JUPITER, Fla. — This afternoon, on the eve of report day for St. Louis Cardinals pitchers and catchers, the clubbies continued setting up the clubhouse by hanging jerseys at each locker … with, um, care.
I snapped a picture of the corner awaiting position players when they arrive:
The unopened bags, the anticipation of spring training’s opening, the jerseys hung ever so carefully — why that phrase kept clinking around in my skull all afternoon and the obvious result was — what else? — a poem, starring the local nine and even some of the journalists who cover the club. Here goes.
‘Twas the Night Before Spring Training
‘Twas the night before spring training, when all through the clubhouse
Not a reliever was warming, not even a Motte
The jerseys were hung by their lockers with care,
in hopes that the Cardinals soon would be there.
The baseballs are nestled, all rubbed up with mud,
eager for that whack that smears the signature from Bud.
And Hummel at his keyboard, and I on the blog,
had just sent our stories to beat a deadline slog.
When out on Field 1, there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see who was the batter.
Away to the field, Chris Lee clutched his flash,
set up his tripod, snapped pics of the mash.
The moon gave him natural light from above,
hanging like a pop fly so impossible to glove.
When, what to my cynical eyes should appear,
but a dented golf cart, eight bats in its rear.
With a regal old driver, a Cards cap on his head,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Red.
As swiftly as Brock, his hitters they came.
And he whistled and shouted and started them by name!
“Now, Puma! Now, Yadi! Now, Holliday and Freese!
On Beltran! On Jon Jay, on Rafi and Greene!
To the top of the Central, to the top of the league!
Now hit away! Hit away! No need for intrigue!”
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on Twitter
the Brewers are better, the Reds so much fitter.
As I wrote a reply and considered agreeing
walked over St. Red to question my tweeting.
His eyes how they sharpened, his freckles so merry!
His jersey so retro, the birds colored like cherries!
His retired number pulled straight off the wall,
and his visage looks just like the bronze in the Hall.
The shaft of a bat he held tight in his hand,
and the end he rooted in the grass to help stand.
He had a broad grin, and a knowing wink.
“This team might be stronger than any one thinks.”
He spoke a few words, then went back to work.
And watched all the starters, what he called a perk.
Carp’s workload was high, but Waino’s on the mend.
And giving a nod, he knows what’s enough to contend.
He sprang to his golf cart, gave the team a whistle,
and promptly they gathered at the plaque for Kissell.
“Sure Albert sprouted wings, and Tony left his seat,
but spring has begun,” he exclaimed, “and a chance to repeat!”