Fiction Funny

Coming out of a successful spring training camp, the Detroit Tigers seemed primed to finish in first place. Then their ace, Pickles Primeau, fell down a flight of stairs while taking out the trash, tearing his ACL.

In his first at-bat of the season, the team’s best hitter, Perdido Morales, slid into second, breaking his ankle. Good things come in threes and the Tigers soon found out the same is true of bad events as well. Rip Robbins, the previous season’s home run champ and a rabid rapper, announced his retirement to become a full-time musician. As the month of April wore on, sports writers joked that neither Rip nor the Tigers had a hit.

With their brightest stars extinguished, the toothless Tigers quickly and improbably lost their first five games. The closest they came to victory was when Danny Diamond thought he had a game-winning three-run homer only to find out that the runners had held up thinking the ball would be caught. When Diamond stepped on second base, teammate Stan Stone was already there. Diamond was called out for passing the runner.

By their seventh straight loss, the Tigers’ descent into unwanted baseball history featured so many miscues that a special segment on the Baseball Channel entitled “Bengal Bloopers” was devoted to them.

The most popular clip featured outfielder Duck Rodgers, who committed three errors in a single play. He started by letting a hit roll through his legs in the outfield. The ball caromed off the wall, going back between Duck’s legs in the opposite direction. When he finally retrieved the ball, Duck’s mighty throw toward the infield went over the third baseman's head and into the stands.

Catcher Rocco Neely allowed the winning run to score while he was dusting off home plate. Neely was featured in the blooper reel a second time when he came up out of his crouch to try and nail a runner stealing second base. Neely’s throw hit the pitcher in the head, caroming toward second baseman Bobo Berberian, who had to dive to corral it. Spotting the runner rounding third, and thinking he would try to run home, Bobo made a strong throw -- into his foot.

By the time the losing streak had reached a dozen games, players were taking out their frustrations on inanimate objects as well as themselves.

After striking out for the second time with the bases loaded, Gavin “Godzilla” Gerrit took his frustrations out on the water cooler, inspiring one commentator to say, “Godzilla is one-for-one against water coolers and hitless against the rest of the league.”

Pitcher Gayle Goodwin broke his hand hitting a wall after giving up the tying runs.

“Why didn’t you slam your head against the wall?” Manager Jocko Feller asked. “It’s so hard you’ll never get hurt.”

Kiko Cepeda was placed on the disabled list when a Tiger tattoo he’d gotten to break the slump became infected. Hoyt Greenberg missed a week after straining his back while trying to pull on his cowboy boots. Not to be outdone, his roommate, Jazz Jankel, injured his back sneezing.

Even the President tried to break the Tiger’s slump by making a phone call to the dugout.

Annoyed that the Tigers are already facing defeat in the second inning, their pugnacious manager Jocko Feller picks up the dugout phone.

“Jocko? This is the President.”

Spitting a wad of tobacco juice, Jocko looks at the phone, yelling across the dugout, “Which one of you knuckleheads arranged to have somebody call me and pretend to be the President?”

The players shrug their shoulders.

“Look, buddy, I appreciate a good laugh as much as the next guy, but right now we’re getting plastered 10-0, so, go screw yourself.”

Jocko slams down the phone, angrily letting out a spray of tobacco juice.

Minutes later, preppy-looking Oliver Meak, an assistant to the team’s General Manager, struts into the dugout, patting Jocko on the back.

“To what do I owe the visit from a member of the ivory tower?” Jocko asks.

“How did the phone call go? Did the players talk to the President?”

Jocko swallows his plug of tobacco, gagging. “That was really him? I chewed him out and hung up on him.”

Oliver’s rosy cheeks fade to porcelain white.

“Oh well, I didn’t vote for him anyway,” Jocko says.

Following their twelfth loss in a row, Jocko bursts into the Tiger’s locker room prepared to give his players a “never say die” pep talk.

“What’s this?” he asks, taking note of the baseball bats piled up in the center of the room.

“A cleansing,” Duck Rodgers says.

“Yeah, we’re gonna burn ‘em,” Rocco Neely adds. “Burn the bats, and we burn away our bad luck.”

