Recently, a rather stunning headline in the sports pages caught my eye: “Aroldis Chapman Has a Head Full of Staples!” cried the scribe. What a gorgeous sentence (though I will confess I have added the exclamation point, because it adds a certain visual beauty and aural panache to an already splendid phrase). Ah, such true poetry is so readily available to us in the most unlikely sectors! We must only keep our eyes wide, my friends.
Now, the details behind the dazzling line of copy I recorded above hardly matters; suffice to see that Mr. Chapman, a left-handed pitcher of Cuban-Andorran descent who can throw a baseball at an almost supernatural speed, was quite recently on the receiving end of a batted line-drive to the forehead that nearly resulted in his premature defenestration from mortality (or, as they might say in Catalan, the native tongue of Andorra, esports induïda per decapitació); and the injury did, most indeed, leave our dear fast-balling friend with head full of staples.
What matters is this: Baseball is back.
Baseball, which kept us company as a lonely child, and thrilled us when our middle school world was full of taunts and the snail-gray of boredom; baseball, which taught us math, patience, frustration, and loyalty to team and town; baseball, whose elegant pace reminded us of the need to breathe amidst the now-continuous distractions of the day, and whose green fields are full of space yet demand attention; baseball, whose radio and television announcers comforted us through long summer nights and shorter autumn days with tube-warmed voices as familiar as our mothers; baseball, which never changes yet is always in motion, and which continually promises us a spot under lights or sun in which to simultaneously richly relax and deeply focus; baseball, which allows us to have the heroes of every stage of our long lives immediately recalled simply by seeing the number on a uniform; baseball, which belongs to the sepia city and the sluicing subways and the green fields and the crystal blue country skies, all at the same time; baseball, which declines to grow old, even as we do; baseball, which refuses to be rushed in an era where now has already come and gone; baseball, my dear friends, which like the beautiful cream-colored bird glimpsed from the Brooklyn Bridge and silhouetted against the skyline, mysteriously vanishes with the chill and returns with the first rumor of spring; baseball is back.
And to honor the return of baseball, and inspired by the accidental poetry to be found in the headline about the fastballer felled by fickle flicks of ashen bat, I am going to present you with some baseball haikus, to remind us of the grace, simplicity, and poetry inherent in our greatest game.
Aroldis Chapman/Has a Head Full of Staples/A courageous Red.
Moe Berg, Atomic Spy/Heisenberg’s sworn enemy/Batted .243.
Third Base Coach Ed Yost/Relays signals in my dreams/Of Miracle Days.
All Hail Pumpsie Green/Who sought solace in Holy Lands/With pal Gene Conley.
They called him The Bird/He flew, he skipped, then flamed out/What a character.
Alex Rodriguez/Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame, shame, shame./Shame, shame, what a shame.
I have seen few sights/As disturbing and odd as/Davey Johnson’s neck.
On Montague Street/We stop and pause at a plague:/Jackie was signed here.
…AND THAT’S WHY I LOVE LIVIN’ IN BROOKLYN.
Tim Sommer has been employed to varying degrees of gainfulness as a musician, record producer, DJ, VJ, and music industry executive. The first baseball game he ever attended was on July 8, 1969, at Shea Stadium. The New York Mets scored three runs in the 9th to come from behind and beat the Chicago Cubs, 4 – 3, giving Jerry Koosman the win.