Results: NotGraphs Villanelle Challenge

pic somewhat related

It was an emotional weekend at NotGraphs Staff Headquarters in Kamloops, British Columbia. Tears were shed, throats were punched, and the situation grew desperate when Eno Sarris poured out all the Kokanee in a fit of beer-righteous rage. Somehow, in the eleventh hour, a hasty and ill-advised compromise was hammered out, and we can now declare the results of the mercifully completed Villanelle Challenge.

Separate winners were selected from the staff and from the readership. The latter will have the honor of having their poem read aloud during a subsequent episode of FanGraphs Audio by none other than the until-this-moment-unaware Carson Cistulli, while Dayn Perry shudders as the structured rhyme violates his delicate sensibilities. They will also receive, via postal mail delivery, a 1983 Topps Von Hayes baseball card in Very Good condition, retailing at $0.03. The winner of the staff division will win a Dick Allen shrinkydink, which is naturally priceless.

Without further ado, the envelope:

Grand Prize (Staff): David Temple, for his characterization of the human condition with Nick Punto, One Time, Tried to Break His Bat.

Honorable Mention (Staff): Carson Cistulli for the the subtle social critique of Regarding Who Isn’t the Boss of Me.

Grand Prize (Readers): Dara Lind, for her retelling of Turgenev’s First Love, in I Pouted at Jacoby Ellsbury.

Honorable Mentions (Readers):Mike B’s semi-self-referential Villanesque Lament and John Loughney’s timeless (if not timely) Villanelle for Mike Mussina both played the heartstrings like professional lyrists.

Congratulations to the award winners, and to everyone who was willing to brave the villanelle, the poetic equivalent of self-flagellation. And thank you to all of you for getting into the spirit of this heavy-handed highbrow exercise. Included below are links to all reader-submitted poems, in alphabetical order, for your enjoyment.

A Look at Old Baseball Cards: RA Rowe

A Villanelle for Mike Mussina: John Loughney

A Villanesque Lament: Mike B

Defeating Blachman’s How They Roll: JRM

Embers: Aaron (UK)

For Each First Baseman Signed, Another Gone: Dara Lind

I Pouted at Jacoby Ellsbury: Dara Lind

Miguel Cabrera Raises His Trophy: Ortho Tds

On Brandon McCarthy’s Head, As Well As Its Contents: Sienna Zielinger

The Great Bruce Chen: Samy Dangerfield

Villanelle Plushdamentals: Aaron Eller

Will the Mariners Ever Be Good Again: Kyle Davis

 
 
 
 
 

A Look at Old Baseball Cards: RA Rowe

How many Luis Polonias gone
How many lost Todd Pratts
For every Ruth, Gibson, Bonds?

Brothers of clay and pentagon
Seed shells and tar stained bats.
Whose stars are returned as time goes on

And the sunning seats before the lawn
Fill with epochs in squatcho’d hats
So a Kozma can thrill the vagrant throng.

The seventh is split. They sing the song.
A pack of sharps against a house of flats.
The last few frames pass into yawns.

Kurt Manwaring, Terrence Long,
Archi Cianfrocco and the Blanco catch
From prospect’s promise to skipper’s pawn
Til time pulps the cardboard we keep them on.

A Villanelle for Mike Mussina: John Loughney

Do not betray us to the Yanks,
Beloved ace that we call “Moose,”
Remain, and be sustained on thanks!

‘Twas through the draft you joined our ranks–
The pride of Stanford, ours to choose–
Now do not quit us for those Yanks!

Before you batters all draw blanks,
It is so rare for you to lose!
Remain, and be sustained on thanks.

Although their money fills more banks–
You’ll find our spending less than loose–
Do not betray us to the Yanks!

Hall exclusion? ‘Twould be a prank
To snub one so unmarked by juice!
Remain, and be sustained on thanks.

There’s no good reason, we’ll be frank!
But let’s negotiate a truce.
Do not leave for those stanky Yanks,
Remain! And be sustained on thanks.