Haitian shortstop Yannick Fabrice steps forward, yipping loudly, wearing a headdress comprised of chicken feathers, his cheeks decorated with Tiger logos.

Pouring lighter fluid over the bats, Yannick chants, “Aki-moka, Voodoo doka! I beseech the Baseball Gods to stop this losing streak. Away, bad vibes!”

Yannick tosses a match on the pile. Flames shoot up to the ceiling, scorching the room’s highly flammable tiles.

“Might have used a bit too much lighter fluid,” Jocko notes.

The sprinkler system kicks in, drenching the players.

“Yep. Too much.”

The Tigers lose the next day to remain winless in April. Yannick Fabrice goes on the injured list with second-degree burns on his hands.

Roscoe Tolan, the Tiger’s owner, runs his fingers through his silver hair. His voice is an exasperated, hoarse whisper.

“We’ve lost seventeen in a row in every conceivable manner. I’ve always wanted more national press but not like this.’

“The boys’ll come out of it,” Jocko replies. “We’ve still got three All-Stars in the lineup.”

“And none of them are hitting above their weight. And it’s really sad because Slice Shepard only weighs one-fifty. Seventeen games and we’ve only hit two home runs and been outscored by sixty runs. We have to do something radical. We’re bringing up Boom Boom Baines from the minor league, He hit forty homers last season and hit ten more in the winter league. Baines will be our savior. He comes from a town in West Virginia where the pigs outnumber the people, indoor plumbing is a rarity, and girls have their second baby before their sweet sixteen parties, so we’ll have to keep an eye on him. He’s good, but he’s as simple-minded as he is strong.”

Buford “Boom Boom” Baines eases his muscular frame into his Ford Mustang. It’s only an hour to the airport and a little more than an hour's flight to Detroit.

After three hours and 150 miles behind the wheel, Boom Boom begins to suspect he may have taken a wrong turn.

With the sun setting and his stomach rumbling, Boom Boom stops at Jethro’s Joint, an unassuming wooden roadhouse.

Boom Boom’s 6 5”, 240-pound form fills the doorway. When he enters the main room, the two groups of combatants trading insults become stone silent.

“Jesus, look at the size of that guy,” Dino Decker, the owner of the Carnival of Curiosities, says to his associates, Elba the Bearded Woman and Elasto Man.

Razor Rampage, Bear Lowenstein, and Tats Touhy grumble amongst themselves, muttering. “…He’s not so big…” “I bet he’ll wet his pants if I even look at him,” and “Let’s chop the chump down to size.”

“Hi fellas,” Boom Boom says to the bikers. Looking at the troupe of circus performers, he exclaims, “Wow! You folks look interestin’. My name’s Buford Baines. My friends call me Boom Boom. Mind if I join you?”

“We’d be honored… And grateful,” Elasto Man says, extending his hand three feet in front of himself.

“Neat! How’d you do that?” Boom Boom asks, vigorously shaking the thin man’s hand. “You know, you don’t run into folks as special as you every day.”

“Lucky for us!” Razor mocks. “It oughta be a crime to let these freaks out amongst decent people.”

“When you find some, let us know,” Elba the Bearded Lady quips.

“You got your nerve fuzzy face. Didn’t I see your picture on a fifty-dollar bill, Mrs. Grant?”

“You’ve never had that much money in your life,” Elba replies sharply.

“Look at her, a chick with a beard!” Tats taunts. “Can you imagine lockin’ lips with that, Bear?”

The bearded biker strokes his long, dark beard, gagging. “It goes against the natural order of things. You know what Shakespeare wrote about hirsute women in Macbeth? ‘You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret, that you are so’.”

“I hate it when you get blackout drunk and develop an I.Q., Bear,” Razor replies.

“Are they insultin’ you, ma’am?” Boom Boom asks.

“It’s okay, muscles. We get teased a lot.”

Turning to Razor, Boom Boom says, “You know, mister, there’s another old sayin’. Beauty is in the eye of the holder.”

“That’s beholder, Li’l Abner,” Bear replies.

Boom Boom scratches his head. “Beholder, is that like a beekeeper?”

