Uncle Charlie had his arms up above his head and his fingers through the wire mesh screen of the dugout, watching the Phillies swap runs with the world champs. The Redbirds jumped all over starter Jamie Moyer, scoring four runs in the first inning and six more in the second.

    But the Phillies bats were hot, too. Ryan Howard hit a three run dinger in the first and Chase follow with a solo moon shot, clearing the Cardinals scoreboard.

            By the time Uncle Charlie got through three pitchers from the Phillies beleaguered bullpen in the sixth, the score was 10-9, St. Louis.

            "We got to do better from da mound," Manuel thought to himself. "I'm so tired of getting' our butts kicked because we ain't got any roosters in the damn hen house who can throw worth a tin can."

            He started to pace back and forth, back and forth, in front of the extra men and pitchers sitting on top of the bench rail. Jimmy gave him a strange look that said "go ahead and quit Charlie, I'll take over from here."

            Charlie was flustered to say the least.

            "Pat-thetic ain't given' us nottin.," he said in a low voice, barely audible to anyone in the hot visitors dugout. "I ask for this, I ask for that, and what do I get? Some scatter brain hogwash idea of our pitchers using both arms to throw the dang ball. Hell, they can't throw with their pitching arm, how the hell they suppose to throw with their other arm. Don't make no sense to me."

            Indeed, Uncle Charlie was talking to himself.

            He told Dubee to get Mesa up.

            "Got-damn Geary is gettin' butt whipped again," Charlie said to no one in particular. "I got ulcers, I got hair fallin' the hell out, I got ingrown toenails, and I ain't dumped a good one in a week, I'm so backed up."

            "Get that dang-gum Mesa up and let's see if he can get us a couple a outs here and we can score some more runs and git out a Dodge."

            "Ask for a god damn relief pitcher and get a bunch a bummed-out inmates from a dad-gum retirement home who can't git their sister out even if she had cataracts and hemorrhoids at the same time."

            "Come on GG," Charlie yelled from the dugout, "we got to git winnin.' We got to stop throwin' the damn thing where they can see it bigger than a got-damn mellon in a Georgia bull field. I'll have that demon-like sons a bitch Eskin on my tail before the dad-gum plane crosses over 291in Essingtin."

            Then Albert Pujols lines a rope that froze Pat Burrell like ole Stonewall himself in a North Georgia wax museum with the air condition turned up double digits. While the ball rolled around in the corner, Albert jogged into third like he was a few seconds late for the A-bus. Charlie yelled out at Burrell.

            "God dang it Pat, you ain't chasin' no damn cutie ball, man (southern speak for whiffle ball), you got to go git it ‘fore it wears its damn self out."

            "Charlie," bench coach Jimmy Williams yelled from the opposite corner of the dugout. You see Charlie was still puttin' on that underarm stuff that he bought in an LA boutique the last time they were chasin' the Dodgers. Charlie didn't know he was in the gay part of town and what he bought was the stuff transvestites wear when they go huntin' turkey on Santa Monica Boulevard.

            "You want me to get Mesa up?"

            Then Charlie remembered the letter he got from the guy upstate coaching a Little League team loaded with girls who read  Little Womenwhile they was warmin' up and exchangin' glances with the hunky catcher on the other side...and how he screwed things up with a switch pitcher. This coach had everybody so shook up his team won more damn games than it lost, even with all the girls playin' and readin;' so he was giving Uncle Charlie some pointers.

            Charlie took a few steps into the tunnel and pulled the letter out of his briefcase, and scanned it.

            "Jesus in a drainfield," Charlie mumbled to himself, "I'll try anything to git that Eskin the hell off my ass." And with that he threw the paper on the tunnel floor and headed out of the dugout to the mound walkin' faster than Bill Clinton headed to a New Orleans whore house near closin' time.

            "Gimme that dang-gum ball," he said to Geary. With that Geary plopped the ball into Charlie's hand and started to walk toward the dugout.

            "Hey, you ain't goin' no place, did I tell you to go to any place?" he said to Geary.

            Geary stopped and turned to his manager.

            "I thought you were taking me out," Geary said.

            "Git the hell back here and take the ball like a man, son," Charlie said.

            Confused, Geary walked back onto the mound.

            "Now this is what I want you to do boy," Charlie said to Geary. "I want you to put that dang glove on the other hand, and throw the ball with your left hand. You got that?"

            "Whaa...what the hell are you talking about Skip, I can't throw left handed," Geary said."

            "You ain't got no pot to piss in either, boy," Charlie told him, "I'm tellin' you to throw with that got-damn left arm or I'm going to pry it up so far into your poop scoop that even the good Lord ain't goin' see it from his high perch in heaven. Now you getting' my drift, son?"

            Charlie's face was about six inches from Geary's and redder than an Alabama beet left in the field too long.

            Now Charlie, walkin' back to the dugout, yelled to the home plate ump that Geary needed his normal warm-up pitches, and the ump, already boiling over from the hot steam air that rises from the mighty Mississippi and the Great Missouri, turning ole St. Louie into a city-wide outdoor sauna, whipped off his mask and hollered at Charlie that if he ain't changin' pitchers, then nobody gets no warm-up time.

            But Charlie got in his face and screamed that he's switch pitchin,' and if Geary don't git no warm-up time, then this here umpire crew will deal with the Boss up in the big city who just signed a switch pitcher out of Creighton University. So the umps had an infield pow-wow and decided that screwin' Uncle Charlie was one thing, but messin' with the Boss was another, and let Geary have his warm-ups.

            Then Scottie Rolen steps in lookin' meaner than a bull that just go neutered and circumcised at the same time and let out in a Tennessee field with half a dozen cows standin' around grinnin' from ear to ear.

            The first pitch Geary throws left handed has the radar gun guys behind the plate smackin' their guns against their fists cause' the pitch didn't ever register, and Rolen laughs and squirts out a stream of tobacco juice longer than an Amtrak train with sleeper cars headed to Miami, and steps back in doing that little shuffle he does with his butt and paws at the home plate dirt with his right toe.

            Now Geary, who was getting' shelled all year throwing right handed, figured if he gets shelled switch pitchin,' then it ain't his fault, but the fault of one David Wharton, who earned his degree at the great Pennsylvania college in finance, not pitchin.'

            But low and behold, Geary does a bang-up job. Rolin and company are so perplexed at Geary switch pitchin,' that they can't hit their way out of a St. Louie ribs joint with all the doors and window wide open.

            Geary gets the win and the save and Uncle Charlies goes stomping out to the line up to shake hands after the game with his head bobbin' and his waist over his grey pin stripes lookin' like the Missouri Compromise.

            He's thinkin', as he's grinnin' and shakin,' that he's gone-a write that guy up in Mechanicsburg who sent him the switch pitchin' letter and maybe send him a bottle of Jim Bean and a couple of extra bottles of that sweet smellin' stuff he got from the nice tall ladies on the Boulevard.

            "Geary," he bellowed as they both walked back toward the dugout, "that was some good got-damn switch pitchin' boy. I know you could git us back winnin.'   "We got to take ‘em one day at a time, son..."



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