As I write this column, I look upon the National League Central standings and find that my Chicago Cubs are sitting in dead last. In a season that is just barely 10 games old, they are already five games out of first. By my calculations, if this kind of performance continues, by the end of the 162-game season, the North-Siders could possibly be 1.2 million games off the pace. I’m sorry Cub fans, but math doesn’t lie.
In order to help the organization out, I am volunteering my services as a coach to turn this sinking ship around. I believe that with just a few minor tweaks, I could turn these so-called lovable losers into a bona fide contender. To shake things up, there are several different things I would try.
• Every now and then, I would start a game with my fireball-throwing closer. I figure he’s got to throw one or two innings anyway, so let’s get it out of the way early. That way we don’t have to watch them self-destruct later on after beer sales have been cut off.
• I would put the bunt sign on to 12 consecutive batters. Nobody would expect it. After the first few guys, the other team would be saying stuff like, “There’s no way five guys in a row would bunt,” and “What kind of idiot bunts 10 times in a row?” Granted, there might be 12 consecutive batters thrown out at first, but just think how tired the third- and first-basemen will be.
• Speaking of first basemen, I would make mine wear brown shoes, the exact same color as the dirt around the bag. That way, when he pulls his foot a little early, it won’t be as obvious to the umpire. I’d also get him one of those hockey goalie gloves that looks like they’re four feet long. Instead of getting the ball to the mitt quicker, I’ll get the mitt to the ball quicker.
• I would make all of my players wear those fake glasses with the fake nose and mustache. It would be distracting to the pitcher and quite honestly, I think it would just class up the whole organization.
• You know how Little Leaguers chatter during games by saying “Hey batter - hey batter - hey batter - Swing!!!?” Well I would do something similar except I would have every guy on the team be totally, deathly silent and just every now and then, have the third-baseman let out a blood-curdling scream like he’s passing a kidney stone. That’s got to be a little unnerving to the batter. (Actually, I guess that is basically the exact opposite of what Little Leaguers do.)
• I would feed my players a steady diet of baked beans. Not only would the odor darn near paralyze the opposing catcher, but I believe the laws of physics and jet propulsion would greatly increase our overall team speed on the base paths.
• I would make my wildest, hardest throwing pitcher intermittently cluck like a chicken and then recite the 23rd Psalm in between pitches. If you’re the batter going up against a pitcher that has a 98 mile-per-hour heater, and at one moment you look out to the mound and see him making chicken noises and the next moment he’s talking to himself about walking through valley of the shadow of death, you’re not going to crowd the plate.
• I would have an insurance agent as my starting catcher. Batters will swing at balls a foot outside rather than put up with the continuous sales pitch.
• In 1951, the St. Louis Browns sent 3-foot, 7-inch Eddie Gaedel to bat in the second game of a double-header. He was walked on four consecutive pitches. Instead of sending someone that small up to the plate, I’d start a team of nine guys that are really fat and not afraid to occasionally get hit by a ball. Fat enough that their gut hangs over the plate and takes up the entire strike zone. I could possibly use out of work or retired sumo wrestlers. The at bat is either going to consist of four consecutive balls or a hit by pitch. As long as they don’t get greedy and try to steal a lot of bases, we should be OK.
• I would start a rumor that there are snakes in the ivy. Doubles would become inside-the-park home runs on a regular basis.
• Every other home game, I would have “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” played during the sixth inning instead of the seventh in hopes that it would throw the opposing team off, and they would stop playing hard an inning early.
• The Iowa Hawkeye football team (which I have always claimed to be cheating scum) are known to have painted the visiting team locker room at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City a pretty shade of pink in order to help them psychologically intimidate the opposition on the field of play. I would utilize the same tactic except I would paint the entire locker room a dark shade of black. (As opposed to a light shade of black.) And then I’d put in old, cheap light bulbs connected to bad wiring and low amp fuses. If the lights go out and they can’t find their way to the field, that’s a forfeit. I figure I can get five to six wins a season on that maneuver alone.
• As my last resort, I’d hire Steve Bartman as my assistant coach. When things go all to pieces and the friendly confines turns into a ballpark full of 40,000 blood-lusting, riotous fans wanting my head on a stick, I’ll just point at him and say “It’s his fault.” That ought to give me a little bit of a head start if I can just make my way through all those fat guys.
Besides, they’ll never recognize me with the fake nose and mustache.
You can contact Wallace at email@example.com. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.wordpress.com.