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Thread: Brooklyn Blues

  1. #31
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    February, 2021

    Jill glared angrily across the desk in her office. "You do what you need to do," she bit off the words tightly. "Go ahead."

    The man on the other side of the desk looked as though he would rather be anywhere else in the world. "I'm going to regret it, aren't I?" he asked, plaintively.

    She sat back. "Not at all. If you do what you should do. If you get out of my way. If you recognize that I am the one who is in charge here, and act accordingly, then no. You won't regret that." Her words offered him an option, a way out. Her tone did not. Her eyes very clearly were not interested in what her words had to say.

    Drew slowly reached for his queen. Not for the first time he wished his real queen was in the room, to protect him from his boss. "Work boss," he mentally added. So far he'd never had any occasion to get Emma to battle Jill to protect him. He knew she would, of course, but he also knew that Emma would prefer not to use her considerable strength on coworkers. Emma would not be happy if she had to step into a conflict between him and his supervisor. The key words in that sentence were "Emma would not be happy."

    On the rare occasions in which he gave the matter a thought, he supposed that this meant that he was more afraid of his wife than his work boss. He didn't think about it much because, even considering who his work boss was, being more afraid of Emma seemed the only natural thing to do.

    Besides, he'd brought this on himself. He knew his job when Jill asked him to use the blue and white plastic Aztec-versus-Conquistador-themed chess board she kept on the side of her desk. Put up a decent fight, and lose with grace and dignity. The only trouble was, he had actually been a very good chess player, and sometimes he forgot.

    This was one of those times. She had six pieces left on the board. Her king was caught between both his castles. There were at least five spaces to which he could move his queen and force checkmate.

    He moved the piece to the sixth space. The one from which her king could capture his queen. She pounced immediately, adding the queen to the two pawns and a knight that were all that he'd lost so far. "Oh, darn," he said, he hoped convincingly. "How did I not see that?" He reached out and tipped his king over in defeat. It knocked over two pawns and a bishop which had been protecting it from anything she could have done.

    "It was a good game, Drew. Keep trying, you'll beat me some day," Jill said as he put the pieces back to their starting positions.

    He resisted the urge to roll his eyes where she could see him. Mustn't pick a fight. Emma would have to intervene. And Emma would not be happy. "I doubt that," he said. "Thank you for the game." And using the walk he'd worked up, where he wasn't quite backing out of the room bowing to her, but wasn't far from it, he left the office.

    Jill watched him go with an amused smile. She really quite liked Drew. He was a smart young man, to be sure. Dedicated to his job. Actually very good at it. Not the greatest, most original thinker in the world, but that was what she was there for, and she could see by the way he defered to her that he knew it. They made a good team - she came up with good ideas, he agreed to them. She told him the smartest way to enact them, he followed her instructions. Occasionally he'd go off the mark a bit, but she could always show him how what he'd thought was a good thing was actually bad, and he always came back around. And a decent listener, too - she could tell him all the stories she had of her day, in detail from beginning to end, and he would only rarely try to interject something from his own life. She could see big things in his future so long as he listened to her.

    Not like most people around here. And certainly not like Jack. Jack had an alarming tendency to slow matters down by going around to other people and asking what they thought, even after she'd already shown him what was clearly the best thing to do.

    "...and he shall appear," she thought, as she noticed movement in the hall outside her office. Jack, of course. She needed to talk to him about the marketing around Gustavo Amella, and how hard Jack would let her push it. It was only three months into their working relationship, after all, so she wanted to let him know that she would listen to him. Especially if he proved to be smart enough to do what she knew needed to be done. She called out to him, and started looking in her desk drawer for the Amella paperwork.

    It only took a moment to realize that Jack wasn't coming. But she needed to talk to him right then. It couldn't wait. She got up, grumbling a bit, and got to the hall, only to see him disappear through the door at the other end. She followed. After a bit she began to wonder why he was going this way. It was a side door, one that led down into the stadium proper, where the construction was still going on.

    She wondered even more as it occurred to her that he was checking back over his shoulder every so often. She ducked into an unfinished door frame, almost by instinct at first, then deliberately as the pursuit went on.

