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"WHATEVER ELSE AN AMERICAN BELIVES OR DISBELIVES ABOUT HIMSELF, HE IS ABSOLUTELY SURE HE HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR." - E.B. White.

"The disparity between my son's so-so Little League team and its opposition was painfully obvious before the first pitch.

While our players were warming up with a few mild stretching exercises, they were performing strenuous military calisthenics and loudly reciting battlefield chants to induce a high level of hostility.

Their cleanup batter, who bears a striking resemblance to Minnesota Gov. Jessie Ventura, wears a radio transmitter around his ankle so law enforcement officials always know his whereabouts. Their catcher rides a Harley. Their third baseman has dark facial hair., tobacco-stained teeth and a nasty attitude. Their shortstop has a pregnant girlfriend.

Their pitcher has a tattoo of a naked women on his thick, muscular neck. Their outfielders have deep voices and adult vices. Their pre-game banter included references to hot babes, German beer, Cuban cigars and raw oysters. If there was ever a valid reason to randomly test 10-year-olds for steroid use, this team is it.

The outcome was not surprising. Us: 0 Them: 57.

The somber silence of our drive home is interrupted when my son looks at me with deep admiration and respect and asks, 'Dad, why do you yell so much at my baseball games?'

I emit a wise, fatherly chuckle (the kind that Ward Cleaver emitted right before he explained one of life's indisputable truths for Wally and the Beav) and replied, "Son, I yell at your baseball games to encourage you and and your brave little teammates to play as well as you can. I yell at your games because I also want you to have lots of fun., and I know that parental hollering greatly contributes to a child's enjoyment of the baseball experience. In other words, son, I yell because I love you.'

"Do you yell at the umpire because you love him?' he asks.

'No, son, I yell at the umpire because he's an evil entity from the stinking bowels of hell who was sent here 40 years ago to make my life miserable.

It's responsible for every bad thing that's ever happened to me. When I was 16, It told your grandmother where to find my secret supply of cigarettes, which I smoked only on special occasions, such as Dobbie Brothers concerts, parties, weekends and when ever girls were watching.

In 1975, It ruined my junior year in high school by making the entire social studies class believe that the staccato tooting sound my vinyl jacket made as it rubbed against the back of my chair escape from a more private and comical place.

On June 4, 1986, one of the worst days of my life, It allowed my boss to overhear a conversation in which I liken his new hairpiece to a dead ferret. And now this evil entity has transformed itself into a hideous umpire-creature to make lousy calls against my son's little league team! IT MUST BE STOPPED! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!

Chill, Dad,' he calmly replied.

'I'm sorry, son. I guess the truth is that I yell at your baseball game because I'm living vicariously through you.

Do you know what that means, son?

That means that when you play well, I play well. When you strike out, I strike out. When you drop a routine fly ball, I drop a routine fly ball. When an errant fastball slams into your sensitive boy area, and the ensuing pain makes you beg for a quick, merciful death, my sensitive boy area hurts, too, and I beg for the same quick, merciful death.

When you loose a baseball game, I loose a baseball game. And after the loss, as I reluctantly congratulate those obnoxious, ill-tempered, loud-mouthed parents from the other team, I am deeply ashamed of you and your pathetic little teammates., who couldn't win a baseball game even if the opposing pitcher were Steve Wonder.

And in a few years, if you fail to become a wealthy, charismatic athlete who signs lucrative endorsement deals, dates beautiful supermodels, and tearfully thanks his loving, devoted father whenever he accepts a Most Valuable Player Award, I will lose the will to live, and my untimely death will be YOUR fault.

So what you're really saying, dad, is that you yell at my games to compensate for your own well-deserved feelings of inadequacy.

Shut up, loser,' I say in a loving, understanding manner."



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