Turnstyle: The SABR Journal of Baseball Arts, Volume 2 (2020)

John Jakicic: My Bums Holding My Dreams

This article was written by John Jakicic

Editor’s note: An excerpt of John Jakicic’s poem, “My Bums Holding My Dream,” was published in Volume 2 of Turnstyle: The SABR Journal of Baseball Arts (2020). The entire poem, truly epic in length, is here for all Baseball and the Arts Committee members to enjoy.

 

Turnstyle: The SABR Journal of Baseball Arts, Volume 2 (2020)All my dreams as a kid are long gone and forgot
But for one I assigned to my heart’s deepest spot
Then consigned to my team to fulfill so they’ve got
To now find baseball’s end-of-the-rainbow gold pot

Filled with World Series rings now in reach once we got
Enough offseason upgrades while rivals could not
Sway opinions nor forecasts of experts who spot
A consensus that pegs us the best of the lot

And a new name slides into our manager’s slot
An old name from the past who fans haven’t forgot
Will maintain “old school” baseball fits any time slot
Then complain sabermetrics statistics do not

Who throws tantrums and bases and hats and whatnot
As he’s still kicking dirt on the umps when red-hot
But his shtick can get thick and if their skins are not
Umps may settle a score once revenge picks its spot

While his critics encounter his slick counterplot
Selling round-the-clock access and scoops, but they’ve got
To play ball and now lob softball questions a lot
While they publish puff pieces that won’t stir the pot

Now as spring training ends, it might seem we did not
Know these games never count toward a postseason spot
When the wins wouldn’t stop nor the props they begot
As some meaningless games, sometimes mean quite a lot

So in April, I may say October will not
Find my team at their favorite vacation hotspot
Busy winning The Show’s biggest prize then cannot
Help but share with their fans a World Series jackpot

But a rival I nicknamed “The Bums” have no shot
Always tied to last place still untying the knot
For when spring turns to summer, they fade from eyeshot
Then cheer, “Wait’ll next year!” every year on the dot

And the ghosts of past seasons haunt fans so they’ve got
To now cook up a curse for their cover-up plot
Then insisting it’s true gets your goat and why not
Since it might be, it could be, it is frickin’ not

Plus these years are awash with the wisecracks they got
With the latest, “The Gashouse Gorillas we’re not”
And “The game’s greatest name would have signed, but could not
Cuz the bucks to sign Bugs made us go over slot”

Meanwhile, long power blackouts in each lineup spot
Call for base hits in bunches from batters who’ve got
Swings now best known for breezes though fans become hot
With hits gone with the wind from their signature swat

And their staff fires fastballs like scattered buckshot
Sparking flashbacks of Nuke for those fans who cannot
Forget “Meat” bringing heat drilling Durham’s mascot
As demand for box seats near home plate ain’t so hot

No doubt players fear losing their old roster spot
Stoking fears some careers end at Sears then they got
All awarded first dibs on their old roster spot
Then retrace their last trip to some Triple A lot

Still, those old Bill Veeck tricks help attendance, but not
Without discounted seats plus a free parking spot
While your overpriced beer bags a free dog or brat
But short autograph lines will remain a sore spot

Yet their players stay gracious and always will jot
Down their John Hancock freely although it is not
In demand by adults, but the ones that kids got
Left both parties with smiles the whole ballpark could spot

Which produced a kind thought I surprisingly got
Blending Whitman and Lip in my own melting pot
I see great things in baseball, but one thing is not
When nice guys finish last like The Bums who should not

As our outlooks could flip-flop as teams change a lot
Due to rookies, free agents, big trades, and whatnot
In fact, history shows the impossible’s not
Then replayed on TV so it’s never forgot

Recall Bobby was first when the world heard his shot
Next, those Miracle Mets got amazin’ly hot
And Hank’s seven fifteenth beat the Babe by a shot
Then Kirk limped off a walk-off World Series moonshot

Yet all this notwithstanding, the standings will not
Place The Bums in first place with last place as our spot
Since this season can’t end with this flip-flopping plot
Unless hell’s packed in snow, but at last check it’s hot

Now I’m told I should visit their minor league lot
And their talented kids they had somehow begot
Now dubbed “toolsheds of talent” by scouts on the spot
And atop every prospect list baseball has got

