Prosers, I’m not sure if there’s another way to say “You’re all pretty good and the three judges are fairly different.”

I would also add, though: “Melissa does not understand baseball and was therefore kind of amusing this time around.” Then, she calls out a story she likes as being baseball-related, but it’s not. Read the fun!

Zack Sauvageau

Donny used his bat to point at a spot somewhere over the left field fence. He dug in at the plate, his ballcap turned backwards. He whalloped the chest-high pitch; it quickly flew over the fence.

Donny’s team had reached their homerun limit. “YOU’RE OUT!” yelled the ump. Donny smiled and shrugged. “That power’s not my fault, bros.”

K: Ugh, I remember the “we’re trying to make all the teams equal” rules. This is particularly timely as today I hung out with a major league home run hitter who’s now become a friend of mine. But I don’t kiss and tell! Anyway, I’m not sure I need the last word, but that’s a nitpick for what’s a nice, laid-back story about sports. It’s like Matt Christopher, except kind of good.

MD: Don’t think I didn’t notice the gratuitous semi-colon usage. I’m not a baseball person, so this story didn’t have an emotional “umph” for me, but I can appreciate the sentiment. This kid is as humble as Brooks, and it’s endearing.

W: I played in a fairly competitive softball league last summer for the first time in awhile filled with a bunch of frat brothers. Man, what a collective group of assholes. In one game, the opposing pitcher kept bitching about every single thing and I started being a wiseass and got the umpire on our side. In the last inning, we had about ten guys walk in a row because the umpire refused to call anything a strike just to spite him. Anyway, those guys suck.

Ian Pratt

Nobody was happy when Pvt. Hatcher grabbed the squad’s only football and punted it off a cliff, but nobody really questioned it either. They watched open-mouthed as it bounced down the mountain, disappearing from sight.

“Hatcher, what the fuck…” one mumbled, but didn’t press further. They stood together at the edge, staring down silently as the afternoon light faded.

K: Huh. Weirdly dark and foreboding, but not manipulative. The imagery is here and I’ve got a sense of the dread and isolation intended. Quite nice. SILVER

MD: This is such a simple story, and yet it somehow manages to pull off camaraderie, resignation, and a ttinge of humor behind the perplexed responses. GOLD

W: Another annoying main character I’ve run across too many times. This one does the neat trick of being annoying in both the “take my ball and go home” and “moody teammate who won’t think of the team” ways.

Pete Bruzek

This all disappears tomorrow.

The bionics holding my arm together will be deemed an “unfair advantage”, and the Commissioner’s office will finally have the leverage to ban me.

None of that matters tonight.

The grass shimmers green under the lights, and the PA proclaims to the roaring crowd.

“Tonight’s starting pitcher… for the Atlanta Braves… number 94, Amanda Danielson.”

K: Cute. We have a couple of surprises here, but they don’t work together perfectly without more words. I did enjoy this, but I suspect others will tell stories in a more cogent manner that edge this one out.

MD: I tried Googling Amanda Danielson, and it didn’t seem that you were referring to anybody in particular. It makes me wonder why such a specific name. I like the idea behind this story, however, especially as it’s entirely possible. I can see it happening in the very near future. BRONZE

W: I really like the initial idea of the ethical implications of our constant advancement in medicine, but the twist at the end didn’t do much for me. Plus, having several paragraphs consisting of just one short sentence is too Plaschkesque.

Erik S


“So she stayed at your hotel room?”


“And what did you say you did for a living?”


“Was the t—”


“Was the term ‘baseball’ used?”

“In so many words.”

“And how about ‘Long Reliever’? ‘Last Place’?”

“Umm, no, didn’t come up.”

“Well, at least you’re not tipping your pitches, kid.”

[K; Middle of 4th]

K: I wish I had more context here, because this is an awesome opening to a longer story. Even without more, I can get into the pitcher’s difficulty with focus that ebbs and flows with his success on the field. BRONZE

MD: I anticipated there’d be lots of baseball references with this prompt. I’d also anticipated that I wouldn’t get most of them. I was correct.

W: Love it. I’ve been scoring games since I was five and have mastered the ability to keep subtly track every single while otherwise acting like I’m any old place on earth. (Novak, I’m assugreying I scored the game we went to together last year. Am I imagining that?) Anyway, this is basically me about 10 times a year. GOLD

Dean Carlson

Little Derek was having some trouble getting his throws over to First. He loved to play Short and even though he might not get to every ball, he was could flash the leather. But coach said no improvement meant a change of positions. One day while brushing the dirt off his uniform Derek thought “maybe jump while I throw?”

K: Making fun of Derek Jeter in this space is a little obvious, yeah? I could get into this, but “he was could flash the leather”…this prose flows like Derek Jeter fields.

