Monday, September 04, 2006

Lord Hamlet at the Ball Park: The Lost Scene

Another “lost scene” from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has been discovered, this time behind a pickle barrel in Grimsby’s Grocery and Fish Bait Store just off the interstate. As with Lord Hamlet at the Deli, its authenticity is in question, but all are in agreement on one thing: it smells to high heavens! You be the judge:

Act III, Scene ii, the box seat section directly behind home plate at Fenway Park

Enter Hamlet, Ophelia, Horatio, Polonius, Claudius, Gertrude, courtiers and attendants

HAMLET: Have we our seats located, my good Horatio?

HORATIO: Ay, my lord, or so our tickets stubs declare.

CLAUDIUS: Of this game “baseball” that the multitudes so love,
I will ask thee straight, my cousin Hamlet:
Doth it merit such devotion as this
That the rabble should squeak and gibber
In terms wild and most passionate
As if their very souls were entwined in the outcome?

HAMLET: Indeed, thou mayest rely well upon their devotion.
Baseball is, as t’were, a pageant of life,
Wherein one may see in miniature
Affairs of great pith and moment
Which daily rock this sore distracted globe.
Each team is, in allegiance to its hue, a warlike nation,
Each player a soldier or statesman,
Each contest a battle pitting the ambition and
Aspirations of one country ’gainst the other.
Yea, the world is a ball field,
And all the men in it merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
Their times at bat, their RBIs and their slugging percentages.
In his career, a ballplayer plays many roles,
His designations being seven.
First we see the rookie,
Uncouth and and hazed by his teammates,
Desperate to stay where fortune hath delivered him;
Next comes the sophomore, his talent tried,
His spot in the batting order assured;
Free agency then follows,
Wherein, according to his addition,
Great remuneration may come a ballplayer’s way;
Then comes the ten-and-five player,
Who hath ten years in the league played
And five of those with the same team, and
Holds great sway in how management may treat him;
His powers declining, the next stage
Finds a ballplayer the DH or pinch hitter,
His value on defense much diminished;
Then our ballplayer,
Should his wisdom and people skills prevail,
Becomes manager
Marshaling his troops and sending them forth,
Deciding when to steal, when to
Hit-and-run and when to change pitchers
The game and season slave to his word.
His last designation is that of bench coach,
The ballplayer’s big manly voice,
Turning toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.
The team, but babes to him now,
Listen to his wise saws and oft-repeated tales of times past
With knowing winks and rolling eyes
As he lapses by stages into mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

OPHELIA: O my lord! — but look what hath appeared before you!

HORATIO: Start my eyes! ’Tis an apparition from beyond our world
Or my mind much deceives me!

HAMLET: Is it my father? Is it the king?

HORATIO: A king he be, or sultan as some say
Bedecked not in robes of purple
But in flannel pinstripe.

GHOST: List! List, list, O list!

HAMLET: I attend, noble spirit, say on!

GHOST: I am he who was the Bambino
Whose potent bat of wood could
Send a seaméd horsehide sphere
Punching through the blue welkin
And into the reaches of eagles.
One season did I launch that bleachéd orb
Some sixty times past the field of play
Where no ballplayer could touch it
And trotted with mincing step
Round the diamond to great acclaim.
Four and thirty years didst my record thus stand
’Til another knight, who like I in pinstripe clad,
Bested my feat by one in terms most commendable.
But now, but now — I can hardly speak of it—

HAMLET: Tell us, O ghost, I beseech you — say what grieves you!

GHOST: Three usurpers — not men, but augmentations of men,
Not as God designed them — who through a forgéd process hath
In exchange for their souls and honor and consciences clean
Transformed themselves from laboratory rats to Hercules all.

HAMLET: My prophetic soul! ’Tis as I suspected!
He speaks of Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds!

GHOST: Sosa, but so-so; McGuire, but a liar; Bonds, but a con…

HORATIO: An honest and clear-sighted ghost he is, my lord, I’ll warrant it.

HAMLET: But what is to be done, O Bambino, I prithee tell us.

GHOST: I charge thee to compel the commissioner —
Who, though his name be Selig,
Hath not sea legs for these tempest-tossed times —
To hang an asterisk by their names;
And this asterisk should be a large one,
Magenta in color like an envenomed wound,
Unsightly to behold, a smirch upon the page;
And in token of which I have already lifted my curse
Upon this team whose crimson hose I once wore,
And I name as my inheritor Big Papi,
For his strength comes from rice and beans
Much like mine did from hot dogs and beer.

HAMLET: I swear I shall bring all I have to bear upon this quest.

GHOST: Remember . . . remember . . . an asterisk…

HAMLET: O what a wrong there is to be righted
When honor is stained and integrity blighted
Onward and from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!



Blogger Claire said...

Excellent! I haven't the mental capacity at this hour after a Labor Day excursion to check whether you wrote this inspired verse in the true iambic pentameter. But whether iambic or otherwise, absolutely brilliant!

7:52 PM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

I think 'Bill' considered it as an alternative version to the theatre analogy - but later decided to leave THIS one out as in his time, fewer people knew what baseball really is about.
(I'm sending my humble apologies towards W.S. for calling him like that....)

2:28 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

An asterisk it shall be, and a good call. Funny as usual. I counted syllables for a while, and it seemed like you were trying for a while to keep to ten!

5:17 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I haven't the mental capacity at this hour after a Labor Day excursion to check whether you wrote this inspired verse in the true iambic pentameter."

I thought iambic pentameter was an Olympic event, like the 200 meter relay.

"but later decided to leave THIS one out as in his time, fewer people knew what baseball really is about."

Yeah, maybe rounders would have worked, but not baseball.

"I counted syllables for a while, and it seemed like you were trying for a while to keep to ten!"

Ten is too high for me to count.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Amen, Baseball Soul Brother, amen, I say to thee.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Flash said...

You know, I believe in reincarnation...Nice to have you in this time William! Yours words delight me so!

1:44 PM  
Blogger Chloe said...

I just got home from the Cubs game... we lost 6-5. Thank you for giving me something baseball-related to smile about!

9:08 PM  
Anonymous fringes said...

1,000 times better than my sports posts.

Go, Ryan Howard! No asterisk and the Maris family is rooting for him.

Bonds a con indeed. I hate that guy.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Ben O. said...

Hello!? , , , where else are ya gonna derivest thou energy from, but the freakin' hot dog.

It goes withoutest saying.

Ben O.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Shatterfist said...

Worthy of production. I wish everything I read online was this good - instead of the crap I actually wind up reading!

...Did Polonius have any lines? Who cares!

8:05 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Wow, that can't be an easy task. Well done.

10:42 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...


4:44 PM  
Anonymous dreadmouse said...

Very, very nicely said. I completely agree with you, too. There should be some recognition of the realities of the situation in baseball today.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Farrago said...

Where do you find the frikkin' time?!

10:55 AM  

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