If You Strike Out, You're Fired

The warm sun; the smell of the grass; the crack of the dislocated finger; the magic of turning ball 4 into strike 3 with a wave of your bat; the lazy arc of a ball sailing just beyond your reach; the chagrin of stretching a single into an out; the blinding pain of being struck square by a line drive; the nausea of batting with the game on the line; the stifled laughter of opposing players; the capricious calls of a blasť bush-league umpire... Ahh, softball.

Yes, Spring is here, the time when a young man's fancy turns lightly to thoughts of pulling a groin muscle, often his own, while playing softball on the company team. The company softball team is as much a part of the modern American work scene as stealing pens, emailing jokes, or photocopying body parts, and with good reason, because playing company softball gives workers a chance to socialize with the people they already spend more of their waking hours with than their mates, while demonstrating to all just how much and how quickly what little athletic skill they once possessed has deteriorated. Plus, workers get to kill some of that hated leisure time, and when an employee knocks down his supervisor while trying to catch a fly ball, he can be assured that the big promotion is in the bag. The bag at the curb every Tuesday morning.

So is it any wonder employee bulletin boards around the nation are sprouting memos like the following?

Attention employees: our TornadoMagnet Mobile Homes softball team, the Wide-Loads, is looking for a few good players, but since there are none here, how about you? I can't promise we'll win every game, but I can promise we'll occasionally play in the rain. Tryouts are open to anyone who can convincingly say "I thought YOU had it." We have crucial needs at the following skill positions:

We also have an opening at pitcher this year, due to the down-sizing of Ernie "Walk Man" Sawyer in accounting, but this is not expected to be a big blow to the team because not even a Heimlich maneuver from Arnold Schwarzenegger could keep Ernie from choking in late innings.

We also have a vacancy at catcher due to the untimely demise of last year's masked squatter, Neil Down, formerly in the paint department. (While painting one of our new Foil Rancho Estate models, Neil had a sudden idea in the spray booth; a light bulb went on over his head, igniting the fumes and killing him in the resulting explosion.)

I know last year's winless season was discouraging for many of you, but cheer up! The United States Slo-pitch Softball Association has hinted at special allowances for our team, such as we only have to get to third base to score a run. But they did ask me to place quotes around the term "softball team" when referring to our group in any public communication. So c'mon, gang, don't be shy; your name won't be on the uniform. Don't miss this golden opportunity on a silver platter. If you think you have what it takes ($35 and no shame) to play Wide-Load softball, sign up right away; the deadline is this week so don't be caught napping, as if you were in an actual game. The $35 covers the cost of hats and shirts. (We won't need any new bats because last year's show no wear whatsoever.) The schedule will be out sooner than our leadoff man, so for those of you not playing, you can be spectators and see our legendary team inaction. Wide-Load fever--Catch it! Or get a vaccination.