Shakespeare, autumn, and the Cardinals: An off-day sonnet
1) It was important to me to be able to continue living, and wearing Cardinals gear, in southern California without having to brook the taunts of the minority and the (far more unbearable) good sportsmanship of the majority.
2) I was pathetically, adoringly attached to this team, and I didn’t want to lose their company a day sooner than I had to.
Both, I suppose, have something to do with how I’m feeling today: Discouraged after two flat losses in the final home games of the year, sure, and at least a little bit enervated by the obligation of continued hopefulness imposed upon us by the 2011 team—but mostly, just melancholy. Whoever wins this series, however it goes down, we’re at most two games away from four months of dreary baseball-less-ness, and from never seeing again these same guys on the same diamond at the same time. For a sentimental baseball fool like me, the waning days of the World Series are bittersweet in the extreme, like the turning leaves and early sunsets under which they unfold.
Shakespeare would have understood this, I’m certain (he was an aficionado of the sport, you know, and a Cardinal fan to boot). Thus I hope he won’t be too put out that I’ve twisted his Sonnet 73—one of his most darkly beautiful poems, about love intensified amid decay—into a premature and very dorky farewell to a season I have, indeed, loved very much:
That time of year thou mayst in MO behold
When no ballplayers throw, or hit, or run
Within Busch III, all empty now and cold,
Bare ruined fields, where late the Redbirds won.
In MO thou see’st the twilight of a year
That flourished once, but fadeth in the stretch,
As Papi’s bat and Lester’s emerald schmear*
Consigned the Cards to flail, the fans to kvetch.
In MO thou see’st the dimming of a team
Whose loftiness seems but a thing of yore,
Whose happy flights will be a distant dream
Unless the rookie arms astound once more.
Then pause, though thou still cheer’st them toward the ring,
To love that well which thou must leave till spring.
* No, I don’t think that Lester was cheating, or that Game 1 could have proceeded any more ignominiously even if he had been. I just needed a rhyme.