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Thread: Brooklyn Blues

  1. #16
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    October, 2020

    I took a sip of water, settled in. "I feel like grandpa telling stories from the war," I said.

    The kid looked puzzled. "Didn't your grandpa Karl tell stories on the radio for years? Was he in the war?"

    And we all turned back to look at her, and not...quite...say anything. "Anyway, game seven was tight. It was in Wrigley, and we had Benson going. Their ace was Trey Moore, but he couldn't go for them. But somebody forgot to tell Jason Marquis that he wasn't the ace. They scored in the fifth - fourth? - no, fifth, and it was something like two singles and a groundout, just a scratch run. Other than that, Benson was fantastic. But so was Marquis."

    I looked at Lampere now. Every time I'd seen him in the two days I'd been here, he'd been sweating and flushed. Now he looked pale, as though there was a ghost behind me. I guess there was. I took another sip.

    "So we got to the bottom of the ninth. They brought in Damaso Marte, who had saved something like 40 or 50 games that year. And he was on his way to another one. He struck Baker out looking, then got Allen swinging. I managed to get some wood on it and sent it to left for a single. Then Marte uncorked a pitch that was so wild that even my slow ass made it down to second. So we still had two outs, but I was the tying run in scoring position." I looked around - I swear even the roaches had stopped and were listening now.

    "Skip brought in Rob Makowiak to pinch hit. He had some ankle problem or something, or he'd have been in the game the whole way. And it worked - took one, then sent the second pitch to right, good clean single behind the runner. Just what he was supposed to do. I took off for third, but everybody knew I was stopping there." That brought a very definite wince to Lampere's face, and in glancing around, I saw it echoed on Mal's and Frank's.

    "And then I looked to the coaches box, and there was Bill Kyser. And he was waving me around." The tension released for everybody who knew how it turned out. Which I guessed was everybody in the room.

    "Now, I was not a bad ballplayer. I could hit, I could hit for power, I had a good glove. I played first, so I didn't have to throw much, but when I had to I could do it. But one thing I was not, was fast. Sure, I was fast enough to easily make it to third. But home too, from second, on a routine single? But there it was. And suddenly I remembered - Juan Encarnacion was a good fielder out in right, but he had hurt his shoulder earlier in the year, and his arm still wasn't all the way back. There was a chance, that if he was watching the ball and not me, and if he didn't notice I was rounding third, and if he hurried his throw and it was a little slow, or a little off, then maybe we could surprise him."

    Just nods now, from everywhere.

    "So Kyser gave me the sign, and I took off with everything I had in me. I had no idea where the ball was, I just ran for the plate. Orlando Hudson, he was on deck, he was waving like a madman for me to slide, so I did." I stopped and took yet another drink. Then put it down, made no move to pick up the story. Both because I was teasing Dara, and because it really wasn't my favorite.

    Dara asked. "And then?" I swear, she sounded as though she thought this had a happy ending.

    "I caught my spike on something. Never did figure out what. Tore my leg apart at two or three places, just snapped it like a twig. My body hit Eli Marrero blocking the plate, but I wasn't in control of it by then. And he had the ball. I was out, and I couldn't even get up and walk off the field while the Oaks jumped around and partied on our field. I just had to lay there."

    The look on Lampere's face? I'd seen it before. At funerals. Dara was looking at my legs, apparently trying to figure out which one had broken. It was my left, for the record, and there was enough metal in it that I was delayed on commercial flights now. I figured I owed her the rest. "Hell of it is, to my dying day I'll say I would have been safe. Anyway, it took me over a year to heal properly. The Cubs were great about it, but when I got back to rehab games they'd moved on, and when I was a free agent, I found that the rest of the league had too. Of course Kyser had been 'allowed to resign' right after the Series. A year later, we were both out of baseball."

    I turned to face them all, trying to get everyone into my view at once. "And now we're both back. And we're both together. And we've both got something to prove to baseball, and we're by God going to prove it, and if anybody doesn't like it, then they had just better get out of our way right now. Understood?" I was talking to them all, but I was by that point looking at Mal. I kept up the look until I saw her nod silently. I had seen the others do the same already.

    "Mal," I said as I got up from the table, taking an apple from the fruit bowl, "Bill Kyser will be here tomorrow at 11 for a press conference where we'll announce him. At 1 he, you, Frank, Adam and I will be meeting to go over this roster and see if we can do anything about it. Good enough?"

