The Longfellow Rules

“(Baseball) breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.” 

-A. Bartlett Giamatti

Bart Giamatti was the shortest tenured commissioner in the history of the game, and perhaps the last real one. Because while his predecessors- Selig and Manfred- have been prolific at pimping and gimmickry, Giamatti used a deep and abiding love for the game as his compass. He would’ve been in all four corners of the country this October, taking it all in and penning more of that good thing.

Expanding the postseason was a gonna happen dynamic that has prevailed upon our need for love and romance on the diamond. And this October fortnight has been swoon worthy:  In the span of a week’s time, the MLB saw not one, not two but three one-hundred win juggernauts go by the wayside: You could almost understand the 101 win Mets going belly up since it’s become their fall standard ever since Mike Piazza left the building. But then the Braves got outfeisted (my word) by the Phillies in an accidental prize fight that went Balboa in a hurry.

Surely the Dodgers would hold strong against the National League’s barbarians best efforts to tear down the gates. Hell, not even Poe could kill the corporate beast from Chavez Ravine. And the Padres really didn’t feel like the team that was gonna do the slaying, in spite of their drinking game deadline deals for the two Joshes, Bell and Hader, along with the sweet swinging Juan Soto. And did I mention the Dodgers went 14-5 against their neighbors to the south during the regular season? As Sam Rothstein woulda said, There’s nuttin to see heah. 

Umm . . . . Sam?

Padres 5- Dodgers 3 FINAL

I woke up to that because I have the Padres in my notifications, like a side thing. My main men still reside in the Bronx, and they still have life thanks to Gerrit Cole’s balls to the wall seven inning samurai special in Cleveland that sends the divisional series to the fifteenth round tonight. Baseball royalty was my family seal, having been born in the Bronx and raised by a woman who used to talk shop with the likes of Mantle and Berra and Houk. But let’s face it, for the vast majority of baseball citizenry, rooting for the Yankees is akin to hoping Brad Pitt gets laid. It’s like being cool with Bill Gates winning Powerball. And I completely understand.

The Astros are baseball’s version of the smartest kid in class who decides to cheat on his SAT’s. It’s a damn shame their sign stealing went all fetishy because they have been Scarlett Lettered ever since. Nobody outside of Houston is going to love an October that ends with these guys on top and you know how I know this? Because most baseball Americans would gladly root for the Yankees to take them out.

That’s just sad.

It’s probably why I have such an affinity for the NLCS pairing. San Diego bills itself as “America’s Finest City” while Philadelphia . . . does not. And I think it’s adorable how both fan bases have a bit of an inferiority complex even if they would never admit as much. And it doesn’t hurt one Manny Mota of an iota that neither of these clubs was supposed to be here and yet, here they are.

That’s baseball theater at high tide right there. While most sports have to be broken down to their simplest elements, baseball is already there. It’s a game where the pitcher tells the ball what to do and the batter tries to talk that ball into doing something else entirely. It’s a game of hunches and hot streaks and quirks and yes, magic. That too.

I mean, if Bob Stanley or Calvin Schiraldi could’ve gotten any-fucking-body out on a crisp October night in Queens, Sawx fans wouldn’t have had to wait another eighteen years before the curse of the Bambino was lifted across town in the Bronx. And if Joe Carter’s wrists would’ve been a tick slower, the Phillies get to a game seven with Schilling in Toronto and I really would’ve loved their chances in that one. And if Johnny Damon doesn’t take third against the Phillies in 2009, maybe the Yankees World Series drought would be (Yikes!) twenty-two years instead of thirteen.

I watched the highlights of that Padres clincher against the Dodgers a couple times; once for the game highlights and once just to take in that magnificent engine of a crowd in full throttle. That sea of misbegotten browns and yellows that spun its mad rebellion as their princes slayed kings. And if you listened closely enough, you could almost hear them questioning all the answers.

Why not us?



61 thoughts on “The Longfellow Rules

  1. B,

    I’ll start by the end because that tune is just perfectomundo!

    That Giamatti quote says it all, doesn’t it? How sad that the “gonna happen” has happened. It’s the equivalent of eating strawberries in January. If you eat them only when they are in season in your neck of the world, you are able to look forward to the start and lament the end but while you are in it… oh boy. It’s unbeatable.

    How cool your Padres won last night! That’s baseball… don’t count anything out until the last pitch/hit/run 🙂 (And I know they’re not your Padres the way your Yankees are 😉 – even if they do frustrate the hell out of you.)

    I won’t add more of my two cents’ other than to say it is just a joy to read you and learn each time. Your knowledge of baseball blows me away!


    Liked by 2 people

    • He was a great commish, for the short time he held the position. So well read with a genuine passion for the game. If only he hadn’t been taken so soon.

      I think I remember it!

      Thank you good sir. It’s looking good at the moment, Yanks up 4-1.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Other than when the Giants make the playoffs, this has probably been the most challenging baseball postseason for me. Why? Because I actively root against most of the remaining teams. I mean, first and foremost, above all else sports-wise, I am a Giants fan. I bleed orange and black and, therefore, must detest all things Dodgers. And Yankees. So, those two teams were out.

    But, because they have always been in the same division, I can’t root for the Padres either. Yet, during their series with the Dodgers, I found my internal dialogue occasionally interrupted by “Go Padres!” How could that be!

    And they did the unthinkable. (Side note: the gnashing of teeth by Dodgers fans is so wonderful, but I’ll never understand how Roberts keeps his job. They build teams to win the World Series and he can’t do it because he doesn’t know how to manage pitchers.) And I can root against them now, right?

    Well, no … I’ve never been a fan of the Phillies and with Bryce Harper on the team, my dislike for them goes up a notch. What do I do?

