Presidential Lox

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.”


Frankenstein Limericks

Nothing is better at this time of year than a Frankenstein movie. So weird, perverse, idiosyncratic. Go and enjoy limericks every day this month at LimerWrecks (run by my pal Hilary Barta) on everyone’s favorite self-made man.

Great Week for Baseball — and Bardball

As you fans know, this has been a helluva week for postseason baseball. I’ve had the obligation (yes, this is what I tell my wife) to watch my hometown team as it struggles mightily against the scary Texas Rangers. How many one run and two run victories can either team survive? There have been no laffers, no routs, nothing that would make you turn the game off early.

And as usual with the postseason, the expected heroes (Verlander, Cabrera, Hamilton) have not been nearly as productive as the also-rans (Nelson Cruz, Delmon Young). Why this happens every postseason is worthy of someone’s research. Maybe the heroes are too exhausted, or too distractible from all their interviews, or put too much pressure on themselves to single-handedly carry the team. Whatever it is, it’s what makes October baseball so awesome.

And it’s been a great week for limericks at Earlier in the week, I relaxed the rule of only one post per day, and the limericks have been plentiful, in both posts and comments. And shame on us, we haven’t been able to give any space to poems on the Brewers-Cardinals series (well, I do have one lim on the Cardinals, but because it came from a Cubs fan, it’s really nasty). Below is a sample of one of our better ones, by Hilary Barta, who also runs the site LimerWrecks. Come on over and check it all out before the World Series. That’s gonna be a yawner, I tell ya.

That hit over Beltre was crazy
A bit of the old upsy-daisy
The Rangers were trounced
when Detroit’s way it bounced,
still kicking like Cameron Swayze.

A Couple of Limericks for My Favorite Opera

Before I lose these in a haystack of paper, I thought I’d share them here:

Turandot was fond of her riddles,
Scaring suitors so much they would piddle.
The Ice Princess feared
Anyone with a beard
Who might end her tyrannical idyll.

Then Calef in ragged disguise
Looked in her mysterious eyes
And guessed them, all right.
No one slept through the night
As he took claim of Puccini’s prize.

A Monstrous Christmas Season

Spurred on by my limerick for “White Zombie”, Hilary Barta over at Limerwrecks has spent most of the season posting paeans to old horror movies. Here’s one I contributed for ol Doc Frankenstein:

His raising the dead’s not a living
and townsfolk are most unforgiving
But Doc isn’t crying
His monster’s undying
A gift that will never stop giving

Go over and enjoy the other ones.

Does it ever get old, mocking Milton Bradley?


Old “Forgive and Forget” Bradley

Because a hitter’s supposed to get hits,
Lou called Miltie a big piece of shit.
With a new gig in Seattle,
Milt’s still fighting old battles,
Showing the world that this shoe still fits.

Bardball is poised and ready to come back for the new baseball season. Please bookmark it for baseball doggerel, served fresh daily during the regular season.

The Mark McGwire Limericks of Shame

So the news comes that Mark McGwire
On the subject of juice was a liar.
Plus, it’s a good bet
That water is wet
And it hurts to grab something on fire

“I’m not here to talk ’bout the past,”
Mark blurted to Congress so fast,
Whatever the pride
He had that day died
To give a defense so half-assed.

To get a job working for Tony,
Mark had to confess his baloney.
He was juiced to the ears
The homer-derby years,
A fame-drunk, preposterous phony.

To get in the Cooperstown Hall,
McGwire will wait for his call
Til Hell freezes over,
The sea swallows Dover,
And Sammy parleys like Bill Engvall.

Here’s another from Friend of Bardball Doug White:

He once chased Aaron and Ruth
With the callow aggression of youth,
But from his head to his toes,
Just like Petey F. Rose,
McGwire won’t face up to the truth.

