This Week in Milford

May 11, 2022

“Know Who Else Had Trouble Handling Balls? My Mom!”

Filed under: actual action, Bad Jokes, baseball, talking hand, Valley Tech — teenchy @ 9:03 am

Today’s baseball history lesson is the story of Bert Shepard. Bert Shepard’s major league career lasted all of one game, a relief pitching stint for the Nationals/Senators on August 4, 1945 against the Red Sox. It was his journey to the bigs that made Bert’s career all the more memorable.

Shepard, a lefty, had played semipro and was playing sandlot ball when he was discovered and signed by the White Sox in 1939. He struggled with control problems, was released, finished high school, and then signed another pro contract in 1941, this time with the Cardinals. In their famed system, Bert again showed flashes of talent at the C and D level but still struggled with control. At the beginning of 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he attended flight school, earned his pilot’s wings and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. In early 1944, Shepard joined the 55th Fighter Group in England and was soon flying P-38 Lightnings over the continent.

On May 21, 1944, Bert was flying his 34th mission over Germany when, after having destroyed a train and an oil tank on a strafing run, his P-38 was taken down by flak. He was knocked unconscious when a shell grazed his chin and his plane hit the ground at full speed. Miraculously, Shepard wasn’t killed, but soon faced another threat when the angry German farmers who found him turned their pitchforks on him. A Luftwaffe doctor, Ladislaus Loidl, and two armed soldiers soon arrived at the scene and held back the farmers at gunpoint.

The Luftwaffe doctors amputated Shepard’s leg 11 inches below the knee. He was later transferred to a prison camp where a Canadian medic fashioned an artificial leg for him. Shepard began playing catch with a cricket ball and then resumed pitching a baseball. In February 1945, Bert was involved in a prisoner exchange and returned to the US. He began practicing baseball with some players from a local semipro team. Realizing that he was still able to throw his familiar pitches, Shepard became determined to resume his professional baseball career. Shepard went to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to be fitted with a new prosthesis, where he was visited by Robert Patterson, the Undersecretary of War, who presented him with a commendation for his service, valor, and courage. Patterson asked Shepard what his goal was, and the former flyer replied he wanted to play baseball. Undersecretary of War Patterson called his good friend Clark Griffith, owner of the Senators, who then offered Shepard a tryout.

Griffith signed him to a major league contract, but had no intention of using him in a regular game, figuring to keep him around to serve as coach and batting practice pitcher. In addition to pitching BP Bert visited veteran’s hospitals, offering encouragement to other wounded veterans, and made a training film for amputees returning from the war. Finally on August 4, with the Nats down 14-2 in the top of the fourth, and the Red Sox with the bases loaded and two out, Washington manager Ossie Bluege brought Shepard in to try and stop the damage. The Nats were playing their fourth consecutive doubleheader, and an already thin pitching staff was getting battered by Boston. Shepard struck out the first batter he faced, George “Catfish” Metkovich. He stayed in the game and, for the remaining five innings, gave up only one run on three hits.

With the Nats battling the Detroit Tigers for the AL pennant in 1945, Bluege was reluctant to use Shepard again. His only other on-field highlight occurred on August 31 when he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross between games of a doubleheader. Washington released him on September 30; he was resigned in 1946 but, with the return of so many pleyrs from the war, Shepard failed to make the team and would never play in the majors again. He would, however, meet Ladislaus Loidl, the Luftwaffe doctor who saved his life, at his home in Austria in 1993.

The reason I’m posting the Bert Shepard Story is because, unlike Gregg Hamm, Shepard could field bunts.

Of course, you need to see bunts to be able to field them but, once fielded, you should be able to make the throw to first. Why Valley Tech baserunner feels the need to share his insights with Scooter is beyond me; he should have saved them for the bench. Now Scooter will have to come up with signals for the Milford infielders to play in for the bunts. His Nolan Ryan reference implies that the Hammmmer will start striking out a bunch of Techsters but still lose the game anyway.

Today’s post title, of course, a reference to Regular Show‘s Muscle Man, who never was able to get the mom joke format down pat.

April 30, 2022

Marjie Ducey Never Lugged a Monster Camcorder Around. Neither Should You.

If you told me today’s strip had been written and drawn twenty years ago and fished out of a drawer for today, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Wonder what was going on in Milford twenty years ago today? I don’t even think this blog had been started yet.