    And over in the AL, I can’t root for the Astros because of the cheating scandal. But also because Dusty Baker is their manager and I’ll never, ever, ever root for him after he gave the game ball to Russ Ortiz in Game 6 in 2002 — before the game was over — and the Angels came back to win that game and Game 7, denying the Giants of a World Series they should have had.

    So … my only hope to have a team to actually, actively root for is that the Guardians beat the Yankees.

    Cause if it’s Yankees-Astros and Phillies-Padres, I’m gonna have to start my post-baseball season life a week or two early.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well look at it this way Mark, at least it won’t be a Yankees/Dodgers tilt. Hell, I think the MLB might’ve put that one on PPV!

      The crowd at Petco was insanity squared and it reminded me of the ’98 World Series between the Pads and Yanks. Only crazier? Yeah I think it was. Nice to see. San Diego was jilted by the Chargers so I have a soft spot for ’em.

      111 wins. Remarkable how a team that lapped the entire league could look so fallible when it counted most. And Kershaw tops that list of fallibility in October.

      I love their ballpark, Citizens Bank. It’s a bandbox but it’s fun. I was surprised Girardi crashed and burned so badly, but Thomson has done the job and then some. Not sure what it is about Phillies team who fire their skippers and then make a run. They’ve done it several times in their history now.

      That was the series when Bonds broke out. He had been criticized for not coming up big in Octobers before that one, but the Halos just could not get him out.

      The Guardians of your galaxy are down right now, but don’t give up hope! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The perfect song for this baseball time of year. P.S. I have another theory about feelings toward Houston…it’s in Texas and has been sullied by the likes of Ted C. It’s just an association theory but if you can find one person who thinks that guy is cool, I’ll eat my Rockies autographed by Don Baylor hat. #letsplayball

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought so too! 😉

      I wonder who Ted roots for? I will give you a hint, it’s the Astros, regardless or whether he gives a fig about baseball. He’s going to milk their run for all its worth.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I saw Joe Carter and Toronto mentioned. That’s about all I know. ….”darlin I …can’t get enough of your love babe….”
    What a sexy song! I’m shivering!
    Surely you send this out to an outstanding woman? It can’t be a love song for baseball? Both? Mmmmm…… maybe…. but … uh…not.

    All your love/hate of sports aside, I have a tale.
    This is one I wrote on my “Queen’s end” blog, when I thought I was going to be the next … someone or other.

    I had changed the slug on my GLAM blog to include all arts. This way I could reblog others poetry, and repost the writing I had done on “Queen’s end” . The delete this blogging appendage.

    Well, I slackedeth off.

    You will see this on GLAM soon, but as always, you have first dibs.
    Next comments box!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just over a decade ago, I designed the costumes for a movie titled “Our Fathers”. It’s based on the book by David France “The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal”.
         In this true story, Cardinal Law was the Church’s piece of hierarchy that covered up the sexual abuses of children by certain priests. It was very heartbreaking to work on this show: recreating pedophile scenes, depicting the turned upside down lives of victims & the denials by the church. Even the scenes of Cardinal Law testifying on the stand were not satisfying moments. Reality is, he eventually went to live in Rome, as a Cardinal, allowed by the Pope.
          Actual adult victims, survivors came to set while we were shooting. It was all quite eerily unnerving.
         Prior to starting prep on the movie, I read the book. It is the biggest book I ever read. Humongous, with a hard cover, I could barely hold it on my lap. The part of the book we made into the movie was a fraction of the book. The rest of it delved deeply into the Church’s very old history of sexual sins. It was bleak, even at the most optimistic points.
          One day, the book attacked the second toe, next to my big toe, on my right foot. Okay, perhaps I accidentally dropped it. The toe broke.
         I hobbled through the ensuing 4 month prep & shoot with the broken toe taped to the toes on each side of it. There was constant pain, swelling & 14 or more hours to a working day. I had to buy sneakers in 2 different sizes, the larger size for my right foot. The doctor was adamant. I needed to put my foot up for a few weeks, which I did after we were wrapped, & it eventually healed.
          In retrospect, I realize that nothing was going to stop me from helping to bring this story into movie format, and into the light of the many who didn’t know about it. I believed I was doing something important & good.
          In retrospect, I also think …. perhaps the book did attack my toe, after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is so powerful, Resa. What the church did, not just for generations but for centuries, is why I have such distrust for any entity with so much power. Imagine being able to hush these cases? Move pedophiles to other places with no repercussions? It’s truly sickening.

      YOU did the Lord’s work, broken toe and all. You have such a deep and loving soul. You’re beautiful inside and out.


      Liked by 1 person

  6. I want you to know that I spent a wonderful hour with Faye Wray, from the original “King Kong” movie.
    I make these notes to you in hope that if I forget… you might ask about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Everyone should just root for the Phillies. That would make it SO much easier for all. Expanded playoffs…thank you. I had an 8-track tape of Barry White & The Love Unlimited Orchestra. I try to explain to younger people how the song faded out – CLICK – and came back on. They just shake their heads. I miss the Expos. They played at Jarry Park early on, and there was a swimming pool behind the right field fence. I thought that field was the best ever when I was a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are HOT. Wheeler looked like Cy Young last night! And the hitting. And the camaraderie and . . and . . well, I don’t want to face them if they make it!

      Love it! And no, the kids will never understand. And I feel bad for them on that count,

      Bring back the ‘Spos, I say.

      And then Arizona stole that idea, although in all fairness, a pool in the desert does make a lot of sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember that Saturday night with such pain and sadness. I stayed up late to see both of my favorite hometown teams lose – the Dodgers and the USC Trojans. On the other hand, as I was once again cyberstalking the source of my greatest sadness – my idiot ex and his new wife #4 – I could use the other more understandable to others and more universal sadness of sports losses, to explain my lack of sleep to my concerned family.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.