Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Big Papi at the bat

Profound apologies to Ernest Thayer.


The outlook wasn’t brilliant for David Ortiz yesterday.
His batting average neared .200 with four months still left to play.
Fastballs flew right past his bat; sliders did the same.
It wasn’t bold to wonder if Big Papi’d lost his game.

The way his numbers straggled left fans in deep despair.
He was still hitting No. 3; how long would he stay there?
In second in the standings was where the Red Sox sat;
The fear was that they’d not score runs with Papi at the bat.

Six weeks without a homer was more than we could take –
Even though we're all aware it’s not a piece of cake.
And even though Ortiz had swung a melancholy bat,
All it takes is one home run, and that, we’d say, was that.

For six strong years he’d hit like he was greatest of them all.
No matter what the pitch, tore the cover off the ball.
Still they number many, those who doubt what has occurred:
The Red Sox with two rings and an ambition for a third.

Every time he came to bat, the thousands there would yell.
He was like a cartoon character, like the Farmer in the Dell.
His home runs soared like mountains into seats where people sat.
It was always something special to see Big Papi swing the bat.

There was ease in how he hit the ball in almost every place.
There was humor in his bearing as he dove into third base.
With every walk-off hit he earned the right to doff his hat;
No stranger to dramatics, that Big Papi at the bat.

But something happened to a swing that nothing had deterred.
His power disappeared so fast it bordered on absurd.
Sometimes some older sluggers, they see their numbers dip.
But Papi couldn’t touch the ball when thrown right at his hip.

His nadir came in Anaheim, the California air.
Twelve men against the Angels, Ortiz had stranded there.
‘Midst evergreens at Safeco Field, Ortiz misfortune dred.
And with a chance to clear his mind, Big Papi stayed in bed.

But back in Boston, all the people gathered, set to roar,
Hoping they would get to see the man they’d seen before.
The first time he strode to the plate, a cheer grew from the stands;
A whistle came from every throat, applause from every hand.

The message there was simple: Through this he’d not fight alone
He had support from all the fans; took pictures with their phones
His hits in batting practice like they had before once flew
But Papi managed just a walk and counted strikeouts two.

Still came the cheering thousands to see their hero flawed
He struck out in the third; a result that's from odd
But in the fifth, it came his turn; he stepped to bat again
And on they cheered, an urging clear to hit it out right then

The fastball came in letter-high, got too much of the plate
Big Papi pounced and let it fly; the roars did not abate.
Back and back, to center field, the baseball it did go
Wells and Snider looking up; Ortiz a-trotting slow.

Oh, Fenway is a favored land; the cheers last through the night.
Though Citgo’s beams are all we see, the sun is shining bright
On Lansdowne Street they’re laughing; on Yawkey Way they shout
There’s naught but joy in Mudville: Big Papi hit one out.

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