Spotlight on Sports with Birdie Bjornberg

Sports Editor, Hectorville Times Picayune Examiner Clarion Register Tribune

Spring has sprung, and that means it’s time for the bird’s-eye lowdown on the prospects for the Hectorville Fighting Wombats baseball team. Throughout the season, you can count on the old Birdman to bring you fans all the ins and outs of the spectacle that is Wombat baseball. And, if last season was any guide, there may be more outs than ins.

This year’s Fighting Wombats are a team that defies description. A collection of misfits, rag-arms, knuckleheads and loose screws that are less like a ball club as they are a human compost heap. But this is all old news. The team is basically unchanged from last year’s squad, with the only additions being a few more lines on their respective rap sheets.

Alas, winter has not been kind to the Wombats. The cold winter winds have stiffened both gloves and hands alike, and the early defensive play has been vaguely reminiscent of the old vaudeville team of Skids and Markus, who gained a modicum of notoriety will an ill-fated act in the late 1920’s.

Their show opened and closed on the same evening in the dull but colorless hamlet of Eversol, Connecticut, when Herman Skids attempted to juggle 87 gasoline-soaked tennis balls while blindfolded. As his soon-to-be former partner Velmar Markus tossed the flaming balls two-by-two into his outstretched hands, the hapless Skids began juggling them with profound skill and alacrity. Fate, in the form of a sneezing stagehand, stepped in, and Skids was momentarily distracted, just as he had received balls 67 and 68, and proceeded to involuntarily toss all 68 flaming tennis balls into the air. Meanwhile, Markus was left holding 19 fiery balls with no place to go. Thinking quickly, he also tossed his flaming mess into the air, attempting to fool the audience into the belief that it was, in his words, “All part of the act, heh-heh.”

The resulting blaze left the theater in ruins, and partially damaged the adjoining Eversol BudgetInn. Skids and Markus escaped with second-degree burns and thirty-day sentences in the county lockup for committing foolishness in public without a license, and the only fatality was the bandleader, Argo P. Kreasehoben, a local bon vivant and owner of Lucky Argo’s Beeratorium. He moonlighted nights as the leader of the Eversol Ragtime Bandits (occasionally sitting in on groan box) and was the unfortunate choice of the powers-that-be as the landing spot for the bulk of the flaming tennis balls. His attempt to hide under the saxophone section was a clear-cut case of too little, too late, and as the tennis balls descended to Earth, it was Game-Set-Match for Kreasehoben.

But soft! I seem to have strayed a bit from my original intent for this piece. I apologize profusely, or at least as profusely as one can get in print, and I promise that in my next report I will give the inside dope on the Fighting Wombats, here at the beginning of their 2012 Baseball Odyssey.

BIRD SEEDS…Noted Initial Sacksman MITCH SCHMIDTKE has been the central figure in some trade talk involving the Fighting Wombats and the Verdi Demented Voles…FRENCHY FULLER, in the running for Rookie of the Year honors last season until the first game, is holding out for more money, after it was revealed that alleged outfielder HUCK HAGERSTROM got a new contract calling for two more six-packs per game and a ride home from the Detox van…That’s it for now. Take Birdie’s advice: Take your swings, and don’t let ‘em brush ya’ back.

Today’s Fact-Cetera

Roman gladiators gave product endorsements.

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