Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Seamus Heaney hits the sports page

Zounds, what poet is this who haunteth the New York Times sports pages?

It's been a long time since I've opened the Times sports section, but there it was at lunch. So I picked it up, and lo, was launched into the green fields of the mind by a certain Alan Schwarz:

PEORIA, Ariz. — At baseball’s heart lies one simple goal: to leave home and then return. Straying’s perils are instantly dispelled on contact with the place once left.

Ken Griffey Jr. and Jason Giambi, having squared that circle more than 2,700 times, are rounding into more terra firma this spring. Nine years after leaving for his home of Cincinnati, Griffey is rejoining th e Seattle Mariners — a franchise he breathed life into throughout the 1990s. Giambi, meanwhile, is returning to his old Oakland sandbox after seven turbulent years in New York.
Straying’s perils are instantly dispelled on contact with the place once left? Having squared that circle more than 2,700 times? Has Seamus Heaney got a day job?

Perhaps Mr. Schwarz found his muse in the men he covered. He records Griffey and Giambi each striking very personal notes of eulogy upon their returns:
“I was raised in Cincinnati, but I grew up here,” Griffey said Saturday at his welcome-back unveiling at the Mariners’ camp here. A few miles away at the Athletics’ complex in Tempe, Giambi said of his Yankees interlude: “I feel like I was away at college and am coming home. The bed feels just a little bit better.”
O Ancient Mariner! O tale-chasin' Jason! Odysseus himself couldn't have put it better.

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