Seems their recent June drafts always hit a jackpot
Striking gold every year from their number one slot
Then found late hidden gems other clubs couldn’t spot
Plus their top international kids are red-hot

And their spirit evokes a rambunctious time slot
When the paychecks were small, but the paybacks were not
And The Bums’ type of payback lasts years once they got
To give toolsheds of talent their major league shot

So these kids made the Show, then took off like a shot
And there’s no way to measure the joy fans have got
Though a Mudville fan warns, “There’s no joy when you’ve got
Your last hope striking out when you’re sure he would not”

But then twenty straight wins stun their fans, yet should not
After Vin waxed poetic just why they’re so hot
“Winning streaks need good fortune, but never a lot
When your roster has riches your rivals do not”

Now the cold truth comes out leaving fans hot to trot
Out their fairy-tale dreams of postseason Camelot
Because snowplows at work clearing hell’s parking lot
Place The Bums in first place with last place as our spot

Our obituary starts with our skipper a tot
Reading John McGraw’s book with its “small ball” subplot
Plus a ground rule for skippers he never forgot
“Let your gut form your strategies right on the spot”

Although “small ball” was big when the “dead ball” was hot
Posting big crooked numbers was quite the long shot
But our profile has changed since Capone’s first mug shot
As live balls mean more runs as more balls leave the lot

But when challenged, he constantly swears he will not
Change his mind nor his methods when put on the spot
By a new school of thought teaching skippers should not
Follow flawed “old school” rules whether written or not

After trashing this “new school” in print, he cannot
Stop from stating the obvious Bill James will not
Recommend his new book, Sabermetrics Boycott:
When Bill James And His Statheads Compute They Do Not

So he never updates his old, outdated plot
Never counting on pitch counts though starters are shot
And then losing late leads frosts my butt when he’s got
His hot closer on ice till his ninth-inning spot

While the whole bullpen waits for a high-leverage spot
As they all have appeared in the same game a lot
And they’re always on call with this one caveat
When we hear Dr. Andrews declaring they’re not

Still, his grizzled, old vet gets his cortisone shot
While his great, gritty grinders don’t offer a lot
But he’s blind and now deaf to the problems he’s got
Grinders stuck in first gear, and his grizzly is shot

Then wastes 2-and-1 counts in this hit-and-run spot
When we foul off ball three though fans wish we would not
Trade a 3-and-1 count for a 2-and-2 spot
Since a 3-and-1 count grabs the catbird-seat spot

Yet he claims working counts is the best plan we’ve got
Once this patient approach sees a sweet pitch to swat
So selective at-bats are expected, but not
When his paradox finds the next hit-and-run spot

And he lavishly donates our outs when he’s got
Facts that sacrifice bunts, in fact, suck quite a lot
As they don’t ensure runs only outs more than not
And hurt odds of big innings per research he’s got

Also, winners score more in one inning a lot
More than losers will notch in all nine that they’ve got
So his sacrifice bunts put the team in a spot
When we score that one run that by game’s end means squat

While his first-inning bunts seal his last resting spot
When I sacrifice him in the team parking lot
As the Lord sends me down, I foresee my hot spot
Satan taunts me with bunts then laughs, “Why the hell not!”

Plus we go through the motions like any robot
Raising X-rated rants from our skipper who’s got
To resort to fake rage when told scaring the snot
Out of all lollygaggers would spark this sad lot

Soon we’re left hailing Mary for the last playoff spot
Although football’s her thing come the final gunshot
But that curse did its thing concludes every crackpot
As, alas, Mary passed on our postseason spot

And it’s going, going, gone! Oh doctor! I cannot
Still believe my dream died in our league’s basement spot
Holy cow! My oh my! This whole year’s gone to pot
Forget it! She is gone! I have tried, but cannot

Since subtracting this grief from my days means I’ve got
To stop nightmares dividing up nights in my cot
Though each win adds to hopes of a postseason spot
Each loss multiplies nightmares which sums up my spot

So my team was a myth like that Doubleday plot
As both double-crossed fans, first when Spalding would not
Concede baseball evolved, then commissioned a spot
For its ill-conceived birth at some Cooperstown lot

Now this year must be kissed off so sanity’s not
As the thought of sound sleep every night hits the spot
But next year is in line for this kiss since we’ve got
Experts sure we’ve no shot and fans don’t ask, “Why not?”