    Finally he came to a door that she didn't recognize, and went through it after one final, furtive look. She waited until it closed, then sprinted down the hall. Quietly opening the door, almost expecting to see him standing on the other side waiting for her, she instead saw that he was getting into a very nice car that had clearly seen better days, parked in one of the construction worker lots. It was too far away to make out a license plate (it didn't occur to her that she would have no way to run the license plate even if she could have seen it).

    "My boss has a mystery," she thought as she went back to her office. The blank page in her mind already had two columns on it, one labeled "How can I find out what that mystery is?" and the other "What can I do with it after I know?" As she walked, she began to fill in the columns.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    MD
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    March, 2021

    We're in Arizona. Cactus league. Sure, everybody else in our division is in the grapefruit league, in Florida. Ray Bernard never got around to making a deal with a city in Florida to host us. By the time we realized this, all Adam could do was get us "some town with an army name in Arizona." He couldn't remember where it was. I went through the names of every town and neighborhood of Phoenix that I could remember. It was none of them.

    "Do you mean Flagstaff?" I finally asked. Not because I thought it likely, but it did have the word "flag" in it. Maybe that's what Adam meant by "army."

    "Maybe! Wait - no. Wait! Yes - yes?"

    Terrific.

    I put Mal on it. My headache was far too strong for me that day. Bernard's liquor cabinet looked great. Well, it did now that it had liquor in it.

    A couple of hours later, she came back to the office. She didn't look happy. But it wasn't her usual "I'm angry at the world in general and Jack Weston in particular" unhappy. On someone else, I'd have said that the expression was...remorse? Guilt? Can't be.

    "So where are we going?" I asked.

    "Fort Watchacall," she said. I least I thought she did.

    "Fort What ya call it?" I asked. She shook her head.

    "Fort Huachuca."

    I had to get a map. It's about a three hour drive from Phoenix. Which is where all of the other teams in the cactus league play. A three hour bus ride, across Arizona desert.

    Oh, the other teams are going to love us.

    After this had sunk in, I looked for a bright side. "At least do we have good facilities? Surely we must, right? I mean, it's not as though any other team is competing with us for it, so they had to build really good facilities to lure a team there. Right?" Even to myself, I sounded more plaintive than hopeful.

    She just looked sad. "We're playing on the 90 foot diamond of MacArthur High School."

    I blinked a few times, wordlessly. Finally said, "High school. Our major league baseball team is playing its home spring training games on a high school field."

    She nodded again. "Well, except on Tuesdays and Friday nights and afternoons from 2 to 4."

    "Uh huh. Um...why?"

    "That's when the high school team plays their games, or has their practices in the afternoons."

    I decided to skip it. I had to. "And our minor league camps?"

    "The JV field for triple A."

    "What about double or single A." It wasn't a question any more.

    She was looking at her feet by now. I'm sure they were very nice feet, but she looked as though she wanted to dig through the floor. "High school softball field for one. Middle school diamond for the other."

    The silence between us stretched. I didn't know what to say. She clearly wasn't going to bring anything up if she didn't have to. Finally I had to be the one. "Is there anything else I should know?"

    She steeled herself, standing at attention, as though she expected a full dressing down when she was done. Or as though she was practicing, so that she could join the Army when she got to the Fort and run away from all this. I wasn't sure she was wrong. "We don't have to compete with the high school teams for our home games," she finally said.

    "Why not?"

    "Because we don't have any. None of the other Cactus league teams was willing to travel to Ft. Huachuca. So we're the visiting team for every game."

    Of course we are.

    So I'm in Arizona, watching Bill try to work out my team. Adam comes up to me from the trailer he had. I think he may have driven it across the country. He's international. He's wearing a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, a Panama hat - and 100% American black socks and sandals. "Pretty sweet setup, eh boss?" he says.

    I'm going back to the hotel. When I checked in yesterday, I'd turned on the hot water for a nice long shower, and it was indeed scalding hot. So I turned on the cold water...and it was also scalding hot. I have hot and hotter running water. If I want cold water, I have to go get in the pool, where it's only 94.