    I hoped nobody noticed how much I was sweating.
    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. #17
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    October, 2020

    "What a goddam mess." Bill had said those same words at least three times in the past two minutes. Of course he was looking at the rosters. Mal laughed - after all, she'd lived with it longer than Bill and I had. Adam looked as though he wanted to be defensive, but even he couldn't defend this. Frank Scurry looked like he'd found something very interesting on the floor.

    "No argument there. Let's try something different. How about we look at what we've got that's good?" I knew the glass half full would annoy my manager.

    "Well aren't you just little Mary goddam Sunshine. You want me to find something good in this? Fine. We're going to get some damn good draft picks for the next five years."

    I thought I saw something on Adam's face. It was hard to tell, and I don't really know the man all that well, but I was pretty sure..."You have something to say, Adam?"

    "No! It's...no," he muttered the last. Now I was sure.

    "Adam. What was it that you were not going to say?"

    "Oh for God's sake, Adam, just tell him!" Mal said. "It's not like you have to protect him anymore."

    "Protect...who?" I asked, though again I thought I knew.

    "What in hell are you people talking about?" Kyser asked.

    "Adam?" I demanded, with a glare toward him. Really didn't want to see him shrink into himself the way he did.

    "Well, it's just that you said we were going to get good draft picks, and Mal knows that I know and she knew that that was exactly what Ray wanted to do," he whined. Everything on his face screamed "please don't make me talk any more."

    I turned and looked at Bill, ignoring Adam. "Terrific."

    For the first time since our initial meeting the day before, Bill looked almost happy. Then again, Bill was always most happy when he could be miserable. "So he figured he wasn't gonna get anybody worth having in the draft, and he might as well tank so he could get some top draft picks for the first five or six years. Probably was counting on being Nomen's buddy to keep him from getting fired until they were good."

    I nodded along. "Right, and by the time they were good, everybody would forget how bad they'd been when he started. Or if they remembered, he'd get all the credit for making them better. Actually not the dumbest plan I've ever heard," I had to admit.

    "Well it's easy for you to say all this, both of you!" Mal interjected. "You weren't here. You didn't see the list of players we could get, either in the minor league or the major league drafts. A sorrier bunch I've never seen in my life, and we were supposed to make a team out of them. It couldn't be done, and you couldn't have done any better."

    She was seething by this time. And I didn't figure I had time to play to her ego the way Grandpa Karl taught me. And to be honest, I didn't feel much like doing it anyway.

    Then Bill surprised me. "Let me guess. You three all knew how bad the choices were, and he made them all without consulting you much." She swiveled on him, as did Adam and to a lesser extent Frank, and I expected the outburst to come, but they all looked shocked.

    "How did you - ?" she asked.

    "And when you confronted him about it, he just said that if he made all the decisions by himself then none of you could get blamed for it when they were terrible. He was protecting his people, like a good manager should." Bill was quiet, not at all his usual gruff self. It was almost as though he was talking to a daughter.

    Said daughter was, in this case, just thinking. The room got very quiet. After almost thirty seconds, she looked at Bill, but spoke to me, in saying "Okay, you're right. He's good."

    Figuring we should leave this behind, I just said "Of course he is. I wouldn't have hired him otherwise. Or rounded third, for that matter." There was another pause, and another glare from her, as we all waited to reset the conversation. To be honest I'm coming to think that "glare" is her default facial expression. We have a name for that.

    I went first. "Okay, so we're bad at pretty much all positions. Our Gardner Scale ratings - wait. Frank? Do our scouts use the Gardner Scale from 1 - 100, or the 20 - 80 scale?"

    "Gardner. I think it allows more detail and nuance in the reports."

    I nodded. "Current and peak ratings, or just the peak?"

    He replied "Both. Every player gets two numbers - where we think he is on a scale of 1 - 100, and where we think he might get to some day."

    More nods. My neck was beginning to get sore. "Major league average at 75?" This time it was all three of them who nodded.

    "Okay," I said. "Then as nearly as I can tell, we're good at right field. Nolan Mowett is 79/79, and James John is 75/75. That's the only position where we have two players at or above the major league average."

    "You're going to trade one of them, aren't you?"
    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. #18
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    October, 2020

    "You're going to trade one of them, aren't you?"

    "If I can," I agreed with Bill.

