POETRYINMOTION1Winning isn’t everything: it’s anything. Winning is whatever you want it to be, and that’s what makes it so good. You want it to be one of those post-game gumball-eyed ice cream bars with the gauzy melting heads shaped like the cartoon turtles? Be my guest. It won’t be me suckling Michelangelo’s ugly mug. My night’s only trophies will be enjoyed much later tonight, at the quarry, in my car: the remainder of a day-old roach and some graph paper used to draw up future bunts. That’s my banquet, kiddos, because I work twenty-five hours a day to make this team a dynasty.

But to be a dynasty, we have to start winning at least a handful of games each season. Winning no games is a kind of dubious dynasty in its own right, but a truly poopy one. I’ve been asked by some of your parents, namely Derek’s ever-present mother, to use the word “poopy” when addressing you youngsters. But you all know damn well what word I’m driving at when I say poopy.

Barton: you gotta run out those fly balls, buddy. Run like your turtle is melting. Timothee: lay off the curveball, bruddah. They’re not buying it, and it makes your wrist look effeminate.

You each wear the uniform of Gaea’s Wheatgrass Cottage, but you don’t mix it up like Gaea’s. You don’t tear what comes at you limb from limb like the sharp-bladed blenders of the Cottage. Gaea’s got game, and heart, and teeth, and good reggae music. Time for us to put some of that reggae into our batting stances.

Dunston Automotive came to play. Those kids over there came to make Mr. Dunston proud, while we do disservice to our sponsor Pablo Carduff, a Cold War veteran with a grim porch and a smelly daughter. Pablo started Gaea’s Wheatgrass Cottage from nothing, just a few days after hitting a dinger of a home run in the 1983 Diamond Tykes World Series, on this very field. I mean, not literally this field, because back then this field was a women’s homeless shelter. But they tore that shelter down to give you kids a place to play the greatest game in the world. This field used to be on Allen Avenue, across from the Timberland outlet. And on that field, our sponsor Pablo Carduff grew a pair and became a man. How do I know? Because I was watching that game, with binoculars, from the comfort of my Honda Civic, more zooted than Charlie Parker on the Fourth of July. So don’t you tell me that you don’t have what it takes to be great. Mr. Carduff wants this as badly as I do.

Gregory, don’t chew the catcher’s mitt while we’re talking. Especially when it’s on your Demitri’s hand. If anyone should chew it, let it be Demitri.

I want to see rally caps. Turn those hats inside out! And turn your cleats inside out too. Walk on the spikes. Feel the nagging pokes and prods of incompetence.

Look. Some of us grew up wanting to be pro ballplayers. Or at least had parents who wanted that for us. Parents we were scared of. Of course, some of us also were born with webbed feet and anger management issues. But that same some of us loves coaching this team, and would love it all the more if you would look alive out there and stop swinging at pitches that are six inches over your heads.

Some of us are ready to win this game, and buy each of you a melting god-forsaken gum-eyed turtle should that win occur. And FYI: some of us have gambling debts, and a waitress or two waiting on the bleachers. Some of us are gonna hold this clipboard, and savor the nice weather, and cheer you on until some of us are hoarse. Some of us are so proud of you.

C’mon, hands in the circle. Wheatgrass on three. One. Two. Three. Wheatgrass!

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