Though You Didn’t Ask … I Tell

Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, where more baseball is being played this year. (Monte Dutton)
Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, where more baseball is being played this year. (Monte Dutton)

Many are the pursuits in which I spend too much time. Deleting “spam” comments on my websites, for instance. Occasionally, I read some of the nonsensical ones just for fun. A favorite spammer word is “fastidious,” perhaps because it takes fastidious – and diabolical, for that matter – people to post offers for cheap NFL replica jerseys worldwide.

The more loyal readers of this blog undoubtedly recognize this as the time of the morning when I start typing away hoping something worth writing will arise. So far, no good.

Boston0907 013This is the baseball time of diminishing returns. A year ago, the Boston Red Sox were en route to their third world championship in a decade. This year, the Red Sox finished last in the AL East. Because of what happened a year ago, it’s not so bad. If the Bosox are involved, I hang on every pitch this time of year. Once the Sox have become extinct – this year it happened, for practical purposes, sometime before the trading deadline – I have the game on, and I’m reading a book (John Irving’s A Son of the Circus, at present), and I pause to watch when Ernie Johnson Jr.’s voice rises, which is rare.

Last night, I was torn between the long-suffering Kansas City Royals, for whom I’ve often felt sorry, and the Oakland Athletics, whose “Moneyball” often involves some of it spent in Boston. Nothing seems more out-of-place than a player who once wore red Boston piping now decked out in bright yellow. Besides, the Royals won in thirteen innings, or, measured another way, most of the way through Craig Ferguson’s Late, Late Show. As the game wore on, I paid attention more and more, and it was with the appreciation for a good game, which is a much more relaxed way to watch baseball than when one’s favorite team is facing extinction.

Well, that’s it for Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, and other Red Sox of yore that I can’t think of at the moment.

Yesterday, I completed my longest short story – as opposed to my shortest long story – to date. Like most of my short stories, it’s loosely based on a song I wrote, one called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the short-story version is now posted at this site. It’s a baseball-themed work of fiction, involving a fictitious major-league team, the Portland Loggers, an old coach named Riggs Hellams, and a mixed-up phenom named Leland Mortenson. I wrote about minor-league baseball for many years, and at the beginning of the story, Hellams manages a fictitious minor-league club named the Tri-Cities Bullfrogs.

It’s about trying to save someone who can’t be saved. It’s about how rules don’t mean anything if the system is rigged. It’s about how people are placated when rules are in place, and they don’t pay attention if those rules are routinely ignored. Of course, something terrible winds up happening, which is the same way it is in real life when, oh, a big storm hits and that’s when everyone finds out the levees aren’t working, or when some nutcase leaps a fence and runs right into the White House, but the alarms have been disabled because a couple Secret Service agents want to play gin rummy or something. This particular story was built as much around a conversation I had with a former college athlete at a bar as the song I wrote. The song was written because I started thinking about how many events in life are shaped around the notion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which came into widespread usage based on the onetime policy toward gays in the military. No one in either my song or short story is gay. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is everywhere. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is involved in disasters of every kind. It’s practiced by parents and kids, preachers, teachers, lovers, livers, diers, young, old, fat, skinny, white, black, fit, feeble, males and females.

So … I took a shot at it.

Today I’m hoping to write the forty-fourth chapter of Forgive Us Our Trespasses, which I plan to be my fourth novel. It keeps extending itself, and I keep saying only a few chapters remain. It’s not a bad thing to struggle wrapping a story up until, well, it seems just right. As soon as this takes place – it seems forever a week away – I’m going back into planned novel number three, Crazy of Natural Causes, for one more coat of polish, the draft of which will be the fourth. Then it’ll be back to Trespasses. A new project is out of my field of vision right now.

Then there’s another one-game playoff, this one involving the San Francisco Giants paying a visit to the Pittsburgh Pirates, tonight. If I do the recluse thing again all day today, I’ll do the mow the loan, empty the trash thing tomorrow. Then there’s a high school football game on Friday night, and a small-college game on Saturday night, racing on TV on Sunday, and other events in life which, at the moment, seem entirely predictable.

I didn’t expect this blog to end this way or last this long. It just did.

The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope are available at www.neverlandpublishing.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.amazon.com. The latter offers Kindle versions of both novels.

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