take my record books and throw them in the freezer for my descendants to thaw and take my boring life story and burn it to ashes along with Sammy Sosa defining each each side of the plate with a tap of the bat Mark McGwire eyes blinking hard then stretching wide open to see what is coming Rickey Henderson bent over his head following the ball in then stopping straight down eyes peeking back at the catcher's glove Barry Bonds face full of boredom and disgust all those ball threes
To not be Piniella’s pet peeve,
Emotions should be on your sleeve.
Go air your despair!
To swear is to care!
A loss you don’t share, you don’t grieve.
Men who openly
Flap their wings like mad chickens
Don’t care what you think.
I’m taking some time off, just restin’ and chillin’,
So meanwhile, I dug up a bard who can fill in.
Dave, New Jersey: Regarding “Hat-gate” (Clemens in the HOF as a Yankee); Why shouldn’t Rocket go in as a Yankee? Everytime he plays in Fenway he gets no respect/love from the fans (partly because he is a Yankee, but more so)…even his wife and family get verbally abused at these games. The Boston fans don’t like him, why should he honor that town and club by wearing their hat? Shouldn’t it come down to what town he (and his family) was happiest playing in? His best memories? Everyone needs to remember Boston didn’t want him anymore. Yet, the Yankees traded a favorite (Wells, at the time a great pitcher too, still is) to get him, showing they wanted him.
Shakespeare: Love me or love me not, I like the cap;
And it I will have, or I will have none.
Joe Vallee (Woodbury, New Jersey) What was it like coming back to Philly this week? Although you were there for only a short time, I’m sure you have some good memories of the World Series year in 1983. Can the Phils get consistent, or is this team hopeless?
Shakespeare: I remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly.
Carolyn (Vienna, VA): How aware are players and former players of Larry Doby? Seems like everyone talks about Jackie Robinson but rarely about Mr. Doby.
Shakespeare: I say, this house is as dark as ignorance, though
ignorance were as dark as hell; and I say, there
was never man thus abused. I am no more mad than you
are: make the trial of it in any constant question.
Sam (Ypsilanti, MI): I’m a big fan! In your column about the AL West, you note that the A’s “Big 3” have been more vunerable than in the past. But look at their ERAs – Hudson 3.08, Mulder 3.26, and Zito 2.92. Struggling? These three are what is holding this team to a good record! Zito’s 7-5 record overshadows that he is 1st in the AL in BAA (.197). What gives?
Shakespeare: Your eyes do make no coaches; in your tears
There is no certain princess that appears;
You’ll not be perjured, ’tis a hateful thing;
Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting!
But are you not ashamed? nay, are you not,
All three of you, to be thus much o’ershot?
You found his mote; the king your mote did see;
But I a beam do find in each of three.
Jeff from Newton, MA: On the topic of GM’s and Billy Beane’s new found fame (Moneyball): Who will be running the ball clubs of tomorrow? Will it be the Chairman of the Board type Owner(Steinbrenner), the all-knowing, stat watching GM (Beane, Epstein), or the ex-ballplayer Manager who understands the intangables (B. Valentine, J. Torre, M. Scioscia)? Can they work together?
Shakespeare: To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Doris – Virginia: Why do you call Barry Bonds by his first name when you refer to other players by their last name?
Shakespeare: Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay,
Forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day.
Kevin (New York, NY): When you were a player, were salary differentials between high paid and low paid athletes ever a problem in the clubhouse?
Shakespeare: Noble friends,
That which combined us was most great, and let not
A leaner action rend us. What’s amiss,
May it be gently heard: when we debate
Our trivial difference loud, we do commit
Murder in healing wounds: then, noble partners,
The rather, for I earnestly beseech,
Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms,
Nor curstness grow to the matter.
Jeremy (Portland, OR): It seems like the Reds have been getting into more than their fair share of Brawls recently. Is it just bad luck, or are they over reacting? It looks to me like some of them are a little eager to fight, but I’ve never had a Major League fastball coming at my head. Of course, you don’t see Larkin or Griffey charging the mound.
Shakespeare: My lord, wise men ne’er sit and wail their woes,
But presently prevent the ways to wail.
To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength,
Gives in your weakness strength unto your foe,
And so your follies fight against yourself.
Fear and be slain; no worse can come to fight:
And fight and die is death destroying death;
Where fearing dying pays death servile breath.
Utek (LA): You say that Albert Pujols is the best young hitter in the majors, because he “attacks the ball”. I’m not sure what you mean by this. Lots of hitters—particularly young hitters— are aggressive and swing hard without putting up Pujols’ numbers. Please explain. Thanks.
