Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic poem "Casey at the Bat" is perhaps the greatest baseball story of all time. Period.
The only possible criticism one could make of the story is the lack of personality exhibited by the titular titan, Casey.
Casey is shown to take the game seriously, but beneath his muscular exterior he is simply a nice guy. And that is really, really, boring.
With that in mind, I humbly submit a slightly modified version of the story, featuring the most tragically misunderstood player in the history of baseball—Milton Bradley.
The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Chi-Town nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when A-Ram died at first, and Ther-ot did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest,
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Bradley could get but a whack at that—
We'd put up even money, now, with Bradley at the bat.
Soto preceded Bradley, as did too Soriano,
But the former was no Mauer and the latter no Morneau;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Bradley’s getting to the bat.
But Al let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Geo, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Soto safe at second and 'Fons a-hugging third.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Bradley, Milton Bradley, was advancing to the bat.
There was fire in Bradley’s eyes as he stepped into his place;
There was rage in Bradley’s heart and a smirk on Bradley’s face.
As he aimed toward the pitcher the tobacco that he spat
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Bradley at the bat.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Bradley stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped —
"That was high,” said Bradley. "Strike one," the umpire said.
”ARE YOU BLIND?” screamed Bradley, “I mean really, WHAT THE $#&@!?”
He turned to glare at the umpire, who, in turn, turned to duck.
He threw his hands up to the sky, awaiting help from Lou
But Piniella couldn’t help him now—he’d been tossed in inning two.
With a grin of Hellish fury Bradley stepped back to the box;
The next pitch, he was sure, he would hit ten city blocks
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
Bradley watched it miss outside; the umpire said, "Strike two."
"RACIST!” Bradley screamed at him. The ump said nothing back.
It didn’t seem to matter that the pitcher, too, was black.
To the ump, he said “This game is fixed,”; to the pitcher, “You, take note,
I’m gonna smack this next pitch right back down your #$%@#$% throat.”
The sneer still rests on Bradley’s lip, his teeth still clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And Bradley screams and shouts and swears as the ball hits his elbow.
Up steps the hero, Jakey Fox, with courage in his face
Meanwhile Bradley curses the pitcher from a few feet off first base.
Chicago rises—jumping, cheering, shouting, standing tall
But it all becomes a hush as the pitcher throws the ball
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
But from the Wrigley bleachers there comes just a feeble cough;
There is no joy in Chi-Town—Milton Bradley’s been picked off.