At a Glance:Sports-related fiction is a genre primarily reserved for young-adult novels about winning the big game. The adult version of this incorporates all of the elements of its young-adult sibling, usually scales events up to the world of professional sports, and often includes some trite moral message about overcoming adversity or learning to work as a team. Some of them are about a group of misfits who have to be whipped into shape by a new coach, others focus on things like a man with one arm, paralyzed from the waist down, and black in the 1960s who goes on to become the greatest pitcher baseball has ever seen. Almost without exception the entire genre of epic sports fiction is clichéd and horrible beyond comprehension. This is why we're hoping you read this latest SA story time rather than even momentarily consider buying one of these books.
Literary Hack Sub-Genre: Clichéd Epic Sports Drama
Chapter One - The Spirit of the Sport Calls to HimJake "Daring" Armstrong's father offers him some gentle advice from beyond the grave.It was a windy afternoon in Grover's Down, Illinois. John Armstrong was chopping down "Old Creaky" the storm-damaged oak tree that overlooked his property and had nearly uprooted. It sat atop a hill and John was cutting into the base of its trunk on the slope below it with his axe. A smarter man might have thought to cut down the tree from the other direction, since odds were good that the tree would obey the laws of gravity and roll down the hill rather than floating directly up into the clouds once it was severed from its roots. Unfortunately John Armstrong was not a smart man and to add to that he had been consuming bourbon since just after lunch. His son leaned out the door to shout and tell him that dinner was ready, the unintelligent farmer cut through the trunk of the tree.
Young Jake "Daring" Armstrong yelled that lunch was ready. While much more intelligent than his father he was neither particularly observant nor well educated in the basics of tree rolling physics. His dad turned to look at him just as all fifteen-hundred pounds of tree, obediently following the instructions of gravity, came crashing down on his spine. The tree and John Armstrong, united by the magical forces at work, slid down the hill and directly into the tool shed.
"Noooooooooooooo!" Screamed Jake, watching in horror as the tool-shed collapsed onto the tree trunk.
The tree-trunk had managed to crumple a large can of kerosene that was being stored in the shed and this abruptly ignited. The entire tree-trunk, shed, and John Armstrong were engulfed in searing flames that took hours to die down. By the time a crane lifted the blackened trunk from the charred skeleton of his father, Jake Armstrong had no more tears.
Suddenly, or not if you were looking in the direction at the time, a ghost appeared behind Jake Armstrong. It was a spectral and slightly burnt version of his father.
"Ooooooooooooo," said Jake's father. "Hahhaha, shit, I always wanted to say that. Look, son, everything will be okay."
"I know," replied Jake, "I'm actually sort of glad you died, you can't beat us anymore."
"The fuck I can't!" John shouted as he took a drunken swing at his son.
Much to his dismay, his arm passed through his son's torso without raising any welts.Jake completes the bat he was ordered to create."Well I'll be damned," said the ghost of John Armstrong, "looks like I can't threaten you anymore with physical violence. Look boy, I want my legacy to live on. I want you to whittle a baseball bat out of that tree that killed me, name the bat after me, and go on to win the world series with it."
"I don't even like baseball, I played hocke-"
"Shut up!!" Interrupted the ghost of John Armstrong, "I didn't raise no boy to back-sass his ghost-dad. Now listen here, if you don't do exactly what I said I'm going to haunt you. I will appear whenever you're on a date with a girl and just chant 'nigger-lover' over and over again."
"You heard me!! Now get to cutting or I will make your love-life hell in this rural Southern community in the 1960's!"
The ghost of John Armstrong faded from view when Jake picked up his dad's carving knife and began to whittle the tree-trunk that had killed his father. It took him thirty-five days to whittle the massive oak into the shape of a baseball bat, and it wasn't a very good looking bat because he had never done anything like that before and he was also only nine years old. His arms were gigantic from all the whittling however.
Jake picked up his bat and burned a brand into the side as his father had instructed. He allowed it to stop smoking and then varnished the bat in a bucket, the only thing that had survived the tragic shed collision. Jake held the bat up to the light and inspected it.
The brand was clear and deep. It read "NIGER LOVAR". Jake Armstrong was not very good at spelling because this was the rural south in the 1960's. People were really dumb in the past, except for the Founding Fathers who were smarter than Einstein!
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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