Hometown Heroes Win 3-2 in Extra Innings
Sports Correspondent (Unofficial) Sofia Haugen
I am starting this article—as is too-frequently the case—with a formal protest of the Daily Spectacle’s editorial policies1Editor’s Note: We apologize, as always, for Sofia’s outbursts, but she is the only person we’ve found with any interest in sportswriting. If anyone else would like to take over the sports page, please send a writing sample and résumé to the Spectacle’s offices, or apply by telephone or in person during business hours. We will get back to you within the hour., specifically the oft-cited-to-me rule that curse words are not allowed in headlines. Before the heavy hand of my cryptofascist editor came down on this article, the title rhymed much better, and had a more pleasing metrical identity—a full line of trochaic hexameter, calling to mind Poe’s The Raven, or the Dies Irae of the requiem mass. Now it stumbles after the caesura into a flaccid antipenultimate foot lacking the length and girth of the original “c*ckblocks,” a word you, dear reader, probably use on a weekly basis, but which I am forced to censor. Oh and apparently the Blue Dicks are named after a flower? So “Blue C*cks” isn’t an acceptable synonym either. Anyway, now that that’s over with, let’s talk about the National goddamn Pastime.2Or so people keep telling me. I tell them that I don’t even really know what “pastime” means, and they just laugh and shake their heads. I’m pretty sure they don’t know either. I would look it up, but I traded my ability to use a dictionary to a warlock for a six-pack and a smoking hot rack. (The beer was some kind of shitty double-hopped IPA microbrew, but the ribs were fucking amazing, so on the whole I’d say it was a pretty good trade.) Now, in hindsight, I probably should’ve just paid the $22.99 plus tax, but I was fucking starving and I left my wallet at home; and it’s not like I, a professionally unprofessional journalist, would ever need to know what words mean.
Saturday was a gorgeous day for a game. A nice cool breeze coming down out of the hills had the stadium at a perfect 73 degrees, and the sky was a gorgeous blue, without any clouds, chemtrails, or—for the first time in almost a month—wildfire smoke to ruin the view. So it’s a damn shame the game was on Tuesday, when it was 85-feels-like-95 and the air quality was so low that nobody could notice I was chainsmoking in the press box. Not that there was anyone to notice, the stadium was totally empty—even Angie, my opposite number at the Turlock Journal, didn’t make it down for the game, and her boyfriend is on the Morlocks so she usually comes to all of em. Maybe they broke up. Or she’s dead.3Editor’s Note: We are Facebook friends with Ms. Angela Milner, and made a special fact-checking trip to the Madera Public Library (which we prefer despite it being a longer drive than a number of other libraries because its publicly available computers are in the basement, far from the sky) to take a look at her profile. She posted a total of thirty-one photographs from the baseball game in question, including twelve selfies, mostly with her fiancé (congratulations!), Mr. Jesus Vargas. In the background of one of them, taken in the Blue Dicks Stadium press box, Sofia can be clearly seen drinking from a can of Diet Dr. Shasta. We do not know why Sofia would lie about this, and we apologize both to Ms. Milner and to our readers for the confusion. These things happen. So the only actual spectators were myself, maybe two dozen locals, three guys in Turlock colors lurking in the left field bleachers drinking only bottled water and refusing to make eye contact with anyone, & Blue Dicks star pitcher Candice “Bulkhead” Fitzgerald, who was sitting this game out—she was halfway through a two-week suspension for (rumor has it4And by “rumor has it” I mean I was eavesdropping outside the locker room when all this shit went down so the rumors were actually started by me. I guess maybe if it’s in the newspaper it’s less rumor and more libel. Well, and it’s not libel if it’s true, so I guess it’s just journalism, baby! All my love to Candice by the way please go on a date with me I promise not to bring my tape recorder.) attempting to copy Dock Ellis’ infamous psychedelic no-hitter, allegedly5My editor insisted on this word, which I would otherwise never use, to prevent us from getting sued to hell and back. But Candice would never do that to us. Both because this newspaper is the only local source of two of life’s necessities, Marmaduke comics and sudoku puzzles, and because she strongly believes—and this is a direct quote, I can give you the cassette tape I recorded it on if you want—that “to remain the servant of the written law is to place yourself every day in opposition to the law of conscience.” Huge fan of Kropotkin, our Candice. Allegedly.*
*Editor’s Note: Against all odds, Sofia appears to be telling the truth here—both about Ms. Fitzgerald’s deeply-held anarchist principles and about her attempts to enhance her performance with psychedelics. We are as shocked as you. But in the interest of fairness, neutrality, and not getting the windows of the Spectacle offices smashed with a baseball bat, we will continue to insist on the “allegedly.” substituting peyote and psilocybin mushrooms6Editor’s Note: We removed a parenthetical remark speculating as to Ms. Fitzgerald’s supplier, as it was not substantiated by any evidence and was defamatory to a number of prominent members of the community. It was also essentially an advertisement for Sofia’s own favorite suppliers of various illicit narcotics. We are struggling to make ends meet as it is, and if Los Suelos’ drug dealers want to advertise their services in the Spectacle they will have to pay the same rates as everyone else—and despite what Sofia has apparently told half of the businesses in town, we do not accept payment in kind, especially not when that payment is given to an unofficial volunteer sports correspondent who is not on the Daily Spectacle payroll. for acid. She would’ve done it, too, but she wandered out of the stadium during the sixth inning and they had to make a call to the bullpen. Found her down by the river talking to a rock.