Razor snickers. “This guy’s got the intelligence of a pasture patty. You’re as much a freak as that female Ulysses S. Grant. Let’s take out the trash, fellas.”

The three bikers crack their knuckles as they move toward Boom Boom.

Holding a baseball bat, the bar’s owner, Jethro Baer, catapults from behind the bar yelling, “Take it outside, Razor! I’m not lettin’ you bust my place up again. You still owe me for your last rumble.”

“Follow us, Li’l Abner,” Bear commands as they file out, disappearing around the side of the building.

Boom Boom waves at his three new friends.

“We should help him,” Elba says.

“A seventy-year-old man with arthritis, and a man whose muscles are like taffy? How’s that going to help?” Elasto Man asks.

“He was willing to help us.”

“That’s because he’s a big dumb farm boy,” Dino replies. He moves to the window, looking outside. “But he must be doing something right. He’s driving a vintage Mustang.”

“You won’t help him, but you wouldn’t mind helping yourself to his car,” Elba scolds.

“A car like that is still worth five grand. We could drive it off while he’s still knocked out, or when EMS takes him to the hospital.”

“That’s if the bikers don’t take it first,” Elasto Man says.

Boom Boom renters the bar, dusting himself off.

Jethro hands him a beer. “It’s on the house.”

“You were only gone for a minute,” Elasto Man points out.

“I didn’t expect you back at all,” Dino admits.

Jethro goes outside, checking for the others. Surprised to find the trio in an unconscious pile of blood and bruises, he hurries back inside, exclaiming, “What did you hit them with, your car?”

Boom Boom holds up his fists. “Just these. I call ‘em Betty and Veronica. They all came at me at once, which was cheatin’, so the girls went to work.”

“A real strong man,” Dino comments. “You could have a great career in the circus, my boy.”

Boom Boom’s eyes brighten. “You think so? I used to pretend I was the lion tamer in the circus when I was a kid. My grandpa used to take me and my nine brothers and sisters to the circus every summer in the back of his hay wagon. I’ve always loved the circus, the clowns, the elephants, the cotton candy.”

“They can all be yours, my boy.”

Boom Boom’s expression goes blank.

“Is there something wrong?” Elba asks.

“I promised some people I’d play baseball for them in Detroit.”

“For the Tigers?” Dino asks. “They stink. They haven’t won a game yet.”

“You’ll have more fun with us,” Elba adds, pinching his cheek.

“As long as I’m with you, I will,” Boom Boom replies shyly.

“Sounds like muscles has developed a crush,” Elasto Man comments.

Looking at Elba, Boom Boom admits, “Somethin’ pulled me to you from the moment I saw you. Maybe it was them whiskers, or that sharp tongue of yours. But I’m gonna need to ponder on stayin’ with ya’ll a bit.”

Elba rubs her beard against his cheek. “You’ll stay.”

Roscoe Tolan looks at his watch, giving the dozen reporters gathered for Boom Boom’s arrival a frozen smile.

His nerves on edge, Tolan whispers to his General Manager Chris Crater, “Where is he? I’ve already postponed this press conference twice.”

The General Manager turns to his assistant. “Well?”

“Last I heard he was on his way here,” Oliver says.

“By what, mule? He’s two days late,” Tolan steams. “Did it occur to one of you clowns to try and find him? If he’s on some hillbilly bender, you’ll be selling vegemite in the cheap seats in the Australian League.”

Oliver stops at a one-pump gas station in Ash Lick, Tennessee. A grimy attendant in bib overhauls limps out of the office heading toward the pump.

The attendant notices Oliver checking out his two black eyes and the assorted bumps and bruises on his face.

“Rough night?”

“You betcha. Got into a real barn burner a few days ago. All we was doin’ was givin’ some circus freaks a hard time. This rube in a fancy car comes to their rescue. He was so strong a cannon couldn’t have stopped him. Every punch he threw hurt.”

“Did you say he had a fancy car? Was he a big, young, blonde kid? Kinda innocent?”

“Yep. Talked kinda slow and dumb. When I came to, he was gettin’ in his car. He had his arm around a bearded lady, and it looked like they was headin’ off to get busy. When you see that rube tell him thank you. Some people are innocent, and kind, like him. Others, like me, we need the truth hammered into our skulls. Thanks to him, me, Razor, and Bear understand now that it’s better to help people than hurt them.”