The Decline of American Letters

The American public is so completely illiterate it can’t even handle the demands of the most vulgar of poetic forms, the limerick. That’s the only conclusion one can reach after reading most of the entries in the Chicago Sun-Times’ “Keep It Wrigley” limerick contest. If you can read more than a dozen of these in a row, then you have the intestinal fortitude to ghost write Paris Hilton’s autobiography.

Never one to miss the chance to slag his competition, the Trib’s Eric Zorn suggested the establishment of the “Limerick Integrity Preservation Society” (LIPS), to stem the rising tide of these miserable excuses for doggerel. His readers’ responses are hilarious, smug, and most importantly, well written. THEY are definitely worth a gander.

As the deadline for the Sun-Times contest approached, I felt the need to tackle this issue myself. For one thing, it might get a little publicity for For another, hey, a free t-shirt is a free t-shirt.

Cadillac? Marathon? Duraflame?
What brand could replace Wrigley’s name?
Maybe Apple Computers?
Heineken? Hooters?
Or BreathSavers, with aspertame?

If Sam Zell couldn’t tell that the name
“Wrigley Field” is revered in the game,
He’s now heard every schlub
Voice the rub of the Cubs:
“Let’s win–but please keep things the same.”

As you might tell, while I wouldn’t be surprised if Zell sold the naming rights (he’d be an idiot not to at least look into it), I’m already kind of sick of the wailing and moaning of the Cubs fans on this, who even in winning seasons often sound like superstitious old ladies. I don’t think the name Wrigley will be discarded entirely, because it would be a huge PR problem for the company that paid for the rights, but also because no one except broadcasters will ever call it anything but Wrigley Field. How many Sox fans ever call the BallMall “US Cellular Field”? They might call it “the Cell” if they’re being lazy or want to sound hip (like when they call their fave radio station The Drive), but 99% of the time, they still call it Comiskey. Which is as it should be.

Cub fans should take control of this situation and make it known in no uncertain terms that they will call it Wrigley come hell or high water. Take the money, and keep the name for themselves. It won’t matter what the name on the big red sign is. They already live in a dream world anyway.

The Limerick (Testicular Trauma Division)

Great minds think alike. So do giddy, juvenile minds with too much time on their hands. So when inspired by a bizarre news item from the United Kingdom (what would we ever do without them?), the emails started flying among the stalwart members of my writers group, the Hungerdungers.

This blog entry may not be for the faint of heart. Then again, if you can handle the facts in the news item, you’ll be able to handle the rest.

First, the news item:

Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when Geoffrey Jones, 37, rejected her advances at the end of a house party, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
She pulled off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, before spitting it out. A friend handed it back to Mr Jones saying: “That’s yours.”
Monti admitted wounding and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

The rest of the details, and Ms. Monti’s self assessment that she’s “in no way a violent person” can be found here at the BBC.

When faced with the idea of violent gonad attacks, the Hungerdungers did what any red-blooded scribes would do, and started a-rhymin’. I’ll omit the names of the individual writers, so as not to embarrass them professionally, although a certain daily newspaper in a large Midwestern city, one that is trying to sell a baseball team it owns, might want to keep a closer eye on its employees.

There once was a fellow named Conrad.*
A young lady ripped off his gonad.
His pair now a single,
It sure didn’t tingle.
Wherefore his testicular nomad?

(*name changed to enhance the limerick)

A lady and man were in thrall
Till the dude went and ended it all,
So to get the guy back,
The broad yanked on his sack.
You could say she was having a ball

He screamed as she tore at his kit.
He knew he’d have trouble to sit.
She’d reached way down south,
Popped the thing in her mouth.
Swallow? No, this time she spit.

Oh caution, if you are a vegan!
Beware ye of testicle snaggin’!
For its slang name is meat.
There’s no need to repeat…
Else they’ll ask you, dear veg, “How’s it hangin’?”

As one of the Hungerdungers pointed out, this could go on nad infinitum.

Versifying is the New iPhone

This morning my wife tossed the Trib Tempo section at me and said, “Julia Keller is stealing your thunder.”

