Ugly Is as Ugly Does

From: Steve Perry
To: Brad Zellar
Subject: Ugly Is as Ugly does

Did you see the first few innings of the Cards/Giants? I haven't seen defense and teamwork like that since the last time I attended a tee-ball game. It should have been about 8-0 Giants by the end of the second inning. The Cardinals played like they were asleep and won anyhow.

Inspired by their example, I slept through the Twins game--the whole thing, I mean, and not figuratively speaking. I woke up just in time to see Gardenhire's press conference. I see by the box score that things went swimmingly until the late going. You just can't trust a man named Michael Jackson.

So that's, uh--that's about it from here, Brad. Back to you in the studio!

From: Brad Zellar
To: Steve Perry
Re: Ugly Is as Ugly Does

Yeah, I fell asleep too...with my head in the oven. Come on, brother, I could use a little company tonight. I sat through both those games and now my head's all tangled up in knots and I feel like a cross-wired lab rat with a bad case of the erratics. Any day now, any minute, Winter's gray boys are gonna come goose-stepping up the dark street to give me a big, fat suppository full of melancholia, after which they'll drag me through a tunnel of failing light and put me on the black bus for the slow crawl to April. There's not a damn thing for it. It happens every year about this time, and it just so happens that the events of the last several days have put the grim procedure on an accelerated schedule. You know as well as I do that Seasonal Affective Disorder is just a fancy name for the end of the baseball season. And after tonight's game I think I can already see the campfires of the marauders in the distance; from my front porch I swear I can almost hear their laughter. If the Twins lose this series--all right, you wretch, *when* the Twins lose this series, I know damn well that I won't have the stomach to sit through any more baseball.

I can't say much about the game, I'm afraid. I'm only now starting to blink my eyes and move around a little bit after being paralyzed on the couch for the last several hours.

I will say that it was both wondrous and terrible to behold, and it made me a very unhappy man. You always hear talk of athletes "trying to do too much," and everybody in the Twins lineup right now is trying to do too much, including and perhaps especially the manager. I only wish they still brought the pitchers in from the bullpen in automobiles; that would have at least made for entertaining diversion during the otherwise excruciating eighth inning. How many relievers can Ron Gardenhire fit in the back of a Volkswagen? And can any of them get anybody out?

What an absolute nightmare. It seems impossible to believe, but your Cardinals might well end up playing longer than the Twins.

Leading up to the playoffs, everybody was talking about the importance of the postseason experience of Rick Reed and Mike Jackson for the young and inexperienced Twins. Can we please agree not to talk about that anymore, ever? Thank you. What did Jackson do again tonight? It was positively Reed-like (and don't forget, this was all with two outs): single, double, triple, walk. At that point Gardie might as well have brought Reed in to complete the cycle.

Honest to God, I should be ashamed of myself for how much this stuff bothers me, how much it hurts. I know how unseemly it is that a stinking baseball game can make me such a miserable person. In less than 24 hours I managed to eat our entire supply of Halloween candy. I'm having a hard time moving the words tonight, Steve. I keep feeling them trying to climb up my throat and I can feel them falling back down into my stomach. I can almost hear them, can almost make out what they're trying to say. It's a painful feeling, the worst sort of indigestion. Of course that might just be all those Tootsie-Rolls. At any rate, I'm going to close with one of the blue missives I've been receiving every year at the close of the baseball season from my old friend and doppleganger Uncle Jumbo, the erstwhile columnist for the late, great Minnesota SportsPage. It's never too early to start dreaming of Christmas, Steve, so I'll leave you tonight with a chestnut from the Jumbo archives:

"In a couple short months I'll be going down to spend Christmas with my mother, staring at her creepy little fake tree bleached blue by the years and strung with patchy tinsel. My brother has a family now, and every year they find something better to do, so it'll once again just be me sitting there on the couch eating peanut brittle and listening to my mother wheezing through Christmas carols on her Lowry Genie organ. When she goes to bed I'll sit up half the night watching videos and beach volleyball and horror movies and whatever else the third-rate little cable system they have down there manages to suck out of space.

"Down there in Blooming Void they still show David Lee Roth and Billy Idol videos late at night, even on Christmas Eve. 'David Lee Roth,' I'll think to myself while nursing an egg nog, 'The kind of guy who wears a silk scarf swimming in the ocean--that lucky, shitty bastard.' If tradition holds I'll fall asleep on the couch and drift into a recurring winter dream: I'm in a large abandoned office building, sitting at an empty desk in the dark.

"Through the giant windows on all sides of me a city stretches away in darkness, punctuated here and there by random displays of blue Christmas lights. Stringers of blue lights dully glowing from the eaves of dark houses and the skeletal trees along the boulevards. Hardly a moon over the world, and not a star in the sky. Nothing moving anywhere. Clouds of gray heat boiling from chimneys and scattering over the grim neighborhoods.

"Then, from someplace far below me, I hear a large choir singing 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame,' the most mournful version I have ever heard, or ever hope to hear. The singers sound like people trapped in the bowels of a sinking ship, holding hands, waiting for the water to find them.

"And when I wake up it will be Christmas morning, and the world will have made its first turn out of winter, and my heart will begin its real straining out of the darkness, jogging towards the light, toward Spring Training. And that, to me, is the real meaning of Christmas."

Merry Christmas, Steve. My best wishes to you and yours.