Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Inducts Ring Lardner

May 5, 2017 — It was quite an honor to be asked to participate in the induction ceremony for Ring Lardner last night. Lardner was born in Niles, Michigan, and spent a good deal of his professional life in NYC, but his formative years were spent as a sportswriter at various papers around town, including the Chicago Tribune.

I spoke on and read from Lardner’s short stories (if you haven’t read any of these yet, grab yourself a copy of “Alibi Ike” or “Liberty Hall” pronto). Other speakers included journalist Ron Rappaport (whose new book is “The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner”), author Don DeGrazia (“What Lardner Means to Me as a Writer”), ESPN’s and GLAAD’s Christina Kahrl (“How Lardner Changed Journalism”), Cubs historian Brian Bernardoni (“The Chicago Lardner Knew”) and Lardner’s grandson James Lardner, a fine writer himself, who accepted the award for the family.

There is something so satisfying about rereading favorite writers and discovering how much they speak to my life. I love Lardner almost as much as I love Damon Runyan.

The Lardner induction ceremony, with Brian Bernardoni, two Lardner relatives, James Lardner, and Ron Rappaport.

Acknowledging Historic Milestones

April 18, 2017 — Over the weekend, the Chicago White Sox manned an outfield with three players named Garcia. They aren’t related, nor even from the same country,  but they have broken through the invisible barrier that kept guys with the same name from filling a complete outfield. Our hats are off to them. From Bardball, of course:

Three Matching Sox

The game’s been built of 3s
Since, like, eternity.
3 outs, 3 strikes,
3 bases and the like

Now add to these trios
Garcias who with brio
Manned the grass for the Hose.
Unlike the real bros

Matty, Felipe and Jesus–
The splendid Alous–
These Garcias don’t own
Similar chromosomes

But never in history
Has an outfield had 3
Confused when they hear
“Hey! Garcia! Get over here!”

 

Bob Dylan and Bardball, Part 2

April 15, 2017 — Our favorite Nobel Laureate is back with another touching ode on Bardball.  Maybe he should hang out with the guys in the Baseball Project and get some recording done! (This one was written with my friend, Jim Siergey.)

Bob Dylan’s 2017 Forecast: “I Shall Be Released”

They say ev’ryone can be replaced
Yet every lefty is still here
So I try to play second base
Or third or short or anywhere

. I only bat .190
. So my chances do decrease
. Any day now, any day now
. I shall be released

They say ev’ry man needs protection
They say you keep your eyes on that ball
The marketing guys aren’t my rooting section
My agent won’t return my calls

. I’m in the B-game lineup
. Starting to feel it’s just a tease
. Any day now, any day now,
. I shall be released

Standing next to me around the cage
Is a stud too young to buy a beer
He wants to gain the wisdom that comes with age
But I just want to play another year

. I see the rookies rise up
. Big potential, play for cheap
. Any day now, any day now,
. I shall be released

 

Presidential Lox

March 27, 2017

It’s tradition on Opening Day:
The Prez puts the first ball in play,
But with his miniscule mitts,
The Donald just quits
And tweets, “Baseball’s for losers anyway.”

 

Bob Dylan and Bardball

March 27, 2017–All through spring training, it’s a Dylan Festival at Bardball. If you didn’t know the Nobel Laureate is a baseball fan — and I have no idea myself — you can believe it now, because how else could he have written so many songs that can be turned into forecasts for the upcoming season?

Bob Dylan’s 2017 Forecast: “Sucking in the Wind”

How many innings must Verlander pitch
to have them destroyed by the pen?
How many times must Miggy get on
to be left on the base by Upton?
How many weeks before Ausmus is canned–
that’s not an “if”, that’s a “when”

The answer, my friend, is 2017
When the Tigers will be sucking in the wind

How many balls will Martinez misjudge
and watch as they roll to the wall?
How many years will poor V-Mart DH
as his trot slows down to a crawl?
How many years must fans grumble and wince
before this team wins in the fall?

The answer, my friend, is 2017
When the Tigers will be sucking in the wind

 

Sammy Sosa, Chicago and Bardball

February 26, 2017–The reclusive, petulant, intermittently-English-speaking Sammy Sosa gave an interview recently, lamenting that his crappy attitude with fans and teammates has made him a pariah in the Cubs organization. In addition to comparing himself (of course!) to a suffering Jesus, he also bragged that he put Chicago “on the map”. Which was news to a lot of us.

