“Casey Still At The Bat…” Tanka 2305

(March 3, 2019)

just heard a version

of poem Casey At Bat

but ’twas critical

he was drunk and he passed out

at the plate ‘fore that ‘third strike’

*(Does that mean there remains joy and hope for The Mudville Nine? Reminds me of the apocryphal tale in “punnish” form of “The Beer That Made Mel Faukee Walk Us!” It is a long and not-at-all convoluted sad story of the greatest relief pitcher of all time – Mel Faukee. Toward the end of his legendary career – eclipsing all but perhaps that guy who hurled for Them Damn Yankees – pool old Mel had become a drunk. Beer, specifically. He was demoted to the minors, one rung down at a time until finally he was held up as an example to rookies just entering The Minor Leagues of who not to be and how not to be him. But, still, Mel could be counted upon to put down The Last Batter no matter how blitzed. But Mel was made of sterner stuff. This last game of the season for his squad and his last ever to don sanitaries and rub up a piece of horsehide and clutch a rosin bag, Mel toted out two cases of his favorite brew – his favorite being whatever was cheapest – to stash in a cooler in the bullpen. He’d start at batting practice, which he disdained. He’d continue chugging one after another during the time most not hitting would shag flies to keep their arms limber and do some light running. He was better than that. Not even a third of the way through that first half-case. Or was it a half through that first third? Mel was not a worrier. His squad’s best prospect for Single A Ball was on the mound and the team had a lot of eager young hitters. He was safe to get stewed. And cook up a fine stew he did. By the third he was at a slight roar. By the fifth a second case cracked open. The empties littered about his perch of the long bench, but being the consummate professional, Mel hid the evidence from the fans and from both dugouts. The game moved a long and a long and finally it was a tie ball game in the bottom top of the eighth. Mel had a full sixpack to go. His team was into its third reliever and quite a few of the position players were benched for pinch hitters, pinch runners and pinch whatevers – and don’t you get any ideas, none of ’em was pinchbutts! – so the options for replacements were slim to Mel’s manager. His team finally got out the eighth and got a bad break when none of his offensive hotshots could connect in the top half of the inning. No matter. The final flinger was a blazer and could get three outs for sure and work the 10th fine to preserve the tie if not the win. But that was not to be the case. The pitcher walked the first two batters and another got a bloop hit to left which was quickly corralled and turned into a fine defensive stop. The frazzled reliever faced his last batter and flung three straight balls into the backstop five feet over everyone’s the manager was forced to make the change. Mel was forced to slam his last three beers into his face before waving off the bullpen catcher and staggering into the infield. He assumed the mound. Actually, he assumed the mound was where he finally stopped his weaving. A kindly kid playing short showed him the rest of the way. Mel got up and did his patented shoulder-to-shoes shrug and wound up. Then he noticed the ball just at his feet, before the pitcher’s rubber. He bent over and picked up the ball. The manager groaned and hid his eyes. Mel worked his way ’round the mound and made it with help from another kindly soul playing third and got pointed into the right direction. By now both second and third were drunk on contact highs. Mel went back into his shrug and flung the finest pitch he ever flung and it flung right into the batter’s earhole. The game was over. Mel Faukee had gone down to his last and not best worst. In disgrace he trudged in a weaving manner to the dugout and the showers and civilian life there-ever-after. He turned to see his bullpen perch and perhaps to see if there was an undrunk beer left. But alas there were none. But he did see two players from the opposite team coming out of their half of the bullpen. He noticed one pitcher pointing to the mound of empty beer bottles lying like dead soldiers behind the outermost end of the reserve pitchers’ bench. “What’s that beer doing there,” the relief pitcher for the other team asked his catcher. “Oh, that, replied the weary catcher, knowing that he, too, soon would be faced with the option of yet another year shepherding babies to the mound for his umpteenth year. “Why, That’s The Beer That Made Mel Faukee Walk Us.”

“This Body Works Me”*

(March 4, 2019)

This body works me

choose to make it work for me

not a novel thought

*(I like to think I am in charge of me, but sometimes it does not work out that way. A fair number of days I am hard-of-listening (to me). Then the lesson plan includes corrective measures. Many of the elements of the plan are unpleasant. Is that not called education of self? Wanna change teachers! Not really: my body and I have had our disputes but for the most part it’s a swell pal to have along for the ride.)