Travis arrives to see both teams eager to begin playing. The umpires and coaches are pissed off beyond belief. “We were just about to cancel the game; why are you so late, Travis, and why didn’t you bother to contact anyone?” the umpire asks.
“Sorry, we had a scare and thought my son had been abducted,” Travis says, biting his lip and trying to hold in the giggles.
“Oh my God; is he okay?” the genuinely concerned coach of the other team inquires.
“Psych! I was just doinking your mama’s tatas. Now let’s get this show on the road, come on, what’s the fucking holdup?” Travis begins to clap quickly and loudly, trying to rouse the crowd. He always thought of himself as a people pleaser.
As he approaches the crowd, one of the parents gets up and walks over to Travis. “Hello, Mr. D’Angelo? My name is Stan Finkelmeyer. I’m Jerry’s dad. Listen, his mother and I are really excited that he made the team, but we were a little displeased that you informed us about the game on such short notice, and that tryouts were held only a day before the season started.”
Travis looks at him silently for a very long time, waiting for something more. “Can I help you?” he says.
“Well, like I said, my wife and I were a little displeased.”
“Oh,” Travis says, looking around at no one, “so you’ve accosted me- that’s right, I know words- so that you can air your grievances, is that it? Where do you get off even speaking to me, especially with such a gay last name? You think this coaching gig is easy? Do you want to be the coach? Because I don’t have to be here.”
“Actually, I’ve always wanted to give it a shot-”
“Stop right there,” Travis says, holding up a hand. “This is my thing. Don’t even fucking think about replacing me. I am the best fucking coach this world has ever seen.”
Mr. Finkelmeyer nods understandingly, a little hurt. “Uh, what’s with the tuxedo? And the penises on your face?” He doesn’t know why he just asked these questions, because they will probably just make Travis even madder.
He is correct in assuming so.
Travis slaps him across the face, hard. “If you so much as look at me- ever again- I swear on my wine collection that I will kill your son Jerry. You think I’m joking? Just try me.”
Stan turns away and walks back to the bleachers, extremely careful not to make eye contact with Travis because he cares about his son’s life.
Travis calls all his players together near the bench. “Huddle up, pussies.” They congregate around him and await his instructions. “Most coaches will tell you that sports are all about fun. You know what I say? Fuck them. Sports and competition are about winning, and personal glory, nothing else. You go ask a professional athlete if he does what he does for the fun of it, and if he says that is his sole motivation, then he is a liar bitch ass-wipe.”
Travis looks at the boys’ faces, all of which seem thoroughly perplexed. “You guys don’t look familiar,” Travis says. “Especially you, buddy,” he adds, pointing to the only black kid among them. “You’re sticking out like a sore thumb. Never would I carry a blackie-boy on my team.”
“Hey, what are you doing?” The coach of the other team comes around the gate and approaches the bunch of them. “Travis, is everything ok? Why are you on this side?”
It is then that Travis realizes he has been talking to the other team. He turns and sees his players sitting on the opposite bench, waiting for him to come over and organize everything.
Travis walks to the other side of the field. “You guys are on the wrong side of the diamond, you jerk-off,” he screams over his shoulder. He gathers his boys- the right boys this time- and tells them to simmer down, and when they don’t, he hits the player closest to him, for example’s sake, and suddenly all eyes are on him.
“Listen up, Nancies,” he says, “I just accidentally gave the other team a real moving pep talk, and now I am going to have to do it all over again, but I am not going to say the same thing because I never say the same thing twice. I never….say the same thing twice.” He really wants to drive this point home. “I have to give a better speech than I did over there so that you will perform better. If they still manage to outplay you, it is not my fault. That’ll all be on you. Ok, so listen up, fellas, I really need you guys to win this game because I bet my friend one thousand dollars on the outcome of this game.” The friend Travis is referring to is himself. “So, I am sort of demanding that you win.”
Travis starts to grab his private area and adjusts the cup that he strategically placed over his genitals before he left his house. He wants to be sure that if his team really starts to suck ass, he will be able to substitute himself in for the entire team.
Travis calls over his son Michael, who was nice enough to find his way to the game despite being cut only a day earlier, and asks where all the fucking wine is. He also asks if Michael has any idea who drew the penises on his face.
“No, Dad, I have no idea.” Michael tries to hide his smirk.
Travis seriously has no idea and is starting to wonder if he drew them on himself. I don’t remember shit, but I wiped my face clean anyway, so it doesn’t matter anymore.
“Michael, go into the trunk of my car and get the ‘necessary supplies needed to win,’” he instructs, adding air quotes. Michael obediently runs off. Travis smiles, genuinely proud of himself for creating something that he could boss around whenever he feels the urge to do so.