Anyway, she was lurking in the right field bleachers, chugging homemade kombucha and refusing to make eye contact with your humble reporter.
So with the star pitcher benched, the mascot in the county sheriff’s second-nicest cell7Which you would know already, if someone hadn’t taken out the part where I explained that because it was “defamatory and inflammatory,” a nice rhyming line that I tried to convince Ed* to use in his footnote. He declined. Anyway the mascot, Blue Rick the Blue Dick, or I guess I should say the guy who normally wears the mascot costume, whose name happens to be Rick, got busted for selling weed to high schoolers at an away game. & normally they would just stick the backup mascot, whose name ALSO happens to be Rick, in the suit, but the first Rick was wearing the suit at the time and refused to take it off. So no mascot.
*I met Ed the first day I moved to Los Suelos, when I got off the bus with nothing but the clothes on my back, a roaring hangover, a vintage Caesars Palace snowglobe, a mostly-empty bottle of gin, a mostly-full bottle of ouzo, a heavily-annotated copy of Paradise Lost, a mysterious scar on my right eyebrow, and fifteen hundred dollars in unmarked, nonsequential ten dollar bills, and headed straight to the newspaper offices looking for work. He didn’t have any for me at first—in fact, he threatened me with a pickaxe, apparently under the assumption that I was some sort of debt collector—but once he learned of my sportswriting pedigree, he was happy to take me on. Or at least not unhappy, which is what matters. Anyway, the point is, he still has not told me his name**. So I call him Ed. Short for Editor. In case that wasn’t clear.
***Editor’s Note: Our name is clearly displayed in the masthead, which can be found on the front page of every single issue of the Daily Spectacle, except for the Halloween edition, when we replace it with the name of whomsoever we are dressing as that day as a fun little joke. This year, it was Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Selman Waksman, inventor of streptomycin and other antibiotics. Our silliest costume in years., and one of the hot dog vendors already passed out from heat stroke, the game was off to a pretty f*cking terrible start. The Morlocks’ mascot, Murdoch Morlock, had made it to the game, and was doing all sorts of clownstyle bullsh*t, pratfalls and cartwheels and celebrity impressions and a little observational comedy, which eye em oh is really more of a standup thing than a mascot thing, but you do you, Murdoch. I think I fell asleep, because the only thing I remember between Murdoch’s “what are those things on the end of your shoelaces” bit8Aglets. They’re aglets. Everyone knows they’re aglets. God, was that ever funny? In like, the ’90s?*
*OK this is Sofia from just before the issue goes to print, I asked the librarian** and they dug up*** a VHS recording of an SNL episode from several years before my birth where Jerry Seinfeld does the exact same bit, like word-for-word. So Murdoch isn’t even being original with his mediocre observational humor. Shame on you, Murdoch. Shame.
**Instead of, you know, googling it. I’ve talked about this before, see like, every article I’ve written since moving here, but it’s total bullshit that there’s no internet in town. I’ve been writing letters to my congressman but he keeps sending back form letters on his predecessor’s letterhead about electromagnetic interference and national security and elves. Oh, sorry, “ELF.” Not elves. Which is a bummer because I know where I stand with elves and I have no idea what to do about ELF. I would email him, to at least get a form letter written this millennium, but I don’t have a driver’s license or a car and I can’t get a ride because I have slowly eroded the goodwill of all my acquaintances with my “infinite supply of fabrications and tomfoolery.” (That phrase is courtesy of my seventh grade report card, shoutout to Mrs. Kaveney, you were so right.)
***Uh, not literally. I feel like I need to specify that. They just like checked the card catalog and then found it for me in the multimedia section. There were no shovels, pickaxes, backhoes, etc involved in the retrieval of this tape. and the seventh-inning stretch was too graphic to describe in detail but involved Björk, a four-poster bed, and some hand-crafted leather restraints. I’ll let you fill in the rest. Well, OK, I’ll also specify that I was the one in the restraints, wouldn’t want to give the ladies the wrong idea.
