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The Odyssey of Gerrit Cole

The wanderings of the new Odysseus, Cashman’s White Whale, brought to you in dactylic hexameter.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Yankees Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Sing to me, baseball gods! Sing of the wandering right-handed pitcher,

Gerrit his name, of the family Cole, who did travel throughout the

Land, as he sought The South Bronx, One-sixty-first Street, Yankee

Stadium. Numerous teams he joined — sat in their dugouts and donned their

Uniforms — always intent on securing a journey to baseball’s

Promised Land. Try he did, but Fate’s heaven-sent winds off course blew him,

Destined to wander the deep dark sea of the baseball transact’n tree.

Launch on the story, O Muse of the baseball gods, start at your leisure,

Sing for our time too.

Now in those days, all the rest, those whom Cashman the Ninja once did draft,

Plus those the Ninja acquired from a useless abundance of spare parts,

Fiery Chap, lefty Andrew, and aged Beltran, among oth’r ex-Yanks,

All had arrived in the Bronx, as the era of the Baby Bomb’rs began.

All had, except the first, Cole the Bruin, who once chose education,

A UCLA scholarship over the New York Yankees.

Three years later, the sixth day of June, when he vanquished the Bruins’ foes,

Brian’s White Whale set out, filled with deep longing for New York’s bright lights.

But though he longed for the Bronx, still detained he was, captive of Jeff and

Alex and AJ, lords of deceit, and the trash-banging Houston ‘Stros.

Now the appropriate time for the annual meeting of baseball’s

Kings and its Queens, an event known throughout the land, came, and concurrently

Met, as was custom in death as in life, the eternal baseball gods,

Settling the business of baseball and safeguarding Fate’s unavoidable

Wish. And spoke baseball’s old sire, the great Doubleday, the father of baseball,

“Time and again, and once more still besides, those called fans blame us, their gods,

Granting us blame for the failures of their teams, when their own manag’r

Opts to neglect his own closer, and loses a game Fate him decreed win.

Nay, ‘twas not us that sat Zack on the bench — Buck himself did, none else.”

Spoke the father of baseball, and nodded all their own assent too.

But then the Sultan of Swat, the great Babe Ruth, rose from his bat-filled

Throne and thus spoke winged words: “Father of Baseball, who rules both infield and

Grass, you do verily speak. But my heart pains for Cole, the great White Whale,

When I about him think, wandering over the dark deep trade seas,

Far off from pinstripes and his dearly beloved and destined team, New York.

Deep in the heart of hot Texas, in Houston he weeps for shores northern.”

Nodding assent, a great clamor among the gods rose, for the White Whale

They had watched, greatly invested, for Fate had decreed him the final

Piece, the great prophesied keystone upon which the Baby Bombers

Might at last step up, the next great Yankees dynasty at last.

“Sultan, I tell you,” so spoke the great Doubleday, who swiftly replied now,

His mind like to the Babe’s, “soon, before the week draws to its finish,

Cole will be headed, as Fate does decree, to the Bronx once and for all.”

Turning to Curt Flood, who was the first free agent, he spoke thus,

“You who first set free the players when you did so challenge the baneful

Clause reservation, go forth to dry San Di/ego, and tell Cole

Heaven-sent aid has come, his prayers heard, now the time is indeed nigh,

He will escape from the trash-bangers, set out upon the deep sea of

Free agency, where he will find guides to help his way homeward.

Thus Curt Flood did descend from the heights of Mount Baseball, and he flew

Swift of foot. He stopped first in the Houston ‘Stros’ bullpen, where he found

Cole still there, warmed up but not used, as Washington won their first World Series.

“Gerrit!” he yelled, “do despair no more! By the gods you are now free!” And

Up he sprang shouting, as he threw down his hat, “O hurrah now I’m ready

To choose where I’m at!” Having received what he needed from Curt Flood,

Cole at once set sail.

Dark and foreboding the sea of free agency stirred, but upon it

He leaped, nary an ounce of concern, but soon he did discover

Not all wished good fortune, for they wanted Cole’s right arm themselves.

Angels and Dodgers and Giants and more did pursue him across the

Deep dark sea. But then, one day, he washed up on shore, reaching

Lands unlike any he prev’ously visited. Gold were its beaches,

Money on trees there grew, which held embedded on their trunks

Business and law school degrees. And upon his arrival a man saw

Him and said, “Greetings, good sir, my name’s Casey Close. What, pray, brings you here?

