This Week in Milford

July 26, 2018

Spare Us The Capper

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The “pregame message” from Barry Bader made everything just hunky-dory, and so the silent treatment is just temporary and all his teammates are cool with him. Yeah, right.

Off-model part un: Jay Bhatia has been wearing #7 (while rocking the Tyler Clippard specs) and had black hair all season long. Today’s #7 doesn’t resemble him in the least. Also, is blonde dude in the dugout executing a failed high five or a weak Tomahawk Chop?

Off-model part deux: Where did Kaz’s cap go? Did Barry blow it off his head rounding third? Or did he realize he needed to keep his Botticelli’s Venus locks flowing?

Off-model part trois: Ryan Van Auken has been dark-haired from the get-go, right up through the earlier part of this season. Did he just grab a bottle of peroxide before the game?

Speaking of Ryan, it’s been made pretty clear that he’s been a starter during his entire tenure at Milford (and the only effective one this season, kind of like Max Scherzer minus the heterochromia).  Now, in the last game of his high school career and with a sweet DII ride ahead of him, Gil’s gonna stick him in to close a game that, so far as we know, will have no bearing on Milford’s postseason hopes?  (edit: Compare this to the kid gloves Gil used on his golden boy meal ticket, True Standish.) Watch for the Hurricane to blow a UCL then, two years and a failed Tommy John surgery from now, get into a brawl with Pelwecki in vacuum cleaner repair school shop class.

Musical inspiration for post title on a Rock ‘n Roll Thursday:

metapost: I screwed up some hyperlinks this morning. Thanks for bearing with me.

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July 7, 2018

Rough Expectations

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Well that was anticlimactic.  Given that (1) Barry has been treated like dirt by his teammates, his schoolmates, and his coaches ever since his father’s crash into Addison “Boo, But Not the Boo from To Kill A Mockingbird” Radley (b) no one, not even Counselor Dern, has suggested Barry get help or talk to someone except as a means to generate a lede, and (iii) Rubin has taken a ham-fisted approach to so many of his “ripped from the headlines” arcs only to end them in a flurry of tell-don’t-show moments, I fully expected today’s strip to feature Barry shooting up the halls of Milford High.  Rubin could wipe out underdeveloped and name-dropped characters in one fell swoop and turn the summer arc into a month-long episode of A Very Special Gil Thorp. I even implied as much in my Thursday post.

Art snark aside: Dafne and Bestie Who Looks Like An Extra From Room 222 (not to say that Dafne herself doesn’t look the same from time to time) have each lost a chunky bracelet since yesterday. Dafne and Barry are a bit closer in height than they were previously.

Back on topic: Maybe l’affaire Bader et Dafonte will still erupt in violence.  Maybe the adults in the teachers’ lounge will read the article and see it as the cry for help Barry has so desperately tried to make for the past two years.  Maybe the Nats will stop free falling, turn their season around, claw their way into a playoff spot and finally win a postseason series for once.  None of these things seems likely at the moment, and none of them are going to happen soon enough.

metapost:  timbuys’ Thorp of July post had some of us drifting off in Costello/Lowe reverie and realizing that we may have been in the same room at the same time.  Doubtless, then, the latest news from Mr. MacManus may have hit some of us like a ton of bricks. The news does seem positive, however, and I’m hopeful The Living Elvis will remain living for some time to come, which leads me to…

metapost 2: For the past couple of years I’ve been the Thursday and Saturday poster, a fact that always makes me think of a certain EC song.  As such, I usually end up being the guy who gets to weigh in on an arc’s final strip. Not this time, however.  I’m going to be traveling over the next two weeks, so one or more of my esteemed colleagues will get to see this train wreck into the station.  Thanks for hanging in there with me today.  I leave you with that certain song that almost always comes to mind when I enter the Thorpiverse.

Total snafu by teenchy

Filed under: Gil Thorp, metapost — teenchy @ 4:09 pm

Sports fans, I had today’s post completely written and then deleted it by mistake.  Please excuse me while I go bang my head against my fridge, and return to start from scratch in an hour or two.

June 18, 2018

Taking It Out On Madison

Filed under: Gil Thorp, Madison Time, Marjie Ducey, metapost — nedryerson @ 6:10 am

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Don’t you just love it when the first panel on Monday morning basically repeats the the narrative of the last panel on Saturday? It’s okay. There’s lots of weekend in between, we’ve got plenty of space to tell the story and we need another gorgeous Pelwecki close-up. Those flowing locks, those Sharpied eyebrows, that generic blandness. It’s a gift, really.

Now that we’ve established Kevin’s propensity for asking a stupid question, it’s time for Gil to shine with a snappy answer (shout out to Mad magazine).

Kevin, your limited skill set has very low market value. If you can perform at a high level in other ways, I’ve yet to see it. Also, you’re just wandering around in school in a baseball uniform and that seems like a red flag. Madison? Oh yeah, it’s almost Madison time!

What was I just saying about how much space we have to tell this story? Sorry, no room for any actual Madison time*. Just time for a post game wrap up with Marjie. Do we know Marjie’s height? If Kevin is barely taller than Marjie and she’s anything under six feet, there’s yet another knock on Pelwecki’s recruiting appeal.

