There is only thing one thing that keeps me from winning a Pulitzer Prize.
I refer you to Denny Hocking, born in Torrance, Calif., married to a die-hard Anaheim Angels' fan and about to move into a new home in Orange, Calif. He plays baseball for the Minnesota Twins.
Hocking did his very best Sunday, drove in the eventual winning run and caught the ball for the final out to send the Twins into the American League championship series. As an added bonus, he earned a chance to play against the Angels, a team he cheered for as a teen-ager.
And so in celebration like the rest of the Twins, Hocking joined his teammates in a pileup near the mound after beating Oakland. A teammate came along in metal spikes and stepped on his right hand, splitting the nail on the middle finger and knocking him out of the ALCS.
Hocking refused to identify the teammate, telling the media, "He was someone I'm feuding with, that's why I won't name him."
Now you know why I write the way I do, and why I can never allow myself to get better and win the Pulitzer Prize, writers and fellow columnists piling atop me to celebrate, my two typing fingers somewhere down below, and sports editor Bill Dwyre standing somewhere above.
For all we know Hocking might have won his own Pulitzer Prize by now -- had it not been for Dwyre.
Ten years ago this week a Denny Hocking byline appeared in the Times atop his football story on Palisades' 33-0 victory over Los Angeles, just one of a number of stories he wrote for the City Times, while ultimately answering to Dwyre.
"I never heard of the guy," Dwyre shouted, and I wonder if Patton said the same thing when first told he had slapped some battle-fatigued private.
I can only imagine what Mr. Inspiration said to Hocking to make him turn to baseball full time. We've all been there, ready to quit and become professional athletes after listening to Dwyre's criticism, but if everyone left the newspaper, that would leave Dwyre writing all the stories.
Infielder David Lamb will take Hocking's place on the roster, while the hand masher remains a mystery. (We'll probably learn it was Dwyre). Hocking said Monday it was Jacque Jones, but late in the day said it wasn't Jones.
He said he was joking when he told reporters that "it was premeditated" when someone stepped on his hand. But he said, it's true, he had words with a teammate a month ago, and so there was a feud, "but it was blown way out of proportion."
Whatever happened, Hocking will once again be a spectator when the Angels return from Minnesota and play as many as three games in Edison Field.
"I grew up a Dodger fan, but as soon as I got my driver's license my mom liked the idea of me driving to see the Angels play instead of driving to Chavez Ravine, so I became an Angels' fan," Hocking said. Most sportswriters are Dodger fans, because no one wants to drive to Anaheim.
My sports edfitor called from the golf course with some more of his inspiration. "Why don't you write a meaningful column for a change, and suggest they stop all this stupid champagne partying after a team wins four games. I'm so sick of seeing them do that, and it's only for the benefit of ESPN."
The Twins and Angels needed to win only three games each to start spraying each other with champagne. As for the champagne baths, I think that's a lot better than having them drink the stuff and get arrested while trying to drive home.
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