    At least the air conditioning works. Well, it did last night, and I'm afraid to even think about the room if it doesn't.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  3. #33
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    March, 2021

    Before the first spring game, I'd let nine players go. Well, I wouldn't call them players exactly.

    Not a one had a rating over 57. Not a one had an age under 31. They weren't good, and they weren't going to get better. They'll be able to tell their grandchildren they had a spring tryout with a major league baseball team. In some cases, they already can, because the grandchildren have already been born.

    All position players. I had several pitchers in camp who would have fit the same description, but I wasn't ready to throw pitchers away yet. Even though some of them should have been thrown away - and it would have been a harder throw than they could manage.

    R. J. Chenault batted .253 with ten RBIs. Gustavo Amella batted .245, but with two home runs and 17 RBIs. The deciding factor, though, was that Gustavo Amella, unlike R. J. Chenault, wasn't photographed in an hourly-rate motel room passed out with several Mexican hookers and enough coke to power a small city. Chenault swore that one of the hookers, who he'd met in a bar, had slipped something into his drink and he didn't know what happened after that. From the way Amella smiled at me, I believe Chenault. I also put him on the trading block, at first for prospects. Then for veterans. Then for anyone. Then for cash. Then I released him. Cost me $50k.

    Turns out that Gustavo Amella is in fact going to be my starting left fielder in 2021. And he smiles at me every time he sees me. Smoothly.

    So how did we do? Surprisingly well. 8 - 19, which is of course terrible. But considering what we had on the field, it's a World Series. Of course, Kyser played our veterans a lot. I asked him about giving some of the kids a tryout. "What for?" he asked. It's such obvious baseball wisdom that I had to check myself to see if I was missing something. I was. "I'm playing the ones who have a snowball's chance in hell of playing in Brooklyn. There's no competition here. You have to have at least two decent quarterbacks to have a quarterback controversy, Jack." I thought about it. He wasn't wrong.

    I released a lot of pitchers when I got back to Brooklyn after spring training. I still sent a lot to our minors. If you did very poorly in spring, and were over thirty, and were still rated in the 50s, I let you go. If only two of those was true, I probably kept you. If only one was true, you had a good shot at our major league team.

    If none, you were probably going to be our All-Star representative. Assuming the league didn't take a look at our roster and change the rule requiring each team to have one rep.

    I released a man with the unlikely name of Jason Jason. Releasing him cost me money money. None of the rest had played long enough to have contracts that would require I buy their release.

    I looked for another bat. The best one out there belonged to 33 year old Jay Bruce, a rookie outfielder who had played one major league game, in 2015, in Atlanta. Back when they were the Raptors, after they were the Atlanta Peaches. This year they're the Georgia Peaches. Maybe if they keep changing their name, nobody will notice that they're not a good team? Sure, let's pretend. Bruce didn't do badly this spring for the White Sox. He made the team. Yeah, not my team.

    Justin Verlander was the ace of my staff. Actually he wasn't, but he's the only one with more than 100 career wins on my team. Bart Coade has almost 100 losses, if that helps. It doesn't.

    We're going to open with an eight game homestand. The Seattle Pilots, Minesota Twins, and Tampa Tarpons. Last year the Tarpons were in dead last in the AL East, and are thankful that we're here this year to cushion them. The Pilots were an American League Wild Card team. And the Twins went to the World Series. So at least it's a nice cross section of the competition we're going to face this year, I guess.

    ESPN came out with their predictions for the season. It's not pretty.

