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If It's April, It Must Be Time For The New National Pastime

The scene: A ballpark, opening day of baseball season.

The scenario: A three-day series between the big-market Bankers vs. the underdog, small market Credit Unions.

Radio play-by-play announcer: And welcome back everybody to the bottom of the first inning. This bottom of the inning, like every bottom, brought to you by your friends over at Colonoscopy Associates, who are the endorsed partners of the Bankers. We've got no score here after the Credit Unions managed to leave two runners aboard in their half of the inning with a pair of bunts. The Credit Unions, of course, lead the Financial League in bunting just about every season. They're a scrappy bunch, fighting for a run here, a run there.

Radio color man: And speaking of scrappy, let's not forget to say hello to our friends over there at Ed's Salvage Yard, our underserved FOM of the week.

Play-by-play: The Bankers are coming to bat now. They're not even the home team, but they've filled every single seat in of Section 110 today with lawyers and threatened legal action if they didn't get to bat in the bottom of the inning.

Color man: That's right. In fact, before today's game even started the owner of the Bankers filed a formal protest...

Play-by-play: Excuse me, but is this the same protest they file every year?

Color man: Yes, it is! They said the playing field isn't level and the Bankers just don't see how they can possibly compete.

Play-by-play: Funny how the field's always tilted against them, yet they continue to win and the team posts record revenue year in, year out. But hey, the sun is shining, the grass is green here at the Field of Membership, and it's opening day, so let's get back to the action in today's game, the first in a season-long series.

Color man: Not so fast. It seems we've got a little delay here, as the Banker's mascot, Sir Charge!, is cutting across the field to begin nickel and diming the folks over there in section 215. I don't mean to be too nostalgic, but remember how the crowds used to boo Sir Charge! every time he came out? Now it seems the fans just don't pay as much attention.

Play-by-play man: It wasn't that long ago, my friend. Meanwhile, the Banker's lead-off man, Davey De Novo, is now at the plate. Boy, it seems like we see a new De Novo brother every year. Here's the pitch-De Novo swings and hits a liner into the GAAP! He rounds the first mortgage and is heading into a second, and it doesn't look like the throw will be there in time...Wait a minute! Second base is suddenly 50 feet further away, and De Novo just isn't going to be able to make the stretch. He's out No. 1.

Color man: You know, it looks to me like De Novo was swinging one of those new adjustable-rate bats and after he got to first, second base moved. That's a tough way to start a season.

Play-by-play: That brings Connie Vert to the plate, and you can already hear some boos from the crowd. Connie used to play for the Credit Unions, but took a big payout from the Bankers and signed with them in the off (not-paying) attention season. He takes a swing and misses.

Color man: Let me tell you, when the Credit Unions' pitcher, Phil Osophy, has his yield curve working it's hard to hit. And if he's got that curve inverted, fuhgedaboutit.

Play-by-play: Connie Vert takes another swing and another miss, but it looks like he hit the Credit Unions' catcher, Yogi Bearer, on the side of the head.

Color man: Yogi should be alright. He used to work in collections.

Play-by-play: Vert's looking at an 0-2 count here. We met with Vert before the game when some fans wanted his autograph, but he just sort of snarled at them and told the fans they didn't own him anymore and he didn't have to do autographs.

Color man: Ya hate to see that happen.

Play-by-play: Osophy is into his wind-up, the pitch is on it's way and Vert swings and misses for the strike-out. That looked like Osophy threw that nasty split-deposit pitch.

Color man: And that's not good news for the Bankers, who needed to get some runners on base with the meat of their product line-up coming to the plate. The Bankers are going to have to score some runs, as their pitchers have got some ARMs trouble right now.

Play-by-play: That'll bring the Bankers' third baseman, MICR Schmidt, to the batter's box. Schmidt swings at Osophy's first pitch and skies it high in foul territory. This is in the air so long a CD could mature. It's floating, floating...

Color man: These Credit Unions have really gotten good at playing the float...

Play-by-play: ...and the Credit Unions' first baseman, Ira Roth, makes the catch. And that makes three, leaving the Banker's clean-up man and Barry Bonds' brother, Long, on deck. Long Bonds had set off some controversy in the off-season by saying he supported the Bankers' new policy that no player makes a curtain call after a home run unless each fan is debited $1 first. Meanwhile, that was certainly something we haven't seen in a while, the Bankers held scoreless in an inning.

Color man: And I've just been handed this announcement by the Bankers' general manager. The 80/20 rule is in effect at today's game: if just 80 fans can make it out of the ballpark with even 20% of the money they came in with, there will be a free calendar for the first 10 fans to arrive at tomorrow's game. As for those fans who no longer have any money left, they will be directed to the Credit Unions' special Underserved Bleacher section where, if they cooperate and work together, they'll be able to pool their savings and eventually buy a ticket...

Play-by-play man: .If you've seen the Bankers' 2007 fee schedule, then you'll know you might also want to save for some beer.

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com.

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