No joy in Mudville

Last year, the annual battle for the Pennant of Precip was a classic thriller. The participants, as always, were Dry Year vs. Wet Year, and, as always, Wet Year got to bat last. That’s just the way it is.

The game was tied at 3 going into the bottom of the ninth, and the tension was everything you’d expect from tension: thick, throbbing, palpable, knife-able, etc. etc. The Wet team (mascot: Elmer Flood) was desperate for a victory in the important ‘01/'02 season, and thousands of Wet fans in northern Nevada were cheering them on to scratch out one little triumphant run.

So when December led off the ninth with a stand-up triple, lovers of brimming reservoirs went nuts. Wet was in business with a month on third, nobody out, and January at the plate. Through the years, January had built a reputation as an absolutely soggy offensive performer, consistently coming through with solid, dependable storms of both rain and snow. But last year January blew it, lamely fouling out to the catcher.

Still, things were cool. February was up next, and Feb was just as stormy a player as January, if not more so. All Fab Feb had to do was loft a fly ball to get December home and win the game. Alas, the cheers turned quickly to groans when February unexpectedly froze up and whiffed on three pitches.

Now, it was all up to March, who had over the last few years become known to Precip fans as a bit of a flake. Sure, March had come through at times in the past; no one will soon forget the “Miracle March” of ‘98, when it rallied with a grand slam of storms with two out in the bottom of the ninth to win the season for Wet.

But since those celebrated heroics, March had been in a slump, and was now better known for standing at the plate and breaking wind all over the park than for actually putting some solid wetness on the field. Which is why no one was surprised last year when March hit a weak grounder to first to end the game. In this league, there are no extra innings. Dry and Wet finished in a 3-3 tie, resulting in a completely average snow pack for the ‘01/'02 season.

This year, the game is setting up like a Xerox of last season. Dry and Wet have battled to another 3-3 tie, and Dry (team mascot: Burning Man) just came up dry in the top of the ninth. Once again, December was the lead off month in the bottom of the inning, and once again, December smashed another triple to set up the much-needed win.

But for the second year in a row, usually dependable January has garfed up another chance to be the hero, this time feebly popping out to the shortstop. For the second year in a row, lawn lovers and boat believers must now pray for Fab Feb and Monsoon March.