Thursday, May 24, 2007


I love poetry, but can’t write. I love baseball, but can’t play anymore. Now I have a blog. My last two posts reminded me of some of my favorite verse.

On Tuesday, I wrote about what the Yankees mean to Mahamadou from Highbridge and what people like Mahamadou mean to the Yankees. It got me thinking about these lines from The Death of the Hired Man, by Robert Frost:
Home is the place where,
When you have to go there,
They have to take you.

Yesterday, I was forced to address the sorry state of Major League Baseball’s confidential drug testing program for amphetamines. We now know there is nothing confidential about the program and it is really little more than an extortion racket run out of the Commissioner’s Office on Park Avenue.

It reminded me of Martin Niemöller’s famous and often altered words:
First they came for the Socialists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left
to speak up for me.

I would tweak it to say:
First they came for Barry Bonds, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t Bonds.
Then they came for Jason Giambi, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t Giambi.
Then they came for those opposing them, and I didn’t speak up,
because I was afraid.
Then they came for the game, and there was no one left
to speak up for any of us.

Baseball deserves better from all of us.


J A F F E said...

i hope you don't mind Todd but you said poetry and here is one of mine. it is what i do.


I grew up wanting to wear a pinstripe suitbut not the kind that banker’s wear. No, I wanted to wear the pinstripes that adorned my baseball heroes, the New York Yankees legends of the long ball, running the outfield skirting my Bronx birthplace.

I was born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium;born so bad I slapped the doc and pinched the nurse just down the street where Bronx hospital rocked with muse in daily delivery— March 31 the day.

But all I wanted was to wear a Yankee uniform, put spikes on my feet, run the infield, slide into home, Grace the house that Ruth built, DiMaggio reigned and Mantle owned.

—they dressed in sports regalia, as if it were religion they pursued and not homeruns, They wore Holy Roller pinstripes; holy trinity of Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle crossed their bats and hoped to hit.

I longed to dress in locker rooms and hear my name called on public address systems, look into the sun
and catch fly balls and pound my bat at the plate making ready to be the next Sultan of Swat,Yankee Clipper or the Mick.

I was born in the Bronx, living above a dry cleaning store—played catch with myself.

I grew up wanting to dress in pinstripes and wear that Yankee suit because I could never wear a tie without feeling enslaved. I wanted to roam centerfield not a factory or an office. And if I couldn’t play baseball,
then I had to be a poet.

© 2007

Todd Drew said...

Very nice!

carey said...

to follow up on my comment on todd's last post: it's a bit amusing to watch all these MLB blue suits bloviate so indignantly about drug use now, after they so clearly turned a blind eye when it suited their interests. the fact that mcgwire & sosa looked like body builders disguised as baseball players in the mid-nineties didn't seem to bother them, since those guys were drawing so much (lucrative) attention to the sport. my guess is that, in moments of complete candor, these same MLB suits would gladly take attention over enforcement if they could.

Todd Drew said...

I agree. Players like Giambi and Bonds are kicked out there to take some heat when it suits the people at the top. The commissioner and the owners have no interest in solving problems. They just want to protect their business.