Mr. Clutch’s last blog post ramble on about “The End” and the excitability about going on a virtual vacation from baseball, blogging and maybe some other things that start with a “B”. Well, that was as short lived as the executive career of that Pope that got poisoned. Mr. Clutch speaks is back for extra innings! The Ali like return to the ring is partially because it’s hard to get away from something one likes doing and partially because there is more to report.
First, and quickly, two of the Clutch top-10 movies are referenced in the above paragraph. You are challenged to figure out what movies they are. The guess from Clutch laboratories is that a few of you (maybe one) will get one of the two, nobody will get both of the two and likely most will get none. Many movie references are name dropped into these blogs – but it’s rare to see two in the same paragraph. Feel free to leave a comment with your guess(es). There is a third bonus question – which there is 100% certainty that nobody will guess the answer to – even if you guess the two movies. There is an actor who played a very small supporting role in both films. Guess that and you will be deemed as almost as film critic worthy as Mr. Clutch himself.
The hard to get away part is tied more to writing than it is baseball. The Clutch creative writing division has many works in different stages of development. First, there is “Paranoid”, the critically acclaimed book published back in 2001. It’s available at amazon.com and more info is available there and on paranoidbook.com. “Paranoid” was put in front of a Hollywood producer back in the day and was almost optioned to become a major motion picture. It was also Pulitzer prize eligible in 2001 and ranked high on amazons book sales listing in the first quarter of 2002. It makes a perfect Christmas gift, and the author himself will sign any purchased copies and offer a 90-day “Answer” period where he will respond directly to a reader who has questions about the content.
Other books in the Clutch pipeline include “Year on the Felt” which documented a complete calendar year of Clutch’s poker play, and include much insight, philosophy and good stories about wins and losses. It’s in the editing stage at the moment. Then there’s “Hill 260” (working title) which is a non-fiction look at Clutch’s old man’s frontline experience in World War II. The content was strung together through interviews and research. This one is partially done, but mostly still in a virtual state. This one is probably a little more destined to be a movie than “Paranoid” and will likely star Ben Affleck as the current Mr. Clutch and Tom Hanks as his old man. Hopefully this will be coming soon to a theater near you.
The last work in the archives is this. It’s certainly the poster boy of a “Work in progress” as this group of blog posts is the skeleton or outline of the next great book on baseball. It’s pretty simple in that the 33+ blog posts will be chapters, and the current content of each blog post is the outline. All that needs to be done now is beef up each chapter by adding 3-7 pages of content to what’s there now. The end result will be a 300+ page book on the baseball adventures and thoughts of Mr. Clutch. Yes, writing a book *is* sort of kind of that easy.
The other reason for the extra frame is that Mr. Clutch himself stepped onto the diamond for the big annual wiffle-ball tournament held over in Jackson. It’s the one time of year that instead of speaking and writing that actual doing goes on. It’s a great day of fun, food, booze, banter and of course the kids American pastime “Wiffle-Ball”. Wiffle-ball perhaps was the easiest way for two friends or enemies to play the closest thing to baseball with a yellow plastic bat and white ball with holes in it as the equipment needed. A garage door would usually come in handy along with a pole or tree to indicate boundaries.
The annual pilgrimage to Jackson gives each of the 32 adults a periscope look back into the past. It’s a few hours of trying to do your best despite physical and aged limitations, when back in the day as a kid with a rubber arm and unbridled enthusiasm doing your best was just a day in the office. A player leaves all his problems at home that day and focuses solely on throwing strikes, banging out homeruns and having the time of his life. This particular tournament has been going on for around 15 years with Mr. Clutch being a participant for around the past eight or so.
The tournament, which incidentally is what it’s called, is like the NCAA basketball March Madness in that many “Teams” are invited though only a handful of those signed up actually have a chance to win. For every Kentucky and Louisville in the tournament there are many Belmonts, Murray States and Iona’s. Unfortunately, and despite the abilities as a youth, Mr. Clutch represents East Tennessee State and not North Carolina.
The tournament is stacked with phenomenal athletes an ballplayers. Let’s see, for starters there is former Major League baseball player with 9 years as a pro and World Series ring. Then there is the guy who played AA ball for the Met’s before becoming an agent. And let’s not forget the pitcher who played college ball and the infielder who represented Italy in the World Baseball classic. Once guy spent many years as the Met’s bullpen catcher, which though you are an “employee” and not a “player” on the team, it’s still a position reserved for a great athlete who maybe was just a hair shy of being good enough to play on the team. There are also many “Amateurs” in this thing who throw gas, hit for power and make the wiffle-ball dance in the wind before reaching the batter’s box. It’s just too much for a guy who once, but no longer, has it to overcome.
The playing area is setup with four perfectly manicured and designed fields. This includes a plank of wood with a hole in it for the strike-zone, chalk fair lines down first and third, a homerun fence literally made out of fence material, and lastly beautifully erected fair poles (thanks Tim McCarver otherwise they would be referred to as “Foul” poles) out in left and right field. The distance from the mound to home is the industry standard for wiffle-ball, with the final touch being a set of carefully thought out rules for the first round point system. 16 make it out alive after four games, and then from that point on its head to head games just like the old days. The day works its way down to two players – who play for the title.
Though winning the tournament and getting to sign the professional baseball bat in sharpie and carry it for a year “Stanley Cup” style is the goal, there is nothing out there better than just the feel, smell and overall excitement associate with stepping into the batter’s box or on the mound for the first of many times that day. Of course that great way of it gets reversed the next day (or two) when the elders are typically in pain from head to toe due to using muscles that laid dormant for close to 12 months. The pain, extreme at times and lasts longer the older a player gets, is well worth it’s safe to say that none of the 32 would ever give up that day regardless of the physical price paid.