"You and me," he says, "we wake up tomorrow, what's our biggest problem? You might have a few bills? I might have a loss? This little boy and his parents—he lived, he's doing line, he'll be O.K., but.... People feel bad for a baseball player having a bad year? Our values are so messed up it's unbelievable.
"I was watching this thing on the Chinese immigrants on CNN. They went 140-some days on a boat. Without a bathroom. And I'm laying myself down in a suite tonight? If you don't recognize what you have, man, something is wroonnng."
What Sparky has this day is a one-game lead in his division. The Tigers finished in sixth place last season. Many fans wanted Sparky fired, but many more grieved needlessly for this endearing Casey Bengal.
"People say." and here Sparky affects an old lady's voice, " 'Oh, I feel so sorry for Sparky and his club.' All the years I've had? All the luck I've had? Jesus Christ, feel sorry for me? Don't feel sorry for me. In fact, root against me. I've had too many good ones. If I manage five, six more years, I could have an El Stinko every one of 'em, all the luck I've had. Don't feel sorry for me."
As Sparky imprudently attempts to moonwalk in his office, one fears he will stumble on the blue carpet, like Carnac the Magnificent, and go crashing through his desk. Sparky is doing a ridiculous impersonation of the slapstick, showboating umpire in the film The Naked Gun. Because his Tigers strike out so frequently. Sparky perversely appreciates the punch-out techniques of the league's most flamboyant umpires.
"You know what I'm waitin' for?" Sparky asked a moment ago. "Someday we're gonna see the cat really put it in for us, like that guy in the movie, what the hell's his name, Leslie Nielsen. We're gonna see the ump doin' this." And then, his eyes glinting impishly, Sparky stood. On one foot. He started hopping. Backward. With his arms, Sparky began doing what disco instructors once called "rolling the dough" and what NBA officials do to signify a traveling violation. He pirouetted. And, suddenly, the precarious moonwalk attempt. Now Sparky is laughing that wonderfully contagious laugh, the one that sounds like a power sander, and hanks of hair have fallen over his watering eyes.
"Oh, god!" Sparky shouts over the heavy metal. "That's what I'd do if I was umpirin'! I'd be in your dugout!" He presses his face to within inches of a writer's and then punches an invisible speed bag repeatedly with his right fist. "Yooo-oooo-ouurrre OUT!" Sparky trills polysyllabically, and with that he is out the door himself, cackling maniacally in the clubhouse.
Four witnesses exit wheezing before one of them can finally speak. "We are blessed," says a Tiger beat writer, shaking his head. A cynical old scribe like the rest of us in this racket, and he actually says that. By George, "We are blessed."