by Richard Booroojian
In the Giants newsgroup Tom A. made an obscure reference to Sports Illustrated Baseball -- the All-Time All-Star version -- that he knew I'd get. I pointed out that other readers would've needed to be familiar with that game in order to get it, too, and Tom said, "Sure, ruin a good inside joke. Spoil my fun, why don'tcha?"
To which my response was, "I'm a Giants fan. That's my job."
And Tom replied, "How's the pay in that field? I'm looking to get into it."
So here's where Richard comes in. -- GP
It was another late night at my office. Things were looking bad, but then, they're always looking bad. I deal with it. I'm a Giants fan. That's my job.
I was sitting in Section 21, twenty rows up. Season tickets, 81 games a year. The wind was blowing in, the fog was rolling out and I was alone with only my thoughts and my good friend Bud to keep me company. That's Bud, as in Budweiser. We're quite a team, the two of us. You need more than a little fog to take us down.
Suddenly, a shadow fell across my seat. I looked up at a pair of legs that seemed to stretch from here to the East Bay. The dame they were attached to had blue eyes that sucked me in like a whirlpool, and her red, pouty lips glistened when she talked.
"Something isn't right," she said in a deep, throaty voice.
"When did your problems become my problems?" I asked her coldly. She was something to look at, but I wouldn't fall for her act. I've been there before with women. They're like the Giants' bullpen: they lead you on, and then they break your heart. My heart already looks like a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle patched together with masking tape. I couldn't risk 3,001.
"Not my problem," she said, tossing her jet black hair. "Over there." She pointed with her chin towards the field, where a group of Giants were crowded around a man in blue, gesturing and yelling in anger.
"You need to do something," she pleaded. I saw the need in her eyes, and I knew that need ran deeper than for just the game. I hardened my heart, though. I wasn't looking for love. I was looking for the Giants to pick up a game in the standings. From the look of things, they needed my help.
"Can you do anything?" she insisted. "Or are you just another guy with a line and a Jose Uribe batting glove?"
The batting glove crack hit me hard. "Yeah, I can help you, doll-face," I told her. "I'm a Giants fan. That's my job."
"Then let's go," she said, suddenly frantic. "It's getting ugly down there."
"I'm all about speed," I said, following her down the stairs.
On the field, things had gone from bad to worse. The players were screaming. The manager was near purple. The umpire was pumping his fist, throwing players out of the game faster than they could leave the dugout. The fans were getting restless, and I swear I saw a couple of them pulling out a rope and knotting it into a noose. If I didn't do something soon, things might spin out of control.
The play in question was being replayed on the big screen. Bonds had hit a bullet so hard up the middle that it had torn a scorch mark in the outfield grass. The center fielder had scooped it up on a hop, but the home plate umpire had ruled that the ball had bounced off the second baseman's foot and been caught, and the two baserunners had been doubled off for a triple play. Never mind that the second baseman had been kneeling by first base tying his shoes when it happened. The decision was made, and the umpire now had that same look my landlord gets when I'm late with the rent check. Again.
"Hey, blue," I said, "what's the problem? Leave your glasses at the 7-Eleven when you picked up that Big Gulp?"
"Yer outta here!" he screamed at me, stabbing his fist at me so hard I felt the air vibrate down to the holes in my socks.
"Tell it to your parole officer, pal. You can't do that to me," I parried. "You know you blew that call."
He looked confused. I could see logic was not his strong suit. I could see most things not involving eating were not his strong suit. And from the smell of his breath and the red lines in his eyes, his favorite food was garlic and his favorite supplement was Vitamin V, shaken, not stirred.
Still, his training gave him something to fall back on. "I call them like I see them. I call them by the book," he roared. I fell back three paces. His breath was scoring points with every argument he made.
I felt a friendly hand at my back, steadying me as I staggered. "You have to convince him," her soulful voice urged as she pushed me forward again. "We need this game. The Dodgers and the Padres both won tonight."
Things were really getting grim. I turned to the other umps. "Come on, give me some help here," I pleaded with them. "You know it didn't hit his foot. He would have needed a size-143 shoe." But they were supporting their crew chief in full force now. The four stood shoulder to shoulder in a row, arms crossed, their grim faces looking for all the world like a meaty, ugly Mt. Rushmore.
"It's no use," moaned the beautiful vixen. "It's all over. You'll never change their minds now."
"I've got one more trick up my sleeve," I told her, acting more confident than I felt. I turned back to my adversary. "Hey bonehead," I called, "I hear they have a new type of surgery where they take stuff out of your butt and put it in your shoulder and stuff. Only in your case I guess they stuck it a little higher, huh?"
He shouted something that sounded a little like "You knop," but I couldn't be too sure because his fist arrived even sooner than his voice did. I saw four fat hairy knuckles, and then everything went black.
When I woke up, I was looking into the adoring eyes of one of the most beautiful visions I had ever seen. Her look promised me everything and more, and I was ready to take it all, if only she would stop spinning wildly for just one minute.
"You did it," she cried happily, hugging me so tight I thought a button would pop. "After security hauled him off, one of the other umpires reversed the call. We scored a run and they put runners on first and third. They said they had never seen someone take a pop to the jaw to get a call changed before."
"No problem, sweetheart," I said weakly. My jaw felt like the space shuttle had landed on it, and my head was still ringing like the bells of Notre Dame. I saw three of her, and then seven. "I'm a Giants fan. That's my job."
The players and the manager were smiling now. I glanced over at the blond first baseman of the Giants. He gave me a thumbs up, then spun his head completely around in his neck socket and winked at me. I rubbed my eyes, swore off cheap liquor for life and looked back up at my dream-come-true. Maybe I would risk another chisel to the heart after all.
Let's go, doll-face," I told her, wobbling up to my feet. "You can buy me a beer."
"I have a luxury box," she purred. I grinned at her. I'm a Giants fan. You couldn't pay me to be anything else.
(With apologies to Raymond Chandler.)
Richard Booroojian wrote this without knowing he was doing so expressly for EEEEEE! That'll teach him.
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