So “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” wakes me up right as Björk is bringing out the violet wand, and the game’s tied at two runs. I check the box score9And by check the box score I mean ask the hot dog guy if I can check his box score, and when he says he wasn’t keeping track I go over to Candice and ask her, but she’s still not talking to me because she has been advised by her manager not to speak to the press and especially not to speak to me, so next I ask a few randos in the stands, but they mostly tell me to f*ck off, so finally I swallow my pride and ask the Turlock guys, and they tell me what happened. and it looks like the Blue Dicks got one off a line drive in the third, Morlocks hit a homer with a man on first in the fourth, and the home team brought it back with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, setting me up perfectly for two and a half thrilling innings—the ideal amount of baseball.
I did not get my ideal amount of baseball. It took a further seven innings for the game to be decided. I was an hour late for work and almost got fired.10I work the night shift at the pet store. Most of the time it’s fine, I just sit there watching something from the stack of Animal Planet DVDs they keep up at the counter and sometimes break up a scorpion fight but we just got in these parrots that used to live backstage at an opera house and they’ve been doing the Ring Cycle this week so it’s nothing but Wotan and Wälsungs and Walküren all night. I think my boss felt bad for me because he let me design the newspaper ad this week, it should be around here somewhere. Some of my best work. But since I value the noble art of sports journalism more than such petty considerations as “food” and “rent,” I stuck it out to the bitter end. Anyway, if I get evicted, I’ll just move into the Spectacle office, I already have a blanket-nest set up in one of the supply closets for when I’m pulling an all-nighter and don’t want to drag myself home before dawn.11Editor’s Note: We were not aware of Sofia’s “nest” in the supply closet. It appears she moved it between writing this article and submitting it for publication; we did not find any blankets, but we did find a small pile of spent whipped cream dispenser chargers (“Whip-It” brand), a heavily dogeared romance novel whose cover features several scantily-clad female vampires menacing a similarly undressed mortal woman (titled The Taste Of Her), and an aloha shirt bearing several mysterious stains, the composition of which I chose not to investigate further. Wouldn’t be the first time, either—I got kicked out of the dorms my senior year of college for starting a small fire while trying to synthesize DMT, and also for trying to synthesize DMT, and I lived in the student newspaper office for most of spring semester. I still get nostalgic for those ancient couches sometimes. Anyway, I thought the game would be over in the 12th inning, when I still had time to sprint into town and just barely make it to work—the Morlocks’ shortstop (oh that’s the stuff), Linda Culbert, hit one way out toward the left field fence, everyone was on their feet, we were sure it was gonna be a home run, but then Blue Dick left fielder Z12Their first name an eternal mystery*, along with their origins, their nationality, and even their gender. One time I overheard some douchebag at the bar ask them what was in their pants, and they just stared at him for maybe ten seconds and then said “ghosts” in a vaguely Eastern European accent. Gave me the chills. Oh, and I think “Baumbach” is also something they made up to stick on their uniform, but I can’t be sure. One hell of an outfielder though.
*Although I would bet it’s just something like “Zvjezdana” or “Zbigniew” and they’re tired of Americans mispronouncing it. Baumbach leapt up the fence and snagged it just before it left the park. Really a beautiful play. Shame that it made me late for work, though.Finally, it’s the bottom of the 14th. Z’s on third, Manuel “Manatee”13He got his nickname not because he’s fat–he’s not, he’s actually pretty skinny–but because he’s from Florida, and he has a big tattoo of a manatee on his forearm to remind him of home. Hernández, the Blue Dicks’ catcher, is up to bat. A line drive to center field skips off the outfielder’s glove, and by the time she throws it in, Z has scored. The crowd, such as it is, goes wild; and I get the fuck out of the stadium, because as cozy as the Spectacle offices are, I think the constant digging sounds from the tunnels beneath my editor’s office would keep me up at night.14Editor’s Note: The Daily Spectacle categorically denies the existence of any such tunnels. We are aware that the Daily Spectacle office (a double-wide trailer on the edge of town) is not zoned for a basement, and we would not be so foolish as to attempt to install one ourselves, no matter how loud the whispers of the sky get and how peaceful our sleep is when they are muffled by the soil and stone. We are strong in mind and spirit. We do not have any time for superstition. We will report the news, no matter what the stars and clouds and sun shout at us. We will not dig. Ok that’s enough sports for now, until next time, true believers. Smooches.
Sofia Haugen is an award-winning sports journalist, an excellent lover (allegedly), and a graduate of the Hunter S. Thompson Memorial Diploma Mill. She can mostly be found inside the mind of W Griffin Hancock, where she lurks like a psychic parasite, compelling them to think about sports.