Three years. For three years, BallWonk sat under the awning of that little tiki bar on the beach, you know the one, drinking coconut-lime rum drinks and watching the Nats on TV. All silent-like. “Hey, BallWonk, whaddaya think about Lastings Milledge?” someone would ask, or “Yo, BallWonk, you backing Rizzo this time around?” or “I’ll have my revenge on you someday, BallWonk, for that Croppzilla crap.” To which BallWonk would simply wave his hand and lift his drink and say, “Get outta here, willya? Can’t you see BallWonk is retired? Kaput, understand, finito, over the hill. Gone away to let that laughing river flow, you dig?”
But then one morning last week, BallWonk woke in horror to find the blood-drenched head of the Phillie Phanatic in his bed.
“Aaaaaaaaaa!” BallWonk said. And then, “Aaaaaaaaaaa!” Because when you wake up with the severed head of a mascot in your bed, you naturally assume it’s Screech, or maybe TC Bear, and that will freak a person out. But when you realize it’s the Phillie Phanatic, well, that’s actually a pretty good way to start the day. The phone rang. “BallWonk,” the voice said. “I’m guessing you got my message.”
“What message? If you think killing the Phillie Phanatic is the way to scare BallWonk, then you’ve got a lot to learn, pal.”
“You’ve got it all wrong,” said the voice on the phone. “Look inside the head.”
There, inside the foam and fake fur head, was an envelope. Stamped Top Secret. “Open it,” said phone man. So BallWonk did, and out spilled a stack of documents showing the new 2011 uniforms. Curly Ws everywhere, and not a stitch of gold to be found, and most of the too-thin purplish piping replaced with bold double stripes. They were beautiful. “What’s this?” BallWonk asked.
“What do you think?” graveled the phone. “Leaked documents.”
“You expect anyone to believe these are real?”
You could almost smell the gin through the phone as he cleared his throat. “It’s a gesture of good faith. Wait until the 10th. If what you see is what the Nats unveil, you’ll know I’m for real.”
“Enough games. Cut to the chase, fella,” BallWonk said. “What do you want?”
“I want you back in the game. You’ve been sitting out too long. Now is the time for all bloggers to come to the aid of the party, the grand Nats party. Things are rough out there. Dunn is thinking about crossing the aisle. We have a chance to pick up endorsements from Webb or even Lee. But we need grassroots energy. We need you off the beach and back in the trenches.”
BallWonk let him eat silence at the end of his little speech. You could tell he’d practiced it.
“Plus, we have Sofia Coppola at the Palermo opera house and a sniper’s rifle aimed dead at her heart.”
“That was a terrible movie.”
“No worse than the 2009 Nats. Look, all I’m saying is, go back to DC for the fashion show. If you like what you see, then get back in the campaign.”
And, well, what the heck, even tiki drinks get old after a few years. Then, last night, the Nats unveiled their new unis, and they were as good as the phone man promised. Even fixed the “h” on the road script so it didn’t break in the middle of the letter. BallWonk may never know who sent those leaked files, but the caller was right. Things are starting to turn in this country. People are ready to take the National League East back from the know-it-all elites in Philadelphia who think they can spend their way to the championship every year. We’ve had Phillies Enough Already, says BallWonk. That’s right, BallWonk is joining the Pea Party.
Ready to go.