My immediate response: “If she’s stealing it, it wasn’t much thunder to begin with.”

Then I looked at the page, and saw that Keller was doing what the scribes at BARDBALL have been doing for five months: Trying to capture the spirit of the baseball season in rhyme.

I don’t know what to feel about this. Keller is one of my least favorite local journalists. She may have won a Pulitzer (at least that’s what the paper trumpets), but that doesn’t excuse her for the typical mulligatawny of cliche observations, stale trendspotting, strange analogies and Tourette’s-like transitions she ladles out with rash-inducing regularity. Reading one of her columns is like listening to a radio that changes its channels and volume on its own. I personally think she’s a few steps away from bag-womanhood, and expect to see her on the middle of the Michigan Avenue bridge someday screaming about rabid space bats and their overlord, Justin Timberlake.

So should I be happy she’s delving into baseball poetry, and thus giving the field a bit of exposure? Should I be proud that I’m once again a few months ahead of the cultural curve? If the cultural curve is measured by the Keller-o-Meter, though, should I scuttle the whole BARDBALL operation and hope my friends will forgive me? Is it inevitable, if BARDBALL is dedicated to “baseball doggerel”, that it’s style would be copied by hack writers nationwide?

Her limericks about the Cubs aren’t bad, really, no worse than some of the ones BARDBALL has published this summer. You can check them out here at the Trib, along with a neat little music-slide show. (It pays to have a little corporate funding, I guess.) So what will probably happen is, I’ll realize any like-minded effort is good publicity, even if she didn’t mention BARDBALL, which was profiled in the Trib two months ago. Then I’ll go into schmooze mode, make a note to invite her to any BARDBALL readings we have, and if the opportunity arises, stroke her a little for the effort. It’s bad practice to start literary feuds over a limerick.

(And I’d like to point out that BARDBALL, as of today, has now published 110 poems, and has included at least one poem about every team in the major leagues, as well as the Israel Baseball League. Which is no mean feat. It’s easy for writers to praise the present successes and mock the disasters, but how do you get excited enough to write about the middling teams, the .500 teams, the teams with no tradition? Well, one way is to make fun of players’ names. But I’ll write more about poets’ secrets at a later time.)

UPDATE — The Trib site asked readers to contribute their own limericks to the mix, so Stu Shea and I started working on some to oh-so-subtly advertise Bardball. I submitted the limerick below, but as of now, it’s still not up. I think the Trib wasn’t ready to handle reader submissions, b/c the last one they list is from 10:29 in the morning.

A limerick contest’s the bomb
To salute the Cubs’ current aplomb.
For the rhyme and the reason
For the WHOLE baseball season,
Just log on to BARDBALL.COM !

“BARDBALL” Officially Launched

Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s play ball!

I’m proud to introduce to you all the official site of BARDBALL, dedicated to the art of spontaneous poetry about the national pastime. My fellow Hungerdunger Stu Shea and I have been talking about this type of site for about 6 weeks, and now, after the web craftsmanship of the mysterious Dan X., it is ready to take the field in its home whites.

The whole thing was inspired by gamma-ray-enhanced slugger Barry Bonds last spring. You might have seen the limericks penned by us and a few of our friends on this blogsite. Those poems came so easily that we kept swapping verse back and forth about any number of baseball items. And we got to thinking, “Hey, let’s get this going nationwide!” I’m still amused by the image of a grandstand full of people with pen in hand, searching for just the proper metaphor to describe how their team’s bullpen just served up 5 runs. (“A break in the dam? Swatting a beehive? Serving up the Hell’s Angels some tequila and greenies?”) And now that Barry has slowed down in his quest to make the whole country uncomfortable, we have the chance to squeeze in many more poetic tributes to his “massive 90-pound cranium.”