The umpire calls the two coaches over to home plate for the coin toss. “Ok, men,” he says, “I’ll flip the coin. George, you call it in the air.” He sets the quarter on top of his fingers and flicks it straight up above them.
“Heads,” George says. But before the coin can hit the ground, Travis reaches out and snatches it midair.
“I’ll take that,” he says proudly, pocketing the money. “Never throw your money around for someone to just reach out and take. That’s a rookie mistake. But you’ll learn, boys. Don’t worry.”
George shakes his head condescendingly and scoffs. “You know what? I don’t care. Travis, you can pick.”
Travis almost makes the mistake of thanking him, but bites down on the words before they can pass his lips, knowing that saying such things would be a sign of weakness. “Alright,” he says, “we’ll bat first. And we’ll be the home team.” He beams from ear to ear.
“You can’t do that, Travis,” the umpire says. “The home team bats last. So you either bat first, or you can be the home team.”
“Excuse me,” Travis says, “I didn’t know you helped Edgar Allan Poe lay down the rules of the game, and until you can provide me substantial proof that what you are saying is true, then I refuse to believe you. So, I am home, and I bat first. Ok? Good.”
The umpire, in a state of bewilderment and utter anger that it has now been a full hour past the time the game was supposed to start, screams, “Play ball!”
The coaches return to their benches, and since Travis’s team bats first, he needs to figure out his line up quickly. “I didn’t bother remembering your names, so I’m just going to wing it. You, you, you, you, and you. I will figure out the rest of the line up later.”
The kids are confused because Travis didn’t bother to point; his hands were on his hips the whole time he was saying “you.” He also wasn’t looking at anyone in particular, just staring at the bottles of wine that his son Michael, who stood by the gate, was holding in his unworthy hands.
“There should also be a folding table in the back of the car,” Travis says to his son. “Set that up in front of the gate, and make sure to tape the piece of cardboard with all the prices on it onto the table so people don’t keep asking me how much everything is.”
Michael nods, still not liking his father because of last night, yet oddly willing to be his puppet.
“What’s on your face?” one of Travis’s players asks him.
“Something you don’t have,” Travis says triumphantly, looking at the dumb expression on the boy’s face, not really realizing that he is the more foolish looking one, what with the phalluses all over his face. “Now, hurry up, guys, get ready for the game, before I tear you all new assholes.”
The kids must make up for the maturity that Travis lacks and decide to quietly set the lineup amongst themselves. A short quick boy approaches the plate with bat in hand, hoping that he gets some fun out of this odd game.
“Hey, what the fuck; you can’t be serious,” Travis shouts at the batter. “I didn’t even decide where you are in the line up yet. Sit your ass down. Hey, you,” Travis says, pointing to one of his other players, “you’re up first, you blockhead. Wasn’t anyone listening to me?”
Now the correct batter steps up to the plate and is ready for the action. He strikes out on the first three pitches and sits back down. Travis is furious and hopes he can fool the other jackasses by making them believe that that was just a warm up. “Okay, those were good practice swings; can we actually start playing now?”
The umpire can’t take much more of Travis’s shit. “No, Travis, we have started. Your player struck out; bring out your next batter.”
Travis picks up a bat and throws it as far as he can. He manages to get it over the fence that divides the sidewalk and the field. The bat goes as far as the street and slams into the windshield of a car, shattering the glass, large fragments of it flying everywhere. Travis can’t see that far and doesn’t realize it is his Hummer.
The umpire is irate. He stomps over to the gate and says, “Travis, you keep this up and I will throw you out of here faster than you can imagine!” He turns and slaps his mask back on, headed for his position behind the plate.
Travis immaturely gives him the middle finger. He looks around at his players and the spectators, hoping someone will acknowledge what he is doing and see how funny and awesome it is.
The umpire swings back around quickly and notices that Travis is flipping him the bird. He is so flustered that, instead of concealing the gesture, Travis keeps his finger raised and thrusts it violently forward. The umpire glares at him, and Travis thinks he is a goner until the most brilliant idea of his life comes to him.
Travis finally lowers his finger and points to the player on the bench sitting closest to him. “He told me to do it.”
The umpire looks at the boy, surprised, hurt, and extremely angry. “Think it’s funny, telling other people to make rude gestures at old, hunch-backed umpires? You’re out of here, sonny!”
The boy looks up at Travis, too afraid to defend himself to the umpire. He hopes that Travis will find it in his heart to come clean and just tell him the truth.