So when I get a fat slow pitch like that, I have to pen a reaction to it for Bardball:

Sammy Sosa, the Founder of Chicago

Leave aside the famed DuSable
Who thought he wore this feather in his cap.
We’ll forgive you this historical bobble,
Twas Sammy Sosa put Chicago on the map.

Forget Jim Thompson and Hinky Dink Kenna
Who lay the town in corruption’s lap.
They came and went, but at the center,
Twas Sammy Sosa put Chicago on the map.

Dion O’Banion and Al Capone
Made sure the suds were e’er on tap.
Those slobs can’t call this town their own–
Twas Sammy Sosa put Chicago on the map.

Sure, Sandburg, Bellow, Studs could write,
Curtis Mayfield was a soulful chap,
Muddy Waters was a man, all right,
But Sammy Sosa put Chicago on the map.

I’ll admit MJ could play some hoops.
Hack, Ernie, Big Hurt and Pudge could slap
A few hits around, but no big whoops–
Twas Sammy Sosa put Chicago on the map.

 

Baseball Poetry, Rhyming Dictionary Style

Today, over at Bardball:

Moon, Swoon, Baseball in June

On this beautiful summer day in June
The Royals rise and the White Sox swoon
The Astros still dream of their trip to the moon
The Red Sox hope they aren’t peaking too soon
While the Yanks obsess over things picayune
The Rangers and Jays field their share of goons
Tampa ponders a move to Saskatoon. . .

And Epstein’s still the smartest guy in the room.

Today at Bardball

Your only source for timely baseball doggerel:

White Sox Thanks for Danks

Dear Lord, we now give thanks
That your boy, our John Danks,
Is feeling stronger every outing
And confident about an
Improvement in delivery
That’ll sure make batters quivery.
We’re grateful that he never quits
And seemed unfazed by all those hits
He serves with regularity
(Another branch of White Sox Charities?)
And his positivity with the team–
He remembers just what “Grinder” means
And loves this game more than anyone–
But it’d be great if he ever won.

Tribute to the Late Tigers Broadcaster Paul Carey

downloadThe Detroit Tigers have had up and down years for the past few decades, but one area they’ve been blessed in is broadcasting. Ernie Harwell was on the radio when I was growing up, and his voice meant vacations, hot nights, Dad’s cigarette smoke, and driving with the windows down. Ask anyone in Michigan and northern Ohio about it.

But Ernie’s partner for many years was Paul Carey. His bass to Ernie’s southern tenor was the perfect match, and while he didn’t tell all kinds of baseball stories like Ernie, he was still a consummate broadcaster. And by all accounts, as fine a man as Ernie was, and his closest friend. Godspeed, Paul, and thanks for all your wonderful work through the years.

Today on Bardball:

The Voice of God
.
RIP Paul Carey (1928-2016), long-time Tigers radio announcer.
.
The roar of a Rouge Plant furnace
Birthing a Thunderbird
.
The muscle roll of Gitchee Gumee
Festooned in spray
.
The ancient trees deep-rooted
Strummed like a lyre
.
The tectonic rumble of two peninsulas
Alive in summer

Today on Bardball

Where the Prime Rib is only $11.99 before 5 o’clock:

Velour, Sideburns and Johnny Bench

Per ’70s star Johnny Bench:
Bryce Harper makes my fists clench.
Bat-flipping is naught but a stench.
Batters guilty best stand in a trench
Lest chin music make their necks wrench
And cause the game’s great fans to blench.
.
To be “old school”, he said, makes a mensch,
Then belched and goosed his serving wench.

As the World Series Begins…

Today on Bardball, your only source for bad baseball poetry, a recap of a terrific post-season:

What a Season — And It Ain’t Over Yet

So now, my friends, it has come to this,
The World Series of 2015
The kids ablaze on the New York Amazin’s
Versus the Big Blue Royal Machine.
.
Let’s consider all that’s gone before
As we bid the warm weather goodbye
Some teams did roll as had been foretold
While others came through with surprise.
.
The new Cubbie kids swung some mean bats
The Blue Jays refused to show fear
Motown fell dead, now needs a retread
While the Giants await an even year.
.
The Dodgers in their close-ups again blinked
Staid St. Louis became hot and unglued
The Nationals sputtered, then throttled each other
The Lone Star State watched a marvelous feud
.
So when someone tells you baseball is boring,
Whether online, at work, in a bar,
Don’t chuckle or sigh. Look them straight in the eye
And say, “Baseball’s not boring — you are.”