To escape, I return to my time as a tot
When my Field of Dreams was a Little League lot
Where I’d swing like a star knowing moonbeams would not
Allow ball games to end till my walk-off moonshot

Although games had to end when we’d angrily spot
Moms were waving us home because dinner was hot
Then in bed, I would count all the dingers I got
And the pats on the back after each mighty swat

Once asleep, baseball dreams soon arrived at my cot
With my Cooperstown speech for my Hall of Fame slot
And when Mom and Pop cheered through their tears I could not
Wait to tell the whole world what great parents I’ve got

Back at school, the kids praised me so much I could not
Keep my ego in check since I heard this a lot
“You’re the best home-run slugger our school ever got”
Plus “The Yankees will have a new Sultan of Swat”

While their dads said I conjured up memories they’ve got
Of our two greatest stars from a bygone time slot
So I copied their styles as fans quickly spot
Say Hey Kid’s basket catch and The Mick’s home-run trot

But when moved up a notch, I found out I could not
Hit a pitch that would curve nor hear cheers I once got
Soon a baseball career was ruled out though I’ve got
Memories ready with replays I ruled the sandlot

Now my memory lane gets congested a lot
As the trips have increased, though my pleasure does not
And returning to earth is the reason why not
One-way tickets aren’t sold to my Little League lot

But my team can’t escape the rebuilding they’ve got
With fans’ endless impatience the likely upshot
Whose support can turn quickly when turnstiles do not
Count these fans passing through till hard times are forgot

And these fans will decree that the GM cannot
Pick the duds only studs from the free agent pot
Then great trades and strong drafts must ensue though we’ll spot
The same fault-finding pessimists stirring the pot

While our most disturbed fans hit the Web when they’re hot
Posting crap in all caps in large fonts plus they’ve got
Exclamation points handy in case you can’t spot
What it takes to turn into an online crackpot

Soon the pundits take aim with their daily potshot
Plus predictions produced by a dart or slingshot
With a game plan for fame that’s so easy to spot
“Always hype all your hits, while your outs are forgot”

Next, our U-turn should turn to the manager’s slot
But no “by ‘The Book’ guys” we recycle a lot
Just promote sabermetrics since “old school” will not
Waive the out-of-date views its curriculum’s got

As the thought of this hunt leaves me thinking why not
Snare a skipper like Earl with the bait “three-run shot”
But when “small ball” pinch hits in a late-inning spot
I will toast “old school” ball with a beer and a shot

And all scouting departments should know they cannot
Skip the “old school” eye test thinking laptops can spot
All the players from high school and college who’ve got
Future big-league careers versus those who do not

Though each algorithm helps, analytics cannot
Singlehandedly find every future hotshot
So a draft room must blend all the data they’ve got
With opinions from scouts still more “old school” than not

Then these scouts prove their worth when a key lineup spot
Now belongs to that prospect they touted a lot
As the “old school” eye test shows the vision it’s got
When it lands that big fish, sabermetrics could not

Once again, Yogi’s dèjá vu’s right on the dot
With our owner’s same speech in its annual slot
Claiming chasing our dream exhausts all cash he’s got
And will trigger price hikes is his loud parting shot

Forcing fans to unload their most logical shot
“So the season went south, but your prices will not!”
Then his tweet will repeat to compete costs a lot
So when prices head north, it’s the one choice he’s got

Feeling used and abused, a sarcastic fan shot
Free advice to the boss on his tapped-out team pot
“Simply do what you’re doing just do it a lot
Since extorting more fans will replenish your pot”

While incredulous fans launch a personal shot
“His financial state rocks, yet he states he does not
Have the coin to support the big dream fans have got
And for him it’s small change” — though a small change it’s not

As his feelings have always been easy to spot
Only wallets hold value so fans just do not
Factor into decisions which sums up our spot
That the bottom line rules over fans he forgot

‘Twas the night before Christmas when fans finally got
Season-ticket renewals as jaws dropped a lot
While our Scrooge sent his best in a Christmas screenshot
“Have your best Christmas ever just sign by the dot”

So these eye-popping prices turn fans piping hot
But our owner still begs from his ninety-foot yacht
Then he’ll rummage for reasons why next year will not
See the same garbage team that just stunk up the lot