Travis looks down at the boy, and he can actually feel his heart soften. Those eyes……those two beautiful, pleading eyes. How could I have pinned the blame on this here innocent boy? How unfair and immature of me. Ok, be a man, Travis. Tell the umpire what really happened. Actually, on second thought, don’t.
“You heard the man,” Travis says.
The boy puts his head down in shame and walks over to his parents sitting on the bleachers. He informs them that he has been ejected form the game and, though the parents are confused as to why, they do not protest. After seeing the behavior of Travis, they rightly fear for their son’s safety and hurriedly gather their belongings and head for home.
“Don’t worry boys; we don’t even need that kid. I’ve got the perfect replacement. Michael!” He waves his son over to the group of kids. Michael believes that this is his chance to join the team, since one of the players has just been thrown out.
“Yes, Dad?” Michael stares at his father, almost glowing with excitement.
“Hand me that bottle of wine and my glass.” He takes them from his son and pours some wine into the glass and passes it to the children. “Wine is the replacement. Drink up, fellas, it will help you play better.”
Michael is extremely hurt and goes back to manning the alcohol stand.
The kids, though hesitant, take the glass from Travis and pass it around like it is a bong. Despite Travis’s saying that it will enhance their performance on the field, the wine actually impairs their judgment and makes them play much worse.
The game progresses slowly, and with much confusion. Travis’s players seem a little spacey, and it angers him to see them give such a lackluster performance. He shouts at them, constantly puts them down, but in spite of all his best efforts, the game continues to go downhill. By the third inning, it seems like a lost cause, the boys losing 9-0.
Travis is terribly distraught; he had hoped to cruise through the entire season and win every game. How could he expect any less, what with his being such a stellar coach?
He goes near a small shed where he thinks no one can see him and takes a silver spoon out of his back pocket. He looks at his vague reflection in the utensil and decides that now is as good a time as any to give himself that much-needed pep talk.
“Come on, Travis,” Travis says. “You are better than this. You are a confident, sweet, generous, thoughtful, sexy man; why are you letting these shit-stains get to you? You obviously know that you are the best person here. Don’t lose sight of that. Whip these pussies into shape; make winners out of them. Because they are making you look bad. How dare anyone make you look bad?”
Travis is oblivious to the fact that he is standing in front of the shed, not behind it. He is within sight of everyone sitting on the bleachers. They all slowly begin to turn their heads towards Travis as his voice starts to get louder and angrier.
“Travis, get these kids off their asses and have them start playing like men, not pussies!” he screams into the spoon. “I don’t care how much wine of yours they have to consume to start playing better; shove it down their puny throats!”
The umpire looks at Travis and wonders what the hell he is yelling about. However, he catches himself right before he almost accidentally gives a shit and decides to keep the game going.
Only one inning later, the other team scores a whopping fourteen runs, making the score 23-0. There is a ten-run mercy rule, but the umpire wants Travis to see his team lose by an incredible amount, knowing it will exasperate him.
The game crawls into the fifth inning, and Travis notices that his players look about as depressed as he looks after finishing off a bottle of wine. He begins to empathize with them, but that doesn’t last long because he soon realizes that they are them, not him. Who cares about their emotional state?
He goes over to Michael to make sure all is well at the alcohol stand. “How we doing over here, Mike?”
“Excellent,” Michael says, in the highest of spirits. He no longer cares that he is not on the team because he has come to realize that it is much more enjoyable to watch his father fail at coaching so publicly and so epically.
“How much money have we made?”
“About three dollars,” Michael says, counting the bills in his hands several times just to make sure he is adding it up correctly. “No wait…..exactly three dollars.”
“That’s it?” Travis says, surprised. “Do people not realize what it means to be an American? One of the most enjoyable things to do while watching a sporting event is drink a nice alcoholic beverage. Look at all those fools,” he gestures to the spectators on the bleachers, “sweating their titties off when there is perfectly fresh alcohol right over here. Oh well, more for me.”
Travis takes his comically large wine glass out of the breast pocket of his tuxedo and starts to pour some Merlot.
“That’ll be five dollars, Dad,” Michael says, holding out his cupped hand.
Travis laughs because he thinks his son is joking, but after a minute, he realizes Michael is not.
“You think you’re going to charge me for my own alcohol? You must be outside of your mind, boy. I’ll make you sleep outside in the doghouse tonight.”
“We don’t have a doghouse,” Michael says. “Or a dog.”
Travis holds the wine glass over Michael’s head. He slowly starts to tilt the glass and the wine begins to creep up the side. At first only a drop falls out, but as he tilts the glass further, more and more wine flows onto Michael’s head until Travis has the glass fully overturned and no wine is left.
