Ride, Pete, Ride

Oral presentation day was just 24 hours away, and little 4th grader Gina was a nervous wreck. As much as she liked researching the Pete Rose gambling scandal (researching in this case meant frequenting the local taverns to put money on the Red Wings — damn, you just can’t bet against that Yzerman fellow; he’s a world-class stickhandler), Gina was sure something would go wrong when she got up in front of the class. It had happened so many times before.

“What if I screw up?” she thought to herself, so she consulted her fourth grade teacher Mrs. Mabry for advice. “Have you tried practicing your speech at home? You could use your teddy bears as an audience, you know, to help simulate a real speech.” Gina marveled at this. Before Mrs. Mabry could say another word she dashed out of the class and ran home to practice her speech.

Back at her house, Gina assembled quite an audience for the mock premiere of her presentation. “Right this way Ayatollah Albatross,” she motioned to one of her toys. “And you can sit right over here Ebolagator,” she gleefully instructed. The rest of her audience: Goatee Sportin’ Gorilla, Anti-Semite Rainbow Trout, and Syphillizard had already taken their seats, and Gina was ready to go.

Citing examples such as Ty Cobb’s game-fixing and Ferguson Jenkins’ arrest for drug possession in defense of Pete Rose’s gambling, she was on a roll, much to the crowd’s delight. Continuing on, Gina elaborated on Rose’s record 4,256 hits, his 17 All-Star Game selections, and explained how he had been named MVP in 1972 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

“Excuse me Gina, I don’t mean to be rude, but I think it was actually 1973 when Rose was MVP,” interjected Ayatollah Albatross suddenly. “I was a fan of the Big Red Machine back in the heyday of Morgan, Bench, Concepci+A|n and such. You’re just plain wrong.”

Gina was angered by this outburst, as well as a bit confused as to how her stuffed creatures had developed vocal cords. And larynxes for that matter. In response, Gina showered the Ayatollah with an array of obscenities that few would dare repeatGAA obscenities such as “damn”, and “damn it”, and also “damn you, you stupid albatross son-of-a-whore.”

This threw the audience into an uproar. “I can’t stand to listen to this gibberish!” the Goatee Sportin’ Gorilla said as he stormed off to smoke a bowl in the kitchen.

“The man bet on baseball,” hissed Ebolagator, as he puffed angrily on a Winston menthol. “He’s lucky they didn’t cut off both his hands if ya’ ask me, and they usually do.”

“Complete lack of respect for the sport,” declared Paparazzi Panda, who had been outside sniffing rubber cement and waltzed in late.

Gina threw in the towel. “Oh, I’ll never get anywhere arguing with you misfits,” she moaned as she stormed off to cry herself to sleep.

The faint cries of Ebolagator calling Pete Rose a crack fiend still rang loudly in Gina’s ears the next day as she moped to class. “Here goes nothing,” she thought to herself, all the while praying that the piece of gum Mom handed her on the way to school wouldn’t stain her teeth an inky blue like last time.

She sat through Billy’s ill-prepared speech on water treatment plants and Jamie’s rambling report on Hanson’s status as rock legends. Finally it was her turn. Tearing through her speech with a passion only a die-hard Reds fan or a horny sailor could muster, Gina was doing great. Her exclusion of all things negative about Pete Rose was inspired, and an “A” was surely within her grasp.

Just when Gina thought she was in the clear, she spotted her gang of rogue stuffed animals marching toward her classroom, armed and ready to expose Pete Rose as the abusive pimp of America’s pastime that he is. But as they reached the door to Mrs. Mabry’s class, a miracle of sorts took place. A belligerent Pete Rose arrived on the scene just in time to have his band of bloodthirsty mobsters ambush the teddies before they struck. As the stuffed toys were chopped to little pieces with swords, Gina winked through the window at Rose and mouthed to him, “Thanks, Charlie Hustle.”

Pete whistled to his crew. “My work here is done,” the sports icon proclaimed. “Now let’s go snort some delicious coke and watch pornos.” And with that he rode off into the sunset on A. Bartlett Giamatti’s rotten carcass, which had been fashioned into a wagon.

“Ride Pete, ride!” yelled Mr. T., who was there too for some reason.