Bad to the Bone

It’s on. Brother X and I, will compete in The Rage in the Cage, in the batting cage at Clipper Magazine Stadium at 3:30 P.M. on May 16th. The actual game doesn’t start until 7 p.m. though, so there may not be a lot of witnesses to the event.

I love competition, and competitions with Brother X are my favorite. They’ve been going on for 64 years. I’ve always had a two year advantage on him, of course that was back when I was a kid and being older was an advantage. Now, at 66, being 2-years older is more of a disadvantage.

As a kid, I had the size advantage, so he had to use cunning. This led to his becoming devious and mischievous, and earned him the nickname of “Devil Incarnate,” at least according to page 92 in brother Kevin’s book, A Song for Lost Angels. After reading that I stopped calling him Brother X and jokingly started calling him Beelzebro X. I think he like it, because he knows it fits.

Here’s an example of the devious, mischievous nature of Beelzebro X. About 15-20 years ago, we were standing behind my parent’s house in Yaphank, looking at the lake far below. X bent down, picked up two rocks, offered one to me, and said, “I’ll bet I can throw further than you.” Without giving me time to think about it, he reared back and threw the rock about 10-15 feet past the shoreline. We both heard the splash, and he turned to look at me. Now it was my turn.

He was prepared. I wasn’t. He’d been playing baseball with his son the previous two weeks. The only thing I had been throwing back were beers and shots. Sibling rivalry, however, demanded that I try my best. I reared back and threw the rock with all my might.

I don’t know where my rock landed. I was in too much pain to notice or even care. I know it didn’t make the water because there was no splash. Or if there was a splash, I couldn’t hear it over X’s laughter. He knew that throwing a ball with all your might, when you haven’t thrown a ball in years, was going to be very painful. That’s the whole reason he set me up for the competition. As usual, he won because he was prepared.

So, now I plan to turn the tables on him.

The Barnstormers had a promotion back in December. Buy 5 tickets to games and you could take batting practice with the team. I bought 10 tickets and got two coupons for batting practice with the team on May 16th. I called my brother and invited him to join me in the batting cage. He said, “Yes,” and I started preparing. I turned my laundry room into a batting cage, and I prepare daily for the upcoming battle. Hee hee hee, payback.

Then, I made a mistake. I let it slip that I was practicing. So, now he knows that this is a serious competition and he’s practicing too. I’m quickly losing my tactical advantage.

So, I secretly stepped up my training, and I thought I might be regaining my advantage, until I had a conversation with him. He had been practicing, too. “Plus,” he said, “I’m even boning my bat.”

“You’re making love to your bat?” I questioned him worriedly.

“No, you moron. I’m boning my bat. You rub a big dry soup bone along the barrel of the bat and it compresses the wood, making the bat harder, less likely to break, and able to drive the ball further.”

I never knew about that, so I looked it up on YouTube. Some bat manufacturers even sell pre-boned bats. Unlike corked bats, they’re 100% legal.

Babe Ruth boning his bat Joe DiMaggio boning his bat

So, I better go find myself a nice big soup bone, and try to catch up, because I have a feeling that my devious little brother may have outsmarted me again.

At least one thing makes sense, though, now. Now, after all these years, I finally understand why I always saw the nuns I had in grammar school rubbing their pointers and yardsticks with a soup bone.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


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