With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer
The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Bronx Bombers last night:
The score stood four to three, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Hinske popped to third, and Matsui K’d,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Peña could get but a whack at that –
We’d put up even money, now, with Peña at the bat.
But Cervelli preceded Peña, as did also Freddy Guzman,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Peña’s getting to the bat.
But Cervelli let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Guzman, the much despis-ed for his prior caught stealing, rolled the ball to Yuniesky.
And when Betancourt errored, and the Yanks saw what had occurred,
There was Freddy safe at second and Frankie a-hugging third.
Then from 46,956 throats — or what was left — there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the borough, it rattled in the Bronx;
It knocked upon Manhattan and recoiled upon the flat,
For Peña, mighty Peña, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Peña’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Peña’s bearing and a smile on Peña’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Peña at the bat.
Forty thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Forthy thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing Soria ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Peña’s eye, a sneer curled Peña’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Peña foul it a-back in haughty grandeur there.
Into the Yankee blue seats the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Peña. “Strike one,” the umpire said.
From the benches, filled with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“We want some pie! We want some pie!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-pied him had not Peña been at bat.
With a smile of Yankee charity great Peña’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Peña still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Ball one.”
“Strike two!” cried the umpire as the next one painted black.
But one scornful look from Peña and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Peña wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Peña’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now Soria holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Peña’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no pie in the Bronx – not-so-mighty Peña has popped out.
* * *
Okay, okay, poetry and Ramiro Peña’s Wednesday home run aside, Wednesday’s game was not what the Yanks expected. Joba Chamberlain used up 91 pitches to get through just 3.2 innings. Although he allowed only three earned runs — and those runs came on some cheap bloop hits — the lackluster Royals mustered seven hits and four walks against the Yanks’ youngster. Joba struck out three, but he was not long for the game.
The bullpen pitched admirable, but Damaso Marte and Sergio Mitre allowed the Royals to plate a decisive run in the 7th. The Yanks again had a walk-off brewing with the winning run in scoring position in the ninth, but as my verse shows, Ramiro Peña could not come through. The Royals grabbed a game from the 102-win Yanks.
We could worry about Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, A-Rod and Hideki Matsui going a combined 0 for 16, but that’s allowed to happen now and then. The real story was Joba, and he could not build upon his success against the Red Sox. This was his last outing of the season, and as it stands now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Joba isn’t on the ALDS roster and if Chad Gaudin is tabbed for a potential ALCS start. At some point, we’ll assess Joba’s overall 2009 campaign. His regular season effort ended on a very sour note.