    Code:
    2021 AL (predicted) Standings:
    
    East
    
    Team            W   L   GB
    Toronto       100  62   --
    Baltimore      93  69    7
    New York       88  74   12
    Boston         74  88   26
    Tampa          74  88   26
    Brooklyn       29 133   71
    
    Central
    
    Detroit        99  63   --
    Minnesota      82  80   17
    Kansas City    82  80   17
    Chicago        77  85   22
    Cleveland      63  99   36
    
    West
    
    Seattle        95  67   --
    Houston        94  68    1
    Texas          94  68    1
    Oakland        77  85   18
    California     75  87   20
    
    
    2021 NL (predicted) Standings
    
    East
    
    Team            W   L   GB
    Miami         100  62   --
    New York       96  66    4
    Washington     89  73   11
    Georgia        85  77   15
    Philadelphia   79  83   21
    Massachusetts  38 123   61
    
    Central
    
    St. Louis      98  64   --
    Chicago        87  75   11
    Milwaukee      80  82   18
    Pittsburgh     78  84   20
    Cincinnati     57 105   41
    
    West
    
    Los Angeles   111  51   --
    Colorado       81  81   30
    San Diego      80  82   31
    Phoenix        74  88   37
    San Francisco  63  99   48
    * * *

    For the first time since October 1957, major league teams will play in Brooklyn. They will all be visiting on their way back to their own home towns, and as a toll to be allowed to leave they will have to play three or four meaningless games against Brooklyn's own decent double A team, whose name as of the time we went to press was the Barons. - ESPN The Magazine

    There is a very reasonable approach to building a team, that has worked countless times over the past hundred or more years of professional baseball. The four pillars of an expansion team are to sign the best young players you can find, draft well, invest heavily in development - and prepare to lose a lot of games for a long time. For the Brooklyn Barons, one out of four is very bad indeed. - Jan Tyler, Editor in Chief, Brooklynsports.com

    The Barons, we should face it, are going to be ugly this year. They're not going to win ugly - they're going to win rarely, and lose ugly. The only thing that won't be ugly with them is the very nice new ball park, and the first-rate uniforms. - Cal Mifflin, WJRO-TV Channel 8 Brooklyn Sports Director

    "Yeah, well, he's wrong about the uniforms." Jack Weston, upon seeing Mifflin's preseason report.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  4. #34
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Ashley, MI
    Posts
    1,873

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    As always good luck, go Tigers, looks like they got a solid squad this year, and hopefully 2025 comes quickly.

  5. #35
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    Aug 2010
    Location
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    jshaw: As you can see from the irregularity of my posts, 2025 might not arrive until 2040. Thanks as always.

    * * *

    March, 2021

    I looked at the predicted standings again. 29 wins, against 133 losses. That would be, according to Jan Tyler, tied for the fifth worst season in major league history. Tied with the 1972 Seattle Pilots - it should be noted that three of the teams higher on the list are the 1969, 1970, and 1971 Pilots. It's amazing that they stayed in Seattle at all.

    Nine fewer wins than Tom Slade in Boston - excuse me, Massachusetts.

    One odd thing came of the predictions - the rumors immediately began flying that Piotr Bezmenov, the local "legitimate businessman", has let it be known that he would like very much to see no change in support for the team "even though they're gonna stink on ice." Because, in what I've only just learned is an old Russian proverb, "the first pancake is a lump." I'm assuming he's referring to our first season - or maybe he's just got a firm idea of our team speed. In what I'm sure is a coincidence, three local unions immediately called our group sales office to get days at the park. It's good to have friends in all kinds of places, I guess.

    Mr. Nomen already made his response to the predictions. He said that he's more concerned with how the team is doing in 2022 and beyond. In other words, my team owner supported us by saying "wait 'til next year", in March of this year.

    But then, with a team like this, in an organization like this?

    The 2021 Brooklyn Barons

    Code:
    POS  Name                  BA  HR    OPS
    3B   Aaron Miller        .271   3   .744 (70 Major League at bats last year)
    2B   Jim Mussatti        .173   0   .446 (52 ML AB)
    CF   David Morgan        .239  15   .671
    1B   Matt Delahanty      .243  40   .815
    DH   Nick Markakis       .000   0   .000 (Out of baseball)
    C    Ryan Thelen         .250   0   .625 (8 ML AB)
    RF   James John          .286   0   .572 (7 ML AB)
    LF   Gustavo Amella      .500   0  1.000 (4 ML AB)
    SS   Andres Blanco       .325   1   .875 (77 ML AB)
    
    Bench
    POS  Name                  BA  HR    OPS
    C    Aaron Walsh         .000   0   .091 (10 ML AB)
    2B   Ienobu Kunimatsu    .000   0   .000 (Did Not Play)
    3B   Jody Montanye       .000   0   .000 (DNP)
    SS   Bruce Achuck        .000   0   .000 (Has never played at major league level - 29 years old)
    LF   Grant Goodall       .333   0  1.333 (3 ML AB)
    And those are the guys who made the team.