*On TWIM, there’s always room for Madison time. Also, in yet another attempt to show that we care just a little bit, I created a Madison Time tag and applied it retrospectively.

Wham!
 

 

June 14, 2018

Correction: Orange Is the New Dafonte*

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*and how many times have I relied on the “Orange Is the New Black” trope? Don’t ask.

Does anyone know how to lay the bases out at Valley Tech?  The outside edge of the bag goes along the baseline with the rest of the bag in fair territory, not the inside of the bag with the rest in foul territory.  Never mind that: does that field have no foul territory or what?  I wonder how many kids hurt themselves chasing after foul balls and falling over that parapet in front of the dugout.  No matter, visiting players shouldn’t swing from the dugout roof.

Valley Tech’s messed up ball field pales in comparison to today’s big reveal: Dafne Dafonte was the second driver!  How else would she be going to prison and seeing Del?   Oh wait, prisons aren’t co-ed?  Never mind.  My head spins with the crazy schemes Dafne could’ve cooked up to make this happen.  Maybe she secretly lusted after True Standish, wanted Boo Radley killed off and, disguised as Shelly from Selasky’s Supper Club, got Del Bader drunk so he would cause death.  Hey, it’s not that much more far-fetched than the idea of Del agreeing to speak to some nosy kid from his son’s high school’s newspaper in order to somehow clear his name.

Meanwhile, another Trumpet staffer, having picked up one of Holly Dobbs’ left-behind wigs, amuses herself with some newfound gadgetry.  Photography/videography buffs, help me out please: isn’t she wearing a steadicam harness?  Are those designed to work with 1960s-era film cameras like the one she’s holding?

metapost: Ned, Tim and the rest of the TWIM community have taken this blog to another level this week.  Here’s hoping I can keep it up.  Thanks to all for keeping this a going concern.

 

June 12, 2018

Holding a Finger in The Wind

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Not to get all meta on y’all, but lemme just say that following up on posts such as those Ned penned yesterday can be a bit daunting. That said, let’s get to it.

It seems we’ve come some way in the realm of finger repair and thumb reattachment, such that it’s not preclusive of rehabilitation and return. Unfortunately for Gil’s powers of recollection, as described below, Joe made it to the bigs prior to his injury and may possibly have enjoyed success as a pitcher a la Three Finger Brown. Then again, this was forty years ago so Gil may be forgiven for being a little shaky on the details. Heck, forty years ago I was… Well, let’s just leave it at that it was a real, real long time ago.

Want to know what would make panels two and three a lot more interesting? Context.

Instead of wasting time dragging the Bader characters through the mud for no discernible reason, we could have some sense of how many games have been played, how many remain, what efforts Gil may or may not have made on Kevin’s behalf to get him to the next level, etc.

Heck, we could even have explored an arc where his teammates, annoyed with his obsession for personal stats, go to the coach for help with their well meaning but misguided star. Maybe have Kevin go down swinging when he should have just been trying to advance the runner and the Mudlarks lose a crucial game to a hated rival to miss the playdowns.  The point is: There were a lot of missed opportunities for Lessons To Be Learned.

Instead, we wasted more panels than I am prepared to count on an inane interview of BB by DD that I can scarcely recall as, practically speaking, it had no plot. Which might not be the end of the world, except that it’s the middle of June and I have to imagine the football arc starts in August.

Minus points:

P1: Re: Gil’s up the nostril shot, as my toddler son used to say, “No TANK You!”

P2: Please tell me that is some kind of miniature clipboard.

P3: It’s been my lifelong quest, which I embarked upon eight weeks ago, to break his all-time record, with which I am only vaguely familiar.

metapost: FYI to the team, I have created and applied The Legend of Joe Sharkey category.

June 11, 2018

The Joe Sharkey Story

Filed under: Gil Thorp, metapost, The Legend of Joe Sharkey — nedryerson @ 4:58 pm

It only dawned on me midway through the day that I might find strips featuring Joe Sharkey (the best stick in Mudlark baseball history) in Diamond Gems! A Gil Thorp Baseball Collection. Sure enough, this book does have the whole Joe Sharkey saga.

It starts in 1971, when Yale Cody, the Trumpet sports editor quits the paper, goes out for the baseball, and fails miserably. When Yale returns to the paper, he’s criticized by Diane MacDuff for writing cliched copy about baseball. Yale claims that his writing isn’t interesting because the Milford team is terrible and nobody cares about them. He suggests that what is needed is some novel angle to get attention and comes up with a scheme to get Diane on the team because women’s lib is where it’s at.

Yale takes Diane out on the practice field to show her some fundamentals and his friend Joe Sharkey comes along to help out. Up to this point, Joe has just been Yale’s silent shadow, yawning in the background. While they’re working on fundamentals (and Diane shows no talent for baseball) Joe picks up a bat and starts launching baseballs from both sides of the plate. Yale ignores Joe’s talent because he’s fixated on his scheme to get Diane on the baseball team and doesn’t want Sharkey’s talents to be a distraction.