Shakespeare: So that the ram that batters down the wall,
For the great swing and rudeness of his poise,
They place before his hand that made the engine,
Or those that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.
Bobby N. (Bloomington,MN): Do you think that Roger Clemens has a chance to be the first 100% player in the Hall of Fame or do you think he will be around the Nolan Ryan percentage?
Shakespeare: What, a hundred, man?
Jerry, Seattle, WA: I love your analysis. Is race still as big of an issue in baseball as Gary Sheffield made it seem when he said that Sammy Sosa was being unfairly ripped because of his skin color?
Shakespeare: Thou think’st ’tis much that this contentious storm
Invades us to the skin: so ’tis to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix’d,
The lesser is scarce felt.
Chuck (Chicago): I wanted to hear your opinion in regards to who you feel should be the starting pitchers for the All-Star game. Esteban Loaiza has the best ERA by nearly an entire point in the AL, but I don’t even hear him being considered. And is Kevin Brown a lock for the NL? Which two pitchers ought to face each other at U.S. Cellular Field?
Shakespeare: Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed.
Rob (Augusta, GA): I was wondering, with the Braves sudden emphasis on hitting and just enough pitching, do you think the team is ready to win a five game series, and two seven series, like in 1995, and not just do well in the regular season? Being a huge Braves fan, this question preoccupies my mind from April until October.
Shakespeare: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?
CBeatty (Denver): Why doesn’t MLB bring games to inner cities to help rouse more you youth interest? MLB brings games to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, etc., why not D.C., New Orleans, etc?
Shakespeare: There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be
a fancy that he hath to strange disguises; as, to be
a Dutchman today, a Frenchman to-morrow, or in the
shape of two countries at once, as, a German from
the waist downward, all slops, and a Spaniard from
the hip upward, no doublet. Unless he have a fancy
to this foolery, as it appears he hath, he is no
fool for fancy, as you would have it appear he is.
Nelson (DC): Can a legitimate argument be made that Clemens’ biggest career accomplishment on Friday was not that he got 300 wins but instead that he recorded his 4,000th strikeout?
Shakespeare: That what you cannot as you would achieve,
You must perforce accomplish as you may.
Jeff: Polson, MT: Great to read your article about the M’s and finally hear somebody extolling the virtues of the team and Gil Meche. As I look at their lineup and pitching, I see only one area that really needs an upgrade, Jeff Cirillo’s offensive numbers (his defense has been great). If you were Pat Gillick, would you go after someone like Mike Lowell or would you sit tight? If such a trade were possible, what do you think the M’s would have to give up (young pitching, pay part of Cirillo’s salary)?
Shakespeare: What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.
Joe (Dallas, Texas): What do you think of the Rice/Stanford matchup for the CWS finals this weekend?
Shakespeare: I advise you–
And take it from a heart that wishes towards you
Honour and plenteous safety–that you read
The cardinal’s malice and his potency
Stevie Ridzik (D.C.): Dig your work…But one bone to pick, how can you say “the Blue Jays rely mainly on home runs.” when they lead the league in BA-SLG-OBP-OPS-RUNS-RBI and are only 3rd in taters?
Shakespeare: Now for the bare-pick’d bone of majesty
Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest
And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace:
Now powers from home and discontents at home
Meet in one line; and vast confusion waits,
As doth a raven on a sick-fall’n beast,
The imminent decay of wrested pomp.
Rob (Toronto): How bout we get some Blue Jay questions in here! Will they be able to contend with the BoSox and the Yankees over the long haul? Also what are your thoughts on Vernon Wells and do you think he will be an All-Star?
Shakespeare: I see thy glory like a shooting star
Fall to the base earth from the firmament.
Thy sun sets weeping in the lowly west,
Witnessing storms to come, woe and unrest:
Thy friends are fled to wait upon thy foes,
And crossly to thy good all fortune goes.
David (Myrtle Beach, SC): Why are the Marlins so Mediocre? It isn’t like they don’t have any talent. To me they should be contending, not rebuilding.
Shakespeare: Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those
that are fools, let them use their talents.
Chris Rochester NY: If you were the Red Sox would you rather have Urbina or Armando B.
Shakespeare: Both are alike; and both alike we like.
One must prove greatest: while they weigh so even,
We hold our town for neither, yet for both.
nassau, Bahamas: Why is it that we haven’t seem a player elected into the Hall OF Fame with 100% voting, and do you think Bonds could be that first player?