    * * *

    Our Minor Leagues, 2021

    Code:
    AAA Albany Senators
    
    SS   John Davis         (67/94)
    3B   Erik Gaspard       (66/66)
    1B   Daryl Tinker       (59/59)
    2B   Tony Scholl        (58/72)
    CF   Curt Mills         (57/63)
    C    Rob Lemons         (56/57)
    RF   Jamie Wynne        (56/56)
    LF   Tomas Baraz        (56/56)
    
    AA Elmira Eagles
    2B   Dilson Herrera     (62/62)
    1B   Aaron Tharrington  (58/58)
    CF   Oliver Segouia     (56/58)
    C    Daveed Vejarano    (56/56)
    SS   Jake Capers        (56/56)
    3B   Zachary Manahan    (54/55)
    
    A Yaphank Bears
    2B   Sean McKaskill     (57/57)
    CF   Juan Garofab       (56/95)
    
    Rookie Sloatsburg Stallions
    SS   Ken Yoshimura      (54/86)
    C    Brian McNatt       (54/55)
    Yes, really, Juan Garofab's potential is rated at 95, and John Davis' is 94. We were all shocked when we got the word from Scurry. "Bernard screwed up right for a change," being the exact word.

    * * *

    Our Opening Day Pitchers, 2021

    Code:
           Name             Win   Loss    ERA
    SP 1   Justin Verlander  10     12   4.79 
    SP 2   Mike Horon         0      0   0.00 (my number two starter - has never thrown a pitch at the major league level)
    SP 3   Chris Voigt        0      0   0.00 (has not thrown a pitch at the major league level since 2018)
    SP 4   Bart Coade         0      0   0.00 (has not thrown a pitch at the major league level since 2017)
    SP 5   Shane Rowde        0      0   0.00 (not since 2017)
    Closer Vinnie Treisman    2      5   2.45
    Setup  Sam Tibbett        0      0   0.00 (not since 2019)
    RP     Rod Shiflett       0      0   0.00 (never)
    RP     Sidney Curle       0      0   0.00 (2018)
    RP     Keith Minnus       0      0   0.00 (2018)
    RP     Ross Whiteside     0      0   0.00 (2019)
    One day, out of morbid curiosity, I asked the intern, Dara, or Dava, or whatever, to pull the stats on how many innings my entire staff threw in the majors last year. 281 1/3. 186 by Verlander, 95 1/3 by Treisman. So I asked her to tell me how many pitches were thrown by my entire staff in the majors last year. She refused to look. It was the most blessed insubordination I've ever dealt with.

    Our Minor Leagues, 2021

    Code:
    AAA Albany Senators
    
    SP  Jake Thompson       (64/64)
    SP  Tommy Cory          (62/62)
    SP  Neil Wilkinson      (61/77)
    SP  Jame Kett           (61/62)
    SP  Sandy Tucson        (59/59) (Pitched 2/3 of an inning in Milwaukee last year. Staff ace material.)
    RP  Anton Sprague       (59/59)
    
    AA Elmira Eagles
    SP  Tyler Mullens       (69/90)
    SP  Godfrey Player      (66/93)
    SP  Nathaniel Hunt      (65/92)
    SP  Max Chacon          (56/56)
    SP  Paul Spamer         (56/56)
    
    A Yaphank Bears
    SP  Greg Brimmer        (58/59)
    SP  Chad Gunner         (58/58)
    SP  Brent Macniven      (58/58)
    
    Rookie Sloatsburg Stallions
    SP  Ryan Wetherell      (56/56)
    So yeah, we're trying a radical experiment at Elmira. It's called "having three pitchers with actual potential in the same rotation." I expect it to catch on.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

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