I often lack for creativity. I’ll admit that. Sometimes it’s not easy to come up with interesting things to write about. I don’t always keep up with what the masses are into. Most of the music I listen to is from the ’90s. My favorite TV show is Saved By the Bell. I wear bright neon clothing. I’m out of touch, people! It’s a sad reality.
That’s where you come in. My readers, you are my lifeblood. Without you, I am nothing. So when I put out the A.P.B. on Twitter, soliciting advice on article topics, you came through remarkably. And what did I do with your suggestions? I compiled six of them right here in the ensuing paragraphs. You gave me fuel, I did my best to light the match and set this bitch on fire.
Below are the topics that made the cut. Each contributing Twitter follower who aided in the effort is credited alongside his or her topic. We gave this a try and it worked to perfection. We’ll do this again soon. For now, here’s our inaugural voyage.
Topic No. 1: Big League Chew and why it happens to be awesome (via @bnnace)
When I was a kid, Big League Chew was the mecca of all bubblegum. You could go to any grocery store or mini mart and find Bubblicious, Bubble Yum, Bazooka, or Dubble Bubble. But Big League Chew? Uncovering Big League Chew was as rare as an uncovering a hot chick’s wide open profile on Facebook. Yeah. That rare.
But it wasn’t just that Big League Chew was a unique find. In nearly every aspect of its being, BLC had it going on, as the urban kids say. It tasted great, it came in a sizable tobacco-like pouch, it was shredded into dozens of neat little strips, and it blew bubbles as big as one’s head. It was everything a kid wanted in a bubblegum and more.
It should be noted that Big League Chew was invented in part by an ex-major leaguer. Former Seattle Pilot and noted scribe Jim Bouton — author of the highly acclaimed book Ball Four — was one of the creative forces behind everybody’s favorite bubblegum. Which probably explains why every kid who ever played baseball had a craving for BLC that could only be rivaled by a junkie’s yearning for more blow.
Today, Big League Chew still exists. A couple years ago, I went online and bought an entire box of grape-flavored BLC. When my package arrived, I felt like a drug dealer who just secured a massive international haul. I was the Tony Montana of exceptional bubblegum. Except rather than peddle the goods, I would end up Cheech-and-Chonging the hell out of my investment.
Was it worth it? Yes, it was. And why was it worth it? Because Big League Chew was, and always will be, that freakin’ awesome.
Topic No. 2: The Mariners’ playoff chances (via @snuffle1upagus)
The M’s are currently in last place in the American League Western Division. They are the proud owners of a 50-57 win-loss record. They’ve been pretty darn awful most of the year, but of late they’ve managed to prevail over their opponents in seven consecutive contests (that’s called a winning streak).
There are two months left in the season. I give the team about a five-percent chance of making the postseason. It’s not impossible, but it would certainly be implausible. Unprecedented, however? Not entirely. Why, you ask? Great question.
Today is August 1st, 2012. The Mariners sit exactly 12 games out of first place in the AL West. Rewind to exactly 17 years ago today. The date was August 1st, 1995. The very same Seattle Mariners, buried towards the latter half of the standings, would begin a climb towards relevance that’s seemingly been unrivaled by every other big league team since.
As we all now know, the M’s would end up winning the division crown, making their first playoff appearance in franchise history, and upending the hated New York Yankees in the first round of postseason play. It was arguably the most memorable season in this ballclub’s 35-year existence.
And on that date in 1995, August 1st to be exact, how many games out of first place would you say the Mariners might happen to be? You may have guessed it by now. The answer: 12.
Stranger things have happened.
Topic No. 3: Failing gender tests (via @_Joe_Baker_)
As a scientifically-confirmed male, I often take for granted the fact that it’s clear to both myself and most everyone else in this world that I am, in fact, a dude. Yep, in case there was any doubt, that is a penis down there. It might not be much, but it’s mine and I love it. Sometimes I even love it more than once a day.
I’d wager that, like me, most people probably neglect to fully appreciate their clear-cut status as a member of one specific gender. For those who fail gender tests, however, the situation is not nearly as rosy.
Rather than try to empathize with the scientifically-androgynous, let’s allow ourselves the opportunity to play make-believe as we assume the role of the parents to those individuals who bomb what would otherwise be an easily-passable exam.
So. You’re a parent. And you just welcomed this baby into your life. Except, wait a minute, your baby doesn’t just have male parts…and, hold on, your baby doesn’t just have female parts…holy shit, your baby has both. Good lord, what do you do?
First of all, at some point in time, you have to tell your kid that he or she (he-she?) is different. You can’t let this kid grow up thinking that everyone has dual parts. God forbid this kid make it all the way to his-her first sexual experience before freaking his-her partner out and walking away brokenhearted and confused. So you’re going to have to deliver the news as gently as you possibly can. While still being harshly realistic at the same time. Because I have to believe that sugar-coating the truth to a hermaphrodite that doesn’t know he-she is a hermaphrodite could only backfire in spectacular fashion.