Then Travis extends his glass in front of Michael’s face and says, “More.” Michael obediently pours more wine into his father’s comically large glass and sits quietly back in his seat.
Travis recognizes only for the first time that he is drenched in sweat from head to toe. He only now realizes that wearing a tuxedo in the ninety-four-degree heat may have been an “uh-oh,” as Travis likes to refer to them as.
He slowly takes all his clothes off. He thinks that if he takes one piece off at a time, very slowly, no one will notice the difference, even if he were to get butt-ass naked. Eventually he is left with only his underwear, the athletic supporter, his shoes, and a gun sticking out of the waistband of his underwear.
“There, that’s better,” Travis says. He stands there, hands on hips, a soft breeze creeping across his body and tickling his nipply-nipples.
The spectators behind him notice the extremely vulgar tattoo on his lower back, and Travis hears a collective gasp from the crowd. He turns around to face them. “Oh, come on, now, guys,” he says. “We’ve all seen somebody in their underwear. No reason to freak out.”
“Holy shit!” the umpire screams. He comes running over to Travis and gawks unbelievingly at his near-nudity. “In the name of God, I just don’t believe it.”
“I know,” Travis says. “I have been working out.” (He hasn’t.)
“What is that over there, alcohol?” the umpire asks, pointing. “And this whole time I thought you were handing out Gatorade over here. What are you thinking selling alcohol at a peewee baseball game?”
“People got to drink,” Travis says. “It’s what makes us happy.”
“Is that a gun in your underwear?”
Travis looks down at the gun and nods proudly. “I don’t want to interpret your question the wrong way; I don’t know if you’re talking about the actual Glock or my penis.”
“The gun, Travis, the gun!”
“Oh, that’s a gun,” Travis says. “And check this out. Just when you thought I couldn’t get any cooler.” He spins around so that the umpire can see his tattoo. “Now doesn’t that inspire you?”
The umpire is at a loss for words. He doesn’t know how to respond to this odd chain of events, so he does what he knows best: “Travis, you’re out of here!” He throws his arm in the opposite direction to indicate Travis’s gone-ness.
“You can’t eject me; I am Travis!”
“I am not just ejecting you, Travis; I am banning you for life!”
In a mad rage Travis does what he knows best: he takes his comically large wine glass and downs it in a single gulp. He opens his mouth and bares his teeth, like a vampire ready to sink its fangs into one’s neck. He shakes his head vigorously from side to side, hoping that this will cause him to gain the upper hand.
Travis stands right in front of the umpire, his naked, sweaty beer belly pressing up against the umpire’s shirt. Travis is slightly taller than the umpire, so he has to bend his head down while screaming obscenities directly into his face. Spittle flies from Travis’s mouth as he shouts and lands right on the ump’s cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. The umpire just stares directly back at Travis and maintains an unresponsive expression during the whole fiasco.
“You can’t eject me; I eject myself!” Travis thinks he is pretty clever when under pressure. “I’m…” Travis says while pointing to himself. Then he throws his whole arm with all his might, index finger pointed outward, into the open air behind him, “…outta here!” Travis is embarrassingly and impossibly proud of how well he thinks he is handling the situation.
“No Travis, you’re gone. Get out of here and get off the field. You can no longer coach any team in this league ever again as long as I’m around. With no coach, you’re team is forced to forfeit,” the umpire explains.
Jerry’s dad, Stan, hears everything that the ump is saying and suddenly stands up. “Wait, I’ll fill in for the coach, then the kids won’t have to forfeit and they can keep playing.”
Travis is so plastered that he barely has control over his own actions, let alone the actions of others, and finds himself unable to stop Stan from coaching. The game unfortunately continues. Travis walks behind the gate along first base and is extremely gloomy. His chin rests on his chest as if there were no muscles in his neck to hold up his head. In fact, because of the excessive abuse of alcohol at the game, Travis experienced an infinitesimal stroke, losing the use of the muscles in his neck area. Travis puts his hands into his pockets (what he calls the holes in his underwear) and kicks up some dirt in a final effort to “get back at the world.” He finds his efforts ineffective.
Suddenly a light bulb goes off over Travis’s head and he darts towards his Hummer. A few minutes later (at least that’s what Travis thinks; an hour actually passed) Travis struts back to the field in one of the other team’s baseball uniforms, ten sizes too small. “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play,” Travis says to his former opponent.
“Travis, what the hell are you doing? I thought the umpire ejected you,” the other coach says.
“Travis? I’m Johnny, just a kid in high school. Come on coach, I made the cut and you said I could play. When am I up to bat?” Travis says coolly, thinking that he saved himself and admitting that that was a close call.
