Mudville, 2358 (Casey at the Bat, With Aliens)

Mudville, 2358

The crowd at Mudville Field was full of hope that autumn day.

They’d come out by the thousands just to see their home team play.

Three billion of us watched remotely from our homes and bars

And just about a million from the colony on Mars.

Earth’s major league team managers had come up with a scheme

To trade their strongest players to create one perfect team.

When Mudville won that lottery they also won the chore

Of crushing Earth’s most bitter rivals from Tau Ceti Four.

Tau Ceti’s long-term strategy was not above reproach.

A team’s star player might be summoned by Tau Ceti’s coach,

Then suddenly announce that his career had run its course,

Retiring on an income from an unnamed foreign source.

Those who refused to quit would face some unexplained bad luck.

A broken arm, a broken leg, run over by a truck.

No one had ever proved that these misfortunes were foul play,

But after five or six most people thought it looked that way.

Earth hadn’t won a Series since the one in ‘thirty-two,

But this time it seemed possible the team might just pull through.

No one had thought they had a chance to make it past game five,

And here it was game seven, and the team was still alive.

A few Tau Ceti fans sat in the bleachers by third base

Out past the left field dolphin tank (a lush aquatic space).

The Earth team’s land-based fans were the majority, of course.

The humans and uplifted apes had all come out in force.

The snackbots tossed bananas, peanuts, cotton candy too.

Their throws were always graceful and their aim was always true.

The beer drones fluttered overhead, all chrome and gleaming brass.

They shot fluorescent liquids into every waiting glass.

By inning nine, Tau Ceti was ahead with five to three.

The Earth fans were about as tense as anyone could be.

Their only hope was Casey; of this one thing they were sure

His swing was strong and certain and they said his heart was pure.

But Casey couldn’t bat until four others had their turn.

Joe Flynn was first and you could almost see his stomach churn.

It might have been the pressure, or it might have been the stench

Emitted by the players perched upon Tau Ceti’s bench.

The pitcher’s eyestalks locked in place and focused one by one.

Her scales glowed green and purple in the bright midmorning sun.

Her tail spikes flicked from left to right, so sharp and black and straight.

Her talons grazed the ball as she propelled it towards the plate.

Poor Flynn just stared at her, the way a mouse looks at a cat.

He crouched inside the batter’s box and choked up on his bat.

He focused on the ball and swung; he gave it his best try.

Tau Ceti’s second baseman made quick work of his pop fly.

Up next was Thayer, who had never stood out from the rest.

He looked so grim and earnest as he faced his greatest test.

He passed with flying colors — hit it right out of the park.

The score was five to four and now the mood was much less dark.

Then Sato’s turn came up. It didn’t last for very long.

“Strike one, strike two, strike three” was Mister Sato’s sad swan song.

Hernandez feared she’d strike out, end the game, and fall from grace.

Instead she hit a triple and stood firmly at third base.

When Casey made his entrance, he was such a welcome sight.

The humans cheered; the dolphins jumped for joy and sheer delight.

The snackbots threw confetti, and the beer drones poured free booze.

With Casey batting for us, there was no way we could lose.

The first pitch came, the first pitch went, and Casey let it go.

The umpire called “strike one” and Casey shrugged and said “I know”.

The second pitch was like the first; the umpire called “strike two”

And Casey’s fans grew quiet as they willed him to pull through.

Now, Casey hadn’t worried once, not since the game began.

If you looked closely you might think he had a secret plan.

He paused for one brief moment and stood still and calm and tall.

And then he stepped up to the plate and waited for the ball.

Then Casey swung as strong and sure as only Casey could,

A swing that caused the game to end the way he knew it would.

And Casey smiled and Casey laughed as he threw down the bat

And left the field, defiant, with a flourish of his hat.

The fans sat in the stands, just staring with their mouths agape.

And though they all still try there is one fact they can’t escape.

The umpire called “strike three.” The call was good, without a doubt.

There is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has sold out.


This probably reminds you of Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer.

March Madness! A Pop Quiz

1. You get an email from your college alumni association informing you that your school’s men’s basketball team is in the semifinals for their national championship. You are …

a) Not surprised, because you’ve been following them all season (and every season since your freshman year).

b) Surprised to learn that the school even has a basketball team, and delighted that they’re in the March Madness semifinals.

c) Not surprised, because the email went straight to your spam folder.

2. March Madness is:

a) The annual NCAA men’s college basketball championship tournament.

b) The annual NCAA Division 1 basketball championship tournament. Because the NCAA is divided into divisions, each of which has its own separate championship, and being in the Division 3 semifinals means you’re not even in March Madness, much less the semifinals, whose participants haven’t even been determined yet.

c) Similar to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), in that both are afflitions in which a person’s mood is influenced by a spherical object — in SAD, under-exposure to the Sun contributes to depression; in March Madness, over-exposure to a basketball contributes to mood swings.

3. You would use a March Madness bracket to:

a) Record your predictions regarding who will win each game of the March Madness tournament.

b) Hang your March Madness curtains.

c) Determine what percentage of your March Madness income you need to pay in your March Madness  taxes.

It's the second from the left, right? (Bowling ball picture from wpclipart.com; all others from Wikimedia).

4. If I showed you a picture of a basketball, a bowling ball, a mothball, a hairball, an eyeball, and Lucille ball, the probability that you’d be able to correctly identify the basketball is:

a) 17%

b) 110%

c) No one told me there would be math in this quiz.

5. You discover that your office has a weekly pool in which people predict the winners of that week’s March Madness games. You decide to join in because:

a) You have a really good system for predicting March Madness winners.

b) The pool goes by point spread, so in theory you’d have a 50-50 chance of choosing each winner correctly just by guessing randomly.

c) If you don’t, other people will be having fun without you, and the idea of that happening is just intolerable.

d) All of the above.

6. In your office pool, you choose the Jets to beat their long-standing rivals, the Sharks, by at least 9 points. The final score is Jets 73, Sharks 66. The next day:

a) You’re happy because the team you picked won their game.

b) You’re sad because the team you picked didn’t beat the point spread.

c) You’re devastated by the tragic loss of life that occurred during the huge dance number / knife fight that broke out after the game. Although you think you might be confusing this with a movie.

Answers: 1-b, 2-a, 3-a, 4-a, 5-d, 6-c.

It’s Only a Game: Your Guide to the Super Bowl

On February 6, an estimated 100 million people will watch the Pittsburgh Sabertooths* battle the Green Bay Velociraptors* in Super Bowl XLV. I don’t usually follow football, but I’m a little tired of feeling left out of sports-related conversations, so I decided to do some research. Here’s what I found…
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