NotGraphs Longform: The Story From Those Story Ideas Part 2


Minnie Prospect, a Minneapolis lawyer who was once a Twins prospect, leans against the rusted fence of the first-base dugout and gazes at his ragtag team. He never thought he’d be here, at a derelict diamond in the heart of the inner-city rough, but here, he’s discovered, is not only where he has to be, owing to the creative sentencing he accepted after his DUI conviction, but where he wants to be, molding his motley squad of scamps and rapscallions into a winning outfit.

The writer nodded. This was good – really good, like Disney good.

“I mean, you couldn’t write a script like this!” Coach Prospect declares, just as the final inning of the David Versus Goliath Little League championship game begins.

He turns to little Jimmy Dugan, sitting on the bench while his teammates man their positions. “I mean you couldn’t write a script like this. You’re only 12, and, as I understand it, something of a math whiz but otherwise a bit of a dullard. No, only a gifted writer could write something like this, something so inconceivable that Disney couldn’t help but pay a milllllion dollars for it: Seriously, a ragtag team of scamps and rapscallions whose now-sober coach has lifted them, against all odds, to the title game against a heavily favored Yankees team composed entirely of spoiled rich kids whose parents make the typical stage mom look like a Marianite nun?!”

Again the writer nodded. He pictured himself on the red carpet with Kate Winslet, though Kates Beckinsale and/or Blanchett would do.

“And yet, despite our shot at the championship,” the coach intones, to no one in particular, “it’s not just the game of baseball that’s important. No, what’s important is the most important game of all – the game of …”

The writer searched for just the right word: Existence? Sentience? Poker?


Now, just as the Yankees’ Richie “Affluent Richard” Richierich strokes a bases-loaded line drive to left-center field, Minnie Prospect calls out to his team: “Game Of Life!” Having practiced the GOL drill many times, the Mini Prospects promptly assume a large “V” configuration. Then, speeding headlong as an unstoppable unit, they obliterate Richierich before moving on to a local mall, where, in the form of a spirited flash mob, they perform the original musical “V Really Is For Vendetta,” after which they are signed to a three-year engagement at Wynn Las Vegas.

Envisioning a lucrative homonymic tie-in, the coach declares, “We win!”

The writer leaned back, triumphant. Hollywood, here he came!

To celebrate, he drank a pint of absinthe and then another pint of absinthe.

Upon waking, and despite the clear and triumphant direction of his writerly life, he decided to glance at the other story ideas, those posted, at his now less regrettable request, upon his Sept. 26 NotGraphs summons. “I’ll look at them just for fun,” he said, sipping Sanka vodka. “Then I’ll search for L.A. residential real estate.”

Idea 13, or maybe 14: …a nonfiction story about the keeping of NotGraphs.

“Heh,” he chuckled.

Idea, 14, or maybe 15: Paschal’s Wagers.

“Hmm,” he said.

Curious, he began to sketch the narrative: If I believe that NotGraphs will carry on and it does carry on, well, frankly, I’m going to Hollywood, so, ha ha ha! and good riddance, you miserable slackers! If I believe that NotGraphs will carry on and it doesn’t carry on, well, whatever, I’m still going to Hollywood, so, ha ha ha! and fare the well, you non-Tinseltown underachievers! If I don’t believe that NotGraphs …

“Aw, hell, what’s the point?” he declared. “I’m going to Hollywood!”

He added, quickly, “Ha ha ha!”

Habituated to glancing, he glanced at the next idea nonetheless.

… a tribute to the best baseball plushies.

“Well,” he said to himself, “a little practice never hurt anyone – except for my friend Beanpole Jones, who, during Advanced Little Practice, sustained a severe lumbar injury while attempting to imitate a Chinese female gymnast.”

With one hand he sipped some ouzo and with the other he typed: Tribute, to the stuffed Kansas City Royals baseball with eyeballs. Tribute, to the stuffed Babe Ruth with highballs, and with hot dogs, and with a cigar, and with a prostitute with a cigar and a hot dog, not necessarily in that order and maybe both at once. Tribute, to the stuffed Adrian Beltre with … just … balls, one stuffed with Novocain. Tribute, to the stuffed Rick Ankiel with balls all over the place. Tribute, to the stuffed Derek Jeter with balls that have filed a lawsuit seeking back pay for unpaid overtime.

