Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
toaster 'at" humbug.com
This is round 2 of Humbugardy. I'm your host, Alex Scorebard.
Note: In this round, searching the web is allowed.
"Call me Fishmael."
"It was a normal evening, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But I couldn't help but feel something was wrong. This stretch of the desert rarely had many cars, but I had always seen a few. Yet there were none today. Then my car gave up, stopped dead in the tar. No phone and no help from other cars, I just stood there, but then I noticed the clouds. They had parted in a strange fashion, and something was coming towards me, fast. It almost appeared to be an Angel, but then I realized that it was also . . . a fish?!"
I have no idea where I came up with this, or where I would go with it. Just the first thing that came to me, and as I'm leaving for the weekend, I needed to get my entry in. This was a lot longer than I originally envisioned
If you bothered to look, the first thing you would see is that he had once been an imposing man. His frame was wide across the shoulders, his forehead was high and square, and his legs were very long. But the flesh and muscle had drained from him years ago, and now he was slight, reedy, almost hollwed out. Few in the rushing crowd took the time to look, of course. They flowed over and around him, hardly slowing, and most did not even notice the red-clad figure standing near the turnstiles, his back propped up against the stuccoed stadium wall. The next thing you would realize, if you gave the man a moment of your attention, was that that his shirt and cap were lettered. While the letters were faded -- no doubt from long years in the open weather -- if the light was just right, you could make them out: "P. E. T. A." And if you listened close, during the short, random breaks in the crowd and traffic noise that swirled in the busy concourse, you could hear the man's steady, quiet voice demand, over and over, "Moreno, let that damn monkey go!" It hadn't always been like this . . .
Swimming upstream. He was so tired of hearing that phrase. "Hey, Tim, do you like swimming upstream?" or "Dude, you must be too tired to spawn from swimming upstream." All his life he had heard that phrase, over and over, by by every "Joe Comic" he happened to meet. Well, he had finally heard enough. That's when he pulled out his Louisville Slugger model C271 bat. He would be swimming upstream no more.
"That fateful day in the Anaheim Rocket Launch, when I saw the scales of the first male fish to go up in space, I knew I was in for a very interesting trip."
Laxminarayana Vishnuvardhana saw his turn was next. The line had been long, and the hot wait excruciating, if not unlike the lines and waits in Mumbai. He pulled out a worn, yellowing paperback. It was a book his brother had given him before he left. He had said, "These pages contain all you need to know. Read them. Learn them. Know them in your heart. For here, in this book, is your new home. Here, in this book, is America." He gazed for a moment at the cover, slowly ran his finger over the word "Street," and turned carefully to the page he had marked with a folded corner. There was the name, circled in black ink. He would have only one chance to get it right. He had practiced it over and over again, speaking into a mirror, watching his mouth form the words, correcting little failures, and trying again until it was perfect. Perfect once. Perfect one hundred times. Perfect one thousand times. It would be who he was for the rest of his life. One doesn't skimp on re-birth, and now his time had come. The functionary gestured, waking him from his daydream. "Name please," she said, and slowly he articulated his response: "Tim Salmon." And so he was.
The cover for /Tim Salmon in America/ is a photograph taken late in the afternoon, a photograph of the Willie Mays statue near San Francisco's McCovey Cove.
He pulled the red ballcap over his head, his salty hair poking out beneath the brim. Dark glasses rested on the brim. His ill-fitting uniform, stretched too tight over his prodigious belly and ample undercarriage and sagging too loose in the shoulders and thighs, piched him awkwardly. He sighed heavily. Where was he? Cleveland, he thought. It must be Cleveland. As he trudged up the ramp to the visitor's dugout. Pain throbbed in his knee, his shoulder, his stomach, his brain. Taking his seat next to the manager, he looked at the field, filled with healthy young men who weren't born when his playing career had ended, and Tim Salmon wondered why baseball -- the great game he always loved -- could not see fit to love him back.
"Why don't you sit down?" he said, eyeing the grill. "I woke him up early this morning. The playoffs and all."
When it occured to him that his son might have a talent for the thing, his first instinct was to drown the boy's desire like a runt puppy. There had been money in it, but -- was it worth the pain? Not the mental pain, because that could always pay off, you know -- no, the sheer physical pain? Those joints, bone on bone, that disgusting grinding? The nights throwing up from the visceral impact of a tendon popping in half? The boy would have money. Salmon had seen to that. Did he need the agony of it all? He spit in the dirt and reached out to touch his brother's arm.
Different from this far away. I used to play short you know. But I been out here long enough to know I aint catchin that one. Fuck fuck. Cmon Anderson you cunt. Darrin woulda had his hands on that shit. I got it I got it. Dont touch it cunt I got the good arm. It caroms off the wall into my gove. Anderson pulls up to watch me. I give it all the brute force I got. I can see Chavez trying to go three. Adam takes it like its a free giveaway at the goddam Safeway and pegs it over to whats that guys name . . . Houston? New Fuckin Orleans? Somethin McSomethinorother at third. And hes out. See I told you Garret. I got the good arm. Three outs. Time to hit you know.
Anaheim! Anaheim, where half-caught breath once thrummed on summer winds. Where new-mown grass had smelled of promise, and peanuts tasted of victory. Men had been legends, then, and monkeys myth. The gnarled old man in the battered red cap stood amongst the ghostly ruins, dwarfed by the oversized A. He squinted through the glare of the angry sun, just able to discern the letters, "LOS AN ELES." Anaheim! Was it only imagination? Had there ever really been such a place?
The heat and the constant travel was starting to wear on him. His showing at Bakersfield was a good start. The performance he gave in Stockton was encouraging. The error in Rancho Cucamonga wasn't. And now, here he was baking in the summer sun in Palm Springs. Twenty years ago in this very desert oasis, Tim Salmon found himself a top prospect in the California Angels organization, but he never remembered it being this hot. The August sun was blurring the bus trips in Visalia, San Jose and Lancaster all into one giant ride. The noise outside of the bus broke his spell. The crowd was cheering his name. The fans always loved him, but you couldn't deny the irony. During his successful baseball career, Salmon never received enough votes to be named to an All-Star team, but in his new life, the votes came seemingly all too easy. As Governor Salmon or "Mr. November," as the Orange County Register dubbed him stepped out of his bus, he was overwhelmed with the support of the crowd.
"Four more years! Four more years!"
"Tim, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Tim-oh-thee: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three. Tim. Oh. Thee.
He was Tim, plain Tim, in the morning, standing six feet three in one stirrup. He was Timothy in baseball pants. He was Salmon on the dotted line. But in my arms he was always Tim Salmon, right fielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Did he have a precursor? He did. In point of fact, there might have been no Tim at all had I not loved, one summer, a certain initial rightfielding slugger (Chilli Davis). In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Tim was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a baseball fan for a fancy prose style.
I'm judging this one by basically asking which paragraph makes me most want to read the rest of the book. And on that basis, the winner is: Derek Smart. The board is yours, Derek. Please let me know when you finish the rest of the book.
Also, props (but no points) to Turnstiles for using a "Trout Fishing in America" reference. Unfortunately, the first paragraph of "Trout Fishing in America" refers to the book itself instead of to the character called "Trout Fishing in America". If someone had used the phrase "Tim Salmon in America" as a character name, that someone might have won, because the way Brautigan played with language like that just tickles me.
i really liked joe's answer as well.
Let's go with Subjective for 1000.
Derek, that was brilliant. This category rocks!
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