IT HAS BEEN a wonderful spring, but I fear there might soon be trouble - with a capital "T" - in Jimmyville.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Pete, how can you say there might be trouble in Jimmyville when the Orioles are still in first place and Jim Hunter is still glowing so brightly that there are rumors he's become a member of the Fantastic Four ?"
That's true. The Orioles have shown admirable resilience and the new community has been able to abandon fossil fuels and depend entirely on the light coming off Hunter as an alternative energy source, so what's not to like? Jimmyville is, after all, an oasis of unfettered Orioles optimism, so it's natural for the residents to have a perpetual glass-half-full attitude, but the recent rash of key injuries is sure to have a negative impact on property values ... and Hunter refuses to abandon his bubble mentality.
Want proof? I was one of the first inhabitants of the imaginary baseball Valhalla, but I only bought a condo and conservatively predicted that the Orioles were positioned well to finish second in the tough American League East. Hunter has gotten totally carried away.
Jim now lives in something he calls "The Play-by Mansion," and the mansion has a "Grotto," where dozens of alluring women lounge around the pool dressed only in slinky Orioles jerseys. And "Hunt" putters around the grounds all day in an orange-and-black smoking jacket talking with his celebrity guests (usually Jim Palmer and Buck Martinez) about the World Series.
He has even tried to handpick the municipal government, informing me the other day that hitting coach Terry Crowley is our new mayor. Don't get me wrong, I think the world of Crow, but I was kind of hoping to have free elections in the fall.
Still, you've got to admire Hunter's energy and enthusiasm. He's a great admirer of Norman Vincent Peale, which explains the title of his new self-help book - The Power of Positive Broadcasting - and the fact that he mentally willed a Rafael Palmeiro homer to stay fair Wednesday.
Jim actually believes that people communicate telepathically in Jimmyville, and I don't have the heart to tell him it's just Wi-Fi.
This would all be fine if Jim wasn't totally oblivious to the civic challenges that face any growing community, even one that exists largely in his own imagination.
Yes, even Jimmyville has a crime problem. There's a guy in the middle of the batting order who has been impersonating Sammy Sosa, and police just recently located David Newhan, who had mysteriously disappeared from the lineup at the end of spring.
The health care situation, as I pointed out earlier, isn't good either. Just try getting an appointment with the community's hand specialist.
Nevertheless, Jimmyville is filling up faster than me on half-price wing night at Hooters ... or Pizza Wednesday at the Ravens' complex.
There are rumors that Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria has dumped that basketball player and is checking out real estate in the area. Phase I is sold out, but I'm pretty sure I can find a place for her.
(Don't even think it. I'm much too old for Eva, and I'm not one of those silly middle-aged guys who suck in their guts and fool themselves into thinking young women still think they're hot. If Eva showed up at my door in a bath towel, I'd send her packing so fast you'd think she were Sal Fasano. Trust me, the moment the two-day waiver period expired, she'd be on the first plane back to L.A.)
The community has become so popular, we had to turn down Hillary Clinton. She showed up in an O's jacket and claimed she had been an Orioles fan her whole life, but no one was fooled. When she asked what she could do to support the team, Hunter smugly pointed out that being a true bird fan wasn't an individual thing.
"It takes a Jimmy Village," he said.
It's going to take more than that to get the Orioles into the playoffs, even if things still look surprisingly rosy around here.
I just hope everyone realizes that the next four months probably won't be all sunshine and Miggieball. My glass is still half-full, but I'm thinking of drinking the rest to help me get through the eight weeks until Javy Lopez comes back.
I won't, however, be knocking on wood.