evening sliding head first:
I will show you fear in a gloveful of dust.   30
                Ein heisses Bad er nahm
                Mit Karpfen, unser Schuster  
                Und war es noch so zahm  
                Im Herzen ward's ihm duster  
You who were drafted four years ago
They called you up to the Show
—Yet though you came back, late, to win games,
Your arms full of Albert's checkerboard, Tony
Sat you; and others failed, neither for Saint
Louis or Memphis, and the erudite Crabman
Was sent away for a B.B., into silence.
Muss er nicht wert dir gelten.
M. Wainwright of the filthy curve
Had bad control, yet nevertheless
Was fixed by the wisest man on staff,
A badass man among Cards. Here, said Carp,
Is your trouble, the mechanical flaw.
(There it is in the video. Look!)  
Here is Boggs, the rocky starter,
Getting out of situations.   50
Here is the man with seven saves, and here's Wellemeyer,  
Who hurls with one eye open, and this Cardinal
Piñata keeps it down, with a chip on his shoulder,
Which I did not expect to see. We do not find  
Much Ludwick. Fear Kyle Lohse.   55
We are crowds of people, gasping as teammates ring
Rick Ankiel. If you see that replay once,
Tell them we can't watch anymore.
One must be so careful these days. Consider:
Peachtree City,   60
Under twenty thousand per game,  
A crowd of call-ups flowed, Sugar and Tea Greene, so many,
I had not thought Infection had undone so many.  
Slings, short and frequent, let us exhale
And proved Boog could set his feet before his eyes.   65
From the hole and the hill, up and down went King Albert's glove,
To assist, and to keep Yadier's commandment. T'was won
With an offense of bloops and a defense of nine.  
There the next night Boog stopped, and grabbed his leg.
So Adam dealt. Thus the team was not with us till late.
'Those closers you planted last year in your bullpen,
'Will they work out?' 'Frankie relaxes, saves nine.'
'Or has the sudden duty disturbed his head?  
'Oh keep the bad teams at bay, and stop injuring men
'Like Ludwick! Let Carpenter pitch again!
'It's true! C'est les GOB qui tient les fils qui nous remuent!'  

