Thursday, September 14, 2006

Treating Our Head Case


Dr. Ziegfried Grafenstein boarded the first plane for Atlanta when the call came. It was a desperate plea for help, one that came as no surprise in the heat of a wild card chase. But this case was different. Chollie Manuel was re-inserting Pat Burrell into the lineup.

After de-planing, Herr Grafenstein was hustled by Phillies brass to the Omni Hotel, where the team was staying. It was still morning – 10 a.m. – but by Burrell’s standards, it might as well have been the crack of dawn. Team voodoo doctor Jeff Cooper hustled the famed psychiatrist to the slumping left fielder’s door, and knocked repeatedly until the Baby Girl appeared, disheveled and confused.

“Pat, this is Dr. Grafenstein,” Cooper said. “He’s here to help you.”

Burrell eyed the shrink with disdain. His cheek was puffed by a chaw of tobacco; he used an empty beer can as a spittoon.

“Suck my dick,” Burrell remarked.

“Dat’s a gut start,” Grafenstein rejoined. “Now get some clothes on and get dat girl aus of der room. Schnell!”

From under the sheets of the bed, a full-figured gal emerged giggling and grasping a towel. The doctor politely turned his head as she dressed. With a hearty whack, Burrell slapped his hottie’s ass goodbye, proving to those assembled if he couldn’t hit a baseball for much anymore, at least he could nail larger targets.

The Dixie chick dressed, and under Cooper’s watchful eye, was escorted to the hotel lobby, leaving Der Gut Dokter and Baby Girl Burrell alone to conduct business.

“Herr Burrell – can I call you Pat? – vell, Pat, vee need to verk quickly, see,” the doctor started in.

Burrell was sitting on the edge of the bed nodding off.

“Pat! Pat!” the good doctor yelled. Burrell woke up briefly, but began snoring again. Grafenstein, instructed by the Phillies to use drastic measures if necessary, slapped the flaccid slugger’s face. That got his attention.

“What the fuck!” Burrell groused. Though agitated, he made no move toward the doctor to counter the attack. No man had ever slapped him before. Only a woman could get away with that. Oh, what the hell, he thought. Considering the kind of shape he was in, any new indignity was possible. He lost his stroke, he lost his job, and was on the verge of losing his mind. Maybe the team already thought he had. So he decided to hear what the doctor had to say.

“Okay, Doc, I’m all ears,” he said.

“Gut,” Grafenstein began. “Now, Pat, a question. Have you ever been hypnotized?”

“No,” Burrell said. “And nobody ever will.”

“Well, we’ll see about that.”

In what seemed like an ironic gesture, Grafenstein pulled out a pocket watch on a chain and began to swing it in front of Burrell, who giggled and decided to play along. This was just like the movies, he thought. This guy is a quack!

“Just vatch der vatch,” the doctor said in his thick Teutonic tone, “and relax…relax…you’re not sleeping…just relaxing…relaxing…relaxing.”

Burrell took on the stupified look that he carries back to the dugout after every repeated, numerous and numbing called third strike, a gaze into thousand-yard-nothingness that has come to define the better part of this season and the other season-long monumental funk in 2003: The deer-in-the-headlights look. The I’ve-been-out-all-night-again look. The just-keep-that-check-coming-because-I-can’t-figure-it-out-look. And that was why Grafenstein was trying to hypnotize poor Pat. There had to be a root cause. He began the unraveling.

“Now, Pat, you are in a safe, comfortable place – a place where there is nothing but friendly people who love you, care for you, wish you success and good things.”

“You mean I’m not a Phillie anymore?”

Nein, idiot, er, I mean, No, Pat! You are still a Phillie. You refused to waive your no-trade clause, remember?”

“I hate Baltimore,” Burrell said.

“You’re not there, either,” said the doctor. “Look, you are home again with your family in San Jose. They love you. You are the Big Man on Campus at your high school. You are worshipped. You are happy…content.”

“Wanna fuck?”

And who are you talking to, Pat?

“Doesn’t matter, I’d fuck a snake.”

“Pat, vee need to talk baseball, not your sex life. You have no problems in that department. You are wealthy. You are gut-looking. You are still young. Let’s talk about baseball.”

“No, I wanna fuck.”

“Pat! There are other things in life than fucking. There are responsibilities. There is duty. There is learning to hit to the opposite field.”

“I’m not gay.”

“No, Pat. Hitting a baseball to the opposite field. Have you forgotten how to do dat?”

“We got Conine to do that now.”

“But the Phillies pay you ridiculous amounts of money to do that – and you promised you would for years. It is in zee contract you signed with Ed Vade.”

“He’s gay.”

“Pat, let’s keep the talk to baseball, bitte! Please! Now, when did you first discover you feared the inside pitch.”

“I have no problems with inside bitches. But once you take ‘em outside, they’re nothing but trouble. Bitches - can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.”

Grafenstein leaned back in the comfortable hotel chair and took a look at the mess of the man sitting before him. He was amused this playboy would be wearing a monkey suit and playing a game on national television that evening. After his 30 years of practice, he knew when his efforts would be a waste of time. Some people have one-track minds; some people refuse to change. Some cannot change. There is nothing that will help them. He wondered why a company valued at maybe a half billion dollars could be run by stooges who throw their money away on bad employees and then be stuck paying them millions after they have been fired.

As he called for a limo, left the room and waited in the Omni lobby, the good Dr. Grafenstein wondered if he should be honest with management: Maybe the whole team needed an exorcism instead.



6 Comments:

Anonymous ChuckM said...

Dr. Grafenstein must have somehow gotten through as Burrell had the best day at the plate of all Phillies batters tonight. That, or Burrell is at least better than useless against LHP. Just goes to show, put a slopthrowing lefty against the Phillies, be it a rookie or career AAA journeyman doing an emergency start, and watch the Phillies flail away haplessly.

14/9/06 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Hilarious, Lou. One of the few things on the Internet that literally made me laugh out loud.

Chuck, I kept having flashbacks of John Maine as I watched the Phillies phlounder against James last night.

They have Clemens tonight, let's hope that groin isn't 100%.

15/9/06 2:13 PM  
Blogger GM-Carson said...

The Doc must have cured him, because Burrell went yack'em-jack'em grand slam against Clemens.

15/9/06 8:42 PM  
Anonymous ChuckM said...

Now that Doctor G has cured Pat of his scared to swing at a 3-2 pitch mental block, can we get the good doc to have a word with Chase Utley?

15/9/06 11:43 PM  
Anonymous ChuckM said...

Hey, hypnotism is very temporary..after Saturdays regression, Dr G has to get back to work SCHNELL...

16/9/06 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PJ,

You are insane.

Team P-tilda

29/9/06 5:54 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home