“Man, those boys can’t hit the broad side of a barn tonight. What on Earth is goin’ on out there? Grumble grumble kerfuffle fudge.”
Lloyd McClendon shrugged. “Dunno, Mr. Leyland, sir. I thought we fixed that in Yankee Stadium. We get to Minneapolis and all the life’s taken out of the offense. You don’t think our boys are allergic to all that plastic, do you?”
Mr. Leyland shook his head and popped another Nicotine gum into a nearly-full cheek. “Damned if I know.”
Son of Grander nearly skipped by both men on his way to the on-deck circle, stopping only long enough to say, “Thanks again, Mr. Leyland, sir!” and waving his bat at the manager.
“Wait, what? Wa… get back here, you consarnded lilly-livered liposuction… what do you mean by that?”
Son of Grander bounced back to Mr. Leyland. “Thanks for the bats, Mr. Leyland, sir! They were a lovely gift!”
“And the note was really super sweet as well! ‘Hope you enjoy these special Kentucky Derby weekend bats; break a leg!’ How nice! You even found pink bats for Jacque Jones! Okay… off to hit!”
Mr. Leyland’s eyes grew wide as he watched Son of Grander jump up the stairs. Mr. Leyland shoved Lloyd McClendon and pointed at Son of Grander. “Grab him! Tackle him! Get him! Go go go!”
Lloyd McClendon, knowing how to be clutch in pinching hitters, rumbled up the stairs and bowled over Son of Grander just as he left the on-deck circle for the plate. Mr. Leyland approached, wheezing. “Give me that bat, Son.”
Mr. Leyland took the bat in his grizzled hands and rubbed on the barrel with his thumb. “I didn’t give any of you new bats, Son of Grander. Why on God’s green Earth would I do that after the old ones were doing so well?”
Son of Grander shrugged blankly. “I dunno, Mr. Leyland, sir.”
“Look here, Son…” Mr. Leyland pointed at the spot where he had rubbed. “This here is an ass-bat.” He turned to the dugout. “They’re all ass-bats! Throw them all away! You’ve been duped!”
Son of Grander gasped. “Why, who would do such a thing?”
“Son, I have my suspicions, but there’s no time for that now.” Mr. Leyland strode (as much as he could, anyhow) to the crowd, reached into the front row, and stole a novelty mini-bat from a seven-year-old Twins fan from Eden Prairie. Mr. Leyland tossed the kid the ass-bat in return, but the crying child knew well enough not to touch an ass-bat.
Mr. Leyland jammed the novelty mini-bat into Son of Grander’s hand. “Get up, Son, and hit again.”
Son of Grander stared at the mini-bat, far too tiny for his huge hands. “But… but Mr. Leyland, sir, I…”
“Son, do you want to hit with that or an ass-bat?”
Son of Grander stared and then nodded. He stood up, walked to the plate, and immediately hit a home run.
Unfortunately, this all happened in the top of the eighth, so the Tigers lost 4-1 to an injured Scott Baker, an emergency long relief performance by Brian Bass, and a parade of late-inning relievers. You may not believe in the ass-bats, but do you have a better explanation for only six hits and one run off that sad collection of pitching talent?
Now to find out who planted those ass-bats…