by Joseph DiLella
The straw that stirred the drink
Reggie called himself
after three swings
produced three consecutive homeruns
and a New York state of mind
when Yankee pinstripes meant the world
to America in the late 70's
as gasoline prices rose to 86 cents a gallon
and the Iran-U.S. hostage crisis
led front-page headlines.
Thirty years later,
after the Twin Towers fall
led to the Iraqi-US war
and gas prices reached four dollars,
the cocktail of choice in baseball
was HGH, androstanedione and mestanolone.
Syringes replaced pills
creating Popeye-like pop
propelling towering homeruns and TV ratings
through the roof
before Congressional hearings on C-Span
with men of lost-youth in three piece suits
who pointed their boney little fingers,
accusing their heroes of leading the nation's children
astray with Herculean lies.
Mark and Sammy - the ones who brought baseball back
from extinction after the strike year,
asked to move forward with their lives
or claimed lack of
to refute such claims
Five year later,
Roger's CY Young indignation
and misremembered statements
further sullied his reputation.
Barry, the reigning homerun king,
awaits a federal trial
without a clear conscience.
Alex, his heir-apparent,
of youthfulness and stupidity
has not played well in the media
as lie upon lie piles higher and deeper
every time he opens his mouth.
San Diego Padre fans will never forget
Ken Caminiti - 1998 National League MVP,
who admitted guilt
to Sports Illustrated
of steroid abuse in 2002
just three years before dying of a heart attack
from an overdose in a friend's apartment.
Alan Wiggins, the speeder and table-setter
who led his Friar's '84 team to the World Series
succumbed to complication from full-blown AIDS
- the first reported professional baseball player
to die from the illness -
contracted from contaminated needles
only seven years later.
New Yorkers' Giambi and Pettite
told the truth about their lies,
when called on them,
continued to play
with lingering injuries and pain
but without public scorn.
In 2009, the bigger question still remains:
If the MLB union forbids public disclosure of player's tests
for stimulants, steroids and hallucinogens
which new designer drug of choice
or mixed drink
of illegal and deadly stimulants and growth hormones
will be the next breakfast of champions
of men who continue to refuse to be role models
for the next generation?
Joseph is a fifth-year Assistant Professor of TESOL and Bilingual Education at a small state school in New Mexico. In his spare time, he writes short stories and poetry - a craft he loves spending time on between teaching and other academic chores. Closing in on seventy publications in the past three years alone, you may find Joseph's work on Mad Swirl, Static Movement, The Battered Suitcase, Golden Visions, Every Day Poets, Bewildering Stories, Calliope Nerve, and of course, Clockwise Cat.