A Villanesque Lament: Mike B

NotGraphs o’errun with villanelles
Whose potency is plain to see
But none for famous Willie Wells

The poetry so florid swells
The baseblog with gallimaufry –
NotGraphs o’errun with villanelles

Each verse a winsome story tells
Reflecting perspicacity
But none for famous Willie Wells

Though some may sulk where dullness dwells
We perpetrate a rhyming spree
NotGraphs o’errun with villanelles

Refrains that ring as silver bells
Are offered to the devotee
But none for famous Willie Wells

Deft poesy foul mood dispels
As will a turn of repartee
NotGraphs o’errun with villanelles
But none for famous Willie Wells

Defeating Blachman’s How They Roll: JRM

Defeating Blachman’s how they roll
Because his choices aren’t good
And those choices take a toll

They got Andrus for charcoal
And that was the best they could
Defeating Blachman’s how they roll

Trade thoughs go up the flagpole
AJax now gone for firewood
And those choices take a toll

Like all laywers he has no soul
They seek to stop him and do good
Defeating Blachman’s how they roll

He loses, though he’s on FG’s payroll
The Cameronian advice not understood
And those choices take a toll

So now it’s them I must extol
Until sued for all the falsehood
Defeating Blachman’s how they roll
And those choices take a toll

Embers: Aaron (UK)

Will Washington go with LaRoche or Morse?
Who will pay for Michael Bourn?
The offseason drama has yet to run its course.

Is no-one keen on aging righty Lohse?
The market for some is awfully forlorn.
Will Washington go with LaRoche or Morse?

Hamilton can now afford another Porsche;
The Dodgers paid for Greinke’s 09 form:
But the offseason drama has yet to run its course.

“Napoli’s hip a problem” (unnamed source).
Rivera’s back – despite the ligament torn.
Will Washington go with LaRoche or Morse?

The Blue Jays traded well: a rising force.
Will Stanton be Miami’s last trade pawn?
The offseason drama has yet to run its course.

Will Haren still be an innings-eating horse?
The hot stove is yet a-glowing warm.
So will Washington go with LaRoche or Morse?
The offseason drama has yet to run its course.

For Each First Baseman Signed, Another Gone: Dara Lind

For each first baseman signed, another gone;
In time we all learn this. This year, the Nats:
LaRoche is signed; Mike Morse, un-taken on.

A franchise, snakelike, sheds to carry on,
The clubhouse only racks so many hats;
For each first baseman signed, another gone.

And sure, when soppy sentiment’s withdrawn
for GM logic (roster slots and stats)–
LaRoche is signed; Mike Morse, un-taken on.

But what of at-bat A-Ha singalong?
The high note’s echo (jubilant, if flat)?
For each first baseman signed, another gone.

It’s not “club leader stays, fan favorite gone.”
Front offices can’t operate like that…
LaRoche is signed; Mike Morse, un-taken on.

You can’t have both: Gold Glove and Beastly brawn.
There’s plenty of good songs to sing at bat…
For each first baseman signed, another gone;
LaRoche is signed; Mike Morse, un-taken on.

I Pouted at Jacoby Ellsbury: Dara Lind

I pouted at Jacoby Ellsbury
As he retreated from a strikeout, swung.
The camera kept it for posterity.

A Fenway date. I quashed my enmity
To please a Sox-fan boyfriend. I was young!
I pouted at Jacoby Ellsbury.

But NESN’s lens found moment’s frailty,
Beamed pout to bars–to DVRs!–far-flung:
The camera kept it for posterity.

I’m not that kind of fan/girl, usually.
No park, no man can hold my heckling tongue!
…Yet, pouted at Jacoby Ellsbury.

Young love so rarely outlives rivalry.
But any flickered moment can be hung:
The camera kept it for posterity.

It’s funny what’s retained in memory.
The ex? He has no recollection. None.
I pouted at Jacoby Ellsbury;
The camera kept it for posterity.

Miguel Cabrera Raises His Trophy: Ortho Tds

Miguel Cabrera raises his trophy.
‘The Triple Crown’, a triple king is crowned.
Mike Trout, the runner-up for MVP.

Cabrera strives, and ultimately he
Will triumph, as adoring cries resound.
Miguel Cabrera raises his trophy.

In Anaheim, birth of a prodigy,
Possessing power, speed and skill unbound.
Mike Trout, the runner-up for MVP.

Across the years, what milestones will we see?
How often does this record come around?
Miguel Cabrera raises his trophy.

