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It is my prediction that the 1996 election will end with a bang and not a whimper.

This is how I see it.

It's the bottom of the ninth. Dole is behind by 10 points. He comes up to bat, and the crowd, except for the liberals, cheers.

"Strike one," the home plate umpire calls. A hush falls over the country.

"Strike two." Jack Kemp yells foul. Dole digs in as his wife Liddy waves from the stand.

The ball suddenly whizzes toward home plate. Dole swings, his bat connects with the ball, and it goes deep into right field.

Bill Clinton runs toward it, and just as he raises his glove to catch it a 12-year-old kid stretches out his mitt and grabs it. The umpire in right field yells, "Home run."

Clinton jumps up and down, yelling that he could have caught the ball if the kid hadn't leaned forward.

The umpire warns Clinton not to spit at him.

Al Gore runs out on the field and says that the umpire is blind.

Clinton announces that he has just signed a bill compensating blind umpires.

Dole is shaking hands with all his team players.

"I knew that if I could just have a whack at the ball I'd get my story across."

The press is up in the stands interviewing the kid.

"How does it feel to be able to change a presidential election?"

"Wow," he says, "it's real fun."

"Did you know what you were doing?"

"Wow, this is a free country and it's anybody's ball."

"Do you realize that this makes you part of history?"

"Wow, I can't wait for the next election."

The Democratic managers are furious and screaming at the right-field umpire that Clinton was cheated out of catching the fly ball.

The umpire says, "Clinton and Dole both agreed to play by the rules. If a 12-year-old kid interfered in the game, it was a close call. I feel that Dole's hit would have gone over the wall even if the kid hadn't touched it."

Clinton, who rarely lost his temper during the campaign, says that he intends to turn the case over to the FBI to find out the identity of the kid and why he was in the right-field stands during school hours.

Liddy Dole is ecstatic and runs around the bases with Bob.

Jack Kemp holds a press conference in which he declares that Dole is the greatest home-run hitter in politics.

Meanwhile, the Republicans carry the kid on their shoulders around the stadium as the electronic signs proclaim that Dole is president of the land.

Most of the TV commentators say that while they predicted Clinton was a shoo-in, no election is over until the fat lady sings. Since she was on first and the rotten kid was in the outfield, it was his "wow" that snatched victory out of Clinton's glove.

A reporter asks her what happened. She replies, "I didn't see it. I was rehearsing my aria from 'Rigoletto.' "

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