by Fine Diner
May I have the number to rotisserie
It finally happened, according to the
unanimous consensus of my family, friends and coworkers.
I've cracked. I've gone over the edge. I've forgotten my
true purpose in life, which as an improper Bostonian -
and Boston area sports editor - is to agitate at Red Sox
games, every now and then cursing those Damn Yankees
using George Steinbrenner's money to become the east
coach version of the Mounties: they always get their man.
started, I am told, when I got into my first rotisserie
baseball league, and I have degenerated ever since. Well,
my girlfriend did call me a degenerate a few years prior
to that, but I guess that should come with an asterisk.
Anyway, a buddy at work got me into his rotisserie league
about 15 years ago, and I have been in one league or
another ever since. I know I can quit any time; however,
I did suffer withdrawal symptoms when baseball went on
strike in 1994. Friends did not consider it an exercise
in curiosity as I tried to convince them when I suggested
forming an alternate rotisserie league that year based on
the outcome of the Sunday afternoon slow-pitch softball
league we were involved in. Being a sportsman, I thought
I would bring it up to the opponents during a game when I
pulled my spikes out of the shortstop's big toe. "It
ruins the competitiveness of the league," declared
third baseman Bob Haslick, who usually played with a
glove partially on his right hand and a Coors firmly
clutched in his left hand. Okay, so maybe that was a
sign, and one not to ignore signs on the bases, I hit Bob
and ran home.
As the years went by, the other league owners and myself
got a little more involved in our passion. We all had our
own technique, bringing different levels of success.
Randy, who always felt he had to live up to his name, got
a lot of his inside information after picking up players'
wives post-game. He dropped out of the league after
hitting on Albert Belle's girlfriend and, come to think
of it, we haven't heard from him since. Ralph decided to
subscribe to every single magazine covering every
organization from Rookie League on up to the majors. Ever
acutely aware that he might need some bit of information
from an 1989 Dunedin Wolves Journal well into the next
century he decided not to part with it, or any of them
for that matter. When his ex-wife set fire to his home,
it went up in record time, but he didn't notice as he
recorded the foot speed of all fire fighters attempting
to put out the blaze.
Since I went back into sports writing, my strategy was
more logical. I would call the ballpark in an attempt to
gain an interview, then slyly turned the conversation in
an effort to gain more important information, namely that
which would give me the ultimate edge in my league.
"Hi, Joe? Is Carl Everett in the
"Yeah, I'll get him.here he is. Carl, take the
"Hiya, Carl. How does it feel to be back on the
field after the long layoff?"
"Pretty good. I'm glad to be back, Trot Nixon and I
were just talking about it."
"Tell me. Do you hit better when you are talking to
reporters, or when you are ignoring them. Carl?
Okay, so I didn't get the ultimate edge.
My interest in winning the league grew, and so did my
efforts. I mean, one has to try, right? It didn't go over
well with those who knew me. I took too long in the men's
rooms of our sports bars they say, because they
conveniently put the daily sports pages on the walls. I
was sued by a waitress for hitting her in a pool hall
with the cue ball. Is it my fault that Cal Ripken hit a
grand slam while I was breaking? And I was kicked out of
the church choir for using a transistor radio with an
earplug. The music director emphatically informed me that
the words to Hymn number 73 are not "Holy, Holy,
Holy smoke, Troy Percival has not blown a save all
year!" And some don't like my apartment layout
either. I thought it was rather ingenious how I laid out
the three television sets, in a sort of pinstriped
pyramid. The base is the largest telly, with the Red Sox
station glued in place. Then in ascending order is the
middle television with the Braves on TNT, and the top
television with ESPN's Baseball Tonight. On top of that
are the baseball caps of every team of which I have a
At the behest of my family, I looked into a 12-slidestep
program, specifically for baseball and rotisserie
junkies. I had started breaking out into cold sweats when
Red Sox closer Derek Lowe allowed a base runner to reach
third. I was not able to sleep on the final night of the
major league mid-season trading deadline in fear that the
White Sox would once again trade everyone making more
than the minimum salary. But I found the 12 steps too
difficult to adhere to. I had to admit that I was
powerless over rotisserie, that I could not control the
urge to call co-owners at work and gloat over their
players' injuries, and that I could not turn off the
television once the national anthem had been sung.
Except, of course, the time Roseanne Barr sang it at the
What I really found difficult was having to call other
owners who I fleeced with an injured player in a trade,
using their lack of knowledge to keep my team in first
place. I just couldn't do that. Every time I tried to
take a personal inventory, I always ended up comparing my
winning seasons to my losing seasons. My first step at
the 12-step meeting was out the door. I couldn't handle
it. But I got worse. I cheered at Fenway Park when
Angels' outfielder Tim Salmon hit a homer off Hideo Nomo.
I traded for Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite, and kept
cheering when another run went up for the Yankees on the
Fenway scoreboard. I suddenly discovered that I had the
section to myself. I also discovered that I committed the
cardinal sin as a Red Sox fan - I hoped fervently that
Clemens would beat them face to face. Then, I knew I
needed help. So now I am finally taking that first step
to recovery. - I am checking myself into the Whitey Ford
After the season, that is.