We see very few guests on the Island of Baseball Agents.”

Winged words Cole in response spoke, telling his story to Close and

All who came hither to hear the tale told by the stranger who had come.

“Gerrit’s my name, of the family Cole. I have wandered the baseball

Tree of transactions, seeking to find my true home in the South Bronx.

When first I set sail eight years ago, I stumbled upon ships

Captained by Neal of the family Huntington. Calling out to me,

He said, “Come up on board, sir, and join us, perhaps, for our motley

Crew could use good right arms such as yours in our lackluster young staff.”

Seeing no others besides his swift ships, I then settled down, quickly

I up and rose through the ranks, and soon I set sights on a choice of my

Own. So I plund’red and played, like a veritable Captain Jack Sparrow,

But then one day, as the plunder had shrunk, then my captain, while docked at

Port Offseason, established me as a prize to be won, for

Captains to take in exchange for their champions. While my time plund’ring

I quite enjoyed, in truth I hoped Cashman the Ninja would send his

Champions, bringing me home. Nay, ‘twas not so, Jeff’s champs won the

Day, and to exile in Houston I went, Chance insufficient for Capt’n Neal.

Monstrous were they, but not brutes, for technology’s more by far monstrous

When it’s deployed for nefarious purpose, and indeed nefarious

They were, as sacred signs they sure did plunder, more Pirates than Space Men.

Even so, we not, in spite of our failings immoral, could win that

Coveted scrap of some metal, for when thus the moment was biggest,

AJ kept me, warmed up, asleep on the bench, as old Howie

Kendrick took Harris deep, winning the game for the Washington Nat’nals.

Angry and homesick, as soon as was possible, I threw down my cap,

Rescued by Curt Flood I on the sea soon embarked, and I wandered,

Seeking again the Bronx and familiar shores of my true home.

That is my story, all through up until now, when first I washed up here.”

Great shouts he heard, having excited the crowd, who with one voice

Shouted out, “Take him to Scott, the great king of agents, who will help this

Wandering right-handed pitcher, intrepid and fierce, to find his home.”

Lifted upon their right shoulders to Scott they bore him, he who they call

Boras, for all who are called by fans greatest of all are to him born,

For he is greatest of all who call themselves agents in the pro leagues.

Down from his throne the great Scott Boras came, and upon seeing Cole at

Once he exclaimed, “To the right place you’ve come, you will become my

New pride and joy, and together to home and the Bronx we will bring you.”

At once embarked they, and set sail they did, for dry San Diego,

Baseball’s great annual meetings. Hours into days, and then into

Weeks turned, navigate baseball’s great sea of agents free they did.

They sighted at last, on a clear star-filled night, rows there upon rows

Thirty in all, ships larger than any he ever before saw.

“Your destination ahead of us it is, for those yachts you see,”

Scott said thus, “They do belong to the owners with massive accounts, who

Will sign paychecks for you to be dressed in their uniforms March twenty-sixth.”

They were arranged in order by size down the docks, with a rowboat

Labelled Miami, dilap’dated nearby. Down on the far side

Sat one as big as a battleship, pinstriped and donned with an interlocking

NY. “That’s where I want to go,” Cole at once pointed, and down the

Dock Scott led him. Along the way they passed ships filled with fans that

Called out his name, in the hopes that he’d stop and decide he’d perhaps stay.

These ones although they tempted, in spite of himself, Cole kept straight

His gaze, letting on deaf ears their pleas fall vain, until at

Last the dock’s end he did reach, where the Ninja himself stood waiting

Patiently. Grinning once Cole did come into his view, at once Cashman

Said, “We’ve expected you here for quite some time. We are prepared to

Make you an offer that you cannot refuse.” And so he pulled out a large

Check from his pocket, with very large numbers, and handing it over,

He said, “That should cover it.” And Scott took one look, and to Cole smiled.

“Cashman’s prepared to make you now the wealthiest pitcher in hist’ry.”

Cole was then stunned to silence, unable to speak. Boras continued,

“G, are you there? You’re supposed to be f’ing screaming right now.”

Hesitate he did not, he hopped right on board, ready to sail home,

Eager to play in the South Bronx, One-sixty-first Street, Yankee