He poured another ouzo and thought about the Captain’s conquests.

“Mmm,” he purred, closing his eyes.

Upon cleaning up, he returned to the list.

Next: the starting lineup of the most filthy-sounding baseball player names.

“Well, as they say,” he said, “never go grocery shopping hungry! So I’ll see your ‘starting lineup’ and raise you a nearly full roster! Off the top of my head…”

Pre-World War II Roster

Starting Lineup

1B Long John Reilly (1880-1891)
2B Benny Bowcock (1903)
SS Jack Glasscock (1879-1895)
3B Butts Wagner (1898)
LF Heinie Manush (1923-1939)
CF Steamer Flanagan (1905)
RF Pussy Tebeau (1895)
C Doc Bushong (1875-1890)
DH Johnny Dickshot (1936-1945)

Starting Rotation

RSP Three Finger Brown (1903-1916)
RSP Guy Bush (1923-1945)
LSP Cannonball Titcomb (1886-1890)
LSP Dick Burns (1883-1885)
LSP Fred Woodcock (1892)


LRP Slim Love (1913-1920)
RRP Sloppy Thurston (1923-1933)


1B/DH Chub Sullivan (1877-1880)
2B/SS Chub Collins (1884-1885)
3B Red Woodhead (1873/1879)
C/SS/CF Tony Suck (1883-1884)
UTIL Boob Fowler (1923-1926)

Post-World War II Roster

Starting Lineup

1B Joe Adcock (1950-1966)
2B Stubby Clapp (2001)
SS Eddie Stanky (1943-1953)
3B A-Rod (current, sort of)
CF Rusty Kuntz (1979-1985)
RF Pete LaCock (1972-1990)
OF Kosuke Fukudome (2008-2012)
C “The Aristocrats!” (current, always)
DH Pat “The Bat” Burrell (2000-2011)

Starting Rotation

RSP Doug Fister (current)
RSP Dave Morehead (1963-1970)
RSP Dick Pole (1973-1978)
RSP Gene Brabender (1966-1970)
LSP Seth Morehead (1957-1961)


LRP Charlie Furbush (current)
RRP Rollie Fingers (1968-1985)


1B/OF Dick Sisler (1946-1953)
2B/SS Pumpsie Green (1959-1963)
INF Dickie Thon (1979-1993)
OF B.J. Upton (current)
UTIL Woodie Held (1954-1969)

He chuckled. “I’d love to see Dick Burns face Stubby Clapp, though you’d think they would have met before. Yeah, you’d think that with the help of Doc Bushong and Johnny Dickshot, Dick Burns would have already solved Stubby Clapp. Another good match-up: Fred Woodcock and Rusty Kuntz. Man, I can just hear it now!”

Pleased that he’d met the requirements for a titillating story, he moved on.

… give each NotGraphs writer an appropriate Sponsored Ads nickname.

Sipping brandy, he wrote:

Carson “8 Quiet Warning Signs Of An Enlarged Prostate” Cistulli

Dayn “5 Social Media Tips For Small Businesses” Perry

Patrick “13 College Pranks That Were Borderline Brilliant” Dubuque

Bradley “1 Simple Trick To Stop Your Golf Slice” Woodrum

Mississippi Matt “9 Signs You Might Have A Gluten Allergy” Smith

Jeremy “10 Must-Have Man Cave Products” Blachman

Mike “7 Famous Songs That Don’t Mean What You Think” Bates

Craig “8 Celebs Who Deeply Regret Going Under The Knife” Robinson

David G. “13 Movies That Are Just Plain Hard To Watch” Temple

Zach “6 Unique Questions Will Reveal Your Wine Profile” Reynolds

Robert J. “17 Coolest Things Ever Discovered On Google Earth” Baumann

Navin “10 Lost Celebrity Scandals You Forgot About” Vaswani

Eno “8 Iconic Supermodels: Then And Now!” Sarris

John “1,001 Sexy Starlets Who Yearn For John Paschal” Paschal

Satisfied – and, with a nickname like that, who wouldn’t be? – the writer celebrated with a large tub of peppermint schnapps, then glanced at the next suggestion.