April 30, 2002

Well whaddaya know, Milford was playing Central then too. The laws of gravity weren’t quite as rigid then as now. Okay, what about ten years ago, then? Well thankfully TWIM was in existence, and we were getting to know young Scooter Borden Jaxxxon Kiser.

Back to the present day and still trying to figure out this nonsense. Amazed to find out there’s an online version of the Star, and that it has employees who are dedicated to capturing video for that online version. That’s probably a lie the editor-in-chief told Heather to cover up the fact that it’s not only payroll but also headcount that’s been slashed since Marjie’s retirement. Probably told her this dinosaur of a camcorder was state-of-the-art, too. How naive is she to think that the “beast” takes better videos than today’s smartphones?

Naive enough to know that the only VHS player in town belongs to the Milford High Athletic Department. Between her and Kaz, they’ll go to the videotape and discover the little ruse G-Hammm, Scooter and Wilson have going on. That’s the only way this strip of anachronistic non sequiturs has any relevance to the plot.

meta: Thanks to tdrew for covering for me on Thursday. I owe you one.

April 16, 2022

The Mudlarks’ second baseman develops wacky signals, a breakdown

Hey kids! Didja ever wonder whatever happened to Jaxxxon Kiser? Well wonder no more! He grew up and changed his name to Eli “Scooter” Borden. Just look at him – the same monster paws, the same glazed-over stare at no one and nothing in particular – no way they’re not out of the same gene pool.

Anyhoo this little trivia buff has obviously burned a lot of brain cells coming up with this scheme that he’s only gonna use with this one pitcher, that’s gonna require the catcher to buy in and, oh yeah, that the coaches are gonna go along with too. Think Scooter and the Hammer are gonna let Gilberto and El Kaz in on this ploy? How many games into the season before Milford’s opponents pick up on it? It might work in a non-conference game against one of those school’s Neal’s buddies went to, but it won’t take long for, say, Goshen to pick up on Borden’s chatter and start banging on trash cans.

Smirky Charis does nothing to dispel the notion that she’s definitely not with Scooter because of his mouth.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got. Back to bed.

March 26, 2022

Somebody Could’ve Used a Magic Peacock

Admit it, gentle readers: Unless you’re a fan of one of the other remaining teams in the Big Dance, you’re all St. Peter’s fans now. March Madness has its own magic peacocks this year, and they have nothing to do with an imagined reincarnation of a player’s recently deceased sibling. Not the Catholic university in North Jersey anyone would have expected to shine in the tournament, is it? Always great to see a Cinderella in March, and yet another reminder that it’s easier for schools to be competitive in college basketball that they can be in college football.

It’s also something to talk about besides this arc-ender that feels like a mistake. This story feels like it should have ended yesterday, with these two mooks hanging Pranit Smoothie upside down by his ankles in front of a stunned home crowd an emptied-out gym. (A shame Pranit Rock couldn’t have them doing the same to his welchers. It would’ve made more sense than that cockamamie bunch of lies he cooked up.) Betcha Gil wasn’t expecting his hired muscle to flex on his own teammates.

Reading today’s strip give me the feeling that Rubin & Whigham intended yesterday’s strip to be the last in the arc, then realized that they had not only counted the days incorrectly but also forgot to end it with their signature touches:

Lame joke? Check!

Main character exiting through doorway? Check!

Awkward high-five/fist bump? Check!

Jazz hands? Check!

Hey, did anybody notice they’re playing baseball again? With more wacky rules to make the game more attractive to the attention-span challenged? Wonder how Rubin will approach the season. Another spunky, talented out-of-towner moves to Milford and joins the Mudlarks? The team rallies around a stuffed animal or some other superstitious good luck charm? A slight infraction leads to the benching of a star player until the last game of the season, when nothing’s on the line? What’s the over/under on any of these happening?

See you Monday to find out where it all starts. Until then, go Peacocks!

January 5, 2022

Today’s Special at The Bucket: Sausage Biscuits

Filed under: Bad Jokes, basketball, freak hands, High Five Fail, The Bucket — teenchy @ 9:49 am

Today’s strip is a Gil Thorp classic: an example of how Rubin makes the sausage in Milford.

  1. Give character a seemingly random name that lends itself to fairly obvious nicknames.
  2. Give character a seemingly innocuous extracurricular activity that lends itself to abuse.
  3. Give character an extracurricular situation that could potentially benefit from character’s abuses of the extracurricular activity.*
  4. Give character lines that would seem to imply that character is engaging in said extracurricular activity in a manner that could address said extracurricular situation.
  5. ?
  6. Profit!

