What started out as the hot stove league has turned into a preseason crucible. A few months ago, the dearth of real JBA softball news caused these columnists to muse (eloquently, of course) about whom might be changing teams for the next law league softball season. That column could safely be regarded as the having the same affect as the cow in Chicago who knocked over the gas lantern that led to the razing of the entire city.
The unraveling of the true genesis of this Alice in Wonderland like rabbit trail is impossible to discern. The following is the confluence of events that led to this season of discontent and the possible suspects and you can draw your own conclusions.
Nov. 6, 2000: The current co-commissioner of the law league has been a long-time Better Tritt team member. About two years ago, to stop the incessant whining of Strikebreakers’ coach Robert Devine, Dan Bean dared Devine to show up at his office in a half-shirt and Dauphin running shorts for the firm meeting. If Devine did it, Bean promised he would play one season for the Strikebreakers. Devine not only showed up in such attire, he wore makeup and a stunning pair of Nine West pumps. Being a man of his word despite YLS President Frank Lonegro’s recent assertions to the contrary, Bean agreed to play the 2002 season with the Strikebreakers. In fact, Devine’s knee injury, which had previously been reported as being a football related injury, was actually the result of one of the heels on the pumps exploding under his beefy frame. That must have been what started it all.
Jan. 10, 2001: When Akerman Senterfitt labor attorney Ed Trent signed on at Akerman in 2001, he committed the cardinal sin of all attorneys by not reading the document he signed. He did not realize that there was a personal services contract tucked in between the I-9 and W-4 forms. Just that quickly, his Strikebreaker playing days were over and he was officially under the personal control of David Otero.
Sept. 17, 2001: Insurance defense guru Tod Eikner, then a member of Better Tritt, arrives at his team’s first-round playoff tilt expecting to play in his usual starting position of first base. When he arrives, he finds that Mike Debski is playing at that position. Eikner decides that he would rather play for a team that will guarantee him a full-time position and stomps off, vowing to form his own team named “Not Better Tritt.”
Nov. 1, 2001: Even though the season has been finished for a month, the Hit & Run guys, led by Scott Shildberg and Angelo Patacca, Jr., finally make it home, telling their spouses, “we had to go to extra innings.”
Dec. 1, 2001: Roger Gannam announces that LeBoeuf, Lamb has folded from the league after twenty-two consecutive defeats, not counting the Rogers Towers forfeit.. A national day of mourning ensues.
Jan. 2, 2002: The Harrell & Johnson squad gets together for their team photo and realize they all cannot fit on the back of the telephone book unless they set-up like dominos.
Feb. 21, 2002: Bean informs Better Tritt coach and founder of Camerlengo & Driver, Joe Camerlengo, that he will not be playing for Better Tritt when it defends its title in 2002. An unknown person places a dead rat to roast and fester on the engine block of Bean’s Honda Accord, and his house is egged and tee-peed. Since the eggs in fact hit Bean’s house, Camerlengo is ruled out as a suspect.
Feb. 27, 2002: Eikner finds out that Bean has left Better Tritt and inquires about his availability. Bean advises Eikner about the Devine dare. Eikner offers to wear a slinky Donna Karan number in open court. Bean is tempted because he is a fan of Karan’s style, but decides to honor his agreement to Devine. Bean then solicits Eikner to join him with the Strikebreakers. Eikner declines.
Feb. 29, 2002: Doug Oberdorfer, claiming he will never play for the State Attorneys again, signs as a free agent with Bedell. Upon learning of the acquisition ex-shortstop Aaron Metcalf storms manager Don Mair’s office, rips off his jersey and tells Mairs that Obie-won might as well have that, too.
March 1, 2002: Bean tells Devine that Eikner is fielding his own team but is having trouble finding enough players. Devine seizes the opportunity and drops by Eikner’s house that evening when he was selling Tupperware door-to-door in Eikner’s neighborhood. Devine convinces Eikner to join the Strikebreakers and bring with him Better Tritt players Alan Henderson, J. Richard Moore, Butch Berry, David Dearing, Bobby Schrader and Eric Berger. Devine also is able to sell Eikner the new salad crisper that keeps cut lettuce fresh for several days as well as convenient little plastic dishes that can be used to bring sauces into work. Henderson, Moore, Berry, Dearing, Schrader and Berger all decide to join Eikner as members of the Strikebreakers.
March 4, 2002: Camerlengo finds out about the clandestine meeting and vows revenge for the loss of the players and lost sale of similar plastic products that were available through his Amway distributorship. Devine’s car is rendered useless due to sugar in the gas tank and a potato in the muffler.
March 10, 2002: Camerlengo sets up a power lunch with Better Tritt owner Arnold Tritt and Strikebreaker power hitter Rick Britton, real estate lawyer with the Jacksonville Electric Authority. Britton is offered a starting position on the team, but Britton resists. Tritt throws in the free use of a “crash pad” in one of Tritt’s rented trailers on the Westside. Britton tells Camerlengo and Tritt, “now you’re talking my language.”
March 12, 2002: Britton advises Devine that Better Tritt “has come a courtin’.” Regardless, Britton tells Devine that his present intention is to remain a Strikebreaker. Devine vows revenge but smartly has an airtight alibi when Camerlengo’s car is found put up on blocks with the wheels missing. Rumors abound, however, because four-year-old Emma Devine is seen in the area in her electric Barbie Jeep with a jack and a lug wrench in the wayback of her vehicle.
March 13, 2002: Emma Devine knocks down the backyard fence of the Devine household when her Barbie Jeep collides with the fence while going in reverse. An investigation reveals that the wires were switched on the electric transmission of the Jeep so that the forward and reverse gears are shifted. Emma Devine vows revenge. Several calls are placed from Emma Devine’s Barbie cell phone to famous sports agent Drew Rosenhaus, and Rosenhaus signs a future first-round NFL draft pick to a representation contract who had previously told Camerlengo he would sign with him. Riley Bean’s G.I. Joe radio also has transmissions to Rosenhaus’ cell phone during the same time frame.
April 1, 2002: At a press conference at Amelia Island, Holland & Knight announces it will field a softball team and unveils home and away uniforms. There is much rejoicing.
May 1, 2002: Clemente Inclan settles his 200th nursing home case (this year) and announces that he will forego the shoulder surgery he so desperately needs for one more season. Unmoved, the Pajcics decline to run with the story on the cover of the Pajcic Profiles.
May 15, 2002: Heavily favored and undefeated Smith Hulsey loses in the semi-finals of the Law League Basketball playoffs. The softball players taunt the basketball players and things get ugly from there.
June 15, 2002: With the season drawing near, J. Richard Moore, Jr., last season’s Most Valuable Player, reverses course and advises Beaner that he is going to remain with Better Tritt. Moore tells Bean, through the tears, that it was a difficult decision and that “the player I most enjoy playing with is yours truly.” (Think about that for a minute.)
June 19, 2002: Devine and Camerlengo each claim Britton on their respective rosters. Dearing retires from law league rather than be in the middle of a turf war, but issues a statement that he is leaving the sport to spend more time thinking of inventive ways to market the law firm of Rahaim, Watson, Dearing, Berry & Moore and claims that ads on the Papa John’s Pizza boxes were Butch Berry’s idea. Devine, Bean and Eikner back down from the turf war when Tritt and Camerlengo start singing selected songs from “West Side Story.” Devine realizes he is overmatched because he does not have enough hair to slick it back “Frankie Avalon style.” Devine waives rights to Britton which frees Britton up to sign with Better Tritt.
And that brings you up to date. Should be an interesting summer.