Bill Pruitt offers “Pennant Race in the Plague Year, Or Ohtani’s Quadruple Twenty in 2020”

Bill Pruitt offers “Pennant Race in the Plague Year, Or Ohtani’s Quadruple Twenty in 2020”

Shohei Ohtani, nicknamed “Sho Time,” hits a Houston Astro with a pitched ball. Pruitt foresees that Sho Time will plunk 20 Astro batters in the upcoming season. (A little poetic justice courtesy of Getty Images.)

From 2017 – 2019, Bill Pruitt offered poetic prognostications:  “Pennant Race ’19 in Eight Sestets and a Couplet”, “Pennant Race 18: Curses Laid and Lifted” and “The Pennant Races in Rhyming Couplets”. (SEE  AT END). Today, Bill gives us:

Pennant Race in the Plague Year, Or Ohtani’s Quadruple Twenty in 2020

The 2020 season, will it happen?  Who knows? Let’s pretend it does.
Let’s imagine a warm & breezy day in June. and there it is.
Baseball. Everything’s okay again. Not saying it could or it will,
just, it is, right here. That’s what imagination is for. Coronavirus mostly past.

Having firmly fixed that comforting sight in our gaze, we turn now & say
What a strange & scary, tragic time. Did anyone benefit in any way? Yes.
House pets, Amazon delivery, streaming services. And don’t forget
every member of the Houston Asterisks¹, or as we like to call them here,

The Asstrolls, some of whom would just as soon have let the season go.
But every one of them was hoping, thinking, praying that people would forget.
It’s just a game, people will say. This virus puts everything in perspective.
It’s not a major disaster, as Talking Heads used to say.

They thought it might all just go away. Nope. Not going away. Cheating’s still a thing.
And as readers of this annual screed know well, the curse had already
been laid on the Strolls following their ill-advised trip to the White House,
so they are already doomed to never win in Houston again

till they move in ’35 and become the Boise Climate Keepers —
but we’re not going to write about the Keepers now.
To compound their misery, Altuve, Bregman Springer & co.
Find they have to re-learn the art

Of actually guessing what’s coming from the mound
Instead of having it telegraphed to them on a garbage can lid.
So it goes without saying they win nothing this year.
Neither for that matter do the Nats, who humiliated themselves

when they not only visited the White House, but catcher
Kurt Suzuki in a strange photo shoot let the Delerium Tremens
put his arms around him from behind as if D.T. was a humping umpire
Ewww — as my 16 year-old cousin used to say — so no repeats here.

Donald Trump (behind) and Kurt Suzuki at White House, Nov. 4, 2019 (

We’ll say about 100 games is what they’ll get,
with baseball pushed well into November.
Season will be short and sweet.
In the Junior Circuit,

Angels benefit from the Strolls misjudgment
by taking over the west,  Anthony Rendon will join
Mike Trout, Ohtani will hit and pitch this year,
Teheran is there to support him —

and oh yeah, they have the right manager,
Maddon. They beat the Wild Card A’s,
fresh from their victory over the Twins..
The East champ Yankees take care of the Tribe,

only to be shocked by the upstart LA Angels, as Ohtani becomes
MLB’s first 20-20-20-20: the first player in history to win 20,
hit 20 home runs, hit 20 batsmen — all of them on Houston —
and to be ejected 20 times. (these hbps all occur

after the fifth inning, so Ohtani  becomes
the first pitcher to win 20
while pitching under 120 innings.)
All in just 102 games.

In the senior Circuit, a stranger story unfolds.
The Dodgers go 101-1– they break last year’s²
Twins record of 307 dingers averaging 4 bombs a game.
They idly watch the Diamond Backs pierce the Phils

in the Wild Card, then stomp the D-Backs to obliteration.
The Cards square off against the Braves in the Division round, and beat them,
only to get swept by the Bums for the pennant. And then — just like Wiley E. Coyote
who has constructed this perfect machine of destruction from an Acme tool kit —

it says here, sign Mookie Betts to win World Series, — the Dodgers drooling
for the their first series title in three decades plus — lose to the Halos
in the first all-LA World Series, four games to one, as Ohtani comes off the bench³
in the fifth game (where Angels are the home team) as a pinch hitter

and hits a walk-off to break up Clayton Kershaw’s perfect game
A strange season, you say. But it was a strange time,
And good health to all of us as we faithfully await
the return of the Youth of a Thousand Summers to our hearts

—  Bill Pruitt

Editor’s Notes:

¹ Why I don’t care that much about the Houston Ass — terisks* discusses the Houston Astros cheating controversy alluded to by Pruitt, recounting recent media commentary:

If you listen to sports talk radio, the baseball banter is all about the Houston Astros and their sign stealing cheating legacy.

On a recent WHAM Bob Matthews Show, Bob and guest Sal Maiorana referred to the Astros as the ASStros. No doubt the nickname will stick, but not as clever as the fan displaying a Houston Ast — erisks* sign at a spring training game — a commentary that the Astros’ 2017 World Series title should be marked with an in the record books.  Astros security made the fan take down the placard, inspiring the quip: the Astros are still stealing signs.

The New York Post ran a story about opposing fans bringing and bashing trash cans behind home plate and how stadium security might respond when the stagy gesture becomes as common as the tomahawk chop.

In an April 9, 1965 exhibition game, Mickey Mantle hit the first home run in the Houston Christens Dome, later called the Astrodome. Along with AstroTurf, the space age dome also featured the “Astrolite,” the first animated scoreboard. From Why I don’t care that much about the Houston Ast — erisks*

A little more seriously, will the Astros be brushed back and beanballed by opposing pitchers? If so, will MLB prosecute hard — beanballs can ruin careers — or look the other way at such vigilante justice?

The thing is I care, but not that much. I’ve realized I don’t care that much because I never cared about the Astros.

² I’m cutting Bill some slack when he projects the Dodgers having a 99.02 winning percentage. The closest I could find was Arizona State, runner up to USC in the 1972 College World Series.

Team        Year   W  L T  Pct.
Arizona St. 1972 64 6 0 .914

³ As seen in Looking through the glass half full, the 2020 baseball preview, Street & Smith’s also predicts the Bums will lose the World Series.

Third time is the charm; Pruitt tells us what will happen: “Pennant Race ’19 in Eight Sestets and a Couplet”

Street and Smith’s is back and so is Bill Pruitt with “Pennant Race 18: Curses Laid and Lifted”

Pruitt breaks new ground with “The Pennant Races in Rhyming Couplets.” Keeps eyes on the Talker baseball prediction prize.

Looking through the glass half full, the 2020 baseball preview

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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