Friday, September 04, 2009

Baseball, Poetry and Life


Throughout my adult life if held to the premise that baseball mimics life. Quite frankly I believe baseball is the ultimate metaphor for life, where fairness has little to do with how life is lived.

An example of what I mean is often played out each game on the field. A real dynamo hitter comes to the plate, chooses his pitches carefully, maybe fouls off a pitch or two and the drills one back-back-back to the wall where a fielder leaps, his arm extended high above the wall and robs the hitter of a home run. The next batter, a .223 hitter,  struggles to stay ahead in the count until he finally gets a little bit of wood on the bat and it creeps through the infield and finds a hole. We call this a seeing single.  It hardly seems fair, but that’s how baseball sometimes is; a mirror of life itself.

Poetry is very much the same. It brings the common to life and makes it interesting. It reminds us of things we almost forgot by triggering a taste, a sound, some feel… texture of something. Poetry can transport us, much the same way a night at the ballpark takes us away from our work, our troubles. Even now as I sit at my laptop, I can smell the fresh cut grass of the field of sunny afternoon game or the smell of hot dogs and cotton candy in the evening breeze at a night game.  The sound of the crack of the bat…  Sorry, my mind was drifting away.

Above is Fernando Perez, who plays outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has his own perspective on the parallels of baseball and poetry.  Perez is one of six Ivy Leaguers in the major league at the start of this season. He also is a serious student of poetry and completed the creative writing program at Columbia University in New York City, where he lives in the offseason. . You can find an essay by Perez that appears in the September issue of Poetry Magazine. 

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