“Smokey Joe” pitches purrfect game at Cat Baloo Stadium

TAMPA – Lutz Lions’ aging pitcher, “Smokey” Joe Algood treated a sold-out crowd to a perfect game in Sunday’s season opener by defeating the Cincinnati Strays 1-0 at Cat Baloo Stadium. It was the first no-hitter for the British short-hair mix that joined the Lions this year after a long layoff due to injury.

Smokey Joe looks over the Strays defense at Cat Baloo Stadium
Smokey Joe looks over the defense at Cat Baloo Stadium

The Strays roared into Tampa Bay as last year’s undefeated champions with hopes of a repeat this season, but the Lion’s left-handed pitcher squashed that dream by delivering a dazzling no-hitter for the first time in Lion’s history. Then, in the bottom of the 9th, the Stray’s Siamese right fielder, Chiang Mai, committed the game’s only error. While chasing a routine pop-fly, Mai was a distracted by what appeared to be a real fly and chased it instead of the baseball. That mishap allowed Lion’s catcher, “Tip Toe” Gerow, to score easily from third base bringing the game to a stunning end.

The Lions’ coach, Lady Neapolitan, credited the win to Algood’s deceptive pitching style and a disciplined team that has blossomed since implementing the “No Spay, No Play” rule. In 2014, the Lutz Lions became the league’s first professional team to require that its players be spayed or neutered.

Smokey Joe celebrates getting neutered with a new tag
Smokey celebrates getting neutered with a new tag
“We did it because we want our players to set a good example on and off the field,” Neapolitan said. “We’ve always known that spayed or neutered pets live longer and happier lives, but now we know they can play and pitch better as well.

Algood was neutered in 2008 at The Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Afterwards, he joined the Barn League (the farm league) for the pros. He became the first British Short-hair mix to possess an astonishing .99 ERA, in part due to his dazzling fastball and left-handed knuckle ball. His dreams of turning pro were delayed, however, when his father insisted he first get an education. In 2012 he finally earned his degree in public relations and graduated The University of South Florida.

That same year Algood tried out and made the Lion’s farm team. He signed a 3 yr. contract, and played the first year exemplary. He was touted to be the Lions starting pitcher for the 2013 season. However, during spring training he tore a rotator cuff in his left shoulder that put him out for the entire season. When he recovered the following year, his fast ball was no more.

“When he returned, his fastball was more like a hairball, said Lion’s cranky catcher Crescent Moon. “So I told him he should take his time and develop his knuckle ball. It was a gutsy call, but that’s what he did.”

Algood took the entire 2014 season off to work on his knuckle ball presentation. He looked to his idol for inspiration, per-parent and Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Alex Cobb, who missed two months of the 2013 season due to an injury, only to return a stronger player. He trained vigorously. When he wasn’t pitching, he was climbing kitty condos and chasing mice. Simply put, he learned how to be a cat again.

But when he tried to return to play baseball, according to a league spokesman, the terms of his contract had been breached. He couldn’t play. Smokey Joe would have to earn his way back onto the field as a walk-on. But who would give an aging British Short-hair mix without a fastball a chance”?

Smokey Joe takes time for some TV after Sunday's big game
Smokey Joe takes time for some TV after Sunday’s big game
“In an unprecedented move, I called a meeting with the team, and we took a vote,” Lions’ General Manager, Jade Algood-Gerow, said. “It was unanimous. Every cat, even the cranky catcher Miss Moon wanted to give Smokey Joe another chance. Other teams were laughing like we were crazy. But after Sunday’s game, no one’s laughing. Instead, it’s time to celebrate!”

by Sir Nor Doogla Satire

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