A friend of mine once wrote a story about the aftermath of quitting his job. He concluded that he had voided a large fill in his life.
Which is a perfect introduction to this baseball strike.
No longer do you have to spend each morning poring over the major league box scores, seeing how many Padres were struck out by Nolan Ryan, whether the Tigers are finally making a move under Sparky Anderson, or if there was any outfielder on the Twins that you'd heard of. No longer do you have to spend Saturday afternoons and Monday nights watching the national games, of fooling with your antenna 53 nights a season to get the Oriole telecast.
The good news is I have so much more time to do the things I want to do. The bad news is, what I want to do is watch baseball.
Forget this Washington party line that the strike doesn't affect the locals because the locals don't have a team of their own. Wyoming doesn't have a team of its own; Utah doesn't have a team of its own; New Mexico doesn't have a team of its own. Washington has the Orioles, 45 miles away. (What's 45 miles? In Montana they go 45 miles to get pizza; if they get greedy and want it with cheese and tomato the closest place is San Francisco.) And since so many people in Washington have come here from other places, the case can be made that every team -- except Montreal and Toronto -- belongs to Washington. There is probably no other city in the country where so many people root for so many different teams. And so many people here are hurting because of this baseball strike. Really hurting.
I know people, good people (well, maybe Norman, my CPA, isn't so good; I had to sell my silverware to pay my taxes last year) whose lifestyles are being changed by this stinking strike. Healthy, normal people (well, maybe Diana, the mud wrestler, isn't so normal) who ordinarily spend weekend afternoons throwing down some cold ones and watching baseball, who now find themselves wandering aimlessly among the watercress-on-white culture vultures in the National Gallery or the Treasury Building or, worse, among the polyglycoaters in K-Mart ("Hi, you look like someone who knows the value of a combination saucepan and goldfish bowl.")
I know people who have been so disoriented by this strike that they have actually tried to make polite dinner conversation with their spouses. ("Say, hey, how you doing? And how's that kid of ours? The girl. What's her name? Hold on, it'll come to me. I know DeCinces is on a tear, and Carlton leads the league in wins. The kid? Fran? Darlene? Kiko? Does the name Ruby Begonia mean anything to you?")
This strike is making people crazy.
There is, for example, a J.J. McKay (real name: Larry Sullivan), a disc jockey at WKTK-FM in Baltimore, who has vowed not to eat until the strike is settled. McKay, 26, weighed 235 when he began his hunger strike a week ago; his last meal was two hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jack and a beer. Since then he has eaten nothing but water, and soon his weight may be less than his I.Q. He says that fans such as him "should get off their duffs and do something about this strike." He's going hungry because "as an avid baseball fan, it made sense to me." (The bad news is he has had absolutely no effect on the strike so far. The good news is, eventually he may fit into designer jeans.) He also says, "I'll be honest with you -- I hope the strike doesn't last all season."
Hang in there, J.J., you wild and crazy malnutrent. Help is on the way.
Our crack research staff -- previously employed as panda mating counselors at the National Zoo -- has been hard at work on this baseball strike problem and has come up with 10 wonderful, marvelous things to do while waiting for the baseball strike to end. Ten awfully nice, paradise activities. Ten glamorous, amorous alternatives to baseball. We call them 10 Dumb Things (Although Not Nearly as Dumb as Going on a Hunger Strike) To Do.
Everybody shave your legs.
Memorize the names of all the members of the ruling military junta in Chile. Then send each one a letter telling him you have pictures of him that could severely curtail his political ambitions.
Grow a radish. (For those of you in a rush, buy a radish.) Then teach it to whistle "Dixie."
Learn to sing "The Best of the Carpenters" in Omanese. (Oman is a small country on the Arabian Sea. The national bird of Oman, I think, is sand.)
Imagine, just for a while, what it might be like to be reincarnated as a litter box, or pollen, or the roach motel.
Plant ivy all over the outside of your house; remove all the lightbulbs inside. Tell people: "If it's good enough for the Chicago Cubs, it's good enough for me."
Try to think of the last time Jerry Van Dyke, Joey Bishop or Danny Thomas made you laugh. Ask your parents. Ask your grandparents. Then either write your congressman a letter demanding they be barred from television forever or answer the following question -- if Bowie Kuhn is alone in a room, is anyone there?
Call George Steinbrenner. Tell him you understand Yankee Stadium is going condo and you want a nice two-bedroom near the third base line.
Catch 10 fireflies, put them in a glass jar, and sell them at a yard sale as an energy efficient nightlight.
Curse at sheep. They couldn't care less, and you'll feel better.