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Giants highs

With San Franciscans relishing our third Giants World Series championship in five years, I wanted to share the following baseball poem that reminds us of the personal heroics, unlikely standouts, and poetic moves that got us to this historic moment.

ODYSSEUS WINS

Mid baseball season,
I drove south,
Little L. in the back seat
Playing Minecraft on the phone;

The temperature jumping every ten miles,
We hooked a left at San Jose,
Heading to minor league ball;

First stop: the Giants AAA team,
highest in their minor leagues,
The Fresno Grizzlies;

No need for windbreakers,
Ski hats, sweatshirts—
Just shorts and a t-shirt:
Baseball weather!

Chuckchansi Park,
Part of Fresno’s revitalization plan,
Easy to stroll into,
$20 for a third-row seat,
The Grizzlies are warming up,

“Oh my gosh,” I tell Little L.,
As I spot,
“You see the guy on first?”;
—”Yes”
“That’s Travis Ishikawa.
He was with the Giants in 2010,
When they won the World Series,
I thought he retired”;

A few innings later,
While Little L. romped
On the inflatable slide,
And jumpies,
Beyond right field,
I typed the name Travis Ishikawa,
And the world’s ether,
Informed me:
Giants, Milwaukee,
the Yankees for one single game,
Fifteen games at Pittsburgh in April,
But also:
Fresno, Nashville, Norfolk, Charlotte,
And back to Fresno;
Making Odysseus nod in sympathy;

When do you give up the dream?
When does a baseball organization
Move you away,
For a younger jock coming up?

I stared out
Beyond the left field wall,
Across the street
At the inelegant hand-painted signage
On the bridal shop,
At the circa 1920’s office building
Looming in foul territory
like a monument
From a lost time;

Roger Krieschnick pitched a three-hitter,
Perennial minor leaguer Gary Brown
Got some knocks,
I don’t remember what Travis Ishikawa did;
And now,
Ripe October,
National League Championship Series,
Giants manager Bruce Bochy,
The result of injured outfielders,
Installs Ishikawa in left;

What does Bochy see in Ishikawa
Other than desperation?

Game 5
Bottom of the 9th,
Score tied,
Arias on 3rd, Belt on1st,
1 out;
Michael Wacha
Zips a 2-0 fastball,
Travis Ishikawa
Turns on it,
Crushing,
Bat following through,
The ball rising;

You could say,
Travis Ishikawa won
the 2014 pennant for the San Francisco Giants,
And you would not be wrong.

——II——

Still…
I can’t believe
I won the lottery
That such an amazing woman consented to marry me,
That Travis Ishikawa smashed a Michael Wacha fastball
Onto the Arcade,
In the bottom of the 9th,
To win the pennant;

T R A V I S I S H I K A W A !

What did the manager with the huge head,
And Brian Sabean,
And assistant General Manager Bobby Evans,
And the rest of the brains and assayers
S E E
That I definitely did not;
They’ve known the guy so many seasons,
Performing sort-of, not-so good?

Why N O W,
Why October 2014?
Why why why why why why why why?

I think, partly,
It’s F A I T H,
That a guy can send a 100-mph cowhide ball
In the opposite direction,
Elevated,
Three hundred and eighty feet

Onto the Arcade;
I guess I shouldn’t expect
Every Giant
To be Buster Posey,
Lightning-fast-handed Pablo Sandoval,
Polished baseball star Hunter Pence,
Or gifted Angel Pagan;

In our lives,
We eagerly welcome—
The deli guy who makes a decent sandwich,
The Muni bus driver,
The substitute teacher,
The trash men,
The sportwriters translating a game into 800 words day after day after day after day after day after day,
Truck drivers,
Travis Ishikawa—
They’re the people,
Who turn our world.

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Steve Hermanos is the author of Orange Waves of Giants! The 2012 Championship Season. E-mail: steve@marinatimes.com