MD: I feel for this kid. Even though I also anticipate there is some kind of baseball reference I’m not getting, I appreciate the story of this little guy struggling to compete.

W: Well, we found a character even more annoying than those in the first two stories. This could use a lot of polishing, but even so, can you really polish a turd (meaning Derek, not the idea)?

Margaret Martin

“Jump, Kyle!” Whooping and high-fives erupt from varsity party-goers on the ridge.

Some shortstops are risk-takers. Confident, agile. Fearless.

Kyle scans Quarry Lake’s inky surface, calculating distance, determining velocity. He raises a champion’s fist.

Sirens split the air as Sheriff Polinski squeals in.

Some shortstops are risk-takers, but Kyle plots trajectories, analyzes statistics. Makes predictions.

Makes a phone call.

K: Huh. Kyle is something. I want some more words here, but the prose is strong and interesting.

MD: Ha. Nice. Yet another story involving a shortstop (what’s with that?), but this one has a cute and nerdy flair that a non-baseball connoisseur can appreciate. SILVER

W: Ooh, I love Kyle way too much. This does a great job of applying some of the silly adjectives people like to use to describe athletes (how exactly does an athlete’s willingness to run through a wall make him “fearless” rather than “stupid”?), and puts them into great use in a broader context. Kyle sounds a lot like the way Cal Ripken, Jr. was described as a shortstop who made up for in scouting and positioning what he lacked in speed defensively. GOLD


Magnus hit all five targets on the first shot then quickly skied off. He was going to represent Finland this year, but that dream ended when the Russians invaded. His friends insisted he’d dominate the ‘44 games. Perhaps that was true, but with the blood of five Russians now on his hands, he’d never do this for medals.

K: Whoa. Strong twist, though I think it could be more personal. I’m asking a lot here, but there are 19 of you and I have to, right? Still, a very different attack on the challenge. BRONZE

MD: My former roommate is of Finnish descent, and he always brings up the skiing and shooting prowess of the Fins against the Russians. What makes this story is the recognition that our protagonist can’t possibly compete in his chosen sport for “fun” after having to do it to fight a war and survive. SILVER

W: Historical fiction? There’s some Pirate bait! This simply story shows without telling and allows Magnus to capitalize on his athletic abilities. My only quibble would be that I would probably refer to the invaders as Soviets. GOLD

Colin Woolston

I remember crying, and the tears and sweat all tasting the same. I remember it was the way that it hurt that made me cry; I was expected to give more of myself than I knew was there.

I remember crying, and the cameras as I lifted the gold disc high. And I remember thinking: “Well, fuck. Now what.”

K: I can’t stand questions that end in a period. This is such a small thing, but damn. It’s nice enough for a moment in time, but didn’t make me feel what the athlete may have felt, possibly because her or his internal monologue destroyed the moment.

MD: “Gold disc”? I’m not entirely sure to what this is referring, but I’m going to assume it’s a type of trophy. When I assume that, the story is more poignant. What a privileged yet crushing place (that place where one’s dreams are realized and you don’t know where to go next).

W: This is a rare story set in the first person that is pretty captivating. For some reason, the introspection that establishes the character doesn’t match the final thoughts as well as I would hope. Nonetheless, I like the idea. BRONZE

Brooks Maki

Ducky dribbled a bleeder through the infield. The outfielder’s throw was late, I knew it would be.

“You’re out!” My call stalled one manager on the top step and jumped the other off the bench.

“What! Why?”

“Didn’t touch third base.”

“Your back was turned, you couldn’t see that!”

“Scoring from first on that single? I didn’t have to.”

K: That should be a semicolon in the second sentence. Anyway, I know this as a Billy Hamilton reference, but that’s not enough to make it pop, as there’s nothing to add color to what I already knew.

MD: Seriously, guys. One needs to care about baseball, or at least watch it sometimes, to know anything that’s going on this week. I think there’s a joke here, but it falls flat for me. I could make some kinda spiel now about the whole “know your audience” thing, but I lack the energy tonight. And these baseball stories are addressed to ⅔ the audience, so that spiel might not matter.

W: Semicolon police, you’re needed in that second sentence. I’m smirking at the umpire’s perfectly valid justification for his call (I umpired some Little League back in the day and completely understand the inability to see everything on the field as just one man). Still, I can’t see a manager raising that much of a stink about such an obvious breaking of the rules. BRONZE

Matt Novak

My arms ache, lugging the suitcase towards our door. A rolling wheel snapped somewhere around Cincinnati. Part of the slump.

Home means relief from the grind, from the game.

Eli’s sitting on the front step, waiting expectantly, glove on hand. He flips a ball my way.

I smile as it lands in my ready webbing.
The suitcase can wait.

K: Damn it, this is beautiful. The grind of baseball is captured but we’re reminded of the fact it’s just a game just as quickly. This made me feel the love all over again. Excellent capturing of the sport. GOLD

MD: Precious.

