Today is St. Crispin's Day. This antiquated holiday commemorates a pair of twins who were martyred in A.D. 286, and on this day in 1415, the English fought the French in a mildly important battle near Agincourt, France. The Battle of Agincourt would have likely faded to merely a footnote in the long history of French and English fighting over the two shores of the English Channel, if it had not been immortalized by Shakespeare in his play, Henry V. The play’s climactic scene involves this battle.
The English forces have been campaigning throughout France and are on their way home to England, but a French force cuts them off. Exhausted from the campaign, the English face fresh troops which, as legend has it, outnumbers them 10-to-1. The morale of the English soldiers is understandably low. Enter young King Henry V, who gives arguably the best pre-game speech in history. A pregame speech which would make Gandhi pick up a sword. A pregame speech which makes Knute Rockne look like Tony Muser.
My fantasy for St. Crispin's Day 2009 is that Trey Hillman has to give a pregame speech to the Royals before Game 7 of the ALCS (I chose the ALCS, because the Yankees make for a more powerful foe than some NL team). And this is the speech I would like for him to give (my apologies to The Bard).
[To see how this speech should be delivered, view Kenneth Branagh's version (Act 4, Scene 3)]
O I wish we had better players against these Yankees
What's he that wishes so?
My friend Butler? No, my young friend;
If we are mark'd to lose, we are enow
To do Kansas City loss; and if to win,
Let it be us, we deserve the honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one new player.
By Jove, I am not covetous for big contracts,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if fans my jersey wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet winning,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my friend, wish not for better players.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Billy, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach for this game,
Let him depart; he will be given his unconditional release,
And he can even keep his per diem;
We would not play side by side with the man
That fears his fellowship to play with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that plays this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall play this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his championship ring
And say 'This ring I won on Crispian's day.'
Old players forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Hillman the manager, Greinke and Meche
Gordon and Butler, DeJesus and Aviles-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good fan teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of Royals;
For he to-day that takes this field with me
Shall always be a Royal; no matter where his career takes him,
This day shall make us all champions;
And gentlemen in Kansas City now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd that they didn't set their VCR's,
And hold their fanhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That played with us upon Saint Crispin's day!
Skip, we better get out there;
The Yanks are taking the field,
And it’s almost time for the first pitch
All things are ready, if our grit be so.
To hell with anyone who isn’t ready to play now!
You don’t want better players, Billy?
Hell no. I think you and me could take ‘em alone!