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Soul Testing in Major League Baseball

Me and the rest of the Yankees sauntered into the room for the pre-game soul test, brought to you by STAB, the Soul Testing Administration for Baseball. This time they're showin' us the Pixar movie Up. Satan has us all prepped, so we knew the first ten minutes leave people with souls cryin' their eyes out. But I don't get it. The boy and girl grow up together, they get married, they have a long, fun life together, and then she dies. They were happy almost the whole time--I can tell by the smiles--and yet it leaves normal folk crying. Why? But we all cry on cue as we'd practiced, and the administrators with their clipboards take their notes. We all pass the soul test, and we're allowed to continue as big-shot major leaguers.
Little Baby Jones, our shortstop, he hasn't sold his soul, that's why he's batting .220. Sometimes, during test movies, we peek at him to see when he cries, and that's another cue for us.
There's nothing wrong with selling your soul for baseball. You think the Red Sox, our arch enemies tonight, haven't sold theirs? And yet, for some stupid reason, major league baseball has made it illegal.
In the top of the ninth we lead 10-8. Our closer, Speedy Weeks, faces Wackin' Walters, the Red Sox first baseman, who leads the league in home runs. One ahead of me, that bastard. I have a bonus in my contract if I lead the league in homers, so I offer Speedy ten percent if he takes him out. Speedy beans him with a 120 mile per hour fastball. They take Wackin' Walters out of the game with a real bad concussion, sayin' it might end his career. We all congratulate Speedy--good for him! The next batter homers to tie the game, but I hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth--tying Wackin' Walters--and we win, 11-10.
This week's pre-game soul test is Caddyshack. It's a surprise--they was supposed to show us Schindler's List, and Satan had us all prepped for that, always reminding us that when people are treated badly, we're supposed to cry. I have that written on the back of my hand--it's hard to remember on the fly.
"Where's Baby Jones?" I whisper as the movie starts.
"He's sick with pneumonia," says the manager.
"Good for him!" I say. But now we have a problem--Satan hasn't prepped us for this movie, and we won't have Baby Jones to cue us. We'll just have to do our best. What does "treated badly" mean anyway? It's kinda fuzzy in my mind.
There's a scene in Caddyshack where Bill Murray, who plays the groundskeeper, pretends to be a golf star and destroys flowers with his golf club. That's it, that's the sad part! Poor flowers getting treated badly, right? So, just like I'd practiced, I imagine how I'd feel if Wackin' Walters--he died in the hospital last night, by the way--hit more home runs than me and I didn't get that big bonus in my contract, and the tears flow. The rest of the team takes my cue. The administrators mark it all down on their clipboards.
After the movie they pull us aside. We'd flunked the test! They'd tricked us, showing us a comedy instead of a tear-jerker. How were we supposed to know? Fortunately, the Players Association had negotiated a deal where those who flunk a soul test got a second chance.
This time they said they were going to show us The Fault in Our Stars, and Satan of course prepped us. I wrote on the back of my hand, "Cancer bad." But they tricked us again--instead, they show us The Champ, about a boxer and his son. Worse, we learn that Baby Jones had just died of pneumonia and so won't be there to cue us. Of all the bad luck!
But we've seen hundreds of these movies, and I'd passed every test until they tricked me with Caddyshack. I watch The Champ carefully, but just don't get it. The guy likes to box, and he gets to box, so where is the sad part? Then, right near the end, the boxer dies, and his son cries over him, but doesn't the silly kid realize his dad is dead and can't hear him? That's so funny! STAB, they'd tricked us again with a comedy. I'm about to laugh my head off.
But wait--in the last movie I was convinced Bill Murray destroying all those flowers was a sad scene and I later learned it was considered the funniest part of the movie. If I could get that wrong, maybe I have this wrong. So, I examine the scene again, using critical thinking. The boxer dies. The son cries over him, not realizing his dad can't hear him. Where is the sad part?
And then it hits me. The boxer loves boxing just as I love getting paid hordes of money for being a great baseball player. Imagine how sad I'd be if my stats went down and I got paid less! That's it--the boxer had died and so would never box again, that is the sad thing. So I thought about losing that bonus and the tears flow and I begin to sob, and the rest of the team picks up on this and we have a real cryfest.
We pass. But Satan says we'd been real close to a lifetime ban. He reminds us that when people die, that's sad, but it's so hard memorizing all these things. In return for our souls, Satan had promised to make us the best baseball players and he's a man of his word--and you can't be the best baseball players if you get banned. We try to find a ballplayer with a soul who can take Baby Jones's place and cue us, but there just aren't any who are any good at baseball.
So, Satan puts together this offseason training program where we watch movie after movie, where Satan's put in subtitles when to cry and when to laugh. Each of us sees different movies so we can cover as many as possible. There are twenty-five of us, and Satan has each of us watch four movies every day, so that's about 15,000 movies in the five months of the offseason. All we need is for one of us to see the movie with Satan's subtitles and then he can cue the rest of us in on when to cry or laugh.
STAB, of course, keeps bringing in more and more obscure movies, hoping to catch us off guard in this escalatin' battle. They even bring in Children of Eve, this black and white silent film from 1915, but luckily I'd seen Satan's subtitled version and knew just when to cry--surprise, it's when the kids die in the fire, go figure--and the others take my cue.
Fortunately, Satan's got an inside man at STAB who sold his soul, so we get advance notice on most movies. But STAB now hassles us with random house raids and confiscates the subtitled movies. So it's getting' tougher and tougher to stay ahead. I mean, jeez, in one Marvel movie, Iron Man spends the whole movie trying to stop Thanos, and in the end, he succeeds, and we all want to cheer as he dies, but no, that's the sad part we're told. It makes no sense!
Me and a bunch of other athletes may have cheated by sellin' our souls but people who keep their souls ain't got no brains. But as long as they pay good money to watch us, what do we care?
The End
This story was first published on Friday, September 9th, 2022
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