During the Hounds' last homestand in Nashville, a week ago, I had the pleasure of drinking from a bottle of water, Poland Spring, I believe, on my walk from the stadium clubhouse to my trailer in the Pepsi Field parking lot. Feeling hydrated, I was looking for a garbage can to dump the bottle and small amount of remaining liquid. That's when a stranger, whom we'll call Grandpa - just kidding; this was a woman who, from the look of her, enjoyed her Southern cooking - saw me, asked for an autograph (I obliged with my adopted Southern hospitality) and said she'd throw out my bottle for me. I didn't think twice as I handed her my bottle and thanked her.
Flash forward to yesterday (Wednesday). Here we are in Omaha, about to play the Cats, when, in response to the PA guy, about 3000 fans suddenly throw their bottles of water onto the field. While batboys and team employees scurry about, picking up the plastic containers, Hounds manager Dusty Graves comes over to me, pats me on the back, and tells me I'm now officially "green." I have no idea what he's talking about.
An Omaha Cats employee - could've been a marketing person, could've been an intern, could've been their GM (one minor league employee typically performs the tasks of 5 of their big league counterparts) - comes to our dugout and asks Dusty if it would be okay for me to join him (the employee, a very tall one - skinny too) on the field to mention something about Earth Day and recycling. Dusty laughs and shrugs. "Fine with me," he said. The employee comes over, shakes my hand, and asks me to follow him. I do, happy to have heard the subject matter Dusty had just agreed I would speak about.
There's a loud ovation. "Spit King" flashes on the board. I'm oblivious. The employee asks me to turn. Then I figure it out. eBay and Poland Spring have jointly sponsored the evening's game because of me, because of the bottle of water I let a fan throw out for me. There on the scoreboard is a scanned photo of the bottle. It's part of an eBay website page. It's up for auction. The most recent bid was for $467.55. All for a piece of plastic holding a half-ounce of my backwash. There were 16 hours and 33 minutes left before bidding would close.
I turn back and am told the ballpark is sold out. There weren't 3000 fans there (3000 bottles were thrown, but not every fan elected to throw their bottle), there were nearly 8000 fans. All there for Earth Day's "Spit King" festival, sponsored by eBay and Poland Spring.
I spoke into a microphone set up at home plate. "Baseball been berry, berry good to me." The older Saturday Night Live crowd, the ones who remember Chico Escuela, the former fake ballplayer played by Garrett Morris, laugh. That's about 150 people. Meaning my remark basically brought silence to the crowd. That's a real confidence booster.
I continued. "You know, Omaha, recycling is good, right?" Some hand claps. A whistle, probably aimed at a hot groupie or another man who had more hair. "I think Omaha should always recycle, especially on Earth Day. Right?"
Were they as bored as I was, I wondered. I was happy for the preparation time I'd been given. "Omaha, I've always loved you, as you are part of the Earth, Mother Earth, my Mother Earth, the planet that raised me from a wee pup."
A few more whistles. Some more clapping. Then, it hit me. There was one reason alone why I'd been forced into this situation. But it was nothing a little supply & demand economics couldn't cure. "Omaha, Nebraska, I have an idea. After the game, let's line up and I'll drink a little bit from your bottles of water. Then we can all go on eBay and make some money. Huh? What chu think 'bout dat, Omaha!"
I had them going. "Why should one kook make all the money when 8000 of you should have the same opportunity? Am I right, Omaha? Nebraska? Tell me I'm wrong and I'll just slip into something more comfortable and go to bed."
Now the cheers were there, supporting me, letting me be the dufus I've always had the ability to be. "So sell your Poland Spring bottles on eBay. Those left over, recycle them. Let's save our Mother Earth. Because she been berry berry good to us!"
Those 8000 fans had the power and fury of at least 8250. They were that loud.
Then what happened? Well, I spent 4 hours after the game sipping from water bottles. By 2Am, I was done. When I woke up this morning - extremely tired; being a dufus always comes back to haunt me - I went on eBay and saw not one, but 679 bottles of water featuring my DNA backwash up for bidding. The original bottle? Almost at $500, but no longer climbing at the speed of sound. I considered my idea a success. The large, crazy (yet probably very smart) Southern lady wasn't going to get the amount of money she thought she'd get from me, I had some new friends in Omaha, and Mother Earth could relax for one last day. Who knew that my spit could change the world?