The warm Miami sun lazily wafted down on St. Timothy's Baseball Field. Loverboy blasted from the radio of a Ford pickup parked next to the softball field where the Lourdes High School varsity softball team was practicing. In the bed of the pickup a group of college friends sat drinking a few beers and butchering "Working for the Weekend".
Laura, the Molly Ringwald of the group, adjusted her oversized sunglasses as Al, the tall skinny guy, took another slug of Heineken. Jackie, the shortest and only one not out of high school yet, sat on the tailgate smoking a cigarette watching the varsities play. Dennis, the lean, mean, fighting machine, kicked back next to the radio and turned up the music. Jackie's sister, Callie, captain of the softball team, shouted over the fence at them.
"Hey! Turn it down, we're tryina practice!"
"We're not botherin' you, sis." Jackie shouted back, taking another hit of her cigarette.
"My team can't concentrate! And you could've at least played some Cyndi Lauper!"
Tim turned it up a little louder. "We got a right to be here."
"‘Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.'" Callie quipped.
"She talkin' about us?" Laura asked.
Al leaned forward, staring down Callie through his sunglasses. He said simply: "You guys suck."
"My team could beat your drunk asses any day," she shot back.
Dennis turned the radio down so he wouldn't have to shout. Taking a swig of his beer, he took a stance like John Belushi in Animal House about to make a speech.
"I bet" he hiccupped. "I bet that our ‘drunk asses' could beat your varsity team any day!"
Calllie practically fell over she was laughing so hard.
"You? I'd like to see you all try! We'll see you here next Saturday for a match!"
"We can take ‘em, right guys?" Dennis asked the rest of the group, who answered with a resounding NO.
"That's the spirit!"
* * *
On Saturday, the five of them, along with their newly recruited Meg, Vance, and Sam, arrived at the field with rock blaring and their bellies full of beer. Between the eight of them they had maybe two bats and four gloves, and all the hyper enthusiasm of a major league team. The whooped and hollered with AC/DC blaring. Time beat on the steering wheel as they pulled literally onto the field.
The varsity team, with Callie at the helm, stood on the other side of the field, almost fully decked out in all their softball gear: helmets, gloves, shin guards, mitts, the whole nine yards. Al wore a baggy tee shirt and Red Sox cap; Laura and Jackie came in tight jeans and tees; Dennis looked like an adult Karate Kid his sweaty tank top. Meg was probably the most underdressed of them all: she wore a loose denim jacket over a yellow sundress and flip-flops, the wind blowing her long brown hair directly in her face.
The gladiators on the other side of the field scoffed and laughed as Tim leaned out of the truck's window and waved his cap, singing
For those about to rock
We saluuuute you!
The others got out and ran to the dugout. Callie called from the other dugout "You guys wanna go first, get your defeat out of the way?"
Jackie, short and stocky, stepped up to bat.
"Yeah, yeah, come on sis, just pitch the ball." She got her stance, readying for the pitch. A huge Puerto Rican guy, their best pitcher, flexed his taught muscles and jeered at Jackie. She spit into the sand.
Mr. Puerto Rico pitched a fastball that smacked right into Jackie's hip.
"Agh, shit! You crazy!? You hit me!" She shouted. Mr. Puerto Rican laughed and got ready to pitch again. This time the ball shot off to the outfield with a crack! She ran/hobbled halfway to second base before they tagged her out. She limped back to the dugout muttering swearwords, snatching a cold "Heinie" to press against her hip. "You're up, Al."
Al, Yao Ming tall and toothpick skinny, stepped to bat, uneasily handling the wood like it was his first time.
"Move in, this isn't gonna go far!" Callie told the outfielders. They closed in for the kill as Crazy Puerto Rican wound up like a rubber band propeller. The lightning-fast curveball crack!ed against the wood and shot off over the outfielders' heads. Al twirled the bat as he strolled around to home base.
This went on for the rest of the game, the varsities scoring only a couple of points here and there. When the last few minutes of the game came around, the score was tied 12-12, and the Beer Bellies, as they called themselves, were as focused as a pair of beer goggles. Al and Tim were having an arm wrestling competition; Laura was fixing her makeup; Jackie was watching smoke curl from her cigarette; Meg sat in the grass picking little flowers to make a wreath.
Callie stared incredulously at the drunken morons who had tied them.
"Okay guys," she said, turning to her team. "We've got to make sure we knock ‘em dead this time!"
"But Callie, they're beating the snot out of us."
"Then we just have to beat them harder! If we beat the Blackhawks in division championships we can beat these bums!"
Callie ran up to bat shouting their team chant. Dennis on the pitcher's mound pulled back and threw a fastball straight at Callie. She whacked the ball out over their heads into the outfield. Meg saw the ball and scrambled to catch it. Her flip-flops tripped her and she went tumbling to the grass. She got up, dusting herself off, and just happened to notice that she'd accidentally caught the ball.
"Did I win?" she said dazedly.
"No Meg, we still need one more point." Laura said.
"Oh. Well I caught the ball! That's something, right?"
* * *
Laura was up to bat now, for the make-or-break last point run of the game. Callie was pitching, and she had murder in her eyes. She mouthed you're going down as she wound up the pitch. Laura readied the bat. Tim and Al crossed their fingers. The anticipation was thick; no one could predict what would happen next. Callie's underhand pitch looked like a tight-wound spring snapping from the tension. Laura swung the bat forward with surprising speed, and the ball sang like a flying mortar as it arced over the field and over the fence!
Laura was halfway to second when she twisted her ankle and fell. One of the varsities vaulted over the fence to get the ball, and the crippled Laura clawed her way to her feet, Al screaming GET UP!!
The varsity outfielder was climbing back over the fence as Laura hopped on one foot to second, then halfway to third.
"Shit-shit-shit-shit," she swore as she hopped.
"Come on Laura, GO!" Jackie shouted. The outfielder was almost to the diamond now. He threw the ball to third baseman just as Laura ran past, going on to home.
The third baseman shot the ball at Laura just as she fell/slid into home!
Al, Tim, and Dennis ran out to catch her, hoisting her up on their shoulders and almost falling over in the process. Jackie practically had a heart attack.
"We won?" she screamed excitedly. "We won!"
The Beer Belly underdogs cheered and hollered and sang off key, carrying their champion back to the Ford and the Heinie. Callie stood on the pitcher's mound, dumbfounded. She sank to her knees in the red clay.
"We lost. I can't believe it..." she said quietly. "We lost."
Jackie came over to her conquered sister and held out a green bottle, grinning from ear to ear.
"Want a beer?"