Our Own League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

By Tom Kersten (adapted from a blog May 25, 2015)

Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s important to have a plan, otherwise what will you throw away 3 minutes after the game starts?” Clearly, Coach Lombardi was not thinking about our baseball teams and the unique brand of awesomeness we employ. Though in fairness, if he could see some of our on-field decisions of late he might be shocked at how accurate his statement has actually become. No… I think he was alluding to the need for a team to bring passion, intention and structure onto the field and then have the willingness and experience to be flexible, to adapt to the opponent as the game unfolds. With this very wisdom in mind, I will attempt to layout the intention behind this new MABL of Southern Wisconsin endeavor and what we hope it can or might be able to accomplish. When it was first proposed, I mean shouted from the back of the room, at the winter meeting last year, that if I wanted to be nominated for the position of League Secretary that perhaps those managers in attendance could see a sample of my writing and judge me thus accordingly… and in keeping with that suggestion here is my first baseball blog article for your discerning consideration. This is an idea that we, as a League, should actually attempt to DO something with our league website… a website that literally gets dozens of hits a month… and such a prospect I must admit was at first quite terrifying. Well, perhaps “terrifying” is too strong a word. In order to be terrified, you must first give a shit about the something that is scary and as a League we clearly stopped caring about our website years ago, so maybe apathy is more the term I’m looking for here. Nevertheless, it is the intention of those of us that can muster the needed 28% effort available at… what time is it now?… 8:47am on a Monday morning… (really, wow… I should probably get some actual work done around here today)… to try and put forth something entertaining on our website that might be of interest to players and fans alike.

First, a rather obvious disclaimer… I have never considered myself a particularly skilled writer. Oh, there was that one failed semester in college, when I deluded myself into thinking I could be the illegitimate time-traveling lovechild of Stephen King and Agatha Christie, trained in the art of writing by a Jesuit priest played by Tom Clancy. This is the part where I caution any children reading this to NOT take that hit of acid in the basement of that really cool frat party because, “hey, what’s the worst that could happen?” In reality, I’m the guy who got a “D” in grammar my senior year of high school and still to this day, has no idea what a prepositional phrase actually is or how to use one. Fortunately, this in no way disqualifies me for the position. One of the great joys of being part of this league and this group of guys in general, is that we have never let little things like “facts” or “skills” stand in our way. “Hey, blond kid… Can you catch a curveball or throw all the way to second base without bouncing the ball? No??… Perfect, you’re a catcher.” “Hey, round guy… Can you bend over at the waist and field a groundball? No??… Excellent, you’re a shortstop.” In fact, the complete distain for and occasional violence towards conventional “baseball wisdom” that is displayed on a regular basis here is quite… refreshing? No… that’s not quite the right word, I mean unless that’s what you’re going for, in the same way an enema to clean out your bowels before a colonoscopy is REFRESHING!!!… I think George Carlin’s bit about the brisk, cool and refreshing sensation of the air rushing in to wash over his brain probably sums this feeling up best, but since the only way to achieve this momentary euphoria was a sharp axe blade to the cranium, as he put it, “I try to avoid it”.

SIDENOTE: The video link here is Carlin’s classic Football vs. Baseball bit, followed by some of the most hellacious football hits I’ve ever seen… kind of the way I’m guessing a certain proto-type power-forward turned pitcher would like to play baseball if given the chance… The Spanish subtitles are just a bonus, left in to honor “Beer-E” and the minor leagues of Arizona, which has led to some of the greatest and most offensive jokes, either I or that one waitress, have ever over-heard… and then continually repeated, along the lines of… “Offensive?? That’s not offensive…Blah, blah, blah… blah… now, THAT is offensive!!”

… But I may be off topic here… where was I? Oh yeah, my qualifications… while professional columnists like Dave Barry and even Chuck Lorre, the brilliant TV writer & producer, with the 1 second vanity cards at the end of shows like The Big Bang Theory, clearly have nothing to fear from my writing prowess… I continue to be the guy who enjoys telling the ridiculous story around the poker table or over beers after the game, the collector of inane facts (both true & made up), the arbitrary deliverer of absurd nicknames and in a stroke of asinine genius, the judicial impersonator of one Randy “Macho Man” Savage during the our team’s mock Kangaroo Court… and to the degree to which this qualifies me to join the de-facto leaders of this motley band of three-ring circus performers, I say… “OH YEAH!!! What are you gonna do, when the Macho Man runs wild on you????”… But I may be paraphrasing.

Thinking back on the baseball teams, players and stories of these past years, I’m reminded of what my Grandfather once told me… “No matter what you choose to do with your life, try not to be a douche.” This is sage wisdom, among the best I’ve ever received and while I can’t fully remember that particular moment without the smell of fish guts from the bottom of the boat or the sound of him popping open the next Pabst Blue Ribbon, my 9 year-old brain said, that’s a keeper… get that one into long-term storage, pronto… and while I’m still not entirely certain if it’s worse to be called a douchebag or just a plain douche (despite devoting an embarrassingly large amount of time and thought to the subject), my promise to my teammates and opponents is this… It will never be my intention to publicly shame or humiliate anyone with the stories that are recounted here. That damage, my friends, has already been done. The purpose of sharing these stories, from the past and from the future yet to come, is to laugh at ourselves… like no one else is watching, until our ribs ache and our faces hurt from all the awesome… and there is a lot of it to sift through. Some classics may be very familiar, like… how not to handle your wad on the mound, “Hey look… I don’t like to lose”, how to take a walk without injuring yourself, “fastballs make me uncomfortable… their just so… fast”, who got so drunk after the game they hit on a hooker (and not

for the first time) and my personal favorite… what actually is the breaking point for an Irish hockey player wearing catcher’s gear while facing down a team full of Dominicans? Others may be new and still unfolding… like “Hulk smash”, a certain someone’s unnatural love of Rocky 4, “No… it’s Monarchs as in kings, not butterflies” and… “Marketing?? I could market the shit outta that.” As the Jack Webb/Harry Morgan classic DRAGNET! says, the names have been changed to protect the innocent and while no one involved here is truly innocent, we will do our best to use nicknames, code words and euphemisms to guard against the prying eyes of our hordes of fans… yeah, I’m talking to you lady! Remember, that above all else, I am a giver… I give until it hurts and each of you should let me know if it starts to hurt too much. Reasonable adjustments can always be made, though I can’t make any promises as to how the rest of the group might respond… case in point, the recently overheard, “nice grunt Serena,”… as chirped from the bench aimed at their OWN pitcher, which is entirely consistent considering our inclination towards searching for blood in the water and the hapless victim (I mean, teammate) who was foolish enough to start a sentence with, “I hate it when…” which is a virtual guarantee that whatever follows, will be repeated 27 times in the next 4 minutes. Suggestions from everyone are welcome’ of course… they are after all, the essence of team building and the entire reason for doing any of this. We are not a dictatorship, despite what my three daughters might insist about my parenting style… “It’s a benign dictatorship, but don’t fool yourself, it’s a dictatorship none-the-less,”… are they not adorable? So let’s hear those stories, share those pictures, quote those movies and above all else… have NO REGERTS!!!… (Really? Not one, not even one letter?)… Name that movie?… Anyone? Anyone?… *sigh*… A young teammate once told us, rather foolishly, that he had never seen the film Major League (1989)… where by, we immediately assigned him the task of going home and watching it from beginning to end that weekend as many times as he could… and informed him that there would be a test on Monday… (grin)… Kasey?? for your sake, I hope you did your homework… Gentlemen, this is gonna be fun.