The following is an excerpt from Lines: To a Beautiful Park in Minneapolis, a work-in-progress book of Minnesota Twins-related poetry. This selection deals with lifestyle choices, lasting decisions, and the great "what-ifs?" of the baseball world. This poem's title was suggested by CCHOF5yearstoolate, and deals with a brand-new face in the Twinkie Town poetry mythos.
This is "Joe Mauer Visits the Strength Room."
Around a darkened corner, through a "Players Only" door,
Lies a myst’ry-shrouded training hall with players by the score.
You press your ear upon the wall and hear the metal clinking,
The rookies groaning, vet’rans moaning, sweating, shouting, sinking.
"What is this place?" you’re bound to ask, and though I wish I knew,
I’ve never ventured far enough to give a full review.
But lo - behold! Tonight’s the night. I’m swallowing my pride.
I’ll scan the room and search within. I’ll finally go inside.
I walk along the corridor and muster all my clout.
I casually bid "Au revoir!" as T.C. punches out.
I nonchalantly loiter ‘til I’m sure I’m fin’lly lonely,
Then take a breath and turn to face the door marked "Players Only."
"Release a sigh. Just calm your nerves," I whisper to myself.
"You’re M.V.P. You’re batting champ. You’ve Gold Gloves on your shelf.
You’ve singled off Rivera and you’ve homered off the King.
Perhaps what sits beyond this door will help you get your ring."
I turn the knob - the door’s unlocked - and step across the frame.
I feel ‘round for a lightswitch when a demon calls my name.
"IF IT AIN’T JOE," the hellish beast shouts out with vocal fire,
"AT LAST YOU’VE COME. IT’S BEEN TOO LONG. YOU READY TO PERSPIRE?"
I want to run - but no, I can’t! My cleats merge with the ground.
I cannot see the demon; I can only hear its sound:
A sharp metallic clinking starts to echo off the walls,
It’s the laughter of the hidden fiend! And once again, he calls:
"WE’VE NEVER MET, BUT YOU I’VE WATCHED. YOU ONCE WERE MIGHTY FINE.
YOU SOCKED A COUPLE DOZEN IN THE YEAR 2009.
BUT E’ER SINCE THEN YOUR STRENGTH’S BEEN SAPPED. YOU’VE NOT HIT TWELVE-PLUS SINCE.
SCREW THE DOUBLES, SCREW THE GROUNDERS! WELCOME IN YOUR DUMBBELL PRINCE!"
As the words escape the phantom’s mouth, the room is cast in light,
An incandescent glow emits from somewhere on my right.
I turn my head and nearly scream - it’s worse than I’d expected:
A harrowing assortment of conditioning tools collected.
A bench-press on the southeast wall, a sturdy weighted vest,
Olympic weights and benches and some dumbbells to the west.
Some kettlebells, ellipticals, and tools of sim’lar ilk.
‘Twas worse than tortuous glasses of expiring skim milk.
"IT’S WHERE YOU’RE MEANT TO BE, MY FRIEND," the devil howled loudly.
"CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL, MAUER." Then he chuckled rather proudly.
And that was it - my breaking point. I bellowed out, "You’re through!
"I’ve had it with assumptions. And I’ve had it most with you.
"I won the batting title thrice. I won the M.V.P.
I’m the best darn hitting backstop ever came into this league.
I’m coming off brain injuries. I’ve not been up to par.
But I’ll recover soon enough and you and I can spar.
"I’ll lead the league in hitting and I’ll lead in OBP.
I’ll make a couple All-Star Games. I’ll be must-watch TV.
I’ll win that dang World Series ring. I might just win eleven.
And one day out in deep left field you’ll see my number seven.
"So what if I’m the subject of some sal’ry-dumping talks?
I don’t need strength, I don’t need weights! ‘Cause Maddie digs the walks.
So sign another player if you want someone with power.
You’ll get my game and like it. I’m Joe Motherfucking Mauer."