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March 7, 2006

Why Edgar Allan Poe Couldn't Play Fantasy Baseball

A Poem

by Keith Woolner

With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I waited, weak and weary
For the ballgames to be finished on the distant western shore.
While I started nearly dozing, with my eyes so slightly closing
I flicked on the tube, supposing to catch the highlights, one or more
Grabbed the clicker, settled in, and tuned to channel thirty-four,
A certain channel I adore.

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the young September
Of that fantasy pennant horserace, which I would win, for this I swore.
From the first time I did enter, I most eagerly watched SportsCenter
And its erudite presenter, whose sage wisdom I did store
For the rare and radiant anchor whom the angels brought to fore
And named him "Berman" evermore.

He covered every highlight, whether day or night or twilight
My trusty, husky white knight always covered every score.
Every player, every stat line. Be still my heart! I just might flat line!
I felt as if on cloud nine, when Herr Berman took the floor.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
And turning to the ghostly image on the tube I did implore.
"Sir, the fact is I've been waiting, now so long my teeth are grating.
I beg you! Please! Start stating my roto team results galore.
My team the Rally Ravens I must have the answers for.
Tell me whom they did outscore?"

Deep into the small screen peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams that every batter on my team went 4-for-4.
But not a word was spoken, and the stillness gave no token.
Was the television broken? My trusty box was now done for?
Then it flickered and it crackled showing scenes of home décor.
Just a commercial, and nothing more.

Then there he was appearing, while my eye was slightly tearing,
The screen with Berman's visage, just as I had pleaded for.
And as he starting talking, of hits and runs and walks and balking
Still all the while he's hawking that brilliant shtick he's famous for,
Those clever clever nicknames, used a thousands times before,
Kept me waiting nevermore.

The rundown had now started; the ups and downs were swiftly charted
And players of my heart did on the screen begin to pour.
Here now is Jason Kendall, who will not a pitch mishandle
And once saved us all from Grendel, with his bat forever sure.
Rolled the game film of his at bats, gathered from the sports press corps
Quoth the Berman: "0-for-4"

Stunned I sat to hear so plainly that my catcher so ungainly
Swung his bat so very vainly, and could not hit no more.
Crestfallen, seeking haven, I turned next to Johnny Damon
With beard and locks unshaven, abandoned razors at the store.
Surely Johnny's bat and ball had since developed some rapport.
Quoth the Berman: "0-for-4"

Ensconced, I was so puzzled, and so a beer I guzzled.
Why was my lumber muzzled? Were my troops not set for war?
I checked out my PECOTA, for Silver's wisdom rivals Yoda.
And while I sipped a soda, I checked every SUM() and CORR()
No! Everything was perfect, duly mined from data ore.
I do swear on Davenport.

Bah! These other books and journals (not Prospectus but external)
Did contain but not a kernel of the truth I had asked for.
I shall do no more relying, on a source forever lying,
And so I sent them flying: Shandler, Sickels, Waggoner.
Defiled and torn asunder, flitted past both desk and door
As they settled on the floor.

But Berman was now speaking, yet his voice was merely squeaking
Of sports I was not seeking, and mostly wanted to ignore.
Strange games these men were playing, so bizarre it was dismaying.
It could have been crocheting, so odd these games they opted for.
Some on ice, or bowls, or clay, or even on a parquet floor.
Speak of them nevermore!

Behold returns the diamond, they were merely putting time in,
I forgave them of their crime in showing other sports galore.
They told of Mike Matheny, O! My precious catching genie!
Though his bat is but a weenie, his game-calling I adore.
Yet my soul was left unguarded, mauled, forsaken, bruised and sore
When quoth the Berman: "0-for-4"

Thus I sat so still repressing, but no syllable expressing
The rage I felt distressing, as it chilled me to the core.
My face was so contorted, to see my hopes so quickly thwarted
While the TV set reported another outcome of my corps:
The fate of Julio Franco, ancient, eldritch king of yore.
Quoth the Berman: "0-for-4"

Ever faithful Tony Womack! Speed and grace you never will lack!
I will buy you a new spice rack, if even once today you score!
But once again disaster, like fabled John LeMaster.
Those hurlers must be faster, for every time his bat did snore.
On whose sinking ship my heart did plunge unto the ocean floor.
Quoth the Berman: "0-for-4"

Rey Ordonez! Great Defender! Web gem highlights never-ender!
In your comely saintly splendor, please save a fan hardcore!
Though your skills may show some rusting, in the clutch it's you I'm trusting
And though I smell disgusting, I humbly truly do implore!
And with quiet desperation, I turned to face the tube once more.
Quoth the Berman: "0-for-4"

"Be that word our sign of parting, evil fiend!" I shrieked upstarting
"I'd prefer some John Kruk farting than your vicious lies, you whore!"
I ripped the TV from the cable; threw it down off from the table
Though you think me so unstable, please consider this was war!
It crashed and broke while spewing sparks and smoke and glass and more
And it died upon the floor.

My anger grew much hotter; my brow would need a blotter
Was I the victim of a plotter, scheming from some distant shore?
I could picture them just sneering! Did they fear my team was nearing?
My room would need a clearing of every piece of baseball lore.
Every cooked-up, bogus scribbling could not be trusted anymore.
I cast them down upon the floor.

In glee I set the fire, like a giant funeral pyre
How I wish I had a lyre, so I could dance across the floor!
But just then amidst my caper, right before it turned to vapor
I thought I glimpsed a paper, the Ravens roster I adore.
The names of all my players across the burning sheet it wore
And "HACKING MASS" the title bore.

"Fool!" said I, while groaning. The players I was owning
Were supposed to stir such moaning, when perusing the box score!
And as I watched the burning of the fruits my whole life earning
Seems the lesson I was learning, was a bitter painful chore.
For the truth lies scorched both in my mind as well as on the floor
I must play this, nevermore.

Keith Woolner is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Keith's other articles. You can contact Keith by clicking here

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