Have you every been lonely in a crowd?
Alone and drowning in your thoughts
And regret, re-living what you just saw,
Uselessly trying to will the Fates to make
The ball travel farther, the runner go faster,
The fielder move more swiftly to his left?
I have, and it’s frustrating, irritating, . . . sad.
I had just witnessed my team, fighting to hold on to first,
Fall behind in the game and then come back, three times!
And then in the home ninth, down by three,
They rallied, had the tying run on third, the
Winning run on second — with two outs —
But with the league’s leading home run and RBI
Hitter at the plate, and with the roll of momentum
Flowing through the almost sell-out crowd,
With every hometown fan clearly crazed
With excitement and expectation, standing and
Shouting a mixture of cheers and encouragement,
Our own Casey stood there at the bat, with a full count
(Ball four, at the least, would force the tie)
And here came the pitch, heading for the heart
Of the plate while our hearts stopped, and then
It swerved down and away, as our frequent hero
Beginning his swing, noted the change of direction,
And did his best to hold that bat from its useless committal;
And we all stopped shouting and barely breathed, praying
That it would be called ball four since it had obviously missed
The plate . . . but instead we groaned and sent forth
A synchronized sigh of disappointment as the first base ump
Signaled with his thumb shooting up that our Casey had struck out.
I didn’t remember leaving my seat, saying good-bye to my son
And grandson, walking robot-like across the wood planked bridge and
To the platform; I had a faint impression of the train
As it eventually pulled into the station, and as I
Entered the train like some automaton;
I chose to stand amidst the crowd rather than having
Grieving throngs hover over me seated stiffly —
And then as the train started on its journey to deliver me
To home (something my hero had not done), I noted
That my fellow fans were laughing, bemoaning the ending but
Not deflated by the loss because we still were in first place,
And I just wondered why I seemed to be an island of disappointment
Surrounded by an ocean of optimism and acceptance.
Perhaps it was because they hadn’t been through such tough losses
As often as I have; perhaps they had not been fans since the start,
And feeling that as rationale, I smiled slightly and decided that
Another game was coming and another and “you can’t
Win them all” . . . but it sure would have been so nice
To be riding home with a reason to celebrate Casey’s Revenge.