Enthroned i' the marketplace, there we did sit alone
Growing our Fabergés, while the place of Glaus was
Held up by stand-bys whose powers were in flux.
From Memphis, now, an unplaced Walrus peeped out
(Another hid in mediocre defense, they say).  
Double the ex-Cards and a Manny owned our seven,
Rains robbing Lohse of a start and Colby his jack;
Though Colby matched it, that was Yadi cleaning up.
From swept to sweeping the Cubs, they produced;   85
With three hits on Jo-El, glorious shattered neon glass,
Unstoppered Carp needing no practice, and Ryan
Urgently charging a daily role over troubled Greene.
And drowned in nasty pitching was the malodorous air
Of the offense thrown out the window,
The likes of Stav' and Bard' feasting and flaming out,  
As Motte flung vapor trails, smelling victory in his cap.
Pitchers pinch-hit five times in five-hundred baseball.
Huge sausages were dodged, but only just.
Come June Albert grandly burned, framed by a failing mound,
On which, with denials, Lohse was downed; and land sharks
Sank Motte; and Colorado, roused, put on a display:
A window into future scenes (as Albert sac-flies two RBI's).
The change to Boyer ended as it began,
So rudely forced; yet there was Hawks', called forth too late.
Yet Tony's voice was inviolable, his lineups filled,
And still we cried as Thurston giveth and taketh away,
Juggling on and on.  
An unlucky number of withered arms
Had their days written on the wall, misplacing good form.
Out after out, lean and leaning, we hushed as someone closed.
No one else was shuffled out. They stayed.
Under fire, Welley reverted, though his own catcher
Shot pick-offs to all points;
Yadi's gun stole our words, even savagely grazing Adam.
'My stomach's bad to-night. Yes, bad. Don't sit me.'  
'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.  
'What are you thinking of? Is that your ball? What?
'I never know if you have called for it. Call it.'  
I think Duncan has veered from his power alley,  115
Though once he nailed a DP, and once he toppled Boog.
'What is that play?'  
                      The 9-4-2-6-2.  
'Where is our game now? How were we doing so well?'  
                      Don't.  Kill.  Albert.
'You know this "extra base hit"? Do you see nothing? Do you remember  
  I remember  
Those two losers, they spotted us nine before Albert could homer.
'Is this team alive, or not? Is there nothing we can do?'  
Lights lights lights that Shakespeherian Chant—  
Are you curious
Six times serious
'What shall we do when thus they crush us, 'leven times?'  
'We shall rush out Khalil to third, and he shall mash
'With confidence. Then should he collapse to-morrow,  
'What shall we ever do?'  
                          It's KC.  Even Thompson's support is ten,  135
And rusty Ludwick makes them pay, plating four.  
Piñeiro puts the city to sleep with twenty-two grounders, and yet
Men were pressing, left on base, and the series was a knock upon the door.  
When Luddy got DL'd, I said—  
I didn't sanitize my words, I said to myself,  140
Now Albert's shaved and busting out of it, be smarter at the plate.  
He'll want to know what we've done with that talent he gave us
To get ourselves some rings. He did everything, I was there.  
All the players that went out, well, they hurried back,
And they couldn't lock in, I swear, the seven dwarves can't bear it all.
No more can this be a one-man offense, and think of poor Carp,  
He's been injured two years, they both want a good run,  
And if you don't give it him, there's others will, I said.  
Oh, 'winning now'? the office said. Something o' that, Tony said.  150
Then we'll know who to thank when we give years to get months.
That's grit: if we don't like the E's and running gaffes
We can't pick and choose the towering shots to right.
But if Albert's made to walk, they'd best draw some, or get on base.  155
It's a shame what's happened to Ankiel, to look so lost.  
(And with the pitchers getting hits, too.)  
For every gem two hours long, there's one of Lee
Blanking us, and Carp blank-blank-blanking at an ex-Cub's homer  
(To hear him tell it, DeRosa nearly died of fright.)
The Central doesn't want to catch us, and the Cubs aren't the same.
Yet good and bad alike play us for fools.  
Well, if Albert won't leave you yet, there it is, t'was said,  
What did you draft for if you don't want protection?  
Well, each day Albert came home, and rode a hot streak,  
And they asked for DeRosa, a first step to keep it hot—  
(Goonight Luke.) Goonight Chris. Goonight Jess. Goonight.  170
(Ta ta, Mark.) Goonight. Goonight.  
Good night, relievers, good night, sweet swings, good night, good night.  
(to be continued in 'III. The Fire in the Outfield')


With deepest apologies to that exalted Saint Louisan, the poet T.S. Eliot — this was will be a pastiche of The Waste Land chronicling the 2009 season of the Saint Louis Cardinals. It's sort of like that Billy Joel song except way more obscure.  The original poem with linked footnotes (including the related sources also being mimicked) can be found here. The homages are usually memes created by VEB or directly from press clippings.

The Waste Land is, alas, a downer of a poem, so though I wanted to celebrate the season, the format sometimes weighed it down.

Also, the events may not be in exact chronological order, but they are divided into periods.

I. The Burial of Certainty: mid-winter – May 14
II. A Game of Reversi: May 15 – June 29
III. The Fire in the Outfield: June 30 – August 19
IV. Death by Clinch: August 20 – September 3
V. Where the Thunder Went: September 4 – Oct 10

"→" denotes an altered line.

6. Puerto Rico. Or Public Relations, whichever works for you.
31 - 34. Not a translation, but from the actual article: "Midway through spring training, [Skip Schumaker] shared a hot tub soak with Chris Carpenter and told the pitcher he wasn’t sure if the switch was going to work. ... Carpenter started calling him 'his All-Star second baseman.'" → German to connote Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Many thanks to my friend from Germany for capturing the murky gloom of Skip's heart.
42. Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, I.iii: "Can you not see its value?"
43. That's Monsieur Wainwright to you.
76. "The Gods of Baseball hold the strings which move us." → Charles Baudelaire, To the Reader, Les Fleurs du mal.
93. Actually Baseball Reference says it was .481 ball in May. Poetic license.
128. Hamlet III.ii
149. Original line.

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