Hello again. Since I last signed on my teammates and I with the Midland RockHounds have managed to win our first round playoff series against the Frisco Roughriders and are on to the Texas League finals. We split the first two games of the series at Frisco and then came home to record two consecutive wins and punch our ticket to the next and final round. I threw well personally and our team seemed to continually come up with the timely hit or pitch necessary to pick up the win, so it is very satisfying to not only win in a team effort but also to have contributed to it. The unfortunate thing about having won in four games is that we now have two days off before our next game, which would normally be a great thing but at this point of the season we all want to play and push the season to its final conclusion. Also, we still don’t know who we are playing, despite the fact that we are leaving to drive to Springfield, MO in 20 minutes. Just driving to Springfield and we’ll make the adjustment if necessary tomorrow based on who wins the series between Springfield and Northwest Arkansas. I hate to be extremely brief, but in light of having to catch the aforementioned bus I will call that good for now and leave you with a poem.
by Walt Whitman
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.
Hello and thanks for stopping by as August becomes September and, as was said in Ken Burns’ Baseball, spring’s new hope gives way to the hard realities of autumn. Of late we at the RockHounds have basically been holding serve, maintaining our prior four game lead over San Antonio throughout the ebb and flow of wins and losses. After a so-so series against Corpus Christi, we just completed a series win against second place Frisco, which puts our “magic number” to clinch a playoff spot at four heading into a big series against the aforementioned San Antonio Missions, which means two wins will put us in. However, just for a little perspective, last place Corpus Christi is still mathematically alive so work remains to be done. I have only had two appearances over the past week or so, a byproduct of both happenstance and our starters giving us a lot of quality innings of late, but I have thrown the ball fairly well of late and that is the main thing that matters with the playoffs looming.
I really wish that I had more to report in the way of exciting off-field adventures, but unfortunately I have had a fairly nondescript week. The most notable event of the past week was packing up and moving out of my apartment and into the team hotel for the duration of my time in Midland, which was exactly as exciting as it sounds. In the process I did manage to find a number of things I misplaced in the course of my previous cross-country move and sloppy unpacking job, but really there is no part of the experience that I can imagine anyone wanting to read about so I’ll spare you any further details. Otherwise, I have spent most of my time on buses, studying for one or the other of the two classes I am enrolled in this semester, hop scotching through a library copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (the book that made poetry a relevant part of my daily life), and sketching out what promises to be a painting utterly beyond my technical capabilities and which will have to wait until I get home and unpack my painting stuff. After stretching myself a little bit for my last painting and having it turn out much better than I had expected (a comment on my expectations rather than my artistic proficiency) I decided to try something even a little more ambitious, but given my overall shortcomings in most areas artistic it promises to be an adventure. I guess I’ll see once I have the opportunity to try it, but until then I’ll fight the impulse to bore you with more details and sign off until next week. Until then I will leave you with a few selections from old Walt and hope you enjoy them as I do.
A Noiseless Patient Spider
by Walt Whitman
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
Among the Multitude
by Walt Whitman
Among the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else–not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled–But that one is not–that one knows me.
Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections;
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the like in you.
by Walt Whitman
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the
themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.
Once again it is time for an update on my meanderings through the Eastern League, so come on in and stay for a while. Since last report the major new development is that of the season having begun. I and my teammates with the Akron Aeros opened up our season on the road at NYSEG Stadium against the Binghamton Mets, which was unfortunate on a lot of different levels. The first has nothing to do with Binghamton or the stadium, but instead simply with being on the road to start the season. Having broken camp Sunday we as players had until Wednesday afternoon when we departed Akron for Binghamton to arrange for our housing and all the various things that come along with it, which is an added stress that isn’t any fun for anybody. Some of us were fortunate enough to get through the background checks, credit checks and income verification processes that usually take a couple weeks and get our leases signed so we’ll have somewhere to stay the night we get back from the road trip. Some guys didn’t and even those of us who did will probably be making due until we can get some furniture arranged. Ah, what a wonderful life indeed. Beyond the fact of starting on the road, Binghamton has an older stadium and just isn’t that great of an atmosphere to play in. Much of the hype and excitement usually attendant to opening day was lacking and it was a lackluster experience to say the least. Whatever other issues there were with the road trip, however, we did take three out of the four games in the series from the Mets and I picked up two saves which has to bring me close to my season total from last year, which it now occurs to me to lookup. I felt good in my back-to-back outings, which is a very good sign this early in the year, as is the fact that my velocity was around my typical midseason range in the cool weather. Overall, an encouraging start to the season and something to build as the season moves forward.
Away from the field there has not been much happening other than getting housing arranged and sitting on the bus to Binghamton and on to Trenton, where we are opening a three game series tonight against the Thunder. As usual I have taken advantage of the time on the bus and in the clubhouse to plough my way through some reading material, including both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, neither of which I found especially interesting. The so-called “red queen effect” based on a sequence in Looking Glass is something I have always found interesting since being introduced to it in a book by Richard Dawkins, but other than that I was only marginally entertained by the two books. Of much more interest to me was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Mark Haddon. It is a bit different and may not be for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it. Anyhow, I suppose I should leave of there for now before I bore everyone to death and end with a poem in honor of National Poetry Month. Enjoy.
Here the Frailest Leaves of Me
By Walt Whitman
Here the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting:
Here I shade and hide my thoughts–I myself do not expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other poems.
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