Remember that character Pedro Cerrano in the film "Major League?" You know, the Cuban defector right-fielder who practiced Santeria in the hope little god Jobu would help him hit a curveball, and attempted to sacrifice a live chicken to gain power at the plate?
Apparently he's a real person, and coaching baseball in Florida.
The baseball program at Palm Harbor University High -- that's south of Tampa, for Miamians who believe the Earth is flat and drops off at the north shoulder of I-75 -- is in a whole heap of trouble after coach Jeremy Albrecht (we know who you really are, sir) attempted to motivate the team with a rousing pep talk. Their problem, he told the team, is that they are "snake-bitten."
Now, what that has to do with anything, or where it came from, is anyone's guess.
But it sure was effective.
Players decided to break their losing streak by purchasing and killing a snake. Surely, a sacrifice to the baseball gods would improve their lowly 8-9 record (suggested, but eliminated: hard work, fundamentals, and a positive attitude).
Sobel confessed that players -- he won't say whom, only that no one objected -- purchased the snake, fed it a rat in an attempt to calm it, killed it with a shovel, and buried it on the pitcher's mound. (We're almost certain this is what the Devil Rays did prior to the 2008 season, so who can really blame the kids for following suit?)
Coach Albrecht wasn't present, according to Sobel, but he's been temporarily removed from his duties pending an investigation by the school and Sheriff's Office. He is presumably using his new-found free time to concentrate on his "real" job as a Realtor, where under-performing colleagues aren't likely "snake-bitten" but might eventually bury themselves in a pitcher's mound if the market doesn't improve.
Oh, but it gets better: Sobel says the investigation was prompted by parents with an ax to grind over their children's lack of playing time, and the school appointed former coach James Felce to watch over their little animal murders until Albrecht returns or a new coach is hired. Why did Felce resign the position in the first place? A hazing incident.
Yeah, this'll end well.
Janie Campbell is a Florida sports fan who wishes baseball was more like Major League in so, so many ways. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.