The coach looks at Travis from head to toe and then slowly back up. “Please leave, Travis; the kids are finally starting to have some fun.”
Travis’s team (well, it’s not really his team anymore, but fuck it) starts to play well under Stan’s leadership. They completely shut down their opponent’s offense and score twelve runs in each of the last two innings to come back and win it, 24-23. Travis does not feel any joy over the boys’ victory because it was not he who led them to it. He despises Stan Finkelmeyer more than ever now and thinks that his son Jerry should enjoy the Sun while he can today, because after it has gone down tonight, he will never see it again.
Fortunately (for Jerry’s sake and that of the rest of the world) the cops finally arrive at the field after the game has ended. Two policemen jump out of their squad car and approach Travis, who is at this point butt-naked and running across the field in a drunken numbness.
They are afraid to touch his grimy body, so instead of tackling him to the ground, the cops just draw their guns, even though they are not supposed to do so unless someone threatens their lives. Travis freezes at the sight of the weapons.
“Just come with us, Travis, and all will be fine.” They know him by name not because he has ever been arrested, but because he has a cousin on the force, and he thinks that entitles him to walk into any police station whenever he wants and just take their donuts.
“Where have you been?” an irate mother shouts from the bleachers. “I called two hours ago!”
“We were watching Cops,” one of them says, and the entire congregation erupts with laughter at this irony. The laughter is so full and ubiquitous that everyone actually forgets what they are laughing about, so no one is mad at the cops’ tardiness.
The policemen stop laughing, but everyone around them keeps going. “It wasn’t that funny,” the one who told the joke says, but they just continue laughing like it is a fucking comedy club. Sorry, it isn’t. This is real life.
The same cop fires his gun in the air to shut everybody up and so that they remember who is boss. Travis’s genitals have shrunk in fear, and the cops notice. This angers them because he is kind of giving all men a bad image.
Travis obediently approaches them, his hands raised over his head. “Just put your arms down, for God’s sake,” the cops say, not because they trust Travis (they seriously don’t), but because his armpits smell like a fucking sewer.
Travis goes to pick up his things near the gate- his few pieces of clothing, the jock strap, the gun, what have you- but the cops will not have any of this foolishness. “Put that stuff down, Travis,” they say. Thank goodness they did not even notice the gun wadded up inside the rest of his personal effects, because if they had, they would have shot him in the foot or the asshole.
Travis drops his things and walks off the field towards the street.
“Your eyes look a little glassy,” one of the cops says. “Have you been drinking?” Obviously he does not smell the incredibly heavy scent of alcohol on Travis’s breath, because that should have been a dead giveaway.
“Your eyes look a little glazed,” Travis says to him. “Have you been eating donuts? Yes! I win.” Travis shrieks laughter and clutches at his bare stomach. “No, but seriously, guys, Dunkin’ Donuts is that-a-way.” He points down the road. “So, if that’s all you need from me, then I guess I’ll be on my way.”
“No, you don’t, Travis. Get in the squad car.”
Travis runs over to the car upon spotting it like a young boy running down the steps towards the tree on Christmas morning. “Shotgun!” he declares triumphantly. He tries to hug the entire car.
“No, Travis!” the cops yell frantically. “Don’t let your penis touch the car!”
Travis removes himself from the car and waits for the police officers to join him. “Nice tattoo, by the way,” one of them says. “When you get thrown in the slammer, you better hold tight to that bar of soap in the shower. I say that to a lot of guys, but I have never meant it more than I do today.”
They help him into the back seat after wrapping him up in a police blanket so that his bare….his bareness, does not come into contact with the interior. Travis is angry that they put him in the back.
“You know, guys, you’re not playing right,” he says. “Once you see the car, whoever yells shotgun first gets to sit in the front, alright? I’ll let it go this time, but you really need to know that kind of stuff for the future. That’s what gets you ahead in life.” Travis has no idea what he’s saying.
The car begins to pull away when Travis sees Samantha and his daughter standing near the gate, watching him depart. They were there the entire time, and Travis had no idea. He kicks himself for not having recognized their presence and feels tears swell up inside of him.
Travis sticks his head out the window. “Samantha!” he yells. Right then and there, he realizes that the relationship can go no further. He decides, as he looks after her, that he cannot put her through this shit; she deserves something better. She deserves somebody that isn’t going to be escorted home by the cops (it’s a pity that Travis thinks he is being taken home) just because he was ejected from a baseball game.
Samantha looks at him, and he swears she is on the verge of tears. She actually isn’t; it just seems that way because Travis is so drunk.
“Don’t wait for me,” he says to her, and his heart cleaves.
“Don’t worry,” she says. “I won’t.”