A hundred years ago, baseball writers routinely penned doggerel to publish in their daily columns. “Tinker to Evers to Chance” was one of the most famous, and arguably was a major reason those three players were inducted in Cooperstown on their first try. These days, with the advent of the blogosphere, everyone potentially has their own column inches to fill, so if they’re looking for inspiration, they could do worse than look to those noble bozos out on the diamond. One doesn’t have to be a baseball expert or statistics nerd to contribute to Bardball–casual fans have opinions and talent, too.

So check it out, and if you like it, tell your friends to visit Bardball. If we get enough entries, the entire season will end up documented, parsed and versified. Maybe we’ll bind them in a book somehow, and sneak a copy into the cornerstone of the new Yankee Stadium. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

And to commemorate the launch of Bardball, I want you to click on this link for one of the best managerial tirades you will ever see. What happened this past weekend, with Piniella and Guillen and Jim Leyland getting the boot, was exciting, but for sheer imagination and showmanship, you have to doff your cap to Phil Wellman of the Mississippi Braves for his performance Friday night.

The Silver Lining

At the request of the beguiling Max S., I submit my newest composition for BardBall:


My wife has up and left me,
Once the object of her lust.
Now she’s hitting the clubs with a biker named Dubs,
–But at least the Yankees lost.

My company’s being audited.
My future’s bitten the dust.
You can forward my mail to a federal jail.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

We’re spreading our democracy,
Whatever may be the cost,
Or whether the others are given their druthers.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

Atmosphere’s been heating up,
Melting the permafrost.
The polar bears lately can’t count on their safety.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

Famine, wars, disease and hate—
Our poor world is tempest-toss’d.
I cannot tell you why we must suffer and die.
–But at least the Yankees lost.

Trekking to a mountain wise man,
I registered my disgust.
“Dear pilgrim,” said he, “what will be will be
–But at least the Yankees lost!!”

A Poem for Lou Piniella

Quite a fella,
That Lou Piniella.
He ain’t yella,
You can tella.

He joined the Cubs
To lead those scrubs
And prove past flubs
Were yesterday’s stubs.

A Herculean task?
Don’t even ask.
In last year’s grotesque,
They finished dead last.

But with Al Soriano
And Carlos Zambrano,
The team may be on to
A World Series, pronto.

And if the Cubs win
A World Series, then
The fans will have gin
Drenching their chins.

If not, then old Lou
Will have some ‘splainin’ to do,
Which he’ll probably do
With a meltdown or two.

A Limerick from Next Week’s News

George Bush loved ol’ Berto Gonzales,
Made him Justice from Waco to Dallas,
Put him in as A.G.,
But in the midst of the fray he
Tossed him under the Capitol Mall bus.

(I know the last rhyme is a bit tenuous, but I liked the image of someone being literally thrown under a bus full of cherry-blossom time tourists. Also, the only other appropriate rhymes were “malice” and “phallus”, but I couldn’t get things to scan properly. Maybe “The Chalice from the Palace”?)

The HungerDunger Proxy

It only took me a few months to notice, but somehow more than 6 months of my posts last year have disappeared into the ether. My host ISP has no idea where they could have gone, by gosh. What’s weird is that it happened in the middle of my archive. Everyone’s stumped, so it looks like my witty observations about monkeys, baseball and profanity are lost to the ages.

There’s one post I do remember, though, and that’s because it’s in verse. Maybe the lesson here is to write all my posts in verse. Then I can get work composing eddas like an ancient Icelandic poet, though it would be hard to rhyme the names of most newsmakers today, except Barry Bonds.

The limerick in question was a group effort. The first four lines came easily enough, but I was so incapable of finishing it that I sent word out to my writing group irregulars, The Hungerdungers, for their help. And here, an ode to a battle in the culture wars, is what they came up with:

Lesbians, gays and transgenders
Work hard on their social agenders.
While bisexuals try
With a girl or a guy–
If it’s warm, they’re game to upend ‘er.

I’m patiently waiting for a phone call from the folks at the Norton Anthology of Poetry.