This Week in Milford

July 28, 2018

Shoot Low, Boys – They’re Ridin’ Shetland Ponies

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Quick show of hands: How many of you had to read A Separate Peace in high school? Anyone?  (Son of teenchy had to read it this past school year.)  Do you remember the scene where Finny breaks the Devon School swimming record for the 100-yard freestyle set by A. Hopkins Parker in the sole presence of Gene, then doesn’t want anyone else to know he did?  Pure of spirit, Finny wanted to break the record for its own sake, for the internal sense of satisfaction it gave him, not for any accolades that may have come his way as a result of doing so.

Kevin Pelwecki is no Finny.

Pelwecki’s sole motive in modifying his launch angle was not to try to help his team or, for that matter, to make a serious effort toward advancing his baseball career or using it as a means to help pay for his post-secondary education.  He did it to call just enough attention to himself that he could put on a false modesty act when it became apparent that this particular talent was not going to help him after Milford High.  (Wonder if he ever went to the prom?) He couldn’t even be bothered to remember the name of the guy whose record he was attempting to break (somewhere, Art Shamsky fumes that Rubin didn’t namedrop him throughout this mess).  With today’s strip – for that matter, with any of the strips involving his efforts to become a quarterback or fullback – Pelwecki cements himself in the pantheon of self-promoting attention whores Rubin seems to think every high schooler has to be in the age of social media.  He has his Uncle Rico moment; now he can walk off like so many have done at the end of a Gil Thorp arc that I’m not even gonna try to link to them all.  (Do note the similarity to the end of the spring/summer 2016 arc, with Pelwecki in the Barry Bader role and Gil in the True Standish role).

Finally, on July 28, this slog of a spring arc is over.  Let us speak no more of Pelwecki, or Dafne Dafonte, or Barry Bader – that is, until we try to reference them in a flimsy attempt to maintain continuity, like so many Joe Sharkeys.

(apologies Lewis Grizzard for the post title)

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July 20, 2018

The Reinvention Of Barry Bader (And Other Assorted Unearned Payoffs)

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Remember yesterday when we were lamenting the eleventh hour assertion that Jay Bhatia somehow had a story that needed to be paid off? Also, remember how we have intermittently wondered if Kevin Pelwecki’s pursuit of Joe Sharkey’s home run record would have a conclusion? Also, remember how we’ve all wondered just how long this season was going to go and whether anything at all was going to be settled?

Oh, and there was one more thing we’ve all been wondering, what was it…? Oh yeah, Barry Bader. We wondered if, when and how exactly Barry might achieve some measure of growth in his precarious position as a well established asshole beset on all sides by people who are, at best, disinterested in helping him?

Well folks, it looks like it’s all getting paid off right here, in three panels and in stunning Technicolor. At least it looks like it will in the near future. Can Whigrub pull this off in one more strip? Do they dare? Stay tuned.

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

Interlude

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Ha ha, Joe Shaky! Good one, Gil. You really nailed Kaz with that. Ha ha, Kaz is shaky before he has his coffee. Ho ho, that is rich, Gil!

I don’t know anything about Joe Sharkey. He’s definitely from the pre-TWIM era of Gil Thorp. The way Gil is touching his chin, I think we’re going to go into a flashback. Why not? We’ve got all summer.

All right long time Gil Thorp fans, enlighten us noobs to the legend of Joe Sharkey and his mighty stick!

ETA: It looks like there was a passing reference to Joe Sharkey during the Elmer Vargas story. We’re still largely in the dark. I will thumb through the one Gil Thorp treasury I have at home later and see if there’s a Sharkey story there.

June 24, 2008

Create your own snark!

Filed under: Coach Kaz, Gil Thorp, The Legend of Joe Sharkey — jasbeattie @ 8:56 pm

6/24/08

6/25/08

Sorry, no time to blog…perhaps the details later. For now, create your own snark!

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