Thursday, March 22, 2007


. . .

The Nationals Post Media Storm Center has issued a Media Analogy-Storm Warning for the entire sports media viewing area. Google Radar has detected conditions in Jupiter Florida that indicate a severe onslaught of poorly framed analogies will soon befall all baseball coverage. Veteran Cardinals manager, Tony LaRussa, was arrested for being drunk while driving a vehicle in the wee morning hours. The following details of this story indicate that every two-bit, frustrated writer who ever took a high school creative writing class will take his best stab at relating this incident to the overall condition of the team Mr. LaRussa manages:

* He was in a diminished mental capacity while in control of a large machine
* He was sitting still at a green light
* He was asleep at the wheel

Take the appropriate cover throughout the day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tears on my cowbell ... pain in my hat

The email said that The Washington Nationals Department of Giant Headed Presidential Mascots decided to go in another direction. I tried to go with them in the other direction, but they said that, no, I couldn't come, that that was just a nice way of telling someone to go away. But it doesn't bother me. I was just happy to be there and it was an honor to be asked to audition and all that stuff people say. Now let's never speak of it again or I'll punch you in the throat. No, I am not crying like a little bitch. Shut up.

Anyway, I happen to know for a fact that cold rejection is what the Natties give you when they intend to have you work for them. They call you in, you work 'til you drop and deliver the goods, then they tell you to go away. Then you show up for work like nothing ever happened. That's how that works - unless you're Toma Ohka.

Pedro Astacio showed up in Viero, Florida today. Yes, he was carrying a lot of baggage. But to the average under-informed fan of below-average intelligence , this seems like a shrewd move. A shrewd, last minute, our ace pitcher is John "Ow my arm feels tingly" Patterson, oh my God we are in trouble, move. P'Astacio signed a minor league contract with DC. He will pitch in Columbus, sell hot dogs and beer, be on the rain tarp brigade, and if necessary throw 80 pitches for the major league club every five days. Apparently, Pedro has no agent.

Here atop the vernal equinox, the fearful angst that we're going to win no more the 63 games is in a fierce and brutal tug-o-war with the irrational, undeniable optimism that comes every April. Maybe the pitching committee will pull something together! Maybe Guzman will turn double plays AND get some hits! Maybe the outfield isn't really just another committee! And maybe the Department of Giant Headed Presidential Mascots will realize at the last possible moment that - like the pitching staff - they too could use an older guy, with a shaky hand, a lot of heart, and the will to win a race.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Singing Vikki Carr's song


Hello?!? Mr. Bowden?!?!?! Oh. Hi Mom ...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Running for president

As my heart pounds and my lungs feel like they have been coated in ice then dropped into a tub of acid and razor blades, I realize that this may well be the day that I drop dead. I envision the local news teams that are on site for a cute story. They would film my death scene - including the part where the paramedics try unsuccessfully to jam the stretcher into the meat wagon. Roll the silent film piano music as my giant head slams repeatedly into what now seem to be tiny doors on the back of the ambulance. These images give me the solace to accept my fate.

But today is not for Death. Today is for Victory.

I don't know if it was computer error, a magnificent lapse in judgment, or the 17 phone calls and 13 emails I sent to the Washington Nationals Promotions Department, but I was given an invitation to try out to be one of the Racing Presidents. After weeks of waiting and not training, the day finally arrived, but trouble was afoot! It seemed as though the Baseball Gods had realized their mistake as they threw every Pitch of Fate they had to keep me from getting to RFK for the big Have-a-Go. But I somehow managed to foul them all off. A freakish March snowstorm had whipped up, and coupled with the sub-freezing temperatures and doomsday radio traffic reports, commuters were in a white knuckled, 5 mph, slow motion frenzy. Even though I left for the stadium ridiculously early, I arrived 15 minutes late for tryouts. "Lot 5 ... Lot 5 ... WHERE THE HELL IS LOT 5?!?!?! Oh there it is ... with the gate down and no attendant. WHERE THE HELL IS THE ATTENDANT?!?!" I finally found the guard.

"What can I do for you?" she asked, right hand resting on her weapon.

"INEEDTOGETINTHER - (ahem) - Good morning. I have an appointment with a member of the promotions department of the Washington Nationals. Would you be so kind as to open the gate?"


"Excuse me?"

"What is your appointment regarding, sir?"

When I said I was trying out to be a giant presidential mascot, I waved goodbye to any possibility that she and I were going to be friends. Suddenly, CarrotTop was far above me on the Clout in Entertainment ladder.

After getting the same exact look of disgust and pity from the security guard at the door and a guy who's job appeared to be keeping a room full of foam NUMBER 1! fingers warm, I found my way down to the sub-basement. Glancing around as I speed-walked, it became clear that this place could use a good bulldozing.

My destination is the Home Team Family Room. Sounds nice, huh? Ever been to traffic court? It's like the waiting area, only 75 degrees colder. No matter. I made it. I had literally arrived. I was about to don one of the four President's costumes and run on the same bit of warning track Austin Kearns runs on when he's stealing homers. My nipples were pop rivets.

Details first; sign the waiver, you fat old bastard. And fill out a job app. Technically, I am applying for a job. Name, references ... desired salary? I write "whatever GW Bush makes is fine."

I have prearranged to hook up with a forum buddy of mine. I scan the room full of 20-somethings and spy a fellow Gentleman of Good Seasoning. I ask him conspiratorially, "Are you Nats1derful?" We shake hands and then it's time. Age before beauty, Nats1 goes first into the George Washington outfit. Magnificent. With the giant head on, he is easily over 10 feet tall. I ask if he's ok in there. He's better than ok. His muffled "great" betrays a feeling beyond enthusiasm. I help him get through the lowly 6'8" doorway and out to the ballpark. By now the snow is falling like last week's Dow Jones. But who cares?

We join a throng of humanity that is the physical equivalent of any chat room - 98% eager guys and a couple of tentative members of the Fairer Sex. All here to watch this batch of hopefuls. I am enthusiastically cheering all of them. Sure, we were all competing for the same gig, but it seemed like we all knew that we were also involved in a Very Special Day.

Nats1derful lives up to his name. He dances, he struts, and he runs a great race. This guy is a force. After leading him back to the friendly confines of the Home Team Family Room, we trade off. Now it's my turn to be George Washington, Father of our Country, and Giant-Headed Colossus. The transformation takes about ten minutes, now that we both know where all the straps and buttons go.

Out on the field, I jump and dance and rip off James Brown's footwork, Ric Flair's hand motions, and Bill Clinton's deadly combination point/thumbs-up/point again move.
The giant head feels good. It weighs about 45 pounds, but I'm living large inside it. I let out a laugh that would have made a bank teller push the secret alarm button. I'm panting like an Alaskan Husky in August, but I keep workin' it.


That's not what Tom Hanks from That Thing You Do said exactly, but that's what my brain heard as his voice boomed over the Def Leopard kick drum sound of my heart.

The assignment was to run past the DC United goal, and to the end of the last bench. Gentlemen, take your marks. This was it; quite possibly my only chance to ever participate in the President's race. Eye of the Tiger.

Instead of taking off like a shot, I felt my gi-normous body lurch forward. Terrible. I was barely moving. I was not only going to get dusted by Teddy, Abe, and Thomas, I was going to shame my whole family. Desperately, I poured-on the juice. It wasn't until I reached the second bench that I realized I was either second or first to finish. Since there is almost zero peripheral visibility, there is no way of knowing if you are neck-and-neck. So ... let's just go ahead and say I won. Might as well, because with a day like this, how could I lose?