Tuesday, June 27, 2006


“You know, buddy, I really blew it this time.”

Brett Myers unbuckled his seatbelt and tightly squeezed the recline button on the armrest. He mashed the back of his waxed, bald head against the headrest. He fidgeted. He squirmed. Then he screamed.

“Why couldn’t the bitch just listen to me, Ryan! She just can never stop sucking from a bottle when we step out. Yackety-yackety-yackin’ with every guy in the bar. Making me look like a goddamn fucking fool.”

Poor Ryan Madson. He’d never seen his best friend this despondent. He thought everything was fine between Brett and Kim after four years and two kids, just as he and his beau were blissful. Appearances sure can be deceiving. And pity the poor woman who is a Phillies wife this year. But even at that, it’s only unhappiness about the job. This…this was a criminal ordeal. And the whole world now had mentally convicted Myers as a wife-beater. A dirty little secret revealed could hardly be worse.

Backwoods Chollie -- fresh from the four-day, three-game torture in Boston that not only saw the team swept again but unexpectedly forced them to switch hotels – lumbered over to the pair of seats where his two hulking hurlers were sitting. This was manager’s work.

“Brett,” the hillbilly started, “Now looky here. Bad things happen to all of us…then ‘fore y’all know it, things get set straight and narrah, and, hell, that’s jus’ life, is what it is.”

Myers shot a laser beam gaze into Chollie’s eyes with the same raging madman gusto he visited upon his darling wife on Friday morning. Chollie, befuddled as usual, stood silent.

“You obese pig farmer,” Myers said, “If I wanted your opinion about anything, I’d do just as well to ask the little faggot serving the drinks on this flight.”

That turned Chollie’s face a hue of magenta. He was a porker, for sure, and he had a healthy respect for the American farmer. But to have his manhood questioned by his wife-beating ace was downright humiliating – and within full earshot of the team, it made a mockery of his job’s inherent dignity.

“Why, you bald-headed asshole,” Chollie said, “I’ll tell y’all what. A faggot wouldn’t hit himself a woman. Those homos got more class than dat. Ya gots no class. And ya gots no brains. A real man walks away from a fight.”

A voice from the back of the plane pierced the tension.

“Hit ‘em coach! Hit ‘em!”

It was the inimitable Jelly Roll, fresh off his 3-for-6 performance yesterday. “Clock that cracker motherfucker!”

Chollie was taken aback by the invective being hurled up the aisle.

“Now who y’all callin’ a cracker, Mr. Hip Hop,” Chollie shouted back. He got his answer in short order.

“The motherfuckin’ wife-beater, that’s who, coach,” Jelly Roll informed.

Shouts filled the plane and little bags of peanuts littered the floor. Bruce, the steward, ran toward the cockpit to escape the fray. Peace needed to be restored, but on this loser team without leaders, there was nary a voice of reason to be found. The din in the coach became unbearable, and from the front of the plane a large figure began making his way down the aisle. It was General Manager Pat Gillick. He put his two pinkies in his mouth and let loose a shrill whistle. Then he spoke.

“Settle down, boys, or I’ll have the pilot take this jet to Kansas City.”


“Now listen up. I am almost 69 years old and value my nap time, so I’ll say this just once. We’re going to try our best to make believe this whole nightmare of a weekend never happened. We’re going to go to Baltimore and play competitive baseball. Nothing more. All the wives are back in Philadelphia, or at least not where we are. We need to focus on baseball between the lines. The wild card is still attainable. You are professionals. Behave accordingly.”

A gentle voice rose up with a question. It was Bobby Abreu.

“Can you trade me to Detroit, boss?” the Candy Eater asked Gillick.

“No, I will not trade you to Detroit,” Gillick said without hesitation. “You will play in Philadelphia for the term of your contract, just as Brett will remain in his marriage with Kim till death do them part. And remember everyone, he is innocent until proven guilty.”

“He’s about as innocent as Barry Bonds,” Abreu said. “Did you see that mean look he gave me last week after I dropped a fly ball?”

“No,” Gillick said. “And nobody else did. The fans are stupid. Bobby – everybody – you guys need to understand this. Life is not perfect. You have to take your lumps and move on. The important thing is to keep a lid on things. What people don’t know won’t hurt them. Now Brett – make nice with Chollie or I’m shipping you out.”

Myers, Chollie, Jelly Roll and the Candy Eater all calmed down, and the serene, muffled silence of a night flight quickly flushed over the plane. Chollie stuck a chaw in his cheek. Jelly Roll slept rhythmically to R. Kelly, and Abreu, of course, sucked on a lollipop.

The important thing was to keep a lid on things. Sage advice, Ryan Madson thought, as he reached for Myers’ hand and whispered, “I can’t quit you.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lou, you offer more insights into Phillies team chemistry than anyone on WIP. They should be reporting it straight like you do. ;)

28/6/06 11:19 PM  

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