Shakespeare: If you will elect by my advice,
Crown him and say ‘Long live our emperor!’
Justin (Boston, MA): What do you think about Hampton’s near no-hitter after pitching brilliantly in Seattle, is he back?
Shakespeare: O, he’s returned; and as pleasant as ever he was.
Lars (Int’l Falls, MN): While I still like the overall makeup of the Twins, I really think they lack a bigtime run producer in the middle of their lineup; do you feel GM Terry Ryan will pull the trigger on a deal to acquire help, or will he just stand pat and play the season out and take his chances with what he has?
Shakespeare: Advise thee, Aaron, what is to be done,
And we will all subscribe to thy advice:
Save thou the child, so we may all be safe.
(Original chat is here.)
Jordan (Atlanta): Would Major League Baseball hide the fact that all of Sammy’s bats were corked, for the sake of baseball?
Let us go then, you and I
and follow this tedious argument
Of insidious intent
And lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, “Were they all cork?”
It makes you sound just like a dork.
On the web, the people come to chat
Talking of Sammy Sosa’s bat.
Ed Zaboski, Philadelphia, PA: Sure Sosa’s excuses look real good now but they had a few innings to switch those bats before they were seized. My question is why even have a corked one in the first place? Like he’s not strong enough and the pitches aren’t grooved in BP? Just doesn’t make any sense.
The chilly fog that rubs its back upon North Clark
Like a heavy smoke that muzzles the friendly park
Licks its tongue into the corners of the outfield
Lingers like Lake Michigan hovering above,
Lays down upon its back, and like a hidden glove,
Smothers BP homers with its misty shield.
On the web, the people come to chat
Talking of Sammy Sosa’s bat.
Steve Deal (Bellefontaine, OH): In the wake of Sosa’s corked bat mistake, MLB will likely hand down a 7 or so game suspension for a potentially minor infraction (no player is directly hurt by using a corked bat). What do you think about increasing the suspension time for in game brawls? Could an automatic suspension for leaving the bench/bullpen like in the NBA work in baseball?
Yes, indeed there is time
As the chilly fog slides along the lake
And rubs its back along Chicago’s streets
There is time, there is time
To prepare a face to meet with the mistake.
On the web, the people come to chat
Talking of Sammy Sosa’s bat.
Dennis (NY, NY): Do you think we will ever get back to the “good old days” of baseball, where teams play the small ball and bunt & steal? There are very few teams who try to simply manufacture a run.
There is a time to steal and to create,
A time for all the bunts and hit and runs,
To drive a runner home from base to plate,
A time for you and a time for me
To question a hundred small decisions
Or station-to-station indecisions
Before taking a tasting of victory.
Josh (Coventry, CT): I know it’s silly, as a Red Sox fan, to be optimistic about our playoff chances, but this year, more than previous years, the Yankees look extremely vulnerable (especially in the bullpen). Do you think this is the year when the Sox finally outdo the Yanks? And do you think Pedro will make a dominant return?
And indeed this is a time
To wonder, “Do I Dare?” and “Do I cheer?”
A time to think, “Is this the year?”
Philip (Denver): Hi, It seems like this years Mariners are much like the 2001 team – which worries me because they have no #1 starter to guarantee wins in the playoffs. Is this a problem?
They can’t turn back, they must dare
Despite a bald spot in the middle of their hair,
For if they fall back and they do not win
Folks will say: “How their hair is growing thin!”
Tony (Monroeville, IN): What is your opinion about the new computerized strike zone? Do the umpires feel like there is no chance for human error?
Do we dare
Disturb the universe?
For every minute of air time
There are decisions and revisions in a minute to reverse.
Gordon (NYC): Hi, Andy Pettitte is 30 years old with 132 wins and 4 rings. He could finish his career with some impressive stats, but will people dismiss them as a product of the great teams he’s been on? Thanks!!
I have known the products already, known them all–
Have known the losers, winners, cries and grins,
I have measured out my life by counting wins,
I know careers that die before the Hall,
Yet I don’t know who stays out and who gets in.
So how should I presume?
Daniel (Arkansas): How much fun was it working with Marty on Wednesday night?
I have known the voice already, known them all–
Yet I’ve not heard a better formulated phrase.
Brian (NYC): In your opinion, who is the best of all time at robbing homeruns in the outfield? To me that is the most exciting play in baseball.
These days, it is formulated, sprawled above a fence
Only seven feet high, Hunters on a wall,
How can it make much sense
To compare the glove hands of older days?
