By Wayne “Chaw” Huckbutter

There they are, the jackals with their iPhones and their reporter pads ready to harangue me with idiot questions about that goddamn division series. But wait until they see me appear, straining this warmup jacket to the very limit of its threads’ tensile strength, only a few sunflower seeds away from bursting forth in a glorious avalanche of pale flesh and sun-blanched body hairs. They’ll be slackjawed in awe, so stupefied that they’ll stop asking me about why I kept bringing Logjam Ferguson into those playoff games because he’s the Seventh Inning Guy and why don’t you take a look at the scoreboard and see what inning it was, Pressbox?

I’ve been training. Guzzling marbled meats and rich cheeses and keeping my spindly legs in perfect condition for heaving me miraculously out of the dugout to wobble out to a mound conference. I’ve been sprawled on a lawnchair scarfing beef sticks from a bandolier belt in total seclusion, ready to unveil this rotund planetoid in the Florida sun to cow once and for all the disgruntled players and sources close to the locker room who blabbed about the Cleveland Spittoon Incident to the beat guy. This belly manages the team now like the moon controls the tide.

Imagine, some meddling umpire missing an obvious bang-bang play at first only to see it emerging from the dugout, blotting out the sun as a shadow creeps over his face. And that’s when the belly reveals itself from the dim, shrouded dugout, slowly, as a phalanx of ball boys and bench coaches shove me up the steps, advancing one rippling step at a time, pregnant with baseball vitriol. With one bump, it could blast through his useless chest protector. Only the sheer size of this robust paunch distances his face from a shower of spittle and seed detritus packed into my resplendent jowls as I howl insults about his disgraceful umpire bullshit.

I’m ready. I’m enormous. And I’m prepared to grind through 162 games and the brutal, endless postseason and swell into larger, unprecedented levels of pants until my leadership and my billowing meat pillow take this team all the way to the championship rally where I’ll be lowered by crane to hoist my gut in triumph.