The Burbank Gazette
Missouri Waltz, Week 7
By Andy Greene/Lt. Eckhart/Maury Chessel
Von’s Smelly Parking Lot, Burbank, CA (March 10th, 2014) – There’s a time in every person’s life when they have to look inside themselves, and wonder: is it worth it? Do I have what it takes? Am I fooling myself? Do I look fat in these jeans?
The Missouri Waltz ballclub may be asking those very personal and disturbing questions behind closed doors after their latest collapse, dropping to 0-2 in the C division, and 5-2 overall, if we want to make them feel better.
This week they visited the Cobras (1-0, 2-3, C division), hoping to position themselves as the illustrious Mongoose/Mongeese. But, as is often the case when a group of people attempt to be something they’re not, they looked like jackasses.
They hoped to at least be the Snake Charmer, with the ability to hypnotize the Cobra. Instead, they were lured and hypnotized by the Cobra themselves, becoming easy prey in the process.
The Cobras, whispering the mantra of their dojo (“Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy”) under their breath, and embracing the wise teachings of Sensei John Kreese, punished the upstart Waltz, in a low scoring 13-9 final.
Picking up after the 1st inning, because someone mixed up the fields (I’m not smarter than a 5th grader), the Missouri Waltz had pounced on the Cobras, staking themselves to a 5-3 lead, thanks to a litany of walks and singles. Once the press arrived, it was all downhill, leading many to speculate that I was the reason the team ultimately faltered. I think it’s poppycock, but excuses are the language of losers.
The lead held for a while, as the Waltz continued to tack on, thanks to a “HR” by leadoff man Brandon Klaus. In baseball, it’d be a single with a three base error, but his shot to the grass was misplayed by someone who clearly is not William Zabka, leading to a round tripper and many a pat on the ass.
While the offense was doing just enough early, the real story was Jim “Geronimo” Wolfe Jr.’s new wardrobe accessory: the beret, which I think is something John Wayne wore once. It’s also French, obnoxious and artsy, some words of which I could use to describe the enigmatic ace pitcher for the Waltz. As keen observer/2B Bret Watkins pointed out, he’s added a new compliment to his wardrobe every week. First it was the Wild Thing glasses, this week it was the Beret, and next week better be Randy Quaid. His new look and style would be the talk of the bleachers, leaving men and women alike swooning, if the Waltz had anyone to sit in them (I sometimes feel like I’m being paid to be a fan). Instead, the Cobras’ kids were being loud and obnoxious. Softball was invented so middle-aged men and women could get away from their significant others and their children. Keep the bastards at home.
Anyways, Wolfe had his pitching do the talking this week, including dropping down the Rainbow, freezing two batters. If a tie is like kissing your sister, striking out looking in softball is like fucking her in the ass with your parents watching. [Alternate sentence that doesn’t make me want to puke: Striking out in softball is one of the universe’s biggest sins to which we all inevitably succumb to, but striking out looking, like foosball and women, is the devil.] No matter how you put it, Wolfe struck two of the Cobras out looking, necessitating me spending way too long in the Word symbol database to try and find (and fail) a backwards K. Like so: His stuff was so impressive, the sissy umpire gave him the most backhanded compliment the world has ever seen: “You would be a good pitcher for Glendale.” While Spielberg started Dreamworks in Glendale, the city is most known for killing dreams, the Hillside Strangler and for housing a cemetery where famous people are put under ground. Thanks blue.
Because Wolfe’s eephus’ (eephi?) were working, the Cobras copied the strategy, putting in their double secret ace pitcher (let’s call him Cobra Commander), who specializes in illegal pitches and lollipops, neither of which the Waltz liked. Except for Wolfe, who deposited a single calmly into left field, took an extra base, then scored on two consecutive sac flies. If a tie is like kissing your sister, a sac fly in softball is like snogging your second cousin. You shouldn’t be proud of it, but you kind of are.
After three innings, the Waltz held onto an 8-5 lead. Their defense had mostly held up their end of the bargain, a far cry from last week, only allowing 2 unearned runs thus far. It was their offense that was underperforming this time around, a trend that would continue over the final 5 innings. Their frustration was summed up by 1B Charlie Back (and next week’s arm): “This pitcher is really starting to piss me off.”
