Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tim Tschida's Neighbor Questioned: The Shocking Transcript

Yesterday, Major League Baseball was accused of sending investigators into umpires’ hometowns to ask neighbors “ill-contrived questions”, a form of background checking that some likened to the actions of a secret police. Gameday's crack investigative team has secured the transcript of one such conversation between major league baseball investigator Tom Christopher and a long-time neighbor of St. Paul native and MLB umpire Tim Tschida.

Hello ma’am. My name's Tom Christopher (TC) and I'm with Major League Baseball. We're talking to neighbors of our umpiring crew. Just want to make sure we have the right people for the job. Mind if I ask you a few questions?

I don't have a lot of time--

TC: Won't take but a few moments. Here, let's just get started. How long have you known Mr. Tschida?

Well, since he and his wife moved in next door. That was quite a while ago. Ten years?

TC: Are they nice neighbors?

Oh yes. Very nice.

TC: No disruptive behavior? Wild parties? Visits from the police?

Oh no. Just normal people.

TC: Have you been in their basement?

Their basement? I don't think so.

TC: Bear with me now. Has Mr. Tschida ever offered you a “poop sack"?


TC: A spliff? A doobie?

I don't—

TC: Marijauna, ma’am.

Marijauna? They're not growing marijuana, if that's what you're asking.

TC: Fine. Has his wife ever stopped by with a swollen, bloodied face and said, "I can't see nuthin. You gotta open my eye. Cut me, Mick."

What? My name's not Mick--

TC: That's a Rocky reference, ma’am. Victims of domestic violence will often use humor to cover up incidents of abuse.

But he doesn't abuse his wife --

TC: This wife of his, has she said that Mr. Tschida regurgitates his food? Stamps the ground while she's folding red towels? Moos plaintively, or possibly with window-rattling violence, during lovemaking?

What on earth --

TC: Side effects of certain performance enhancing injections. Steer hormones, specifically. Doesn’t ring a bell? Fine. Does Mr.Tschida believe in reincarnation?

I haven’t the slightest. Why?

TC: Their's not to reason why. Their's but to do and die.

Excuse me?

TC: A bit of Tennyson, ma’am. The sort of thing that a reincarnated member of the 19th century planter class might drop into casual conversation. Ever hear Mr. Tschida say something like that?

I'm not following you.

TC: I'll cut to the chase then. What are the chances that Mr. Tschida owns slaves?

Um, about one in a billion?

TC: So, you're saying there's a chance?

That's not even funny.

TC: Wasn't meant to be. Has Mr. Tschida ever flown a passenger jet into a building?

A passenger jet? Wouldn't he be dead if he did that?

TC: Technically speaking, yes. We'd be dealing with a zombie then.

A zombie?

TC: A zombie. Your arm. Has he eaten it?

Eaten my arm? You mean, actually eaten my arm?

TC: Yes.

Does it look like it?

TC: Could be a prosthetic.

This is a joke, right?

TC: Ma’am, I wish. Have you heard of Tim Donaghy? He's an NBA referee who bet on games he officiated. We can't allow a Donaghy into our umpire crews. So we're covering all the bases, if you'll pardon the pun.

But -- a zombie? Zombies don't even exist.

TC: Maybe not. Can't be too careful, though. Now then, crop circles. Have they appeared in his backyard?

He doesn't have any crops--

TC: Bright lights? A cigar-shaped craft?

You mean a UFO?

TC: Is Mr. Tschida a pod person?

(stunned silence)

TC: I need you to focus, ma’am. Is Tim Tschida a pod person?

No, he’s not a pod person. What's that helicopter—

TC: Never mind the helicopter. Nothing to see there.

I think I have to go now.

TC: Please don't make me waterboard you, ma’am.

Waterboard? What? What are you doing?

TC: Henderson, secure the witness!

Who's that? What's he doing in my bushes? Wait! Isn't that -- that's Bill Johnson!

TC: No, that's Jim Henderson, ma’am. He's been surveiling the area.

But he's been my mailman for four years!

TC: Deep cover, ma’am.

Now hold on! You can't do this!

TC: Ma’am, I work for a man with the power to contract entire franchises out of existence. I can do anything.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Truck Commercials: Like A Crock

Televised football with its frequent breaks usually finds the sun of my intellect partially eclipsed by a fast-approaching, truck-commercial induced brain aneurysm. On Sunday, I fear that aneurysm struck as the cognitive equivalent of a global killer. For today I feel compelled to go out and buy a pickup truck.

Not so long ago I believed that I lived in a nation of paved roads. Not anymore. Pickup truck commercials have convinced me that I'll have to drive up and over the Ozarks to get to the grocery store. Probably I'll be hauling something -- a bunch of rocks, or possibly a disabled eighteen-wheeler. Somewhere along the way I'll find myself braking at the maw of a bottomless crevice, that after navigating a gigantic, erector set obstacle course that threatens me with plunging, skyscraper-high steel beams. Carhartt-accessorized men in hardhats will look on. They will cheer me.

But not only men. Admiring women will recognize the strong correlation between the size of my truck and the size of my genetalia. What's more, the wholesome manliness of my vehicle will send my pituitary gland into a compensatory overdrive, flooding my testicles with testosterone-producing hormones. Probably some will gaze at my suddenly splendid physique and impossibly strong chin and mistake me for Fox NFL analyst Howie Long. Of course I will set them straight. Guys capable of slamming shut with authority a door on the bed of a truck hardly require the security of a contrived identity.

It’s pleasant to imagine myself rolling up to my place in a shiny new truck. That rusting Mazda 626 always parked on the street will remind me that some would sacrifice their manhood to the false idol of a superior fuel efficiency. "Poor bastard," I'll mutter, forgetting for the moment, and probably forever, that I drove that car once. And as the sun sets on another star-spangled day, I'll lay my head down pondering a question that has troubled me since the first telecast of this NFL season : am I really getting everything that I need from my cell phone plan?