Like his quote that turned over The Bard in his plot
“The fault lies in our stars, not ourselves, for our spot”
As he never did take the advice he once got
“When you look to lay blame give your mirror a shot”

But The Bums can’t be blamed for reflections they’ve got
Of soon spraying champagne in that classic snapshot
Cuz they swept the first round, then on Hinson’s moonshot
Their first pennant was won on her ninth-inning swat

That’s when Russ just went nuts as the ball left the lot
“It’s gonna be I believe . . . Dottie’s ‘round-the-world shot!”
So this fairy-tale team clinched a World Series spot
With a glass slipper waiting that fits or may not

At the Fall Classic Ball, Cinderella looks hot
Winning Games One, Two, Three and each one by a lot
So The Bums seem a shoo-in for baseball’s top spot
With their dream soon achieved unlike mine that was not

But a World Series dream never dies if you’ve got
That undying devotion that simply will not
Let a dream of a ring to die out so you slot
A new dream in your heart, though it’s technically not

Still, our dreams blur the truth when it’s clear they cannot
Play out Us vs. Them and give Them a fair shot
Since our rose-colored glasses include a blind spot
With reality benched while delusion is not

Though our hearts use these glasses, our brains just cannot
Turn a blind eye to flaws nor to strengths teams have got
So hearts bypass our brains so good judgment will not
See right through these rose specs with the built-in blind spot

With these bypasses scheduled by fans who do not
Have a fair point of view since their vision has got
This big tunnel of love for their team as they spot
More than one trophy case for their great juggernaut

And this starts as a kid when asleep in your cot
Your team wins every game, but awake they cannot
As you learn Giamatti’s stance can’t be forgot
That the game is designed to break hearts more than not

As the heartbreak gets worse when that heartbreaking spot
Turns your cheers into tears on a walk-off moonshot
Then you’re left with no words, but the winners are not
“There’s no crying in baseball” is such a cheap shot

Plus the heartache can’t stop when your heart’s in a knot
From replaying each loss every chance that you’ve got
Though we’re totally cool with our team when they’re hot
Flipping out when they’re not shows the flip side we’ve got

Because passion and pride turn emotions red-hot
As hearts bleed for their teams unaware they should clot
Then your hope is built up, but despair lets it rot
When your Casey strikes out the one dream that you’ve got

Now the truth comes to light in a dark parking lot
When our Deep Throat leaks news that a clubhouse subplot
Put the nix on all hopes of a postseason spot
Leaving players resigned to the fate they’ve now got

Seems some guys shunned advice a good teammate would not
“For the good of the team” that guides each roster spot
Proving Lou’s selfless words couldn’t find a soft spot
In hearts aching to break every team rule we’ve got

Once this story hits print, our fans frankly cannot
Understand the perspective these screwballs have got
Still reprising their night games of booze, babes, and pot
That will make tabloid news with their front-page headshot

Nor could teammates believe between plays they would spot
AWOLs’ ninth-inning race to the team parking lot
Then next day, they roll in with eyes badly bloodshot
Cuz they played extra innings at a local nightspot

Joined by pros who propose a quick “red-hot foxtrot”
But when caught more than dancing, cops nab the whole lot
Then, in tears, they announce they’re reformed and have got
A new outlook on life from their latest mug shot

And these smooth-talkin’ schmoozers will claim they’ve still got
The same view that the team must come first, but forgot
That their selfish demands heard by all in earshot
Prove their views, like their schmooze, are more BS than not

Seems their downfall began with the big bucks they got
As desire soon left as they slowed to a trot
And though teammates repeatedly warned them to not
Forget stakes have been raised, they kept shorting the pot

But in past years, the owners were shorting the pot
In the sense they suppressed players’ wages, but not
Before players are locked up and bound to one spot
Then sign take-it-or-leave-it cheap contracts they got

Which meant offseasons working odd jobs and whatnot
When their light bulbs went on and well worth every watt
Now aware they’re the stars and the owners are not
They demand their fair share of the revenue pot

Or else talks quickly end with a players’ boycott
As advised by their union as somehow they got
The best possible man for their top union spot
Then this Marvin J. Miller transformed their sad lot

When his bargaining skills won concessions that got
The best benefits any sports league ever got
As the owners broke ranks, but the players did not
All united as one behind Marvin’s boycott