Around this time, something unsettling drastically changed the game’s entire landscape: the umpire, realizing the Waltz had left their donut outside of the dugout, whined, complained and put it in the dugout for the team, due to precautionary/bullshit reasons. Who knows why, but this was the turning point of the game. As soon as the donut was put away, the Waltz kept putting up donuts in their half of the inning.
Before I backup that ridiculous statement with anything resembling evidence, let’s take a break to spotlight a player I haven’t talked about yet, in a new MATCH.COM sponsored sub-section I like to call: SQUEEZING IN ANECDOTES. Eric “the Wanderer” Patton, a reserved man who travels a lot, leaving his two delightful kids behind, entered into my heart for the first time this past week. Perhaps it was his angular and well-sculpted face, his firm handshake, or his hustle around the bases. Most likely it was his number: 142. The man is the Answer to Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything + 100. He’s Jackie Robinson + 100. He’s the inverse of Ken Griffey Jr., + 100. He uses three digits on his uniform, which is stupid and badass at the same time. Whether it’s an accident or by design or cosmic fate, it’s clear the Missouri Waltz are better for having all 142 shades of Eric.
As alluded to previously, the defense didn’t blow this week. The turnaround had many factors, including the benefit of playing against “the human double play” (AKA Marcus), but the overall stellar performance was symbolized by Brant Malan’s superb play in left field. By official count, he made 56 put outs in left field on annoying fly balls, which is a record (fuck Jacoby Ellsbury), and was all over the outfield, making the grass his bitch (and earning the unfortunate moniker of Lawnmower Man).
Inbetween inflating his stats while DH’ing, Bret Watkins is an amateur nutritionist, already angling for a viable career after he hangs up his dirty cleats. His game day diet included a cinnamon roll, a “healthy” salad to appease the woman, top ramen, and 2 shots of whiskey. They need to get this guy on the Biggest Loser. While the Cobra Kai’s have their mantra, Bret has his: “sugar [like greed] is good.” Judging by the outcome of their game, one of their mantras is more effective.
My favorite part of the contest, aside from embarrassing myself by talking to the other team, had to be Alicia Pharris’ at bat in the 4th (?) inning. She took the maximum number of pitches one can take in softball (and while it felt like 17, it was more like 5), and worked one of the more impressive walks in softball history. For a team that prides itself on the free passes, this one will be etched into the annals of Waltz history. Considering the misogynistic pitcher apparently grumbled, “Take that walk baby,” the Cobras cemented themselves as arch nemeses…until the Goodfellas come to town.
In the bottom of the fourth, Collin rocketed a ball to 1st that Charlie got handcuffed by, allowing 3 runs to score, and after 4 innings…the score was all nodded up at 8-8. You know what they say about ties.
While it’s easy to get down on oneself, or be discouraged, catcher Graham Showell doesn’t let that happen. He’s the squad’s cheerleader, the man who tells every runner to hold, but never holds back his enthusiasm and encouragement. In a dugout full of sarcasm and self-doubt, Graham Showell truly does stand out. It’d be inspiring if it worked.
The umpire continued to get distressed over the silliest things, admonishing Brandon for “tricking” the Cobras into thinking that a base runner was heading to second. But, as is the weekly custom, he also gave the Waltz the blown call that could’ve opened the floodgates, calling Wolfe safe on second when he clearly wasn’t, after a diving play by the shortstop no less. The call led to a run, as the Waltz continued to hustle and take extra bases, even in the face of the Cobra’s cannons in the outfield. The Waltz led 9-8 going into the bottom of the 5th, sitting pretty, if by pretty, you mean Sarah Jessica Parker.
The Waltz wouldn’t score another run, which I hear is the point of softball. The Cobras know that…and after they had lulled the Waltz into a false sense of security…they managed to put together a rally, hinging upon the gangly Dominic, who was clearly the Rudy of the team. When he singled, the squad reacted like it was the first hit of his career, or as if he’d cured AIDS. The former is more likely true. After a plane from nearby took off, so did the Cobras Ringer, a late arriving stud of an athlete who blasted a 3-run mammoth shot, that was nearly Jim Edmonds’d by Brandon in left center. But it wasn’t, and the score was 13-9 after 5.
