If Mudville were really Chicannati…

Many things have been said about the month of April. I think I speak for all the contributors to the New Enthusiast when I say that primarily it is important because April is when hope springs eternally, and baseball returns to the country that invented it. Sure, flowers are blooming all over Portland, they fall with the rain and make the streets look like they are covered with spilled cotton candy, but tizzy forms in the hearts and minds of many when things like this start to happen on the baseball diamond.

Until this year, it was news to me but April also happens to be National Poetry Month much to the delight of one of the bloggers here and to the chagrin another who writes amazingly pithy, Pulitzer-level stuff though he has no access.

Well, the natural convergence of these two phenomena brought to mind a particular poem. It is a conventional rhyming story about a slugger named Casey and a particular plate appearance he had in an end game situation. Here is one version of the poem in its entirety. “Casey at the Bat” is best known for the final phrase “But there is no joy in Mudville, mighty Casey has struck out”. What I have found fascinating in reviewing the multiple versions of “Casey” is the following couplet from one version:

“So, when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.”

The intimations of this scenario are worthy of note. It seems as though when the Mudville team was in most need of baserunners, and Casey, their best hitter still five spots away in the lineup, Cooney and Burrows both TOOTBLAN all over themselves and run into outs at second base. Their run expectancy just went from roughly 1.6 runs to .117 (I understand those numbers are for the 99-02 seasons, nerdhead)!!!! I didn’t know that Mudville was managed by the worst possible amalgam of Dusty Baker and Ozzie Guillen.

Miraculously, in spite of on-base foolishness of Mudville, Casey comes to bat with 2 men in scoring position and proceeds to watch two strikes (is Casey really Adam Dunn?). Casey swings and misses for strike three and the fans of Mudville go home disappointed at Casey when had his teammates not been nincompoops his plate appearance would likely have come in a tie game.

This I leave you with to ponder for the rest of April. One day should be enough. I will also add that even though April is coming to an end, poetry and baseball in my humble opinion is preferably enjoyed at the very earliest, after the 4th of July, with a tallboy.

4 thoughts on “If Mudville were really Chicannati…

  1. Furthermore, Flynn only advanced from first to third on a two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth double by Blake. Now I realize Flynn was a lulu, but he’s gotta be running on contact in that situation.

  2. A hitter’s worst nightmare

    I’m afraid you were too eager to summon the TOOTBLAN. No problem, it wears well, although properly it has its place. (I’m reminded of the time I crossed the plate on a trot after a teammate absolutely crushed a ball … to the warning track, which of course was caught, and I had not heard (those batting helmets are thick with padding, and the act of jogging can produce a muffling effect) the admittedly correct assholes in the dugout screaming for me to return to 2nd base.)

    If they were both out at 2nd, I want to know how. It’s much more likely that “Cooney died at [FIRST],/ and Barrows did the same.” This poem has a moral: Casey sinned. He played to the crowd, he built the drama, he stroked his own vanity like a teenager in the shower … and he gave away 2 strikes to do it. Whether stathead or a traditionalist, everybody agrees: You can’t go 0-2.

  3. There were two different versions of the poem. The first (where the two die at second) that i read was actually from a book in the library where i work. That and Ryan Theriot were the initial inspiration for the thought.

    If two consecutive batters are out at second I think tootblanning is required.

  4. Also, bottom of the ninth, runners on 2nd and 3rd, two outs, the Mighty Casey at bat with first base open–I’m surprised the opposing skipper didn’t just IBB the slugger.

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