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Soup of This Day #48: I Will Not Aim For The Head

August 9, 2011

Fraxinus Americana
Fraxinus americana. American Ash. Great for making baseball bats. Supply your own lightning – Photo: Willow, 2007. Willow is not affiliated with Longworth72. Coincidentally, willow (the wood) is good for Cricket bats. Image cropped by Longworth72.

My brother is now a Blue Jays fan. I don’t think the Blue Jays quite understand what that means. The inital ramifications are subtle – A late night phonecall:

Brother of Longworth72: Hey.

Longworth72: Hey, how’s it going?

Brother of Longsworth72:
Yeah, alright. This baseball stuff. The designated hitter. I get that there’s 2 leagues but…

There follows a lengthy Longworth72 explanation of the designated hitter role and inter-league interactions.

Brother of Longworth72: That’s just @#$%ing stupid then.

Which is at least partially true but my brother is committed nonetheless. He’s ordered a Blue Jays cap and that’s as serious a compact as you’re gonna get outside of a vampire bite. Nevermind that the current Blue Jays aren’t going to make the playoffs. He’s actually pretty cool with that. Mediocrity in his teams is his default expectation.

This is the man who has doggedly supported Everton through some lean times. Who adopts a worried expression for the half of each season where relegation threatens his beloved Toffees. Who when Everton played in the 2009 FA Cup Final against Chelsea politely accepted and consumed the commemorative cupcakes my wife had thoughtfully but incongruously made for the occasion. He didn’t think they were at all out of place. And this is the man who, when Everton lost the 2009 FA Cup Final, went and hid all of the subsequent DVD copies of the match that he found in a local store by dropping them behind the display, which is possibly where they still are.

Consequentially he’s pretty pragmatic about it all, often limiting communication to terse missives. For example he might use ‘neville’ to indicate that Phil Neville has scored for Everton or a ‘@#$%’ to indicate that someone has scored against Everton. This can extend out to combinations such as ‘@#$% phil’, indicating that Phil Neville has accidently scored against Everton. Again. The rest of the emotion he tends to internalise although he will occasionally capitalise a SMS broadcast. As in, ’22 shots on goal but NO @#$%ING GOAL’.

Don’t for a moment think my brother is simple or stupid though. He will have the baseball thing figured out in a week or 2. Then the phone conversation will be about how the Jays rejigged batting lineup isn’t working on road trips where the air is humid. Or something. See he’s pretty loyal and stubborn but he’s also smart. Plus he likes Field of Dreams and The Natural.

Then again who doesn’t. I haven’t seen The Natural for a while but my brother found a cheap copy at the store the other day and in his new found exploration of baseball bought a copy for my wife and I. Actually, pretty much just me really, although it’s a decent story that maybe my beloved will enjoy.

The Natural is about a young prodigy called Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) who plans on being ‘the best there ever was’, a little like Red Sox legend, Ted Williams. Roy is on his way to the big time when he is shot by a crazed seductress (Barbara Hershey).

Which is not at all like Red Sox legend, Ted Williams.

This smallish setback aside he makes a comeback many years later with a team whose co-owner perversely needs to lose. Said co-owner attempts to bribe Roy to lose but Roy honourably refuses, pledging his loyalty to his team and manager (Wilford Brimley) who also happens to be the other co-owner and who will lose his share of the team if they fail to win the pennant. Sadly at this point, unlike my bro, Roy is not blessed with the smarts for he falls for a 2nd crazed seductress (Kim Bassinger) who fails to shoot him but does poison him with a tampered eclair.

Roy, once was an unfortunate accident but twice? Dude. Maybe set the crazy lady detector to ‘On’.

Anyway, while the poison has failed to kill the man his stomach lining is shot to crap (in part because of the bullet from crazy lady numero uno) and he can’t play in the pennant game as his stomach may rupture at any moment. This would kill him, completing the work of 2 crazy ladies and would hamper his team’s chances no end. Throw in a long lost sweetheart (Glenn Close – Early days but seems normal) who has a son that turns out to be Roy’s and you’ve got yourself some 2-out-bottom-of-the-9th-almost-killed-by-2-crazy-broads-son-he-never-knew magic.

With a home-made bat made from a tree struck by lightning near where his dad died.

Called ‘Wonderboy’.

@#$% me, they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

The movie is referenced in a classic Simpson’s episode, Season 3’s Ep. 17: Homer at the Bat, which features a ‘Wonder Bat’. Apparently the 1st Simpsons episode to beat The Cosby Show in the ratings it featured the lights shattering moment at the end from The Natural. It also has cameos from a couple of players who played for the Blue Jays, Roger ‘Oh maybe the poisoned eclair defence could work for me’ Clemons and Jose ‘Yeah I admit I was juiced’ Canseco. Both of whom incidentally played for the Sox before the Jays.

And now we’re back to the Blue Jays and their new fan. The other day the Jays went down 3-0 to Texas. Cue the following exchange of text messages:

Brother of Longworth72: Rangers huh. You realise you’re responsible for introducing me to a whole new arena of sporting failure?

Longworth72: In their defence Texas are really quite good.

Brother of Longworth72: The other team are better. I’m on familiar ground here.

Brother of Longworth72: Yep, gotta watch Cowboys n’ Aliens.

Look the hell out Toronto. There’ll be letters soon.

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