Ricky (Albuquerque, NM): Hey! Being a loyal Mets fan, do I have anything to look forward to? It just keeps getting worse.
Howe, should I presume?
Dustin (Muncie, IN): What kind of pitcher is out on the trade market that the Reds can trade for? Do the Reds have enough to give for a good quality pitcher?
I have known the arms already, known them all–
Arms that are targeted and good and cheap
(Not in the spotlight, down from a scrap heap!)
Nevada, Mo: Do you Think Roger Clemens will out duel Kerry Wood on Saturday to pick up three hundred? Or will you yet again have it allude him?
Is it the corking mess
That has made us so digress?
Arms like these should be the story, wrap us up in ball.
Joey, Nj: Do you think Jose Contreras is better off being a starter?
Is that what we should presume?
Should we question, if they win?
Greg, NY: Hi, do retired players talking amongst themselves think that a lot of the current power numbers are tainted? Or is the only relevant comparison player within eras?
Shall I say, I have gone at times through little parks
And watched the balls that rise up from the bats
Of skinny men in short sleeves, leaning out over the plate?
I should have sent a headward ball
Shooting through the silent seas of time.
Jim Hills, Menomonee Falls WI: Why is it that the majority of Major League Players don’t play with injuries any more. A perfect example of this was Wednesday night when Griffey hurt his right arms during a swing, and then on the next pitch he hit a homerun and then sat out the rest of the game. It just seems if he was able to hit a homerun then he should be able to play the rest of the game.
In the afternoons, the evenings, they sleep so peacefully!
Smoothed by long paychecks
Asleep . . . tired . . . they malinger,
Stretched on the floor, outside you and me.
Joey, Nj: Do you think the Orioles are finally a respectable team?
Should I, after a win or two, which is nice,
Think that strength and force will suffice?
I’m no prophet, not that it will matter,
But I think that heads will be brought in upon a platter.
Derek Monroe: what do you think about those devils?
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
I have seen them hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
Ned: What’s worse: corking a bat or scuffing the ball?
Would it have been worth it, after all,
After the scandals, the ejections, the calls
Among the talking heads, among the talk of good and evil,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the scandal with a smile,
To have suspend the universe of baseball,
To face up to the overwhelming questions,
To say, “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”?
Andrew (Franklin Lakes, NJ): Do you think the matchup going on at Wrigley this weekend could be a World Series preview?
I think, when all is settled and this is dead,
I’d say, “That is not what I think at all.
This is not it, at all.”
Matt (NYC): After all these years, is there a baseball team that you root for? Are you a (X-Team) Fan? Did playing for the Reds and Astros lead you to become fans of the teams?
Would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the travel, and the defeats, and the crowded locker rooms,
After the victories, after the championships, and after the champagne celebrations–
To be left to cheer, and no more?
Ken Griffey Jr.: Hey, Am I going to reach 500 HR’s this year or is it to late?
It is impossible to say, know what I mean?
Adam (West Columbia, SC): What are the Braves going to do about their pitching staff, especially their middle relief.
It is as if they have a magic bullpen lantern, that cannot be seen.
Rich – montreal: What happens when a game is played under protest – as in last night’s Blue Jays/Cards game? Will anything come of this? Great game by woody!!
When your protests do not seem worth while,
If throwing a base or kicking some dirt won’t change the call,
You turn to the umpire, and say,
“This is not it at all,
This is not what I want, at all.”
Corey Patterson: I’ve been great this year! Is this a fluke or am I finally going to become the great player I should be?
No! You are not a Prince, nor were meant to be!
You’re a minor character, one that will do
To make a nice catch, start a rally or two,
Assist the manager; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use.
Santos (Huntsville, Alabama: Do you think race has something to do with Sammy’s media coverage?
The media is meant to be politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high motives, but a bit obtuse
At times, indeed, sometimes ridiculous–
Almost, at times, a Fool.
Will they ask about his hair? Do they dare to question his good name?
Does anybody really care? Will the masses sing his fame?
I have heard them sing like mermaids on the sea.
I do not think they will sing for me.
I have seen them riding out onto the waves
Combing the white hair of the water, fore and back,
Up and down, in and out, white and black.
mike Ny: After Roger Clemens gets 300 are there any pichters after him who can boast that they have won 300; also will we ever see another 300 game winner in a few years from now?
We grow old . . . we grow old . . .
I think this story has now been told.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
Breathing fame with water all around,
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.