Finally, getting back to the topic at hand, what do you do about all those gender tests (usually sports-related) that your little All-Star will undoubtedly fail? Is your kid a Mustang or a Lady Mustang? Do you want him to tough it out with the boys, or would you rather she kick some female ass?
Unfortunately, these are questions I can’t answer for you. Godspeed.
Topic No. 4: Badminton (via @brianrcobb)
Ah, yes. Here we are in another Olympic year, and wouldn’t you know it, badminton is on the brain.
It seems like there are few sports in this world that pique the collective interest of society the way badminton does. Perhaps it’s the goofiness of a game played with a floating, fluttering birdie that heightens everyone’s awareness. Or maybe it’s the fact that so many aficianados of the sport refer to said birdie as a “shuttlecock.” Whatever it is, people love them some badminton. So we should discuss it. Because that’s what we do here. We discuss relevant topics. Like Carly Rae Jepsen, for example. She’s relevant right now. What with that stupid Call Me, Maybe song and all. God, I hate that song. I bet it plays on repeat all day long in Hell. Stupid Carly Rae Jepsen.
Anyway, let me open up to you for a minute. I’ve always liked badminton. Sure, I enjoy watching the sport like the rest of you. But even more than that, I like playing badminton. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. He’s Asian. Of course he likes badminton. Asians are inherently good at racket sports. He’s probably really freakin’ good. Well, guess what. I’m only half-Asian. Which means I’m only half-good. So there.
Seriously though, badminton’s great. There are few sports in which really big dudes find themselves looking silly. Badminton is one of those. I’m not a really big dude, myself, so yeah, that makes me quite happy. Any chance we get to level the playing field with the insanely tall and/or muscular, we should take it. In your face, bro.
That said, most of us have nothing on those badmintoners (that’s not a real word) who make it to the Olympics. Those guys are freaks. I assume they’re born with a little, tiny racket in their hands. “One more big push, Mrs. Chen! Oh, I see it! He’s coming out racket first!”
So yeah, props to those guys for being great at something that most of us will never be great at. And I mean that. If I was that good at badminton, I’d be going after all the chicks.
“Yo girl, you ever played with a shuttlecock before?”
Topic No. 5: Urinal cake scent varieties and color selection (via @Nick_IH8DUCKS)
I don’t have anything to say about this topic. I just had to include it because it’s that unique. This is what I’m talking about, people! These are the kinds of ideas I’m looking for! Off the wall ridiculousness. Good work, Nick_IH8Ducks! More of this. We need more. And I’ll try to respond to your weird-ass topics in the future. I mailed it in on this one. I’m sorry.
Topic No. 6: Men’s slow-pitch softball (via @MaxNavalinski)
This topic shouldn’t even count. Max is on my softball team. The Strokers. We’re pretty good. I lead off. He bats second. We’re a thunderous combo. Like Rickey Henderson and whoever batted after him on all those teams.
I probably wouldn’t include this topic if it weren’t for this little anecdote I needed to tell. I mean, this isn’t supposed to be about me (or Max). This is about you, the reader. And you don’t necessarily want to hear about us. We lead boring lives. Playing softball against old dudes every Thursday night? Boring. We’re lucky if we get two or three fans in the stands. Even luckier if those fans aren’t having sex with any of the players on either team. But that never happens. Let’s be honest.
Anyhow. The anecdote. Let’s get to that.
A few weeks back, we take the field against this team, the 520 Lobs. That’s what they called themselves. It was a below-average team name, in my opinion. Softball team names should either be funny, witty, or some combination of both. This was neither. I guess you could infer that “Lobs” may be a loose interpretation of the acronym that corresponds with “left on base.” But that’s a bit of a stretch. We’ll disregard it.
Frankly, any team that possesses neither a funny nor witty name probably takes itself way too seriously. Those teams are no fun. No one likes a serious softball player. For God’s sake, it’s softball. The sport was bred for comedy. But I digress.
So here we are playing “The Lobs” when we notice that Jeff Cirillo happens to be on the opposing squad. Yes, THAT Jeff Cirillo. Former big league third baseman and ex-Mariner. For all we know, the M’s might still be paying the guy. Is that really fair? To have a guy still on a major league payroll on your softball team? It’s an ethical question, certainly. But one that “The Lobs” obviously didn’t care to consider.
Cirillo fit in with the guys on his squad. He played multiple positions (and didn’t even play third base, to the best of my knowledge). He hustled. He hit and fielded well. But he didn’t stand out in any way. He wasn’t even the best player on his team. Sure, he got his singles. Beyond that, though, he didn’t really do all that much. You wouldn’t expect that from an ex-big leaguer. He was good, not great. Which, I guess, is a whole lot better than anything we could say about his Mariner career.
So yeah. That’s my anecdote. It doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with anything. There’s no hilarious ending. No punch line. No moral. I just wanted to let you know that Jeff Cirillo plays in a Bellevue-Redmond softball league. And if you ever want to watch him play, you can do that. Thursday nights at Marymoor Park. Be there.
Well. This article ended rather anti-climatically. Here’s a picture of two pugs in Star Wars gear to make it up to you.