    "Why?" asked Adam. He was still whining, but it wasn't quite as bad as before. "Why not just put Mowett as the DH, or move John to left? We don't have anybody there either."

    "That's quite true. Gustavo Amella in left is terrible, barely a 67/67. But he's popular in New York, and I'm hoping that playing him will help us to fill the seats. That's why Andres Blanco is playing short for us too." That was my reasoning, anyway. But I expected to be challenged on it.

    And there was Mal, proving I could count on her. "The fact that Amella, and to a lesser extent Blanco, both were playing in the Giants' farm system when you were working your way up it in the front office doesn't enter into it, right? Come on, Jack, nobody's going to believe that!"

    "And yet, it's true."

    "Settle down, you two," Bill interjected. "I wouldn't mind keeping all of them. You know, I do have to have somebody to stand out on the field during the season, right?"

    "Grant Goodall is 66/66, only one point below Amella, and we both know when my scouts are one point off on their ratings they mean they really don't know. Plus he came from the Yankees, so he's got a fan base in New York too," Frank said. I could see that he was going to be my voice of reasonableness. We'd have to see how that went. Still, I did give him a point for admitting that some of the precise numbers of our business were bull.

    "I understand, but the Yankees are in our division, where the Giants are not. Plus, the Yankees are New York, while even though the Giants are called New York, they're on the Island with us."

    A brief pause, before Mal said "What in hell does that have to do with anything?"

    "Anything on the field? Nothing at all. Anything in our marketing? Plenty. The Yankees are our natural rival, in a way the Giants just aren't. Jill and her people are going to push that hard. We're going to have both Andres and Gustavo, and any other Giants we get, as practically the big brother helping out little brother against the neighborhood bully. The bully, of course, being the Yankees."

    There was a brief pause as they all chewed that over. Slowly, beginning with Bill, I saw nods. Good enough for me.

    Good enough for Frank, too. "Well, probably our best position player is Brian Desimone at third. 24 years old, rated 78/79."

    "Right," I said. "And making $15 million this year, and asking for at least $16 million next year. We can't afford him. He's trade bait."

    "You gonna put on a uniform yourself and take the field, boy? 'Cause I don't see anybody else who can play third worth a damn in the whole organization."

    I kept my face completely serious. "No, first was my position. And look, Tharrington is 58/58 and Tinker is 59/59 over there. I figure I'll start working out after the Winter Meetings." Everybody looked at me as though they couldn't figure out how to get the straightjacket on me. "I'm kidding, people."

    "I wasn't sure," Bill said. The others agreed.

    "Come on, I'm 41 years old and haven't played in the majors in thirteen years. I'm not going to put myself on the roster, all right?" They agreed, but they didn't look like they were sure I meant it.

    "No," I changed the subject, "we can't afford Desimone."

    "But we can," Mal said. This time she wasn't angry, she was more confused. "Our payroll is," she called up another doc on her pad, "27th out of 32 teams in the league. And several of the teams below us are probably going to pass us when we get to Free Agency. Even the most pessimistic estimates say we've got several millions more in salary room. Why not keep him?"

    "Mostly?" I replied. "Because he played in 22 games last year, and spent more time in the minors than the majors. And while that's fine for a young player, and terrific for our squad, it's not enough for one I'm going to spend 15 million dollars on. We can do better for our money. Hell, we can put it in the bank and wait until we have somebody worth paying that much for."

    I could see that they didn't completely agree with me, but could at least understand. I decided that this was the time to put it out there. "You don't like this, do you?" I asked the room in general. Nobody was willing to say anything, one way or another. "That's okay. Now let me tell you something one of my old coaches used to tell us. The great thing about being the boss is that you don't have to listen to people's advice just because you asked for it."

    Mal looked angry. Frank looked doubtful. Bill looked bored. Oddly, Adam looked happy. I gave him a look that I hoped said "Do you want to explain what you're thinking?" And he did.

    "That was from Star Trek. Captain Kirk. 'One of the advantages of being Captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it,' he quoted.

    "Sure," I agreed.

    He wasn't stopping. "Dagger of the Mind. Episode nine, in the first season. Costarring - " I cut him off.

    "Well, I'll listen to advice from anybody in this room. But it doesn't mean I'm going to follow it. Desimone goes." I stared at each of them. Bill looked as though he couldn't have cared less. Adam was still excited to get to quote Star Trek. It was mostly intended for Mal and Frank anyway. And one by one, Frank first, they agreed.

