Sometimes the stars line up perfectly. The first night of Passover, the White Sox opening day and the impending release of the Three Stooges movie. I’m happy to present for your enjoyment this previously unreleased report from 2008…
WORDPLAY, SOX STYLE
It is hard enough being a White Sox fan out here in Southern California, where Yankee and Red Sox caps seem de rigueur among transient literary types, and Windy City ex-patriots take on the default status of Cubs fans. It got a little harder this week as a story leaked out of SoxFest about two of our stellar relievers attempting to solve a crossword puzzle. According to broadcaster Ed Farmer, one of them had responded to the clue: “Moses’ Brother” with the answer: “Larry.” When advised that the clue was a reference to the Bible and not the Three Stooges, the player stuck with his answer, reasoning that it fit the required five letters.
That stings for us literary types, for whom baseball has always been the sport of choice. From Mark Harris’ “Bang The Drum Slowly” to Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural,” no other sport has attracted the literary output of baseball. The list includes Philip Roth, David Halberstam, Roger Angell et al, so it is always a bit disappointing when the players remind us that Ring Lardner got it right ninety years ago, and hasn’t been improved upon much since.
Still, I was a little surprised, given the amount of religiosity in sports these days, with players pointing skyward to Providence after a bloop double, that our relievers would be unfamiliar with the characters of Exodus. And yet, I want to empathize with my Sox players. I imagine a long road trip with stops in Tampa and Kansas City and Arlington, Texas. The players, fighting boredom, rent a DVD, The Three Stooges: The Lost Classics. Among these gems is the seldom seen, The Three Stooges Go To Mt. Sinai. I imagine the scenario goes something like this:
EXT. MT. SINAI — DAY
Moses comes down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments on two stone tablets. He is met by his brother, Larry, who points to a commotion down on the plain.
Hey look! It’s a golden calf!
Why, of all the…
Moses fumes, while his other brother, Curly, bounces into the picture.
I think it’s kind of cute, nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.
Why, I oughta…
Moses puts the tablets down. He puts his finger on Curly’s belly button, then runs it up to his nose and pokes him in the eyeballs.
Curly SQUEALS and rotates his arm as if to deliver a roundhouse to Moses.
A real wise guy, eh?
Moses picks up the two stone tablets and breaks them over Curly’s head. He storms back up the mountain. Curly and Larry follow, to the strains of “Three Blind Mice.”
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
That sounds a little more reasonable, though hard to explain to my Yankee fan friends. They would remind me of the film “Wordplay,” about New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz. One of the featured puzzle mavens in the film is Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina. Great. Their pitchers solve the NY Times Sunday crossword. Ours think Moses’ brother is Larry.
I can only think of one consolation.
Maybe the puzzle was a USA Today crossword.
Maybe “Larry” was the correct answer.