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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The ‘Crack’ of the Bat?

Baseball first. There’s a new-ish bit of Braves banter over at Bugs & Cranks regarding the various ouchies suffered by the Atlanta staff this season:

Say It Ain’t Smoltz! — Braves’ ace John Smoltz dodged one injury bullet already this year. Can he do it again?

(As it turns out, he can. As of now, it looks like Smoltz will make his next start. I didn’t want you to lie awake worrying.)

And second, softball. Let’s get crack-ing, shall we?

It’s softball season, and my team takes the field again for the first time this weekend. I have to admit — as excited as I am to get back on the diamond, mash a few slow dribblers to shortstop, muff a few plays in the field, and head to the bar, I’m still a bit troubled about the state of our team.

It’s nothing to do with our ‘field readiness’, or the talent level of our players. Nor am I concerned that our bats — or livers — will be out of game shape after a long winter off. We’ve been pretty much the same group of fielders, swingers, and guzzlers for the past few years; we’re all getting a little older, fatter, and slower, but I don’t anticipate any big surprises. Our outfielders haven’t forgotten how to track fly balls since September, nor have our sluggers lost the ability to swing a bat. And no one’s given up beer for Lent, or switched over to drinking wine coolers or girly daiquiris.

Please, for the love of god, tell me no one’s switched over to wine coolers or girly daiquiris. I’d hate to see somebody relegated to the bench because their decision-making skills have obviously deteriorated.

(And it’s happened before. We lost a second baseman for the season last year for wearing shorts with writing on the ass.

It’s one thing when the girls do it. But when the message comes sandwiched between two hairy legs and a plumber’s butt, it’s time to put a guy on waivers. There are rules in softball, for crissakes.)

“Would you steal third against a bunch of Desperate Crack Junkies? I think not.”

I have to assume that our team name would discourage any out-of-the-ordinary alcoholic shenanigans. We’re Team Guinness, and have been for the better part of a decade now. Not all of the players drink Guinness, of course — but we’ve coaxed most of the guys and a couple of the girls to ‘go Irish’. The rest of them have their Sam Adams and IPAs — but they know if they stray too far from the course, the repurcussions will be swift and severe. A used sweatsock tossed in your wine glass may not have the immediacy of IcyHot in your jock strap, but it gets the message across. You can drink that frou-frou stuff on your own time; on Sundays, you’ll fall in line and like it.

Unfortunately, our team name is just what’s troubling me right now. As much as it sends the appropriate message to our players, it hardly instills fear and awe into our opponents. We had just the same sort of problem last fall with our individual nicknames. And we haven’t fixed that, either. But one crisis at a time. I’m trying to fix ‘Team Guinness‘ right now.

The problem is, I don’t think our current name is quite scary enough. I can almost hear opposing captains looking up the schedule, seeing who they’re up against, and saying:

Guinness, eh? Enh. We could take ’em.

And that’s what I want to get away from. I want a new name — one that will have the opposition shaking in their cleats before we even show up. A name that buys us at least a forfeit or two a season, because the other team is simply too scared to risk showing up. Here are a few of the early candidates:

Team Incontinent — This works better the older we get. Maybe we won’t pee on your infielders as we round the bases, or splash your catcher as we swing. But who knows? It’s out of our hands. And quite possibly our pants.

The Drunken Fran Dreschers — Would it be humanly possible for a full team of people to scream loudly in a nasal Jersey accent for an hour and a half? I don’t know. But I do know that we’d only have to do it once, and we might not have to play another game for the rest of the season, as everyone forfeits around us. Which would be good, because I’m pretty sure we’d all need intensive therapy at that point.

Local Lepers #151 — What’s scariest? The gross-out factor? The risk of contagion? The fact that we’ve apparently formed a union of some kind? Or that we’ve become especially fond of saying, ‘When we play, we leave everything out on the field‘? It could work.

Team Tuberculosis — Speaking of contagion, why not cash in on the health scare du jour? ‘You don’t mind if we cough on you, do you?‘ ‘We just got off a long plane ride, and boy did it get stuffy in that cramped little space.‘ ‘Hey, can we sit in your dugout with you to shoot the breeze a while?‘ And in a couple of years, we’ll change our names to the ‘Bird Flu Bombers‘. Super.

Desperate Crack Junkies — We’ve probably only got one or two people on the team who could look the part. (No, I’m not naming names, silly… but look at that picture at the top of the page. I could pass for ‘whacked-out hobo’ any day of the week.) But the name alone should be deterrent enough. I wouldn’t step on the field — inside two long white lines, mind you — against the Desperate Crack Junkies. Or try to tag out a Desperate Crack Junkie, no matter how early I got the ball. Would you steal third against a bunch of Desperate Crack Junkies? I think not. It’s foolproof.

So there you have it. This weekend, I’ll be lobbying to change Team Guinness to the Desperate Crack Junkies. I think it’s high time we got down to business and intimidated some of the teams in this league. And if we’re not going to do it on the field, then we’ll just have to do it on the schedule.

Of course, we are going to need some changes to the team uniforms. We’ll have to be a hell of a lot shabbier to pull off the look. And there could be just a smidge of confusion about what to order at the bar now. Or whether to go into the bar at all, as opposed to hanging out in the alley behind the dumpster.

No matter. If it’s for the good of the team, then we’ll have to sort out those issues as we go along. That’s just the way the Desperate Crack Junkies operate. I’m sure going to miss that Guinness, though. Maybe the Fran Drescher thing would be better, after all. Heh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-enh-heh.

On second thought, crack junkies it is. Pass the pipe, dog.

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