There is something about baseball that attracts poets and writers. Is it the statistics or the pastoral pace? My guess is the divinely-inspired proportions of the field, or so it seems.
The game has a certain logic which is overturned, the more you embrace it, by an illogic. Unlike all those oblong sports, played against a ticking clock and the suggestion of opposing armies gaining real estate or aiming a projectile, baseball runs on a kind of squared-off circle and proceeds heedless of the clock. In fact a batter hits a ball and runs counter-clockwise, as if unwinding the clock. The duration of a game is measured in innings and intervals theoretically stretching to infinity.
The pace of the game and layout of the stadium allows the tactician to chew on a multitude of contingencies. Consider the precision of the infield diamond contrasted with the indeterminacy of the outfield grass. The game is a metaphor of human possibility.
Every so often a player comes along who seems to possess the fast wrist and the eagle eye to make it all look simple. When this happens we, as fans, are lifted vicariously as if it translates to our reaching the unattainable.............even if he happens to be on the hated Giants. Such a player is the rookie, Buster Posey who inspired this poem.
Did your mother name you that
or did you pick it up to show the world where to get off?
Sorry but as a Buster you just don't pass muster
Never mind Buston Brown or Keaton,
my idea of a Buster is a greasy guy with a Fu Manchu,
weighing in at 240, the guy in the subway
no one wants to inhale,
hanging on to an overhead strap.
But you, look at you. You're no Buster
I’ll bet you never swore, spit or shaved.
Can you really be a catcher with a choir boy’s face
and a voice that hasn’t changed?
You are the Boy Scouts of America, still tenderfooted,
yet you soar so near the sun
and your wax isn’t even sweating.
You’ve got the gift of the great eye / hand
returning me to that season of ‘41
when DiMaggio hit for a string of pearls
and Ted batted over the white cliffs of Dover.
Buster Posey, Buster Posey, our jaw drops
and we all fall down when you hit it on the nosey
and run a ring around the rosy.
Are you Malamud’s, Natural, Roy Hobbs
or are you Mudville’s Casey?
Do you realize, Posey, how you have busted in,
flaunting Euclid’s geometry?
Suddenly, sixty feet, six inches won‘t do.
In your unshaven innocence you have trampled
on the mathematician’s elegant, divine dimensions
but on Phythagorean metaphysics and the Platonic ideal.
The gods are gathering on the mound,
scratching and hitching their belts
reconfiguring what were once sublime proportions.
There could be hell to pay for your hubris
or they might etch your Posey on Olympus.