“The Word Is Lachrymose.”

At 17-40, the Baltimore Orioles have the worst record in baseball. They have won just two of their last 10 games. I don’t even remember the wins. All I remember are the losses … every single day a loss … an endless parade of gloomy, lifeless, uncaring losses, like the endless days of rain that have dumped some 20 inches in our pitiful mushy yard since this pitiful baseball season began.

This mud pond used to be the road to our house. Better bring your swim fins!

Hey, I know the rules. Someone has to have the worst record in baseball. I just wish it wasn’t the O’s.

Public Domain, 1901

Grantland Rice In His Ball Playing Days. Vanderbilt Captain and Shortstop. 1901

Dear Grantland Rice, Legendary sportswriter, poet, and understander of loss, futility, and baseball’s broken dreams, what say you?

I often sit and wonder as I light a black cigar.
Just why some strange peculiar things are often as they are –
I wonder why the sky is blue and why the night is black –
I wonder if I’ll ever get a certain “Ten Spot” back.

That was a hundred years ago. I do not smoke cigars.
But, there are still peculiar things that stay just as they are —
I wonder what Grantland Rice would think of these listless O’s –
I think he’d shake his head and say, “The word is lachrymose.”


I wonder why it is that pay days are so few,
While bills, no matter where you turn, are always promptly due;
I wonder why I made that “flush” a night or so ago
When someone else was laying back with “four kings” in a row.


I wonder what it’s like to cheer for winning runs, wahoo!
Like Yankees fans, and Red Sox fans, and Astros fans all do.
I wonder how I ended up tied to these lousy O’s
Please tell me, what is winning like? Cuz I no longer know.


Rice’s verses are from The Tennessean, 1907.

The Baseball Bloggess’s response is from this laptop in the living room, 2018.

Public Domain

Grantland Rice In His Sportswriting Days.

In 1906, Rice wrote a response to Ernest Thayer’s wildly popular poem Casey At The Bat. Thayer wrote his famous poem in 1888 …

You know the one. The one that ends like this,

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

Rice’s response, Casey’s Revenge, tells of a game that came a week later in Mudville. Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two out. The Mudville 9 need “three to tie the game.”

Casey steps up to bat …

Above the fence in center field in rapid whirling flight
The sphere sailed on – the blot grew dim and then was lost to sight.
Ten thousand hats were thrown in air, ten thousand threw a fit,
But no one ever found the ball that mighty Casey hit.

O, somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun,
And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun!
And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall,
But Mudville hearts are happy now, for Casey hit the ball.

Revolutionary Soup, a restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia will give you a “poetry discount” if you can recite five lines of poetry from one of their poets of the month.  Maybe, some day, Grantland Rice.

In the meantime, there are 105 games left in this season. And, 105 chances for the Orioles to remember what it’s like to win a game.

And, maybe the blasted rain will stop.

20 thoughts on ““The Word Is Lachrymose.”

  1. I have no claim to be a poet:
    “Roses are red, violets are blue.
    If I had your face, I’d be in a zoo.”
    Is about the best I got (and I ripped that off from the old “US Acres” TV cartoons).
    But you’re pretty good, Bloggess.

  2. I’m listening to the Yankees and Orioles right now. Normally my friend and I would be in Baltimore at the game . We’re going in August, God willing . Adam Jones and Manny Machado don’t seem to be in a slump when they play the Yankees.

    • Adam Jones is the only Oriole who still seems to have a little fire in his belly. He’s the only Oriole I’m not mad at. Manny’s just being Manny and probably has had his locker packed up and ready to move since the first of May. :(

  3. I keep hoping each day I will see a win for you, but alas you have been stuck with that 17 for a long time. But I do offer to take your rain off your hands. Send it back, only make the clouds unload here, not the eastern plains! Thanks!

  4. O’s have a series with the Mets this week and somebody is going to have to win those games. Mets record looks better but don’t be deceived, most of the wins were in April.

