The first visible sign of the insurgency came Tuesday afternoon a few hours before the start of the Senators-Tigers game when Tang Ye-lin's beloved bullpen car, the Yugo-Get-A-Reliever, mysteriously exploded. An anonymous caller told the Associated Press a car bomb had been detonated by a previously unknown activist group calling itself the Anti-Tang Brigade.
As the week progressed, more rebellious acts occurred: On Wednesday, Tang's red telephone, his hot line to Major Banks' office, was found dangling from the flagpole atop RFK, its cord fashioned like a noose.
On Thursday, some of Tang's prized autographed pictures were defaced with crayon beards and mustaches -- including Ollie North's ("Tang, your private security force is aces, buddy") and Adm. John Poindexter's ("The buck may stop here, but we know where the bucks start; here's looking at you, Tang").
On Friday, a full-page ad in USA Today branded Tang as "a greedy pig ready for the spit (We're Eating More Pork, 1D)."
The Anti-Tang Brigade took credit for each incident, leaving notes denouncing both Tang and George Steinbrenner, whom it called "Tang's idol, mentor and fellow running dog."
FBI spokesman David Hirshey said his office wouldn't investigate the group. "For all I care, Tang can rot in Hell," said Hirshey, a Senator season ticket holder angered by reports the team might be moved out of Washington.
Exactly how large a group the Anti-Tang Brigade is remains unknown at present. But two startling pieces of evidence uncovered this past week indicate the ATB includes members of the Senators themselves:
1. Small, dust-like particles -- once thought to be uniform lint -- the Senators have been seen throwing to the ground and spitting on have been positively identified as crystals of the breakfast drink Tang.
2. The left sleeves of the team jerseys now sport a patch in which a Yugo is upside down and apparently sinking in a bog, an international symbol of distress. ("I have no idea how those patches got there," said Windy Jackson. "I got to the clubhouse one day, and all the uniforms had them. Hidden meanings? I don't know what you mean. But here's another clue for you all: The walrus was Paul.")
As he has done for the last three weeks, since the first hint of his moving the Senators, Tang Ye-lin made no public appearances. ("He's Howard Hughes. When he finally does show up, his fingernails will be eight inches long," concluded Oscar Madison.) However, Tang authorized PR honchette Bobbi Fleckman to inform the media that he was alive and well and "fully capable of utilizing my own methods to corral and punish these crackpots who are obviously being financed and trained by communist agitators." Tang attempted to squelch the notion that any players were part of the ATB by saying, "The foundation, the very mortar and brick of our glorious Senators family, is love." But just in case any Senators were involved, Tang vowed to "cut out their tongues, beginning with that drug addict Jackson."
Despite all this ill feeling between owner and team -- or perhaps because of it -- the Senators continued to add on to their winning streak, to shave valuable games off the Yankees' once seemingly inexhaustible lead and to creep steadily back into the AL East pennant picture. The streaking Senators won their seven games this week; that's 13 in a row. They are now six behind the Yankees and have reached .500 for the first time in months.
In the locker room, the Senators rejoiced at the smell of such clean, fresh air: "We're like Lazarus," said Orlando Jones.
"Chrysler," said Sonny Doyle.
"Gandhi," said Jonathan Van Dorn.
"A pardon from the governor," said Bad Dude Harding.
"We got the fever, we're hot, we cannot be stopped," said GM Elliott Suskind, whose first wife, Debbie, was a high school cheerleader.
And like the swallows coming back to Capistrano, this was a week for some absent Senators to return and help the effort. Doctor Gibson, who'd missed 22 straight games because he'd had such difficulty switching his resident's shift at Georgetown University Medical School, switched careers instead. "I've decided to become an optometrist," Gibson announced. "Nobody ever gets called at 3 a.m. to do an emergency operation to fix a badly broken pair of lenses." Gibson was so elated to play baseball again, he smacked homers in each of his first four games.
Gene McSparron also rejoined the team, though a bit less enthusiastically. McSparron had been campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination and had spent the past month in New Hampshire and Iowa putting up posters of himself -- standing in a living room wearing a baseball uniform with a Bible in one hand, a glass of milk in the other and a rifle lying on the table nearby. At talk shows and county fairs from Nashua to Cedar Rapids, he stressed his three-pronged platform of fiscal, military and sexual responsibility. "In my vision of America, people keep their money in their pockets, their guard up and their pants on," McSparron said. "I have a lifetime batting average of .295, and I don't have AIDS. How many others in this race can say that?"
Alas, these were states without major league baseball. The most recent Des Moines Register poll showed McSparron with zero percent of the Iowa vote -- less than Generalissimo Franco, who's still dead. "Eighty percent of the people I talk to haven't heard of him; the others say they'd sooner vote for Porky Pig," admitted McSparron's Iowa coordinator, Jody Forstot. Forstot's brother Lance, McSparron's coordinator in New Hampshire, reported much of the same: "Most people here think he's a shallow jerk. If they held the primary today, he couldn't beat Spuds McKenzie."
McSparron scheduled a press conference in Manchester, N.H., to announce his campaign was "going on hiatus," as they say on television, but when no reporters came, he left a box of autographed baseballs outside his headquarters door, flew to National and took a cab to RFK in time for Friday's game against the Brewers.
"Well, if it isn't General Patton. What happened in Silent Majority-ville, Gino? Weren't they buying that blood, guts and condoms routine of yours?" was how Jonathan Van Dorn greeted him.
"Commie weirdo scum," was McSparron's witty rejoinder.
But as with Doctor Gibson, the change of scenery benefitted McSparron, who had seven hits and four RBIs in three games.
"It's great to be back playing baseball again," McSparron told the media on Saturday. "I really missed my teammates. They're the greatest bunch of men I've ever known. Even though we've only been together a few months, I've come to love them all and truly think of them as family." McSparron smiled broadly, his 32 teeth as white as piano keys, and told reporters he'd answer any questions.
Passing by on their way to the shower were Oscar Madison and John Doe. "Family, my tush," Madison muttered. So when he heard McSparron call for questions, he yelled out: "Hey, Dad, can I borrow the car?"
Doe pointed at McSparron. "Oscar, who is that guy?" :: SENATORS STUFF: Moe-Don Dorcas astonished teammates by revealing he was no longer born again: "I was sincere in thinking God had come to me and told me to forsake my wild and wicked ways. But on reflection, it wasn't God whose presence I felt that night but too much salsa. So I am renouncing Mexican food, but I've reopened the door to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Hey, babe, let's party." Tito Mantequilla said that couldn't be Moe-Don speaking -- it had to be Satan. Moe-Don responded by punching Tito in the chest so hard his ribs cracked . . . Those relentless volunteers from WETA offered to interrupt interminable folk-music telecasts with "Save Our Senators Pledge Week." For $100 contribution you get Tang's unlisted telephone number and instructions on how to make obscene calls in Chinese . . . Tony Cadenza on pace for ghastly 30-30-30: hitting into 30 DPs, 30 Ks with bases loaded, 30 times thrown out stealing. Appalled Red Sox scout Buzz Dork termed Cadenza "quite likely the worst looking baseball player since Tony Perkins in 'Fear Strikes Out' " . . . Scholarship Athlete magazine poll named Senators' own Windy Jackson second most admired man in sports, just behind Norby Walters. ::