Special Weekend Feature

September 5th, 2009 by Wordsman

A poem of mine modeled after Ernest Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat” appeared today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Unfortunately, due to space constraints, they were unable to print the work in its entirety.  Here is the full poem:

Nathan on the Mound: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in 2009

The outlook wasn’t perfect for the Laketown ten that day;
The score stood four to two, but with three innings left to play.
And then when Punto popped up short, and Young was out at home
A most familiar muttering was heard throughout the Dome.

Even then a few fans left, to be looked at askance.
The rest remain’ed in their seats, for they believed in chance.
Insurance or no insurance, they would stick around
Just in case Joe Nathan got a chance to take the mound.

But Nathan was the closer; before him, Guerrier and Crain.
And the former was beleaguered and the latter was in pain.
So from that diehard audience excitement now did bleed.
It seemed not at all likely that Joe Nathan’d get the lead.

But there was something mystical that day in Guerrier’s stance.
And Crain he swore to heav’n above he’d let no man advance.
And when the turf had quieted, and all was said and told
There was Guerrier with three flipped K’s, and Crain received a Hold.

From 20,000 throats and more there rose a thund’rous roar.
‘Twas one that always would arise, regardless of the score.
It echoed off that Teflon dome and shook the very ground,
For Nathan, mighty Nathan, was advancing to the mound.

There was grit in Nathan’s bearing.  There was grit upon his face.
There was grit in ev’ry step he made to gravely take his place.
And when, responding to the crowd, he gave a gentle wave
There could be doubt in no one’s mind; Joe Nathan’d get the save.

Twenty thousand mouths yelled out when he ground ball in glove.
Twelve thousand eyes were on him (to see better, some did shove).
And when the condemned batter stepped into the batter’s box
A smile sprung from Nathan’s lips; he’d beat those damn White Sox.

Now Mauer tried to call for heat, but Nathan shook him off.
“Use my best stuff?  Against this guy?” he fairly seemed to scoff.
And from his pitches that poor batter nearly had to jump.
“That’d be too easy,” Nathan said.  “A walk,” declared the ump.

Then from the stands there rose a noise, like some great devil’s song.
Sure, the call was obvious, but the ump’s always wrong.
“Sue him!  Sue the umpire!” one blustering man said.
And he would’ve seen some lawsuits, had not Nathan shook his head.

A smile of benevolence went out from Nathan’s face.
Where is the challenge in a save, without some men on base?
He got the crowd to settle down, ended the nasty calls.
And pitched to the next batter.  Said the umpire: “Base on balls.”

“Cheat!” the angry fans exclaimed.  “He’s on Guillen’s payroll!”
But one stern look from Nathan and they swallowed their words whole
They saw the smile leave his lips, his hubris drain away,
And knew that he would let no more men get on base that day.

Now Nathan blows out his cheeks, looks like a thoroughbred.
He grinds the ball into his glove until it must be dead.
And now Joe Nathan holds the ball, and now he lets it go.
The clocking man’s astonished, for his gun reads: one-oh-oh.

Oh, somewhere in this land of lakes the people see the sun.
Air fills with scents of barbeque, and children races run.
And somewhere life is filled with song, and somewhere hearts aren’t grave.
But there is no joy in Laketown—mighty Nathan blew the save.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. Ashley Says:

    Yay!! Congrats on the publication!

  2. Hayley Tsukayama Says:

    My parents called me to let me know this was in the paper — I’m so excited, too!

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