So the owners despised him and simply would not
Ever rightfully vote him his Cooperstown slot
Then in two thousand nineteen, twelve voters would not
Deny Marvin’s long overdue Hall of Fame spot

But uniting my team was the longest long shot
When guys march to their drumbeat and every nightspot
Then informed to conform, they confess they cannot
Then contend our concerns are contrived when they’re not

So like fans, they can see that they need a blind spot
To ignore facts that challenge this mindset they’ve got
That they all know it all, yet they somehow forgot
That it’s what you learn later lets you know you knew squat

Still, they’re not the worst reprobates baseball’s begot
Since our first power brokers can’t lose that top spot
Due to outright collusion that flat out would not
Give their players a choice nor Black players their shot

With their bias and greed came a sinister plot
That tied up players’ rights that took years to unknot
And though wrongs have been righted, the fallout cannot
With their concept of fairness, a permanent blot

Like their clause that reserved hired help to one spot
With just white men in play since due process was not
And though some are revered for their Hall of Fame spot
Basic rights disappeared in their prejudiced plot

Then the gavel was passed on to Happy who got
To help justice win out since Judge Landis would not
And when Rickey untied baseball’s tight racial knot
Our great game would branch out as race barriers rot

First was Jackie, then Willie, then Henry who got
Their big chance, then the slurs, then a Cooperstown spot
Yet their greatest home runs never did leave the lot
As their courage and class shaped a landmark time slot

Now our game has to live with this bigotry blot
That killed showdowns to die for we dream on a lot
Dizzy Dean and Josh Gibson . . . Satchel Paige and Mel Ott
And it’s so black and white . . . the worst shame the game’s got

While the shame on my team rests with those who would not
Give just one second thought to that number one spot
Nor to turning fans’ dreams into nightmares that got
Retroactively dubbed their farewell parting shot

Seems the boss saw enough of this lackluster lot
And their Guccis and Rolex and latest sexpot
So he panned their bad play, then with one final shot
Would dismiss them as ”bums” having no roster spot

They were holding my dream . . . now I see they could not
Through new crystal clear glasses without a blind spot
With delusion now benched means reality’s not
As The Bums spray champagne in that classic snapshot

So the glass slipper fits with the crown that they got
To parade after Game 4 cuz Game 5 meant squat
Once a longstanding loser, now treasured long shot
Teams will copy their map to find X marks the spot

And their play receives raves only Shakespeare has got
But no pound of flesh due with past insults forgot
As I now can distinguish my bums on the spot
Those who act with such class and a class that does not

When The Bums hold their trophy, the two thoughts I’ve got
They are holding my dream . . . good at nicknames I’m not
As my team holds the title to their new basement spot
That includes a free downgrade from have to have-not

Then frustration returns now insisting I’ve got
To abandon my team knowing well I would not
For I do know the score even when I’m quite hot
You don’t leave your first love you engaged as a tot

Still, I find that my mind can’t conceive nor allot
Any hope for next year with a postseason spot
But my heart has a mind of its own and cannot
Help but mindlessly dream of that number one spot

So my own Armageddon has me tied in this knot
“Can my team hold my dream if I think they cannot?”
But, in time, I recall Mom’s advice I’d forgot
That makes everything clear and hits home like a shot

“When your mind thinks your dream is more hopeless than not
When your heart wants that end-of-the-rainbow gold pot
Always follow your heart and this can’t be forgot” . . .
Yes, my team holds my dream — until death do us part!

 

JOHN JAKICIC was born April 23, 1950, in Chicago, a White Sox fan and retired banker at Bank of America. Married 38 years (Christine) and going along happily. Previous writing experience—absolutely none. Greatest accomplishment—Pee Wee League Batting Champ in second grade, then found out I couldn’t hit anything that curved. Saddest childhood moment—listening to a White Sox game on the radio in 1958 when Billy Pierce, my favorite White Sox player, lost a perfect game with one out to go versus the Washington Senators. Years later, I immediately understood what Bart Giamatti meant when he wrote that the game is designed to break your heart … with help from Ed Fitz Gerald. Note: Billy Pierce is the reason that the last line of my story “My Bums Holding My Dream” doesn’t rhyme. Since Billy Pierce was one out away from a perfect game, I thought it fitting that I should be one line away from my own “perfect game” — rhyming every line.

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