Rejected TV advertisements for Dayn Essential Oils.

Oh, this would be easy. He had written a rejected ad only weeks before!

“Hi, I’m Dayn Perry,” says Dayn Perry. “You might remember me from such blog postings as ‘Barknuts Harper: The Dog That Barked At Nuts,’ and ‘Austere Fiction Starring The Kuiper Belt.’ Whenever you paint an oil painting, oils are essential.”

The writer moved on, though not yet to Hollywood.

The top three animals from each continent, and which baseball players, all time or current, best represent those animals.

The writer frowned. “Hasn’t that been done, like, a thousand times?”

Best fictional starting nine.

“OK,” he said. “You asked for it, you got it – more or less.”

1B Cretan Dwarf Hippopotamus (Europe)
2B Desert Bandicoot (Australia)
SS Atlas Wild Ass (Africa)
3B Gloomy Tube-Nosed Bat (Asia)
LF Blunt-Toothed Giant Hutia (North America)
CF Indefatigable Galapagos Mouse (South America)
RF Macaroni Penguin (Antarctica)
C Barknuts Harper
P Sidd Finch
DH David Ortiz, Minotaur

He smiled. “I’ll drink to that!”

And he did – twice.

He then drank thrice to having drunk twice.

Too drunk to stand, he remained seated.

…an article reimagining what MLB and MiLB would look like if we had soccer-style promotion and relegation in baseball.

He shook his head. “C’mon, who do you think I am?”

Slightly panicked, he added, “Seriously. I have forgotten.”

How about a story on an all-star baseball team made up of Greek/Roman mythological creatures? Each creature would represent a real-life MLB player, such as Jacob deGrom as a centaur, David Ortiz as a minotaur…

“Hey, what are the odds?” he slurred. “I just portrayed Ortiz as a minotaur!”

He positioned his fingers on the keyboard and began typing: {si; Hp;fdvj,oy

He repositioned his fingers on the keyboard and began typing: Paul Goldschmidt knocks the Gila Bend dirt from his hand-me-down spikes and steps into the batter’s box. Waggling the bat above his shoulder, he peers – he squints – at the opposing pitcher. Ever since the Diamondbacks were relegated to Class A-Minus Gila Bend, the big first baseman has had a hard time seeing pitches. Actually, he’s had a hard time seeing pitchers. Compared to the bright lights at Chase Field, the lights at Gila Bend Field ’N Wind Farm are, in Goldschmidt’s phrasing, not bright. In fact, they aren’t even lights – they are candles, positioned in the flea collars of yardless dogs.

“Oh, this is good,” the writer said. “Maybe not Disney good, but good.”

In dim light the all-star comes set. Goldschmidt continues to squint, trying to see the barnstorming big-leaguer on the mound. He can’t be sure, but the pitcher looks – “Can this be right?” – he looks … yes, he looks like a manticore, a legendary monster with the head of a man, the body of a lion and a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time – “No … with a tail that can shoot spikes!”

Moments later, mortally wounded, Goldschmidt lies in the Gila Bend dirt.

Depressed, and, come to think of it, drunk, the writer wept.

Minutes hence, in efforts to elevate his spirits, he lifted a glass of scotch with one hand and a glass of bourbon with the other and announced, “Spirits now lifted!”

He then read an idea he’d sort of ignored.

…a post on the Royals making the playoffs. Because the “Process” has worked, and that’s something I didn’t think I would ever have typed.

The idea seemed weird, too weird, weirder than even the barnstorming manticore.

It seemed Disney, too Disney, Disneyer than even the Mini Prospects.

The Royals had made the playoffs – the World Series, even!

“Nah,” he muttered, reaching for the delete key. “No one will ever believe it.”

Before he could hit delete, however, he passed

Editor’s note: Out, is what he passed. He passed out.

Tomorrow: The End

John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Pure gold.

Will NotGraphs remain in archive form, or is it getting flushed down the tubes of interwebness?

Shirtless Johan Santa
8 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

I bet Appelman could make great money selling copies of the NotGraphs archives. Maybe even a coffee table book with everything in it.

(Did I stumble upon the real motive for shutting NotGraphs down?)