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Left Field 

At first, it was hard to pick Yogi's grandson Winky out from all the other outfielders. There must have been four or five roaming around in blue caps and leggings.

"Lookit how he faces the batter with the foot on his throwing side out front," advised Yogi proudly. "That's how I used to face hitters when I played."

"He's the one with the big chocolate stain on the front of his uniform," further advised Jimmy Chimichanga, and that's how me and Tyrone picked him out.

Jimmy and Tyrone and me were going to eat crabs at Captain Ryan's, but that's kind of far so we decided to get Yogi to drive us. Only that meant that we had to wait for Yogi to suffer through this Little League baseball game and suffer right along with him. Even more so, since Winky had no real right to the affections of any of us.

"Say, Yog. Who sponsors your kid's team?" Tyrone asked. "I don't recognize that name."

"That's Racy Fundraiser," Yogi explained. "That's the little gal I know who's a stripper and rents out for politicians. See her slogan on the back of the uniforms? 'Make Your Party Party.' I hope she comes out tonight."

"Me too," me and Jimmy said at the same time.

"Man, when I get around her, I can't even tie my shoes," Yogi reported. "But ixnay on talk about her. Here comes my old lady. "She's been at Pier One and I have two guarantees: she'll have spent over $110 and she'll talk about nothing but the money she saved me."

And here she came, shuffling down the third-base line with Yogi's dog in tow. This is one ugly dog. Nothing should be said here about Yogi's wife. We all call her "Boy," because The Professor took to calling her "Bride of Yogi," and we abbreviated it.

"See, if this was a granddaughter, you wouldn't have to do this," Boy offered.

"Yeah, but I'd hafta be at dance revues and she'd be in the second dance and the 37th," Yogi responded. "Them things are about as fun as a Baptist wedding reception."

The half-inning staggered to a merciful close. The Racy Fundraisers came to bat. Chimichanga grumbled to Tyrone that we should have taken his car. Tyrone grumbled that he doesn't take his car that far east. Chimichanga said that Tyrone has the only Rolls Royce he's ever seen with bumper stickers. Tyrone started discussing bumper stickers.

"I seen a car yesterday with two stickers. One said 'Think About the Thousands of Good Priests.' That was right under 'Herb Heaven. Herbal Solutions for All Problems.'"

"Who was driving?" I asked.

"Guy looked like a motorcycle rider. You know, like grossly overweight and overmedicated. Sorta like 'Cheech and Chong on Religion.'"

Boy ignored her dog, who was sexually assaulting my calf muscles, and kept staring at Tyrone, who is not her favorite person.

"Are you still enrolled in those anger management classes?" she sweetly inquired. "The one that judge ordered you to?"

"Every Wednesday, I gotta go to the beating meetings," Tyrone replied. "It really burns me up."

"Lookit Winky hit," urged Yogi. "See how he points his front foot at the pitcher. That's how I used to face pitchers when I played."

Three pitches later and Winky was done, and his aluminum bat looked cold and heavy.

"I do notice a resemblance all right," Jimmy said evilly.

Yogi ignored him and walked over to the end of the bench to offer Winky far more advice then Winky actually wanted.

"I haven't been watching the kid," I muttered through clenched teeth. "What kind of player-prospect does he seem to be?"

"He's as slow as bulk mail," opined Tyrone.

"He's so afraid of the ball, I bet he dreams about it at night," further opined Jimmy Chimichanga.

"Nix," I muttered through clenched teeth. "Here comes Mrs. Yogi," who was being tugged around by the dog, which looked suspiciously like a corn fritter with a long list of grievances.

"He's darling," I lied. "What kind is he?"

"He's part Bichon," Boy said proudly. "I'm not at all sure what else he is."

"I told them as soon as I seen him that he looked like a son of a Bichon," Tyrone lied.

"I'm making a vegetarian out of him," Boy said. "I feed him nothing but sweet potatoes."

Jimmy gave me a loud whistle. "Man, is he giving you some dirty looks!"

I tried to separate the fighters. "What's his name, Boy?"

"Well, Yogi used to call him Manny Ramirez, but since Ramirez was only hitting .241 this year, he's taking to calling him Brad Pitt. Because he's always around me, and Yogi says I remind him of Angelina Jolie. Of course, he lies like an actor. In everything he says and does."

Just then, Yogi came back. He was terribly red in the face.

"You're the most honest man I've ever met," Jimmy told him. "But I mean that in a good way."

The game dragged on. It is hard to say what drags more -- a grandson's baseball game or granddaughter's dance revue. Right now, baseball gets my vote.

Tyrone did not seem nearly as bored as he should have been. It only took a minute to figure out. He was making sweet eyes at the pitcher's momma, who was sitting provocatively behind the third-base bleachers.

It was a learning experience. Tyrone has often been called the masking tape of romance because if some lady has had her heart broke or her life is coming unraveled, why here comes Tyrone. But he's got a secret weapon. He's hard of hearing, so he can just sit there through all the whining and crying and shake his head sadly and whisper, "Unbelievable." And sometimes the lady will think: "He's sweet. And such a good listener."

But one time, this gal kept asking him questions and he's just saying, "Unbelievable," so she just jumps up and yells, "Are you listening to a single word I say?" He makes a sad face and says, "Hey, I'm sitting right here. You ain't gotta yell."

The game mercifully ends when one of Winky's teammates hits a slow roller to short which is misplayed for three or four minutes and the batter is finally thrown out at home.

After lots of squealing, the team leaves the field. Winky runs up. He has a sash around his neck and hanging from the sash is a silver medal at least as large as anything Pizzaro ever pilfered from Peru.

"What's that, Winky?" I sweetly asked. "Didn't you lose?"

"Oh, we get one every game," Winky said. "You oughta see all my trophies. On Sundays, we get trophies."

Yogi was picking up equipment with the exaggerated creep-about of a drunk trying not to make any noise. But we all kept forcing eye contact with him till he looked up and said, between shame and sullen, "It's for their self-esteem. Everyone gets one every game, win or lose."

"Hey, Yog, you better get the kid involved in something where it matters whether you win or lose," urged Tyrone. "I would recommend heavy wagering."

"I dunno if that makes you feel good about yourself," I protested.

"If only the Dodgers woulda beat the Giants Friday, I'da felt better about myself," Chimichanga said ruefully. "Much, much better."

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