Simile Saturday: Poetry Edition

If we’re going to keep dealing with similes, we might as well inject some culture in here too. Here are three classic poetic similes, excruciatingly reapplied to modern baseball for no reason whatsoever.

Mike Stanton is like a jewel hung in ghastly night.

Here’s a Shakespeare sonnet, number 27:

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear respose for limbs with travel tir’d;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired:
For then my thoughts — from far where I abide —
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.

So the Marlins have been kind of hilariously terrible lately. After dropping a 15-5 laugher to the Rangers last night (and Anibel Sanchez might have appeared here in Stanton’s stead had he not just given up seven runs in three innings), they’re now 5-24 since June 1st. Hanley Ramirez has been terrible, Josh Johnson is hurt, Gaby Sanchez is slumping after a huge start, they’re fifteen and a half games back, and really, no one else on the team is even remotely interesting, save Logan Morrison and Stanton.

And Stanton slumped in June just like the entire rest of the team, but he still managed five home runs, and is currently hitting .253/.326/.513 in a tough hitting environment, about 30% better than the average hitter (regardless of whether you use OPS+ or wRC+), and is on pace for over 30 homers — and when he gets into one, it can go a long way. And most importantly, he’s not even going to turn 22 until after the season.

Stanton is the one thing that might make the bleak, bleak, bleak Marlins worth watching right now. It’s probably a stretch to say that he makes the Marlins’ “black night beauteous, and her old face new,” but you know how Will likes to exaggerate.

Bud Selig is like…this guy.

In Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (full text here), the speaker describes catching a horrifying glimpse of cursed dead men out on the water, but then:

And now this spell was snapped: once more
I viewed the ocean green,
And looked far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen -

Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

It’s a very small part of a very long (and generally much less interesting than that) poem, but it makes me think of a feeling most people probably got at one time or another when they were children. You’re walking along just after dark, and you think you hear something behind you or see something out of the corner of your eye. You instinctively turn around, and there’s nothing there, but that doesn’t make the feeling go away the way it should, and you think you’d better just keep going as fast as you can because there’s probably something back there that’s after you, you just didn’t see it last time, better not slow yourself down by turning around again.

That’s pretty much what Bud Selig and the MLB owners have done with the Mark Cuban situation, I think. They take a quick glance at Cuban and his antics and tantrums and whatnot and see another George Steinbrenner — I don’t think that at this point there’s any chance that they’d let another Steinbrenner into their little club — and run the other way. In reality, Cuban has very little in common with Steinbrenner, and would almost certainly be a terrific owner, especially in a market like, say, L.A. (Jay Jaffe makes the case brilliantly here — and with a really telling and disturbing quote from Fay Vincent — but that might be subscriber-only.) And in the end I think he almost certainly ends up making everybody in the game a little better off, including the other 29 owners. But I think they’re too busy running scared to figure that out.

The Astros are like a patient etherized upon a table.

T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” stanza 1:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

Cheap? Obvious? Out of context? Yep, all that. But it’s a good poem (read it all here), and the Astros are really, really awful. And boring. Comatose.

So that’s it for today, but here’s one more poem, and it’s a baseball one, with quite a few similes: “The Base Stealer” by Robert Francis.