Even though, by rule, girls aren’t allowed to compete against boys, Gil allows Diane to sit on the bench during games. He sees through Yale’s scheme, but he seems to be trying to avoid criticism for not going along with the Women’s Lib movement. (1971, remember.)

The team doesn’t take kindly to having a girl on the bench (especially when they go to an away game at Valley Tech and they’ve got a banner welcoming Diane MacDuff & Her Swinging Sweethearts.) They start giving Diane grief to try and pressure her into leaving. Joe Sharkey, who has gotten a little sweet on Diane, steps in and tells the team they better lay off Diane. The team is still woeful and nobody is paying any attention after the novelty of a girl on the bench wears off. Yale is ready to call the whole stunt off, but Diane still thinks there’s some point to it and decides to spill the beans to Gil about Sharkey’s hitting prowess.

Gil agrees to take a look at Joe Sharkey and his bat is powerful as advertised. He can’t field a lick, but Gil is impressed enough to put him in left field and see how far the bat will carry the team. Joe starts tearing the cover off the ball and eventually commits himself to learn how to field. He eventually starts getting attention from the scouts a few years later.

That’s the basic story of Joe Sharkey’s career as a Mudlark. But there’s more…

In 1974, Gil hears from Joe Sharkey’s dad that Joe is foundering in the Detroit Tigers farm system. He’s playing for manager Bugs McCoy in Plainville. Joe’s dad talks Gil into piloting his plane to Plainville to see what’s up with Joe. When Gil gets there, he finds Joe boozing it up the team’s hotel. Bugs, Joe’s teammates and fans of the Stars have all had it with Joe. He had progressed up to double A but got sent back down and he’s stinking it up.

Joe’s fed up with baseball and he asks Gil if he can fly home with him. Gil says sure, but wonders if Joe shouldn’t at least hang around long enough to get the rest of his bonus. At the minimum, Gil thinks Joe should talk to Bugs before just taking off. Joe says he doesn’t care and gets in the plane to fly home.

A tornado comes up and forces Gil to land in a farmer’s field and the farmer runs out and leads Gil and Joe down into the root cellar. It turns out that the farmer’s daughter, Gretchen, is a fan of the Stars, and Joe in particular. Gretchen has a theory about why Joe is playing poorly. She’s seen him squinting a lot and thinks maybe he has vision problems. Gil insists that Joe get his vision checked and, sure enough, he has become nearsighted. Joe gets glasses and Gil convinces him to head back to Plainville and give baseball one more shot. Joe proceeds to start launching balls out of the park and Bugs is pleased. Gil’s parting shot to Joe is to not turn to the bottle the next time he hits a rough patch.

But, it’s still not over. We flash forward to 1977 and Gil gets a visit from a familiar young woman. It’s Gretchen and she’s now Gretchen Sharkey. The good news is that Joe got called up to the big leagues at the end of the season. The bad news is Joe lost two fingers on his left hand while working on Gretchen’s father’s farm. Joe’s pretty depressed about his career ending so suddenly and Gretchen convinces Gil to try and help lift Joe’s spirits. Gil remembers that Joe used to have a pretty good arm throwing the ball in from the outfield and convinces Joe that he might be able to pitch.

Joe shows enough promise as a pitcher to get a chance to get back into the Tigers organization. Gil even flies him down to Florida in his plane. (They reminisce about the tornado on the way.) They start trying to teach Joe to throw a curve, but he’s distracted being away from Gretchen. He calls to check in on her and she tells him she’s pregnant. Now Joe is more determined than ever to make it!

And, it’s still not over! Gil checks in on Joe in 1979 and he’s still scuffling as a pitcher in the minors. This time, he’s made his mind up for good. He’s going to go back to Nebraska and work on the farm so he can be together with Gretchen and l’il baby Amy.

And that’s it, the whole Joe Sharkey saga. We’ll see tomorrow if Gil can remember any of it or if we’re going to get back into our Barry Bader doldrums or just dick around with The Secret Pelwecki or whatever.

ETA: Has anyone seen Dondi?

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The Toledo Blade May 27, 1971

May 30, 2018

Making Things Worse

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I’m struggling to grasp anyone’s motivations here other than, perhaps, Ma Bader’s. Well, I suppose Barry’s motivation is that he’s a hot headed moron* with self esteem issues but that doesn’t make for the most compelling protagonist. At least not as written here…

Bonus points:

P1: Ah, the rare ANDS brand laptop, disfavored by Milford teens who prefer |||| brand computers. I’ll leave speculation as to the nature of the mysterious foreground display to our wonderful commenters.

P2: I’m digging the Bader’s mismatched chairs at their tiny kitchen table underneath the chandelier they stole from a TGI Friday’s. Also, Steve Luhm has clearly been moonlighting.

P3: I’m sure I’ve floated some truly idiotic ideas in front of my mom over the years but I don’t think I’ve ever given her occasion to give me such an exaggerated (and presumably genuine) stinkeye.

* Seriously, ‘enoblers’?

Metapost: As this year’s Memorial Day celebrations recede into memory, please bear in mind the veterans who surely number amongst this count.

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