Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pining for Spring

It's been too much cabin fever, don't you know?
From a still too long winter, with way too much snow.

Graying and wrinkled so outwardly past our prime,
Nostalgic for our youth, we yearn for the national pastime.

We're die hard fans of different teams around the nation,
Harking back to the 1960s, when each made a sensation.

And with distinct histories that were rather stark,
Playing at Wrigley, Memorial or Yankee Stadiums, and Fenway Park.

This is the era where I learned to be a fan,
After the retirement of Ted Williams and Stan the Man.

Going to one game a year and watching the World Series on the tube in black and white,
Along with reading Sports Illustrated and collecting baseball cards, a true joy and delight.

In reverse chronological order I will now recollect,
To bring out these memories with maximum dramatic effect.

In 1969 the Miracle Mets from the Cubbies stole the crown,
Nonetheless it's now time for Ronnie Santo to head to Cooperstown.

Part of an All Star infield with Beckert, Kessinger, and Ernie Banks.
While in the other league it was the O's who were the class, not the Yanks.

Two years earlier an improbable run for Boston included Tony C. getting beaned.
But Yaz was tremendous and Dickie W. managed like a fiend.

With Rico and rookies like Reggie Smith and a Boomer named Scott,
They came from nowhere, the veritable long shot.

The difference maker really was Lonborg, who had a career year,
But the Cards took the series in seven, with Lonborg out of gas in the clincher, I fear.

Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown, the last player to have done that.
Amazing it happened two years in a row, but that indeed is a fact.

The year before it was Frank Robinson who beat out the vacuum cleaner at third for MVP.
With more power from Boog Powell and with Blair and Belanger for great "D."

With young starters in Palmer, Bunker, and McNally caught ably by a receiver named Andy.
The job they did in the World Series, winning in four games, that sure was a dandy.

Yet the command performance was given by a forgotten old timer named Moe.
Striking out eleven in game one and thus stealing the show.

That World Series ended up being for Sandy Koufax a swan song.
The most imposing pitcher ever, though his career was not very long.

And with his leaving the once dominant Dodgers gave way to St. Louis.
With the base running of Brock, like Wills before him, a thrill for all of us.

Two years earlier the Cards edged the Phils in a tight pennant race.
While over in the American Leagues it was the Yankees who took first place.

Brothers Boyer, Ken and Clete, against each other were among the few.
Sibling rivalries in the World Series, not even duplicated by that threesome named Alou.

It was the last World Series of Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford too.
They'd been regulars at the Fall Classic, then more than a decade long drought did ensue.

Yogi managed the Yankees, for the Cards it was Johnny Keane.
Afterward Berra was out, in a move that was truly obscene.

This was the first World Series I watched on TV, though the reasons weren't sinister.
The year before when Koufax beat the Yankees I was on my front lawn listening on my transistor.

Before that I don't really remember, though we should note one year after the decade had begun.
It was the most magical season of all, because during it Roger hit sixty one.

Rather than championing the accomplishment, it earned an asterisk given by Ford Frick.
Since this is a G-rated rhyme, I'll merely say the thought of it makes me sick.

The protection of the Babe's legacy was unnecessary; the diminishment of the new record a shame.
Now with almost fifty years of hindsight, it's time to put Roger Maris where he belongs, in the Hall of Fame!

That decade was the last for the contractual concept known as the reserve clause.
A time when players were players and teams were teams, the thought of which must give us pause.

We don't begrudge the players their free agency; in fact we wish them the best of luck.
Though we pine for the days when you could buy bleacher sets at Wrigley and spend only a couple of bucks.

Nostalgia is ok, though at the risk of being uncouth.
Comparing baseball with today, I'd have to say it was better in my youth.

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