Yesterday’s News: Pickleball, rise and brine, then recline

Tom Hoffarth /

Pickleball players these days seem to think they’re a really big dill.

Those aren’t our words, but they had to be said. Now it’s on the record.

The one and only time we stepped onto a court with other resistant AARPs, expectations were low, a half hour later confirmed we’re not very good at it, and we exited the facility with no real incentive to get better.

As for the dozens of others whooping it up on their reserved numbered courts, they’ve figured out the ridiculous scoring system (as if tennis is any better), accept the nuances of the Playskool-looking Wiffle ball needed for each match, and embrace its fashionable attire, which makes everyone feel even better about themselves and their average abilities when the hopped back in their supped-up golf carts to go to the local cafeteria lunch area and decompress.

Day after day, the stories about how pickleball – one word, not two as spell-check demands — is the hot new sport/game/activity/pastime/exercise/ego boost never run out of inertia.

Some 5 million Americans do it, compared to 45 million who have student loan debt and 195 million coming to grips with genital herpes. The numbers don’t really add up. The average age of participants is dropping down to under 40. By 2040, it might even get to zero.

Pickleball, as this 21st Century version of racquetball or handball or badminton or paddleball or, God forbid, ping pong, must realize that once someone declares over a Starbucks muffin that this is perfectly trending to be vogush, tony or au courant, it immediately ceases to be.

Somehow, it has its own specialized magazine that says its aim is to cover “America’s fastest-growing sport, follow the latest trends, instruction, gear, new clubs, travel destinations, game strategies, and stories of the people impacting the sport.” It’s something to read in the Urgent Care facility when trying to explain how your elbow just came out of its U-joint as you attempted an overhead smash when catching a glimpse of your spouse on the other side of the net.

It has even been ESPN-plained to us. They might have even referenced this YouTube video. It was posted in 2017 and now looks like one of those educational films they showed us in elementary school. In the ’60s.

We see the sport is going pro and has a YouTube channel and — again, huge assumption on their part — has “investors” like LeBron James throwing good money at it. He must think it’s actually on TV. Like, what … getting slimed on Pickleodeon?

Confession: We saw it played the other day as part of the “CBS Sports Spectacular” anthology series on CBS Sports Net, which we assumed would have already been folded into Paramount+ never to be seen again. It was not spectacular. It was played indoors in Atlanta. Has ESPN+ figured out its financial potential in its depository of desperation yet, with parkour and axe throwing? It is possible it has already been on Bally Sports Whatever and we’ve just assumed the title description made it seem like another infomercial for some kitchen aid deep fryer?

(Hang on, fringe sports fans: Just saw something in the latest Sharper Image catalogue – A $199.999 Backyard Pong Golf set. It looks like cornhole, but with 10 holes per board that have places to put red Solo cups, and then two golf wedges with a dozen foam golf balls to hit off chipping mats. Hold on while we search for our Discover card and …. Swipe left).

This is also not a surprise that more stories are emerging about how pickleball partisans are experiencing those same kind of turf wars with tennis enthusiasts. It’s escalating “on and off the court,” we’re informed. There’s no room in L.A. to play. What are Larry David and Leo DeCaprio to do?

The only way we’d actually consider getting more emerged in Pickleball Culture — if actual pickles were incorporated. Especially the kosher ones, which would make this even more appealing in the Canters-adjacent areas of L.A.

We are huge pickle fans. We have been doing our due diligence on how we could become an absentee co-owner of the Portland Pickles, a college wood-bat team in the West Coast League. Its mascot is Dillon the Pickle. Its hats are the coolest things in the game.

Pickles are what make a pastrami sandwich and are equally delightful on pepperoni pizza.

And now that we’ve gone down this darker path, we can see ourselves as the ones to create the official sports-centric energy drink for these parched participants.

It would be high-end pickle juice. Drink up. Straight from the Vlasic jar. Add vodka if necessary.

Mt. Olive, another rival pickeler, has these tiny 2 ounce containers, packaged like a 5-Hour Energy boost. That’s thinking too small.

Use the larger, aluminum skinny cans, like Red Bull.

We’d offer ours up as Green Bull. Or Brine Time. (Insert your own name here, then delete it, because we’ve already got copyrights and purchased bargain-basement $2.99 URLs for it).

No secret ingredients: Water, vinegar, salt with a variety of pickling herbs — turmeric, tarragon, mustard seed, bay leaf, ancho chili. If you’ve got the thyme, we’ve got the stuff that back in the day, major league baseball players drank before anything called Gatorade was thought about. Suitable for freezing into pickle juice popsicles, if only for the  good potassium, calcium, lactobacillus and magnesium.

Invest today in a cumbersome cucumber farm. Then bring it onto “Shark Tank” and get Mark Cuban to accept a 5 percent share for what we valuate as a $25 billion business.

Then, if someone playing in a televised championship pickleball match someday is accused of cheating — “Just look at him – he’s juicing” — they would be 100 percent correct. Thanks to us.

Rise and brine.

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