New Hope Springs Infernal

    Now that the clock has been switched ahead, the sky’s golden orb is shining and the larks are chirping like someone has filled his bird feeder with an ounce of pure, uncut, high-grade Peruvian speed, the thoughts of man and woman will inevitably turn to one thing.

    Baseball, the national pasttime, the reason that your burger tastes so good and your beer feels so cold. The hardball season has sprung, with action going down in all 30 wonderful stadiums across the nation.

    Here in sunny Southern California, however, things are looking dimmer than a pole dancer’s chance at winning the NCAA 400-meter individual medley.

    The Padres, our local team of overachieving do-gooders who have captured our hearts and our wallets (Prop C), have bumbled their way into the 2001 campaign in high fashion. Poor old Tony Gwynn, the hitmaster himself is back, and none the worse for wear, besides those decrepit knees of course. Nevertheless, it is good to see the Pad Squad’s most venerable member back for one more season.

    Expanding on the tired-old-veteran theme, the Pads recently gave a nod to good old Ricky Henderson, the ’80s star who is arguably the dumbest man in professional sports.

    According to Padres General Manager Kevin Towers, though, Henderson’s sales pitch was as stellar as his trademark headfirst slide. He called down to the front office one day and said, “”Hey, uh, Ricky wants to play for the Padres.”” How can you argue with a pitch like that? The third-person reference can only help in sealing the deal.

    The Padres also managed to part with prime-time hustler and fan favorite Eric Owens, and deal away young pitching standout Matt Clement. It appears that they are preparing for the future, a future that includes a shiny new stadium, filled to the brim with thousands upon thousands of screaming, adoring fans.

    Speaking of said stadium, where the heck is it? I remember the huge voting hubbub a couple of years back when the citizens of San Diego showed their sporting compassion by voting for something vital to the community, like another sports complex, instead of something silly and superfluous like a central public library.

    I, for one, was for the new structure. Lots of people watch sports, and no one actually reads anymore, unless it’s one of those cool e-mails where, like, someone sends it to you and then if you send it to a bunch of other people who send it to even more people then you will get a $10,000 from Mickey Mouse himself. (No fooling — my aunt’s secretary did it. I saw the check.)

    Anyway, the new ballpark was supposed to be San Diego’s crown jewel, a gleaming monument where the Swinging Friars would achieve championship after championship and bring boundless glory to our city by the sea. But as of now the “”stadium”” is little more than a hulking, stinking pit in the ground, inhabited only by city rats the size of hamburgers.

    I asked a nearby hobo about the project’s progress; he motioned me closer and told me that the secret treasure was not buried in that hole, but hidden deep beneath the emerald sea where it was watched over by a legion of perpetually perturbed Mermen, and of course, a talking trout.

    While this comment was of little help, a connection was quickly made. The whole ballpark fiasco has been rife with crooked conglomerations and shady, underhanded dealings.

    Sordid characters of many stripes were involved, including a man near and dear to UCSD students — no, not Lupe, the dearly loved burrito concocter from Taco Motion, but Robert Dynes. Yes, that Robert Dynes, our chancellor and the supposed embodiment of everything good and moral.

    While the smoke has not yet cleared and investigations are still ongoing, it appears that those huge tuition checks we cut each quarter are just not enough to sate Senor Dynes’ voracious thirst for wealth.

    I hope the situation will rectify itself in time, but until then one must look to Lupe for guidance in the way of the right.

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