    • Oh this makes me sad on so many levels. And, oh dear, Jose Bautista … the O’s may stink (and stink they do), but at least they didn’t sign Bautista. (Although the O’s are now sniffing around Hanley Ramirez, so who knows what desperation-crazy they still have in mind.)

  5. The O’s are SAD this year….VERY SAD. Lachrymose is my new vocab word. (Shhhh, looks like they may have a win tonight). We have fins, life jackets and we have our kayak, but we need it here :'(

    • You spoke too soon Lydia. “Looks like they may have a win” is a phrase that can only be used when an Orioles game has ended. Even then, I have to double-check the box score, just to make sure. “Looks like they may have a win before the season ends” is what you meant to say.

      Our basement has taken on more water … but we’re not nearly as wet and muddy as you are in Greene. I hope you’re hunkered down and doing ok on Lydia Mountain!

  6. As a Giants fan, I can only empathize- at least, I could last year, when it seemed that the team’s greatest talent was finding new and creative ways to lose, and the only question was, can they avoid losing 100 games. They did- barely.
    This year, things are a lot more interesting and unpredictable. They’re not going to make the playoffs, I’m sure, but they’re playing baseball and catching fire, sometimes.
    And, like so many of your readers, I’ve become a part time rooter for the Orioles- just for you, dear Blogess. May they bring a smile of wonder to your face often, before this season ends.

    • Thank you, John … to be honest, last night, as the Orioles fell apart playing the Yankees, I couldn’t take anymore futility and changed the channel to the women’s College World Series. To see teams playing with joy and spirit and spunk … oh my, it was so refreshing and wonderful!

  7. I am consistently amazed by the seeming connection between deep emotion and artistic creativity. As someone whose life has been impacted at different (and the same) times by care for a O’s/Giants/Twins triumvirate, I know your pain. Even the heavens are lacrymose. But your prose (as usual) and now poetry shine brightly. I wish I had answers (and fixes) in mind for how a whole team (exceptions noted) can exceed their “sell by” dates so emphatically. If only one could at least provide a ballpark figure as to when fortunes would change and rains would stop… Hang in there, Bloggess.

    • Awww … thank you for the good thoughts. I’ve studied a lot about team psychology and the science behind how an entire team can just lose heart and mojo. The Orioles are a textbook case … except for Adam Jones, who plays as hard and fully as ever. As for the rest of them … my heart is getting tired of being broken by a bunch of expensive nogoodniks.

      Although, should the fellas choose to go on a little win jag, I’ll be happy to come back and revise this comment! :)

      • Well, that was the thing that impressed me about last year’s Giants. Despite being in the running for “Worst Team in Baseball”, they never seemed to just give up. Maybe it was because, however they were doing at the moment, they were the “Three times World Champion Giants” (in a half-decade, no less), and there were still a lot of guys on the team wearing WS rings (off the field; don’t get me started about on-field “bling”). It just seemed like they were saying, “Well, hey, this sucks, but we still win a few and we’re having fun, and wait’ll next year”.
        Made it easier to hang with them, right down to the end of the season. Never could tell when they might get lucky…although, depending on your opponent to make game-losing mistakes gets old, after awhile. That happened, a lot.

  8. Your post inspired me Baseball Blogess (and I’m a Red Sox fan):

    Oh, where have gone the days of Brooks and Belanger and Blair?
    When Boog clubbed the ball and it was sure to stay fair
    Because that pill flew high as a bird (yes, that one) and hit nothing but air?
    And who can forget those seasons of Palmer and Cueller and McNally
    When the Orioles were on the winning tally of many a rally.
    And when they weren’t old Earl would kick the dirt and bend an ump’s ear
    And get tossed from the contest to a rousing good cheer?

    • OK, this is sheer awesomeness! And, for a Red Sox fan to be so kind to the Orioles makes it extra special poetliciously good. But, I have to edit one line, I hope you don’t mind. Here we go:

      And, who can forget those seasons of Palmer, Cuellar, Dobson, and McNally?

      There. Pat Dobson … the 20-win pitcher everyone forgets. Remembered.

      Now your poem is perfect!

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