I just got done watching the Home Run Derby. This year, being the end of the greatest stadium in the world, Yankee Stadium, it was held in New York, the greatest city in the world. And Josh Hamilton didn't win.
In the first round, the former drug addict and first-round pick for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and now Texas Ranger, showed why he leads the majors with 95 RBIs. He proved that he is, by far, the best story in baseball. A man who did not play at all from 2003-2005, after getting sucked into drugs, hit 28 first-round homers. In my living room in Brazil, I stood up and cheered. I almost cried. When interviewed, he deferred to his friend and coach of 71 years, who had just pitched almost a gamesworth of pitches to the man of the hour.
Josh, obviously fatigued, could only put up three home runs in the final round, and bowed out to Justin Morneau, another amazing hitter from the American League.
I was talking to my sister Sarah about another talent who went through hell, Charles Bukowski. The man, who, after writing prodigiously, stopped publishing for almost 20 years, was "re-discovered" at the age of 45, and put out some of the greatest poetry I have ever read. He wrote about people whose lives were not the stuff of Masterpiece Theatre, or Sense and Sensibility. They lived in flophouses, drank Olde English and bet on horses. They loved women who knoew they were failures. Bukowski had sat in dark rooms, and stared at walls that were peeling.
And I guarentee that Josh Hamilton has, too. After his amazing first round, he answered a question from a perfect-bottled blonde interviewer from ESPN by saying that he was just happy to be alive. He got a standing ovation in Yankee Stadium. And he reminded me of another guy who I just recently got into: Bukowski. Here is The Night I Was Going to Die. I'd like to dedicate it to Josh Hamilton and everyone who looks themselves in the eye and doesn't turn away at the ugliness.
the night I was going to die
I was sweating on the bed
and I could hear the crickets
and there was a cat fight outside
and I could feel my soul dropping down through the
and just before it hit the floor I jumped up
I was almost too weak to walk
but I walked around and turned on all the lights
and then I went back to bedand dropped it down again
I was upturning on all the lights
I had a 7-year-old daughter
and I felt sure she wouldn't want me dead
otherwise it wouldn't have mattered
but all that night
nobody came by with a beer
my girlfriend didn't phone
all I could hear were the crickets and it was
and I kept working at it
getting up and down
until the first of the sun came through the window
through the bushes
and then I got on the bed
and the soul stayed inside at last
now people come by
beating on the doors and windows
the phone rings
the phone rings again and again
I get great letters in the mail
hate letters and love letters.
everything is the same again.