But what of defense, what of OBP?
And baserunning, these things of worth new-found?
Mike Trout, the runner-up for MVP.

The old tradition makes its grand decree,
And youth must lightly tread on holy ground.
Miguel Cabrera raises his trophy.
Mike Trout, the runner-up for MVP.

On Brandon McCarthy’s Head, As Well As Its Contents: Sienna Zielinger

Protect the head of BMac, that we must
His cutter set the O.co mound ablaze
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

His smarts, they said, could lift us from our dust
And folks advised, when him they did appraise
Protect the head of BMac, that we must

And when, one fateful day, he got concussed
We crafted wretched tweets and spurned replays
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

Eyes damp, we went about our lives nonplussed
We held our breaths and muttered through our days
Protect the head of BMac, that we must

He’s back! they cried, and Jane Lee’d and Sue Sluss’d
He watched with us Texas and los Tigres
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

So why AZ? This explanation’s just
His brain’s still fucked, is why he left our A’s
Protect the head of BMac, that we must
Of our dear A’s, he was the upper crust

The Great Bruce Chen: Samy Dangerfield

Here Ye! Here Ye! the great Bruce Chen
An average man, better than us all
Mortal among Gods, Man among Men!

Told ten jokes in a minute, then gave up ten
Threw at the batsman, nearly started a brawl
Here Ye! Here Ye! the great Bruce Chen!

Like Rivera, Mendoza his countrymen
Conceived underneath the panama canal
Panamanian amongst gods, Man among Men

Starting Opening Day Once Again!?!
Good to give up at least one Longball.
Here Ye! Here Ye! The Great Bruce Chen.

Half his puns have Confucius and Zen
The last man we’d think, to pitch deep in the fall
Mortal among gods, Royal among men

From the shores of the canal, to Billions of Yen
And the eleven teams which he answered the call.
Here Ye! Here Ye! The Great Bruce Chen!
A man among gods, god amongst men.

Villanelle Plushdamentals: Aaron Eller

Nyger Jamid Morgan is not crazy.
As Tony Plush implied, it was all in his head,
And Mr. Gotta B Startin Somthin can only agree.

Tickling outfield hits while calling Pujols a “she”
Provided a shared cover of Sports Illustrated.
Nyger Jamid Morgan is not crazy.

Grapefruit League brouhaha led by Mr. Eezzy Brezzy,
Though he claims Volstad started,
And Mr. Gotta B Startin Somthin can only agree.

Replaced by Gomez due to a low babip.
Apparently more plushdamentals are needed.
Nyger Jamid Morgan is not crazy.

“I’m a controversial figure. My friends either dislike me
Or hate me,” Toni Morrison said.
And Mr. Gotta B Startin Somthin can only agree

“Antonio Picante non-tendered next season, NOT #2 MILWALKEE!”
T. Dot’s Twitter account pled.
Nyger Jamid Morgan is not crazy
And Mr. Gotta B Startin Somthin can only agree.

Will the Mariners Ever Be Good Again: Kyle Davis

Will the Mariners ever be good again?
It’s been eleven since one-sixteen
We wait in the dark and in the rain

There has been boredom, there has been pain
Joy and hope so rarely seen
Will the Mariners ever be good again?

Bavasi turned us all insane
He should’ve read the book by Billy Beane
We wait in the dark and in the rain

Losing baseball, more of the same
The outfield grass no longer green
Will the Mariners ever be good again?

Can Dustin Ackley save the game?
The three young Lords to join the King?
We wait in the dark and in the rain

Heads hung low, heavy with shame
How long has it really been?
Will the Mariners ever be good again?
We wait in the dark and in the rain




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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he served as former Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.


6 Responses to “Results: NotGraphs Villanelle Challenge”

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  1. John says:

    Congratulations to Mike B and Dara Lind, whose beautiful villanelles are both objectively better than mine. Congratulations to all of us for taking a stand in favor of rhyming poetry, which Carson Cistulli slanderously misrepresents as unpleasing to the American ear.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Wow, Dara Lind’s winning villanelle is legitimately a good poem.

    Applause all round.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Turns out some of us can both read AND write.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Dara says:

    Awww, Internet!

    I promise to display my trophy proudly.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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