Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mighty Crystal Has Struck Out

Yanks lose despite Mussina, Crystal
Starter's five perfect innings overshadowed by comedian

Every schoolboys' dream-- playing in the big leagues: Coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, the game on the line, needing a big hit to score two; or making a diving stop on a sure line drive basehit, which saves the game for the team, and all the fans.

Today, the lead-off hitter for the New York Yankees was one of their longtime fans, Mr. Billy Crystal. As a tribute to his lifelong love for the Yanks, the management gave Crystal a 'One Day' Minor League contract (details of which were not disclosed), the day before his 60th birthday. My best kudos to the New York Yankees, for giving one fan that dream!

Crystal had one at-bat for the Yankees, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, leading off the bottom of the 1st inning. One wonders what manager Joe Girardi would have done, if Crystal had singled to left, or walked, or more!
Ah, we schoolboys all hope that he/we/I would have reached First base, then scored the winning run, even that early on in the game.

The mighty righty entered the batters box facing Paul Maholm, young Southpaw star of the Pirates' pitching staff. Superstar Derek Jeter in the ondeck circle.... With all the drama of a 7th game of the World Series for him....

Mighty Crystal taps his bat on the plate... Maholm looks in to get the sign, here's the pitch: High and outside, Ball one. A fastball to start the game from Maholm, missing the heart of the plate. The next pitch... Crystal swings and lines a smoking line drive Foul, just past first base. Crystal is showing that he is not afraid of this youngsters pitching... The 1-1 pitch... low. Two balls and one strike. Crystal wears number '60' on his back, the age he will turn tomorrow... Here's the 2-1 pitch: Outside, 3-1. This kid wouldn't walk the leadoff hitter of the Yankees, would he? The pitcher is looking worried.... what can he throw to Crystal, that the batter cannot hit?!? The windup, the pitch, a called strike, strike two. Was that a breaking ball, or a fastball with some slice on it? Whatever, it seems to have confused Crystal, vaunted leadoff hitter for the Yankees.... Here is the 3-2 pitch... A big swing and a miss....

Mighty Crystal has struck out. And was replaced in the Yankee lineup by questionable newcomer, Johnny Damon.

Clicking here, watch Crystal's at bat.

Here is the Box Score for the Yanks/Pirates exhibition game, March 13, 2008:

The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We'd put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-"That ain't my style," said Casey.
"Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they'd a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

The coming of Baseball Season always corresponds with Spring, the season of rebirth of life. And justifiably, another of the many reasons that Baseball is the greatest game ever created.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting the Casey At the bat poem in this blog

I like trhe Casey poem, wish it was included in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. its not.

The Localmalcontent said...

That I never knew!!

And that is a dreadful shame!!