Our Mitts on You

A scary Christmas to you, Mr. Gladnutt, from your very concerned Uncle Sam.

"Yes. Your home town of Bison Pie, Nebraska. Where you batted a paltry .238 over those two seasons and committed an egregious 27 errors while playing left field. Your manager, Buzzy Clark, had no other place to hide you."

"Well, that sounds about right. But the other thing is crazy. I mean, I'm five-seven and weigh 139 pounds. I've only seen four big-league games in my entire life."

The store clerk's devilish grin returned. "Oh, sure, Mr. Gladnutt. We've heard that kind of thing before. Let me assure you of this: The Total Information Awareness project simply does not make mistakes. We know damn well that your baseball career blossomed after that rather inauspicious start back in Bison Pie, and that only the great Henry Aaron has hit more home runs than your 714. The Sultan of Sweat. That's what they called you. It says so right here. In fact, that fact -- and that fact alone -- compels us to approve your purchase of a youth baseball mitt here at Big Brother Sports. Anybody who hit that many dingers probably has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden. Here. Let me have that glove."

Gladnutt handed his purchase to the clerk, who carefully looked it over.

"Hey. Wait a minute," the clerk said. "What's this? What player's autograph is written on this thing?"

More baffled than ever, Gladnutt glanced at the mitt. "It says Al Leiter. You know. Al Leiter. Pretty good left-hander. Pitches for the New York Mets."

"That's right, Mr. Gladnutt. And if I may be so bold as to inquire, what would the customary and common pronunciation of the name 'Al Leiter' sound like in the Borough of Queens, where the left-leaning Leiter practices his trade?"

"I don't get it. But since a lot of working-class people in New York City tend to drop their R's, I suppose it would be something like 'Al Light-ah.'"

"Precisely!" the clerk said. "And that rhymes with what? Tell me now. That rhymes with what?"

"I have no idea."

That rhymes with al Qaeda!" the clerk bellowed. "And on that note, sir, you will kindly remain standing right here while I call store security. You, Mr. Gladnutt, obviously have a lot of explaining to do to the FBI."

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