It’s true, as a cop, I have plenty of weird days. But this was the weirdest. The chief calls. Wants me to interrogate a ball and a bat. I’m not kidding. A ball, a bat, and me. Down at the station. Under the hot lights.
“All right,” I says, opening my notebook, “Mr. Bat, we’ll start with you. The report claims you were kidnapped.”
“That’s right,” the bat says. He talks like he’s ready to hit something.
“In the middle of the game, some guy pops out of the ceiling, grabs me, and hides me in the venting system.”
“You must have been scared.”
“Nah. Once you’ve faced a Roger Clemens fastball, you ain’t afraid of heat ducts.”
“I get it. You’re tough as nails.”
“Never say nails to a bat.”
“Sorry. Now. The report says you belong to Cleveland’s Albert Belle.”
“Mr. Belle to you.”
“It says you’re quite a swinger.”
“I’m hitting .349, knock wood,” he says, tapping himself against the floor.
“The report also says you were replaced by a phony bat? Was he in your bat-talion?”
“Hardly. The crook had the nerve to switch me with a Paul Sorrento model.”
“Sorrento’s hitting .260. He couldn’t lick my pine tar.”
“Wait a second. This says you were kidnapped from the umpires’ room.”
“Um . . . yeah . . . what about it?”
“Well, you’re a bat. Why are you in the umpires’ room? Why weren’t you where the other bats hang out, like the bat rack, or the batting cage?”
“What are you, my mother?” the bat says. “My mother was a birch. You don’t look like a birch. You look more like a son of a birch.”
Great. Now he had a battitude. Talkin’ baseball . . .
“Listen, pal,” I says. “I’m just trying to get the story. Why were you in the umpires’ room?”
“HE’S CORKED!” the ball screams.
Until then, I didn’t know balls could talk.
“He’s corked! He’s all clogged up inside! He ain’t real! He’s–
“SHUT UP OR I’LL WHACK YA!” the bat says.
The ball shuts up.
So now I have a bat-tle on my hands.
“Look, buster,” I tells the bat. “Being corked, as I understand it, is against the rules of baseball.”
“So is being kidnapped.”
“Are you corked?”
“Talk to my lawyer.”
“Bats have lawyers? I must be cracking up.”
“Never say crack to a bat.”
“Sorry. OK. Mr. Ball, what’s your story? Says here you’re accused of being juiced. Hmm. Doing a little drinking after the game?”
“No comment,” the ball says.
“Check his stitches,” the bat says. “They’re tighter than Burt Reynolds’ hairpiece.”
“So what? So he flies off the bat! He goes over the fence! He’s a bloop single turned into a home run. That’s what!”
“Mr. Ball, will you undo your stitches?”
“No. Will you pull down your pants?”
“See!” the bat laughs.
“Shut up,” the ball whispers. “You want to blow the whole deal?”
“I don’t need you.”
“Not since you had your implants.”
“Look who’s talking. You go to Costa Rica for a little face- lift, suddenly, you’re Mr. Righteous.”
I can see their stories coming apart. “Careful,” I says, lighting up a cigarette, “one split might blow your cover.”
“Never say ‘split’ to a bat.”
“Never say ‘blow your cover’ to a ball.”
“Sorry,” I says. This case has a kicker
Now. I’m a patient guy. But I’d had enough. Belle’s bat is standing there, like an oak. The ball is rolling with the punches.
I grabbed the bat and smash it over the desk.
“YEOOOWWW!” it screams.
There it is. A lining of cork.
“I knew he’d spill his guts,” the ball says.
Next, I grabbed the ball and a pair of pliers. I try for 20 minutes to pull the stitches apart.
“Lemme go! Ouch!” the ball screams.
The bat was right. Tighter than Roseanne’s bustier.
“Sarge!” I yell, as the guards take them away. “I think we broke the case
— not to mention these pliers. Mr. Belle will have some explaining to do. Get me the commissioner on the phone.”
“The police commissioner?”
“The baseball commissioner.”
“There is no baseball commissioner. He’s been missing for years.”
Hmm. Sounds like another case. I snuff my cigarette and grab my coat. Can you believe what folks will do to make a ball go a few inches farther?
Forget it. All I want is a good night’s sleep. I’m halfway out the door when the chief yells after me.
“Hey. Come back. There’s a soccer ball here to see you. Something about Baggio and a bad kick, says he wants to confess . . .”