Inbetween innings, two kids in the stands were playing with sticks, perhaps simulating a lightsaber duel, or gay sex. Their mother, naturally concerned, ordered the kids: “Don’t whack each other with that.” These words don’t really describe the plight of the Missouri Waltz and encapsulate some jaw-dropping metaphor in the process, but needed to be thrown out there. And perhaps the Waltz unwittingly heeded this astute mother’s advice: they were too timid, cautious, careful, and not letting loose and whacking the ball with the bat.
Hoping to spur a rally, Brant cried, “Encouraging words here,” when the warriors returned to the dugout. Perhaps the Waltz needed more specifics, or weren’t familiar with the term. Graham started the inning off with a walk (when the count was 3-1, the grizzled manager said he would “kill him if he swings”), but the rally was snuffed out immediately, when Alicia’s line shot turned into an easy DP. It’s taking every fiber of my being not to make a DP joke.
After another scoreless inning for both sides, the time was now.
Or never. K-PO-1B-GO. Not nearly the sad 1-2-3 “comeback” inning of last week, but not much better, leaving the final tally to be 13-9, or 10-4 after the press arrived to ruin all the fun. Stephen thought to himself four times that I was the reason they had lost. I think the donut theory is more likely, but most likely? They were doomed from the start, unable to withstand the might of the Cobra Kai.
Graham, ever the cheerleader previously, said it all after the final out: “Well, shit.”
Well shit indeed.
Charlie Back’s favorite childhood toy was the Teddy Ruxbin (which explains a lot), and after the game, he felt like he had gotten raped by him, a delightful image. The Waltz, after the close defeat, debated whether or not they’d rather have been smoked by the Cobras instead. Dan Bence, ever the philosopher (and human embodiment of the San Antonio Spurs), silenced the chatter with a quote from his third favorite Batman villain (after the Clock King and Egghead): “There’s no true despair without hope.” Heavy, Doc.
While the rest of the team was shaken and battered emotionally, Collin took solace in his post-game ritual, which never wavers, win or lose: a lukewarm Perrier.
Lukewarm is how I feel about the Missouri Waltz’s chances going forward. The team has talent, guts, panache, but also is too streaky for its own good, and more consumed with stats and girlfriends than the glory that can come from domination on the diamond. While team chemistry and the clubhouse dynamic is dynamite…the Waltz record in the C division is proof enough that having fun doesn’t equate to having success. The upside is there: they scored over 20 runs while missing half their roster last week, and managed to keep a team to 13 this week. If they can put together all facets of the game at once, they might be waltzing their way through the playoffs.
Right now, Brandon is right when he asserts that they deserve the disrespect they’re getting from the C league. Like Rodney Dangerfield, they’re ultimately too worried about getting respect, and being disrespected, than earning it. Next week against Vandelay Industries they have a tough test, but one that could go a long way in silencing their critic(s).
If the Waltz played as well as they sang Eddie Vedder songs or were as knowledgeable about the game as they are about FAMILY MATTERS, I’d be a helluva lot more optimistic. Guaranteed.
News & Notes
- When asked if this was her first Missouri Waltz experience™, Allie, a season ticket holder (sucks for her) of the Missouri Waltz, responded: “God no.” Those two words seem telling. Also, she’s a Pisces and said #99 (Brandon) is “mine,” as if she was a vampire lording over her human concubine. Or a woman.
- Many Fantasy Softball players had expressed concern over the condition and mental wellbeing of Stephen Leggitt after his Grade 2 concussion against the Scrubs. When asked about the incident, his eyes glazed over and he struggled to remember the incident. But, we do know that after having a sizable bump on his head last week, the swelling has reduced to the size of a bouncy ball. Of course, this diagnosis comes from Leggitt, who still may be experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Stay tuned on this developing story.
- The case of the missing waitress (Erin, to her stalkers) may have been solved. Wolfe found her in a Trader Joe’s parking lot, driving away, most likely because she realized a patron from the bar she worked at was watching her. She also apparently has started going to Pharmaceutical school, and only works at the Blue Room on the weekends. Her connection with drugs, and the Missouri Waltz ongoing substance abuse problem, might be a coincidence.