If you happen to be in Chicago today…

gonefishing1As the Cubs play the Bucs for their chance at the playoffs, don’t expect any more of that Midwestern hospitality.  Today at Bardball:

Like Anything Will Get Done Wednesday

If you happen to be in Chicago today,
Don’t fret if nobody makes you pay
For your pumpkin muffin and soy latte,
Or drivers give you the right-of-way.
Don’t book something crucial, say,
Like surgery or a crown inlay.
No one has attention to pay
To anything but what may
Happen when the sky turns grey
And Jake and the Cubs begin to play.

Fun on the Bus with the Kansas City Monarchs

51QlN3YomPL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Today’s poem at Bardball was inspired by some of Buck O’Neill’s stories about the Negro Leagues in The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski.

Fun on the Bus with the Kansas City Monarchs

We rode the bus a lot back then
Murphy was our bus driver
No first name
“Murphy” might’ve been fake too
He was bad business
Gold teeth
Angry eye
A past we never asked about
.
But reliable
Murphy was reliable
You could always count on him
Hearing one of us on the team shout
(and we did it many times a night)
“Hey Murphy! I think I just saw a police car!”
And hitting the gas
And driving like the devil himself was after him

Too Much Time on My Hands

No, not that horrible Styx song. Just a rabbit hole I climbed down at Baseball Reference. These were printed through the week at Bardball. Hope you enjoy.

MLB All-Sweettooth Team

1B   Sean Berry
2B   Cookie Rojas
SS   Cookie Lavagetto
3B   Pie Traynor
LF   Candy Maldonado
CF   Coco Crisp
RF   Taffy Wright
C   Rick Sweet
LHP   Brownie Foreman, Ed Wineapple
RHP   Twink Twining, Bob Lemon
MGR   Yogi Berry
.
MLB All-Libations Team

1B   Juice Latham
2B   George Creamer
SS   Jack Coffey
3B   Bobby Wine
LF   Gene Rye
CF   Brandy Davis
RF   Suds Sutherland
C   Punch Knoll
LHP   Vinegar Bend Mizell
RHP   Mark Lemongello, Clarence Beers
Closer   Oil Can Boyd
MGR   Norm Sherry
.
MLB All-Diner Team

1B   Don Pepper
2B   Cookie Lavagetto
SS   Chicken Wolf
3B   Oyster Burns
LF   Cuke Barrows
CF   Turkey Stearnes
RF   Chili Davis
C   Pickles Dillhoefer
LHP   Noodles Hahn, Lefty Herring
RHP   Herb Hash, Bun Troy
MGR   Mayo Smith
.
MLB All-Grain-Tuber-and-Legume Team

1B   Bill Bean
2B   Potato Cueto
SS   Oats DeMaestri
3B   Peanuts Lowrey
LF   Zach Wheat
CF   Billy Beane
RF   Sam Rice
C    Yam Yaryan
LHP   Beany Jacobson, Peanuts Kantlehner
RHP   Lee Wheat, Colter Bean, Goober Zuber
MGR   Johnny Oates

.

MLB All-Fish Team

1B   Sid Bream
2B   Chico Salmon
SS   Lee Elia
3B   Melvin Mora
LF   Ralph Garr
CF   Mike Trout
RF   Kevin Bass
C   Carlton Fishk
LHP   Steve Trout, Ryan Karp
RHP   Dizzy Trout, Mudcat Grant
M   Earl Weever

Bardball Gets a Shout-Out from the Chicago Tribune

Rick Kogan is probably my favorite journalist in Chicago. A wealth of information, a wry attitude, an engaging style, and always supportive of the goofy crap I try to make a living doing. He gave our baseball doggerel website a mention in his Sunday Tribune column last week, in anticipation of a baseball writing discussion at the Newberry Library. If you’d like to read the whole article, click on this sentence. Below is one of my quotes in the piece.

“We avoid cosmic highfalutin importance and stick with subjects like the previous night’s blown save or the price of beer. But we do doggerel, not poetry. We also post song parodies and videos. We are profound only by accident at Bardball. There’s enough stuffy bloviage written about baseball already.”