Did you ever get the feeling that the whole world is a tuxedo, and you're a pair of brown shoes? That's how the Washington Senators must feel this week -- by far the worst week in the team's brief history.
Off the field, the Senators are in pathetic shape, blowing apart like a Beirut clock radio: gears, sprockets, springs and whirligigs flying every which way.
On the field they're worse.
The Senators lost all seven games this week to extend their losing streak to 11. Today, with exactly four weeks left in the season, they're 12 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees and sinking into the marshland of the AL East like Jimmy Hoffa in a cement overcoat.
"The Washington Senators?" hooted George Steinbrenner. "Are they still in the league?"
To which GM Elliott Suskind replied: "That fat schlemiel has some nerve dumping on us, considering we've waxed his fanny nine of nine so far. In the words of one of the many managers His Prussianship has fired: 'It ain't over until it's over.' We may not win this thing, but I guarantee you we finish ahead of the overpriced stiffs he puts on the field."
Maybe. But to hear most people in baseball talk about the Senators is to think Suskind is just whistling in the wind.
Speaking on national television, Joe Garagiola said the Senators were "baseball's answer to salmonella." Garagiola and Vin Scully were in RFK yesterday because months ago NBC had scheduled Cleveland-Washington as "The Game of the Week." When Cleveland took a 19-0 lead into the ninth, Garagiola said, "No doubt about it, Vinny, the Senators are the worst things I've seen since Yogi's baby pictures."
Garagiola isn't alone. San Diego manager Larry Bowa said: "I thought we were the worst team in baseball until I saw them. They're cyanide. If I was managing there, I'd honestly have to consider killing myself." Even Alan Wiggins wants no part of the Senators: "Nobody likes me anyway, so I got nothing to lose by saying this, but I'd rather share a room with Jim Dwyer than play for the Senators. That place is really the end of the line. Don't dare fall asleep in their clubhouse or they'll put pennies on your eyes."
What will happen next is anybody's guess. Rumors continue to swirl that Washington will be without a baseball team next season. The primary rumor has Tang Ye-lin moving the Senators either to Miami, Indianapolis, Denver, the deck of the reflagged Kuwaiti tanker Bridgeton or Rockville, if the "Tang Dome" is completed. The secondary rumor has Tang selling the team to a syndicate headed by Richard Nixon and Ferdinand Marcos. ("That's beautiful," said Oscar Madison. "Tang gets the gold mine, we get the shaft.")
Tang himself has been uncharacteristically incommunicado for almost two weeks. He hasn't shown up at RFK or telephoned anyone in the organization, including Major Banks. "That's just not like Tang," observed Suskind. "He hasn't gone 20 minutes all season without calling Banks. He put a phone in Banks' office, a phone in his car, three phones in the dugout, gave the guy a cordless phone to take with him to the john and a beeper for going to the mound to change pitchers. Tang not calling his manager 15 times a day is like Sean Penn going to a photographers convention and not punching someone. If Tang doesn't call in soon, I think you've got to assume he's dead, which would really burn me because I'm just a few hands away from closing out our marathon gin game, for which the little monkey owes me his lungs."
As speculation mounts concerning Tang's whereabouts, it's clear he left the Senators hip-deep in alligators. Attendance has nose-dived since pregnant pitcher Emily Caitlin was made to walk the plank. Feminist groups have urged women and men who like women to boycott Senator games. Using the so-called "bait and switch" approach to attract men to the movement, feminists revealed this two-tiered threat: Italian porn star and "legislator" Cicciolina vowed she would not bare her breasts to anyone who attended a Senator game, while Alan Alda promised he would bare and beat his. At Monday's game against Minnesota, the Senators drew just 412 people -- 360 admitted misogynists, 32 members of the National Rifle Association, 19 claims adjusters and a former speechwriter for Spiro Agnew.
Team morale has sunk to the point where even the Born Agains have nothing pleasant to say. A group of evangelical realtors from Moe-Don Dorcas' home town in Georgia came to see Thursday's game against the Brewers, and afterward Dorcas was heard berating them, "You should all drop dead, and your children should get boils on their tongues and cluck like jackals." (Later that night, Dorcas checked himself into a religious retreat run by the Sisters of Imelda, a small order devoted to bringing people closer together through the exchange of quality footwear.) The players mope around the clubhouse like a bunch of basset hounds that just failed their chem final. Not even a motivational telegram from Pappy Doyle -- "I ain't much for making speeches. But I think you know how I feel. By the way, any of you guys seen my chrome- plated swizzle stick?" -- could inspire them.
Looking tragicomically at what's happened to the Senators lately, Oscar Madison said, "It's like our team bus drove into a time warp, and we ended up in 1962 at this beach party doing the limbo rock. Our hands are tied, we've got apples stuffed in our mouths, and Chubby Checker is asking us, 'How low can you go?' "
How low indeed? The Senators have scored only 18 runs and allowed 109 in their current 11-game losing streak. Not only have they been beaten soundly by American League rivals, but last Sunday their Rookie Instructional League farm team, the Sarasota Clowns, shut them out, 12-0 -- doubly humiliating considering the Clowns all wore Ronald McDonald costumes, wigs and giant red rubber slippers during the game. The Senators have never looked quite this awful, not even in spring training when they lost their first 12 exhibition games. "At least then we had an excuse," said pitching coach Mark Amsterdam. "The sandpaper we'd ordered from Hechinger's hadn't arrived yet."
Worse yet, the immediate future looks bleak. The Senators are down to just 13 active players. Pappy and Emily Caitlin are gone; Stun Gun Ginzburg and Gabeen Mfoom are on the disabled list; Tyler Motherwell is on leave; Jimmy Wilcox was sold; Gene McSparron is in New Hampshire campaigning for the Republican nomination for president; Dorcas is on retreat; Doctor Gibson is working evening shifts this week at Georgetown University Hospital, and nobody will switch with him; Dean Hines disappeared on Friday, leaving a note saying he'd gone to find "Frankie, Annette and some bitchin' surf"; Jonathan Van Dorn was arrested for chaining himself to the Japanese Embassy in protest of whale fishing; and Shaky Faloon says he can't play for a while because he's having an out-of-body experience.
Major Banks has managed with great stoicism and tolerance of the owner's nefarious maneuverings during this travail. But reportedly he is prepared to take full responsibility for the team's nose dive and has contemplated how to do so most honorably. Sources close to Banks say he plans to take the first step on that honorable path by resigning as manager of the Senators in time for Monday night's nationally televised game against the Yankees. SENATORS STUFF: Al Michaels, unhappy with Capital Cities' skinflint management of ABC, negotiating with Senators to announce last 20 games of season. Michaels told Elliott Suskind: Eliminating limos was okay, but Cap Cities tightwads went too far during Triple Crown -- to save money they made Michaels sleep in barn with Alysheba . . . Born-again second sacker Orlando Jones has teamed up with anti-abortion nutritionist Mary-Marsha Bork to produce "Eat to Win II: The Right-to-Life Diet" . . . Pressed into emergency service as outfielder with Gene McSparron and Doctor Gibson otherwise engaged, Dwayne Ford has thrown to wrong base so many times, teammates started calling him "Delta" . . . Redskins GM Bobby Beathard nixed Senators' effort to lease Jay Schroeder as catcher for pennant drive. Speaking of Redskins: Michael Jackson, frustrated in attempt to buy remains of Elephant Man, reportedly offered Jack Kent Cooke $850,000, veteran topiary horticulturist and 15 sequined left-hand gloves for Dave Butz. ::