Oliver hesitates to answer the phone.

“Where are you?” Chris Crater demands.

“Ash lick.”

“Don’t you dare curse at me.”

“I’m not. That’s the name of this truck stop. A gas station attendant here got into a fight with some country boy a few days ago. It sounds like it could have been Boom Boom. He was with a bearded lady.”

“So, he’s stupid and weird,” Crater replies. “But he ought to be easy to find.”

Elba, Dino, and Elasto Man gather a safe distance away from the lion’s cages.

“You shouldn’t have let him in there. Caesar’s gonna tear him apart,” Dino says, watching Boom Boom circle the circus’ most temperamental lion.

“He wanted to help feed the lions,” Elba laments.

“You should’ve told him he can do that from outside the cage,” Elasto Man says.

“Boom Boom! Get away from there!” Elba screams. “Drop the bucket of meat and back up slowly!”

Boom Boom turns toward the trio, waving and smiling innocently.

“Don’t worry about me. Caesar’s my buddy. He ain’t nothin’ but a big pussycat.”

Pulling a slab of raw meat from the bucket, Boom Boom offers it to Caesar, whose authoritative roar causes the others to jump back.

Sniffing the meat, Caesar nips at it.

“Drop the meat and run before that lion turns your hand into a stub!” Dino yells.

Boom Boom confidently feeds Caeser the meat. The lion licks his lips as Boom Boom pats him on the head.

“He just domesticated the meanest cat we’ve ever had,” Dino says. “Where’s Leo the Lion Tamer?”

“Sleeping one off,” Elasto Man replies. “Actually, we might have left him in Dover.”

“Well, wherever he is, you can tell him he’s fired.”

Oliver pulls into the town’s fairground, the pistons in his rent-a-car rattling like machine gun bullets. He turns off the engine and the car overheats.

Oliver brushes the dust off as he gets out of his car. He looks around at the patchwork tents, the brightly colored Ferris wheel, the still carousel, and the cotton candy stand. Smiling to himself. he remembers going to the circus as a boy and understands why a country boy like Boom Boom would find refuge in such a place.

A tall, thin man in an Uncle Sam outfit extends his hand to Oliver from several feet away. It stretches out like a rubber band. Taken aback at first, Oliver looks at him in awe before shaking his hand.

“I’m Elasto Man.”

“You sure are. Maybe you can help me. I’m looking for a big, strapping kid, blonde, say about nineteen from Poca Fork, West Virginia. You see anybody like that?”

Elasto Man points to his left toward a series of tents, his arm extending three feet. “Second tent.”

“You’re going to have to tell me how you do that someday,” Oliver replies.

Oliver pulls back the flap of the tent, nearly retching.

Boom Boom is kissing a bearded woman sitting on his lap.

“Sorry, I would have knocked, but… I’m Oliver Meak, Boom Boom, and I’m here to take you to Detroit to play for the Tigers.”

“I don’t wanna go,” Boom Boom says, nuzzling Elba.

“You don’t understand the gravity of the situation, son. During the time that I’ve been chasing you around the country, the Tigers have lost twenty-two in a row. You’re our savior. You’ll make millions being the star of the team. You’ve got the type of talent that only comes along once in a generation.”

“I told ya. I’m not goin’,” Boom Boom repeats. Holding up his fists he says, “Don’t get Betty and Veronica mad.”


“You don’t want an introduction,” Elba says.

“Why don’t you want to go to Detroit?”

“I already got a job.”

The Tigers didn’t win a single game in April, going 0 for 27. They finally won on May 1, shutting out the Yankees. The President didn’t call to congratulate them.

January 18, 2024 18:03

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Mary Bendickson
00:22 Jan 19, 2024

Kind of batty but I liked it.


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Trudy Jas
02:37 Jan 21, 2024

So, who's on first? Not a baseball fan, but that didn't stop me from liking this game. :-)


Show 0 replies
21:05 Jan 19, 2024

Thanks! As Shakespeare would say, "Get thee to a punnery."


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