Hello once more. I must start off by saying that I have been somewhat remiss in getting posts up of late, but I’ve alternately had my girlfriend and parents in town over recent home stands and my mind has been elsewhere by and large. That being said, given the way we have played over the last week maybe it is best that I not recall all the details. Our recent game action consists of losing three of four games to Erie, which actually improved our overall record at Erie’s Jerry Uht Park to 1-10 on the season. It is very frustrating to continue to lose game after game to a team like Erie, who while certainly a good team, is not a collection of surpassing talents that simple dwarfs us. They do continue to beat us over and over again though so there is nothing to be done but tip our caps… and then go out and play better tonight in the first game of a four game series against Erie. Hey, we’re 2-2 against them at home so that is something maybe. After our series with Erie we went out and lost two of three to Altoona, the team with the second worst record in the Eastern League. Enough said. My own performance over the last week has been good for the most part. I allowed a few un-earned inherited runners in one appearance and threw 2.2 scoreless innings in an extra-inning affair with Erie in my most recent appearance, so one can only hope it is the front end of a long hot streak.
Away from the field I have been doing a variety of things, namely taking seemingly forever to finish Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. It generally takes me anywhere from a day or two to a week to burn my way through a standard 300-400 page book but for some reason this particular book really jammed me up. It is a great book and I recommend that anyone with an interest in American history (that would be all of you) pick it up, but for whatever reason I just struggled to finish it. Oh well, now I’m on to The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl. Other than that I’ve just been hanging out in Erie (boo) and now hanging out with my parents and brother around Akron. We took in the Hower House a couple days ago which was okay. It is an old Victorian home built in 1871 by John Henry Hower and currently owned by the University of Akron, where the home resides. It is a cool old house and I am glad I saw it, but if I could only do one or the other I would not tour the Hower House at the expense of seeing Stan Hywet Hall. Well, I’m off to spend some more quality time with the family before I head off to the field so I’ll leave you with a poem by my favorite poet, Stephen Dunn, and sign off until next time.
What Goes On
by Stephen Dunn
After the affair and the moving out,
after the destructive revivifying passion,
we watched her life quiet
into a new one, her lover more and more
on its periphery. She spent many nights
alone, happy for the narcosis
of the television. When she got cancer
she kept it to herself until she couldn’t
keep it from anyone. The chemo debilitated
and saved her, and one day
her husband asked her to come back —
his wife, who after all had only fallen
in love as anyone might
who hadn’t been in love in a while —
and he held her, so different now,
so thin, her hair just partially
grown back. He held her like a new woman
and what she felt
felt almost as good as love had,
and each of them called it love
because precision didn’t matter anymore.
And we who’d been part of it,
often rejoicing with one
and consoling the other,
we who had seen her truly alive
and then merely alive,
what could we do but revise
our phone book, our hearts,
offer a little toast to what goes on.
Hello again baseball fans out there in cyberspace. It’s been a while, but the combination of my girlfriend being in town for a few days and having been on the road immediately preceding said visit has occupied most of my time away from the park recently. In the meantime I have thrown twice. The first of my two appearances started off inauspiciously with a couple of walks, but the end result of two innings with no runs allowed was satisfying nonetheless. My other outing was frustrating to the extreme because I threw the ball very well and used all my pitches effectively, but gave up a run on a groundball base hit and a flare hit to right that was played into a double. To keep things in perspective I keep reminding myself that I didn’t have a great statistical start to last season either, but that I had an ERA twice as high twice as deep into the season and still managed to have a productive year. In other news, the Akron Aeros just keep winning. We’re 8-2 in our last 10 games and 14-4 overall to this point, and we seem to win in just about every conceivable fashion. We out pitched teams, blown teams out, come from behind, won sloppy, out hit teams, taken advantage of errors… Thus far we have basically done exactly what it takes to win the game we’re playing and not left ourselves much margin for error, but wins are wins are wins. I’ll be back with more soon, probably in a couple days when we head back out on the road, but for now I’ll leave you with a poem in what appears to be my final installment promoting National Poetry Month.
Signs by Stephen Dunn
Earlier, a slow child in the vicinity
of a Slow Children Sign, a boy
just taking his time, his book bag
weighing him down, and now–
driving past Caution: Falling
Rock Zone–an actual fallen rock
right in the middle of the Interstate!
I call 911, report it–the danger–
one loose rock suggesting many,
some hilltop family of them
finally about to become unglued.
I say the signs have started to come true,
and laugh, but the operator is serious,
only wants to know where, and who.
I give her the hard facts, the everything
she wants. I’m a good citizen today.
Soon I’ll even stop at Stop,
Then at red stop again, always careful
about my braveries. Only late at night,
nobody around, have I gunned it,
gone right on through, felt the outlaw
in me stir, smiled that inward smile.
Truth is, I’d be happy in this world
to be quietly significant
like a good editor.
I’d like to improve Slow Children,
for example, by putting in
that comma where it belongs.
I’m almost home. The increase in Jesus
bumper stickers has been telling me so.
At Finzel near Little Savage in big letters
at the end of a driveway: Beware Dog.,
and there he is, the Beware Dog
halfway between the house and the road,
sleeping or waiting, I’ll never know.
Hello again and for the last time from sunny Arizona. Today was the last day of spring training before breaking camp early on Sunday (as in 4 am early, the Indians don’t mess around) for Akron, Ohio. So my next installment will probably be coming to you live from the Canal Park clubhouse while I wait around to see if they can clear the two feet of snow off the field and get the game in (just kidding… hopefully), so look forward to that. As for actual baseball, I had my last outing of the spring Thursday and went out on a high note with two good innings, capping off a spring completely devoid of any road games–a “perfect spring” if you will.
With the obligatory baseball coverage out of the way, I’m going to devote some time to a completely unrelated topic. As I’m sure literally dozens of people across America are aware, April is National Poetry Month. Now I realize that reading poetry is not exactly at the top of the list of things that most people tend to spend inordinate amounts of free time doing, but it is a rewarding and engaging way to invest some spare time now and then in place of watching television or playing video games. As the great American poet Robert Frost once said, “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat,” and amongst the many books I read over the course of the year the poetry tends to be some of the most impactful and memorable. Not being a poet myself (sad to say), I won’t make an extensive attempt to describe the virtues of poetry, but for those of you who are interested in learning more I’ll give you a list of some of my poetic favorites that would provide a great starting point. I would also direct you to the website for the Academy of American Poets at poets.org, where you can find information about poets and poetry, get information on events in your area, and sign up for the poem-a-day feature to get a poem from an American poet delivered to your email inbox everyday (one of the few emails I look forward to reading on a daily basis). Enjoy.
I first stumbled across Stephen Dunn about two years ago and he his books have quickly become some of my favorite reading material. His best known book is Different Hours which won the Pulitzer prize for poetry, and he has a number of other excellent books including Everything Else in the World, Between Angels, and what is probably my favorite collection of poems–The Insistence of Beauty.
Time and Materials, by Robert Hass
Repair, by C.K. Williams
Alive Together, by Lisel Mueller
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
Radio, Radio, by Ben Doyle
The Wasteland, by T.S. Eliot
Simple Language, by Jennifer Barone
Failure, by Philip Schultz
Floating City, Anne Pierson Wiese