Down East 2013 ©
By nature, I’m not a subtle person. If I think somebody is a booger-brain, then I’m not inclined to refer to that individual by some contrived euphemism, such as claiming he or she suffers from a condition that causes a backup of nostril mucous into the cranial cavity. I come right out and call a booger-brain a booger-brain.
I mention this not out of pride in my straightforward approach to dealing with booger-brains, but rather to fully disclose my prejudice against insults cloaked in subtlety. Of which there is no more inept purveyor than the Portland Sea Dogs .
The Sea Dogs, the minor league Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, play their home games at Hadlock Field  in Portland. In right center field, high above the fence, there’s a video board on which the team highlights each batter as he comes to the plate. Along with the player’s name, number, batting average and other stats, the board also carries a factoid about his career, such as “Leads Eastern League in Gatorade consumption per game” or “Hit two foul balls off spectators’ heads in last night’s game.”
I have no great objection to this practice, even though the information on Sea Dogs players tends to be a little on the dull side (“Owns a kitten named Ted Williams”) and can get repetitious (“Owns a kitten named Ted Williams”) for fans who attend several games in a row (“Owns a kitten named Ted Williams”). But where the video board really goes wrong is in its treatment of the opposition.
Apparently, the official position of the Sea Dogs is to avoid conveying any information on the visiting team that would reflect well on them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that approach, particularly when the Trenton Thunder – Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees – are in town. I wouldn’t mind reading that the Yanks’ top prospect “Was drafted in the 27th round in 2005, right after a squirrel, an exercise machine, and a Maine potato that bears a striking resemblance to John Goodman.”
That’s not as explicit as calling the guy a booger-brain, but it would do.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the Sea Dogs handle their insults. If the blurbs about their own players are a little dull (“Owns a kitten named Ted Williams”), the ones reserved for the visitors are flatter than a Bryson Cox  fastball. For instance:
“Played amateur baseball in the Boston area.”
“Attended [fill in the name of a college or university you never heard of].”
“Owns a kitten named Bill Buckner.”
As insults go, these are way too subtle for my taste. While I’d prefer they be replaced with something that edged toward the outrageous (“Wanted for questioning by police in three states,” “Has admitted responsibility for the BP oil spill,” “We’re not saying he takes steroids, but you ought to see the zits on his back”), I recognize the liability problems that can result from overly fanciful smear campaigns.
Still, there’s no reason the Dogs can’t simply repeat what everybody in the stands is already saying:
“Dogged it running after that grounder last inning.”
“Batting helmet makes him look like a pinhead.”
“Couldn’t lay down a bunt if his career depended on it – which it does.”
“Owns a kitten name Sweetie-pie Cutie-poo.”
Come on, video-board programmer, show a little spark. Put some life in the game. Call a booger-brain a booger-brain.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do that.
Speaking of things it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz have discovered another one. The offbeat experimenters (best known for their Diet Coke and Mentos videos) from Buckfield, who call their team Eepybird (hey, it beats calling it the Trenton Thunder), have come up with an idea that rivals naming your cat after Ted Williams.
They’ve attached the front part of a bicycle to a wheeled rack containing 108 liter bottles of Coke Zero, added 648 Mentos and boldly gone where no one has gone before .
You may well ask why anyone would go to all this trouble.
You may well ask, but I’m not going to answer.
That’s not because I’m rude (although I’m certainly not denying that). It’s simply because I’m too busy preparing my analysis of the latest legal proceedings involving bull semen .
Here is what we know: A man named Kelly Moore of Augusta once worked for a company called Genex Cooperative, Inc. Moore’s job was to travel around central Maine and sell bull semen. He also, um, installed the semen. I suppose that’s not as bad a job as being the person who had to collect the semen in the first place, but on the whole, I’d rather operate the video board at Hadlock Field.
Anyway, back to Moore, who was fired by Genex earlier this year and then went to work for rival Bovine Genetics, LLC doing much the same work. Except Genex said he’d signed a contract with a non-compete clause which prohibited him from selling (or even installing) bull semen for eighteen months.
On May 17, a judge in Kennebec County Superior Court granted Genex a temporary restraining order against Moore and his new employer. On May 28, there was some more legal mumbo jumbo, which left the order in place, but who cares, because the whole purpose of bringing this up in the first place was just to get “bull semen” in print as many times as possible.
There were a number of other important developments in the news this past week, such as the thick cloud of smoke pouring out of Quebec and into Maine. This could have been caused by a volcano, similar to the one that erupted in Iceland, but wasn’t. It was forest fires , and it looks like the worst of it is over before it became necessary to spray the flaming woods with Coke Zero and Mentos or bull semen or lame insults about its batting average.
The overall crime rate in Maine  fell in 2009, according to new figures released June 2 by the state Department of Public Safety.
The decrease is attributed to the failure of the Portland Sea Dogs to use their video board to insult opposing players to the point where they become violent and attack fans who’ve been heckling them.
There’s a move by the federal government to force school kids in Maine to eat kale .
I expect that will result in an increase in crime, as disgruntled students resort to lunch-tray vandalism and kale assaults.
The only way to calm them down may be to offer them copies of Portland comic artist Lincoln Peirce’s new book, Big Nate: In A Class By Himself .
It’s the first in a series aimed at eight- to twelve-year olds. Upcoming installments include:
“Big Nate and the Exciting Legal Case Involving Bull Semen.”
“Big Nate Experiments With Coke Zero and Mentos With Disastrous Results.”
And of course, “Big Nate Tells The Trenton Thunder Exactly What He Thinks Of Them, Which Is That They’re A Bunch of Booger-Brains.”
Buy them all or I’ll take out my frustration at being served kale for lunch on you, thereby increasing the crime rate.
Al Diamon is not always impolite. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org  and see for yourself.