W: One thing PwtP seems to lack is simple stories of the average love in everyone’s lives. There’s usually sex, death, monsters, and criminals lurking in every corner, but the simplicity of a parents’ love is often ignored. This isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s awfully sweet. BRONZE

Sama Smith

The meat dissolved in her mouth; blood leaked onto Lillian’s lips.

She licked it away as the chef approached.

“I’m a big fan,” he said. “Just wanted to thank you.”

She was an overnight boxing sensation, but his thanks puzzled her.

“You pummel them so well; the meat gets real tender.”

Well, this Italian tasted better than she’d smelled.

K: I suppose I’m supposed to fawn over the twist, but cannibalism in 59 words is hard, and given the prompt, too far out of the world for me to easily accept. Sometimes a twist works when I can believe it, but this is asking a lot in a very small space.

MD: This is vague, but the right kind of vague; the vague that makes it possible for this story to mean so many things. My mind is going to terrible places, and I enjoy that terrible place. I think it’s supposed to go to that terrible place, but I never know. Was there a Lillian in a Cosby episode? SILVER

W: Ok, I’ve read this three times and the dialogue makes it a little hard to follow. Still, if what I think is happening is actually happening, then I would refer to my comment above. The story is creative, but I could care less about the shock value of random cannibalism.

Ben Johnson

Feet, shoulder-width apart
Balance on the balls
Grip, like a light handshake
See the target
Narrow the field
Imaginary line
Close your eyes
Visualize the target
E x h a l e s l o w l y
Open your eyes
Lock wrists
Rotate smoothly at the hips
Fluid forward touch

/misses just left/


K: I liked it better before the payoff! This was a great capture of the frayed nerves in sport, but the finale left me feeling like it was all the setup to a joke. In this case, the journey was way better than the destination.

MD: This is a baseball reference that works, mostly because it utilizes structure so well. It builds the anticipation; helps me feel the slow, calm, concentrated thoughts of the protagonist; and then breaks it with the over-the-top swearing. Don’t need to know a thing about baseball to get the frustration and the humor of it. That, and you could read the first section backwards, and it’ll still work pretty well. GOLD
W: Heh, my brother is a much, much better golfer than I, yet I consistently can score lower than he because he flips out so easily. (For the record, I still pretty much suck at golf. The only thing I’m good at on the golf course is extracting Survivor identities.) I love the extra spaces in the line about exhaling. SILVER

Sarah Wreisner

My sister flips orange peels overboard as I swim the butterfly. I climb inside and we drift ashore, laughing, daddy’s cottage glowing in the trees.

Everything vanishes in senseless, glittering waves. My skin is blistered and oozing. Gulls shriek above the tattered ship; one arm is broken. I choose.

I taste oranges in the seawater as I slip below.

K: Another person tries to sidestep the prompt. Hmm. I’m leaving this wide open, but a grisly death with “I swim the butterfly” tacked on seems a tad manipulative, to be blunt. The prose saves it to some degree, however, as I do dig the imagery. BRONZE

MD: This one takes the “athlete” prompt far less literally, and I like what it was trying to do. I like the use of orange peels alongside the imagery of blistering, oozing skin. It may or may not have been intentional, but those two textures play well together in the mind and add to the macabre feeling of this little tale. GOLD

W: This is sure interesting, but is too vague for its own good. I would be quite curious, though, about why people choose to swim long distances (or run marathons, for that matter). As it is, the scene is set beautifully, but the action jumps around too much to draw me in.

Brian David
After 30 years of training, Maki Of The Dark descended the peaks of Mt. Hellspire. He found Hanenanoninanu meditating in the valley.

“Now is the time, weakling!”

Hanenanoninanu stood calmly.


Hanenanoninanu’s red hair burst into flame. Behind him, a flock of sheep vibrated and exploded into a fine mist.

Maki licked his lips and leapt into the air.

K: Now, let me explain myself. This is not exactly “sports.” I also figure it’s pretty damned close to meta, but I love this because the image is hilarious and it didn’t try to take itself seriously early and make me roll my eyes. The long names, the long yell, the vision of the sheep…yeah, you got me. I’ll remember this. GOLD

MD: I love the imagery of hair bursting into flame and sheep exploding. However, this meta doesn’t explicitly utilize Kelly or his porno-type, so it’s not a meta I can medal. If it’s not meta…then the whole “Maki” thing is just confusing.

W: This is just so silly. I like it, but I think it’s running into a few entries I like just a little bit more.

Annette Barron

The business suits clearly appreciated her diaphanous harem pants, bejeweled bra and hypnotically twitching hips.

The undulations of her abdomen seemed impossible. She bent backwards, allowing her hair to touch the ground as her arms flowed gracefully over her head. Was I the only one in awe of her pure muscle artistry?

