This Week in Milford

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!
 

 

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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.

May 17, 2018

I wonder about you sometimes, Dafne. You may fold under questioning.

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Barry Bader is not making enough of a scene here. These rando Milford kids are young enough to not harbor outright hatred for Barry; if anything they’re more likely to think “Oh yeah, that’s the kid whose dad pulled a DUI and killed that senior in a car wreck a couple of years ago. Are you gonna eat that?” Even the least sympathetic among them would realize that Barry doesn’t need Del’s story constantly thrown in his face, especially by some journalist wannabe who quite publicly nearly ruined another kid’s life last spring. He oughta let those kids see what an ass Dafne is being, then tell her to go home and get her shinebox.

As it is, she’s still gonna pursue this story, pointing to the 5/17 on the wall behind her as not being a firm date. (I’d make some crack about how Barry was so pissed off that he had to change shirts, but I’m working under the assumption that P3 takes place the next day.) Just one of several things wrong with today’s strip, the other being, well, the entire look and feel of it.

Honestly, I wish Whigham would go to a high school, or a mall (scratch that, no one goes to malls anymore), or wherever kids hang out these days – oh wait, kids don’t hang out these days. So go crawl behind a bathroom wall somewhere and see what teenagers actually wear for once. It ain’t big earrings – if anything it’s multiple small ones and not all in their ears. (Jim’s Borgman’s Pierce may be a caricature but his Sara isn’t too far off.) As for bracelets, it’s the rubber kind, not the ones your grandma used for napkin holders when she was feeling fancy.

metapost: I’ve been enjoying all y’all’s stories about the Ted Turner-era Atlanta Braves over the past couple of days. I’ve dropped enough hints over the past couple of years to let you know where I came from, but I’ll just come out now and say that I spent the bulk of the 1980s in the state of Georgia. I’ve probably seen more Braves games in person than I have of any other MLB team to date and developed a few connections to that franchise during that time. Among other anecdotes, I vividly recall hearing fans in a Fulton County Stadium crowd (those crowds were so sparse you could hear a lot of conversations going on) saying that Glenn Hubbard should be traded for a new infield tarp and an irrigation system. Anyway, don’t let me spoil the good times. I’ll pick my spots.

May 9, 2018

Busting Loose, Shortly

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As someone who is a little above the 95th percentile in height,* please allow me to say the following:

  • I am fortunate to know a great many very accomplished and successful people, many of them men. Among those men, perhaps the most exceptionally accomplished are, generally speaking, kinda shorter than average.
  • That said, most all of these people, regardless of stature or gender, are incredibly diligent professionals and I often hold them out to others as examples to emulate.
  • For my part, I find that all I have to do is show up on time, smile a lot, crack a few jokes and wait for my full head of hair to gradually turn silver. Everything else just seems to take care of itself.

Enough of that BS, the world is a weird place. What can I say?  Speaking of, 5’8″ is, as has been pointed out in previous comments, not short at all! WTH?

Metapost: Speaking of me, if I can figure out how to upload an audio file to this site for free (WordPress thinks they’re entitled to payment for their services apparently) – call it never released Wednesday in anticipation of Jive Turkey’s Rock n’ Roll Thursday – look out for a completely different post that will be coming from me on Sunday.

* Actual snippet of conversation I had with a new neighbor: “It’s a pleasure to meet you but this is a little awkward as I had a twelve year run as the tallest guy on the block.”

Here we go. Please let me know if this is working for people and address all music criticisms/comments to the late ’90’s. Trust me, Sunday’s post may explain this.

April 12, 2018

Marty Moon: The Straw That Stirs the Milford Drink

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Today’s strip just serves to bring the glaring plot holes, inconsistencies and missed opportunities into stark relief, not unlike Marty’s face in P2.  Without belaboring the obvious – oh, who am I kidding? Let’s belabor the obvious:

  1. If an Aagard scores 26 points and there’s no one there to report on it, does it make a sound? Last winter’s saga of Aaron and his opioid-addicted mother ended with his transfer into the protective custody of the Hiatt-Brown family. Rubin brought Aaron back this season, but Big Ken Brown is no longer around to make things happen. Couldn’t those loose ends have been tied up in a panel?
  2. Nice use of parallel drinking by the not-broadcasting broadcasters, one with hooch, the other with Yoo-Hoo (or does that just say “Poo”?). The glaring sign behind Marty’s head must be meant to offer a contrast to his apparent sour mood. It also offers a nice segue into a song parody but I fear those days are behind me. The idea that WDIG can’t or won’t run games without Marty to call them borders on the absurd. Absurd doesn’t begin to describe the Milford Pirate Network’s approach to the games. If they’d been up front about why they popped up then played it straight, they’d still be on the air and no one would’ve cared that there was no coverage from Marty and WDIG. But noooo, MPN based its whole schtick on taunting Marty, so no Marty, no MPN. For that matter…
  3. … no Marty, no Gil to antagonize or be antagonized by Marty. Hence Gil’s call on Pocket Square Sporting Radio Station Manager to no doubt try to get Marty back on the air. As with his meeting with Marty, Gil’s on neutral ground where drinks are involved but this time it’s only coffee (unless Gil’s secretly making it Irish).

If all this is a pivot towards turning this strip from Gil Thorp into Marty Moon, I could be persuaded to stick around. The travails of a drunken shock jock looking to redeem himself to unwitting victims of his shock doesn’t cover new ground but it has potential.

late metapost: Over lunch I came across this article about Latinos attempting to assimilate in the American South. No one in the story is Puerto Rican, but it touches on an angle Rubin has chosen not to pursue to much extent in this arc.

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