If you think that Sabermetrics has had a tough time winning public admiration, then brace yourself, because we are about to start promoting its much older, uglier, prude of a cousin: Poetry.
My name is Ed DeCaria, and I have been granted the privilege of sharing baseball-related poetry with you here at The Hardball Times. Poems will appear in the THT Live section with headers containing the conspicuous prefix “THT Poetry.”
If readership here is anything like the broader population, most of you have tuned poetry out of your lives by now. But with baseball as our shared landscape, I’ll try to make it relevant for you again.
To me, poetry is a literary Jose Oquendo—it’s lean (5-foot-10/160), discerning (career 12 percent/10 percent BB/K rates), and can play anywhere (1988!). And that’s good, because I don’t know any more than you what I will be writing about week-by-week. Today, we’ll tether ourselves to Dee Gordon‘s feet. Next week, I’ll try to recap Kerry Wood‘s career with some statistically-guided verse. But beyond those (and possibly some sultry prose from the perspective of an R.A. Dickey knuckleball), my lineup card is blank.
What follows is a one-poem introduction to poetry. Marianne Moore wrote this nearly 100 years ago:
Here are five things that I like about Moore’s poem (which is included in this collection available for purchase):
- She refers to both baseball and statisticians as “phenomena” not easily understood or admired. Turns out she actually LOVED baseball. As an 81-year-old, she threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day 1968 (photo here).
- She knocks unintelligible, over-derived poetry for being closed to meaningful interpretation.
- She argues that poetry can be useful in the same way that an evolved body part can be useful. I had never thought about poetry being directly “useful” until I read this poem.
- She teases readers with this idea of “imaginary gardens with real toads in them,” which I find immensely provocative.
- She ends, as I begin, with an invitation to discover poetry in all its rawness and genuineness.
With that, welcome to THT Poetry! Should be a lot of fun. Please never hesitate to comment or critique, or suggest a topic.
And now for my debut … a sudoku haiku:
by Ed DeCaria
Dee Gordon ignores
gravity / erasers chase
cleats kick chalk
mid-air / chattering teeth unleash
second dive third / safely back on ground
© 2012 Ed DeCaria, All Rights Reserved