Step 4 is taking place at The Bucket; at least I assume that’s The Bucket, from the outward-leaning pillar of a type found nowhere else in Milford and the non-institutional table. Now that he has mouthed off about point spreads in games he’s playing in, it’s only a matter of time before Pranit gets cold, clanks a couple of shots and is immediately accused of tanking. Pranit will offer a weak explanation but not before word of his mouthing spreads like omicron around Milford and the Valley and the Mudlarks are out of playdown contention, either via actual losses or games they’re forced to forfeit because of said mouthing. Someone will step up to defend Pranit but not before his reputation is sullied and his bones broken by the Valley Mob the Mudlarks win a now meaningless season finale.

Now then, what’s going on with the Lady Mudlarks and that Air Force cadet-in-waiting?

*edit: Bonus points if said extracurricular activity impinges on said character’s ability to play for the Mudlarks to the fullest of their potential.

September 9, 2021

T, Boned

teenchy here pulling emergency backup duty for tdrew. Trying to squeeze this into a full work day so will be brief.

Looks like the Claxtons might be more than just “a two-boring-silver-SUV family.” What’s this purple thing with a trunk that Tevin’s dropping his backpack into? Couldn’t be Doug Guthrie’s bitchin’ ’66 Goat, could it? Can it help him compete with volleyball and gymnastics for Kianna’s attention? Doesn’t look that way.

No clue who the Greek chorus are or what benefit they bring to the strip. Maybe they’re volleyball teammates of Kianna’s making excuses for her behavior. Maybe they’ll earn names before this arc is over.

Time will tell whether it’s male attention or a lack of bandwidth to maintain her skillsets that makes Kianna drop one or the other of her athletic pursuits. Either way, the decision is sure to be made off-panel and told to the readers in the past tense.

Sorry to be so terse. teenchy out.

July 7, 2021

You’ve Got Other Things to Jab, IYKWIM

Looks like Paul Muench wasn’t long enough, if you know what I mean.

More like Zane Clark came up a little short, if you know what I mean.

I think Katy Brito’s ready for him to jab her capulets anyway, if you know what I mean.

But if Zane wins the Library Board position, he’ll have to sharpen his own pencil, if you know what I mean.

But if Katy’s dad wins the Library Board position, Zane won’t be logging on, if you know what I mean.

Either way, Zane will become a two-time loser in one day, if you know what I mean.

Not if Gil’s bribe pays off, if you know what I mean.

Twenty-nine years is a long time to be eating pie, if you know what I mean.

Betcha that old codger won’t be eating pie on the Library Board anymore, if you know what I mean.

Too bad Zane won’t be needing to use the library once his senior year’s over, if you know what I mean.

Too bad Gil didn’t grease the skids for Zane to get into college like Mimi did for that Corina kid, if you know what I mean.

Maybe Zane should have run for library janitor, if you know what I mean.

[long, drawn-out pause]

Say, that stairway at Milford High looks like it was designed by M.C. Escher, if you know what I mean.

May 8, 2021

Color Me Inconsistent

Yesterday and Thursday it was Zane changing outfits from one panel to the next (not to mention Katy’s eyes changing from blue to brown). Before that, it was Mama Brito’s constantly color-changing hair. Today it’s the always-red Mudlarks in black and chartreuse. There’s a lack of institutional control in the Thorpiverse and it’s throwing everyone for a loop. Hell, even Marty’s so pissed that his notebook is bleeding out onto his shirt and he’s karate chopping his pencil. Then again, his sippy cup’s nowhere to be seen so he might just be having a case of the DTs.

The Mudlarks have apparently traveled to Austin, Texas, to face Crockett. (There are no doubt other Crockett Highs; as this one hasn’t been identified by nickname yet, I reserve the right to come back and edit this post.) After his shaky bullpen outing, Zane Clark has somehow earned a right to a start, and he almost immediately goes all Robin Roberts Max Scherzer and gives up a gopher ball. He’s not throwing strikeouts like Mad Max, unfortunately.

Gil and Kaz laugh this off Bull Durham style. Surprised Kaz didn’t make a crack about the ball having a stewardess.

They must figure if Zane digs a hole early, he can’t blow a lead.

Seriously, though. There has got to be someplace that still runs this strip in black and white, doesn’t there?

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