Looking around, the answer was clearly yes.

K: This dance is expressed just enough to turn me on. I had an ex – a serious one – from India and this reminded me of her (normally, memories of her are negative). The payoff sentence doesn’t add anything and potentially detracts, but the images are strong and it fulfills the prompt thanks to the viewer’s perception. SILVER

MD: I like the alternative version of an athlete here. However, the narrator was too detached, his true motivations too unclear, for this to really catch me. BRONZE

W: I’m guessing this is the first story in this site’s history about belly dancing. I like the narrator’s respect and appreciation for the dancer as well as his (her?) awareness that her skill was being lost on everyone else in the room. BRONZE

Christina Pepper


How could the counselors have put him in right field? That kid has the attention span of a—wait, was that a movement?


He’s a decent fielder when he happens to be looking in the right direction.


I really don’t want to tell his parents we lost him in the woods during a baseball game.

K: Hee hee! Potentially dark, but the tone suggests we’ll be fine. This is as simple as it gets but the story comes across and the humor works as intended. SILVER

MD: More baseball! This felt a little rushed, however, and more a slice of life than a particular story. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with “slice of life”, but it didn’t strike my fancy this time around.

W: Heh, a perfectly good joke about the uselessness of a right fielder in most Little League games. Again, I think it just ran up against some stories I liked more, but there’s nothing wrong here.

Jack Haas

Two minutes behind.

Release point. Focus. You know him like you know yourself.

Two minutes behind.

Two strikes means slider. Weight back. Looks low, that should break out of the zone.

Two minutes behind.

Too late. No spin, fastball paints the black.

Born two minutes behind, never caught up.

K: I loved this. Granted, my baseball obsession helps, but as a baseball story that also tells a subtle but also clear story of brotherhood, this couldn’t speak any more clearly to me than it does. Tons of fun. GOLD

MD: What does “paints the black” mean? Pacing was interestingly used, but it wasn’t done as well as the previous pitching story that ended in shouting obscenities.

W: This story probably does the best of any this season so far of building the tension to a climax, and I was genuinely curious about the “two minutes.” Both of my brothers (who are younger) were college athletes (unlike me), so I can appreciate the competitiveness that drives the character to want to match up (or exceed) the older twin. SILVER

Bret Highum

Pekka slid to a stop, unslinging his rifle as he knelt.

He’d medaled in cross-country in ‘36; skiing ten kilometers was easy, but shooting accurately afterwards was tricky. Breathe deep, squeeze. Flick the bolt back, repeat. Targets down, go!

Pekka skied back under the snow-laden pines, jaw clenched. Four Soviet soldiers lay sprawled in the red-stained snow behind him.

K: Wait, did we have two of these? Hmm, that probably doesn’t help either of them. I don’t want to be hard on them because 19 people looking for singular stories are going to do this now and again. It’s just funny how similar they are. BRONZE

MD: Wow. What are the chances that two almost identical stories of the Fins on skis would appear this round? I appreciated the structuring of this, but the other version managed to have a more dynamic character. BRONZE

W: Wow, an eerily similar idea. Now, I’m going to return and read them both to make sure one didn’t get the advantage of being read first… Unfortunately, I think I like the depth of Magnus a little bit more. I’m amazed we had identical concepts. Which of you two have joined the Borg?

Jonathon Pope

Seven miles into the half-marathon, my whole body felt like it was shutting down. I would have to quit soon.

He passed slowly. His bib indicated a full marathon runner. A basketball in each hand, they bounced in tandem as he passed me. I straightened. That man became my enemy; I vowed to train until I could destroy him.

K: A bit straightforward and without the story’s payoff, or maybe it only felt that way because I read it last and most of the others gave me a big finale. The enemy with two basketballs seems almost sneeringly evil, but that amused me in this story about…running. I smiled in spite of myself.

MD: This rings like a true story. I sure hope it is one because the imagery of a guy running a half marathon while dribbling basketballs in tandem is wonderful. BRONZE

W: Haha, I completely understand. When one of my brothers ran a half marathon for the first time, a 70 year old man passed him on the last mile and my brother took one look and said, “Fuck no” and then smoked him for the last mile. My closest experience to long distance running is riding the MS 150, but the crazy competitive cyclists usually have the decency to get out on the road early so they aren’t passing everyone else the rest of the day. Still, the increased stress and the desire to be done definitely raises the competitive juices to the extent that another rider will inevitably piss me off and have me working like crazy to beat them. SILVER

Alright, I’ll update the spreadsheet…tonight? Hmm, maybe.

Thanks for dealing with what was probably your most limiting prompt so far. Let’s open things up by allowing you to write about a father OR mother.

Pump up the jam by Thursday at 9pm Central, Prosers.