TOM: I’m Tom Drake, and this is NBS Sports.

CARL: That’s right, Tom. I’m Carl Hicks. And as part of a plea bargain that Tom and I entered after the fiery bus crash on I-75 that claimed the lives of two buses full of college lacrosse team students, we have agreed to help fill otherwise dead airtime on NBS Sports 12 by covering the 2015 Great Curmudgeon Mudge-Off.

TOM: Sponsored by Hillman’s Hickory Walking Sticks, Artisinal Rocking Chairs of Peoria, Poli-Grip denture cream, Ensure omni-drink, and newspapers everywhere.

CARL: That’s right, Tom. We’re down to the final three contestants: Columbus Ellison, age 73, of Porphyria, ME; Isaiah Hester, age 80, of Rayne, WA; and Marcello Martinez, age 66, from Gumption, OK.

TOM: Ellison has the overall lead in points, but Martinez has won more events. Hester is hot on both their tails, so it’s anybody’s game at the moment. I’m sure our viewers at home remember the photo finish to the 2013 Mudge-Off when the late Stanford Gilmore came from behind to win even as he was dying of a heart attack.

CARL: That’s right, Tom. Next up we have the most pivotal events in our competition. First up is Hostile Reading, where the object is to read a newspaper in such a way as to deter bothersome interlopers, and to respond to any such interlopers in a way that immediately dissuades them from further communication. Next will be Throat Clearing, and after that, Lawn Defense. Complaining About Kids These Days is, as always, the capstone. Thoughts, Tom?

TOM: Martinez stands to dominate Newspaper Reading, as he worked as a newspaper editor in Gumption before his forced retirement, but his town’s low population density stands to hurt him in Lawn Defense and Throat Clearing. Hester’s a smoker, which gives him an edge in Throat Clearing and the gravel he needs for Lawn Defense, though his oxygen will be a liability there as well. Ellison, thanks to his location, is well-positioned for a come-from-behind mudging in all the events. It’s an exciting time and anybody’s game.

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