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Sunday, June 14, 2020


by Michael Mark

The Major League Baseball Players Association informed MLB on Saturday night that they are done negotiating and want an answer by Monday on how many games they’ll play and when to show up for work. —USA Today, June 13, 2020

In earlier news:
Baseball released a thorough health and safety protocol to help protect its players during the 2020 MLB Season. But there’s one new rule that will certainly be tough to follow: No Spitting.
Fansided, May 22, 2020

Crude are the subtleties of the double play
compared to the majestic hock and graceful spray
of spittle professionally spurt. Slaver to

mound, slicking home plate—wet thwack
of saliva oiling well worn mitts. See that!  I’d say
after a bulky loogie—caught on TV

back in the old days (last season). Leaping
from the couch, I’d grab the remote, hit
playback and slow-mo

the slobber projectile. Freeze frame
itsemergence, rising flight and Pollack splatter.
“See that cheek suck, check out that lips purse,
that thick tongue flick—that bountiful gush!”

O beautiful for spacious fly!

If you don’t understand the spit you don’t understand baseball.
If you don’t understand baseball go back to the shithole
you came from—to toss around today’s cheap seat
banter from the trash talker in chief.

Let the bowlers groan, yuk, eww, gag, groan, gross!
If you ban spittin’ seeds—you might as well outlaw outs,
strikes, fouls, hits. What’s next, Commissioner?
Crotch grabs and sack realignments?

It’s an American fan’s right to recount celebrities of sputter
and spew: Why, have a seat my child, I’ll tell ya
about Legendary Lefty the Lip
who could launch a loogie further than the Bambino’s

most prodigious rip and was every bit as accurate –
pointing out his expectorant’s dart, arc
and splash-down. O yes! To the very speck
of red dirt he’d swamp

with juicy Tennessee chaw—outta
both sides of his maw.
Not to your taste? Take a walk.
Good as a hit in the score book.

So, when you see a crappy pitch, take it, kid.
Like the old timers said, “just spit on it.” That’s how
the greats played this hard-scrabble, historic game.
It’ll be sad not to know shit about spit—

soon just a dried-up old asterisk. I for one
will rise from my chair - let the chips fall—
sing proud our national hymn
and hum a prayer:

Play ball againboys! But please take care—
we don’t want anyone hurt by squirt
in dirt or thin air. And remember it’s still legit—
here, my heart does thump—
behind your MLB approved Covid masks –
to holler, Kill the ump!

Michael Mark’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, Michigan Quarterly Review, Salamander, Salt Hill Journal, The Southern Review, The New York Times, The Sun, Waxwing, The Poetry Foundation's American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily. He’s the author of two books of stories including Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). @michaelgrow