    "Good. Because you're really going to hate what I do with the only good relief pitcher we have in the whole organization."
    Last edited by birdsin89; 05-27-2020 at 10:55 AM.
    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. #19
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    October, 2020

    "No!" Mal cried. "Guerreb was the one good thing that fell to us in any of the drafts. You can't!"

    It was all I could do not to stand up and go nose to nose with her. I managed not to, but it was close. "Like hell I can't. I can, and I will."

    "Just to prove that you're in charge now and not Ray Bernard! Just to prove - "

    "Stop." I said it quietly. Well, I thought it was quiet. "Mal, I thought we just finished up on how I feel about taking advice. If you would like to listen to me, I am sure I can explain myself to you." Then I glared back at her. "I don't have to explain myself to you, but I will. If you don't like it, you know where the door is."

    "If you haven't traded it for a two by four to be named later," she said. I had to admit, it wasn't bad, so I laughed.

    Then I started talking, from memory, because I'd thought this was going to happen and wanted everyone to know that I knew what I was talking about. "Jose Guerreb is 23 years old. He just finished his fifth season, all with the San Francisco Earthquakes. He has 171 saves in that time, and that's against only blowing 13. Opposing batters have a .172 average against him. His earned run averages each year have been 1.29, 2.70, 2.60, 1.72, and 0.67, and his total is 1.88. Frank's scouts have him rated at 95/96, which is a Hall of Fame rating, and I don't doubt it for a second."

    I looked around, saw that they were with me so far. Mal had even quietly sat down. I didn't know her well, but even I could read the look on her face. It said "With all this being the case, why are we even considering dealing him?" What the hell, it beat the look on her face saying "You're an idiot." And so I answered. "And he's currently making only ten million, but this is his contract year. His agent wants 27 million per year to even talk to me, and it will go up from there. He does not have anywhere near the endurance to convert to being a starter. The sad and simple fact is that what we need now, he isn't."

    "It's not like we're going to need a closer for the first couple of years. We may not have any save situations for him to come in for," Bill said.

    "Very true. And aside from that, once the World Series is over, I can get actual value for him. Value that I can't get for the other marginal players we have. Or even for Brian Desimone."

    There was a pause. Then the best sound I'd heard yet. "Do you want major league ready prospects, or a couple of years down the road?" she asked.

    "If we do this right, we'll be able to keep all our actual prospects in the minors for a year or two to give them time to develop."

    "That shouldn't be too hard," Frank said. "Trade Guerreb right, you can get a whole team full of scrubs to take a beating for the next couple of years."

    "You're going to make me the dumbest son of a ***** who ever managed, aren't you?"

    "What do you mean, Bill?" Mal asked. I noticed that it was the first time she'd used his first name.

    "There was a manager a long time ago who told his players that he was going to be the smartest man to ever manage a team, because they were so good that his job was going to be easy." He pointed to me. "This boy is trying to make me the dumbest."

    The meeting went on long past quitting time.

    * * *

    The Stars bested the Twins in game seven, taking us almost into November. I hear it was a good World Series. Couldn't tell you. I was busy.

    California Angels get: 3B Brian Desimone (78/79), RF Nolan Mowett (79/79), SS Max Acuoa (58/58), SS Todd Raube (56/56)
    Brooklyn Barons get: C Ryan Thelen (75/82), SS Ken Yoshimura (56/87)

    This was not my first phone call. This was not even in my first dozen. And the original deal didn't have Nolan Mowett in it. But between clearing salary space with Desimone, and getting a starting catcher and a future shortstop, I felt pretty good about it. Thelen is 24, Yoshimura 21. They may be here after I'm gone. Then again, I may be gone next week.

    I still had the big deal to make, and was getting no shortage of inquiries about Guerreb. For a guy who was never going to wear a Barons uniform, the Barons were hearing a lot about him.

    But the most important email I had in my inbox was from Mr. Nomen. He apparently writes emails as though he's paying by the word, but I could live with it when it was basically telling me to spend money. "Free agency starts today. Make a splash for the team." Couldn't argue with that. Until I went a bit further up my in box, and found his reply to his own email. "But don't break the bank." Which pretty much put me back where I'd been expecting to be - not buying former Phoenix Rattlers first baseman Jamie Kane (93/93) for $25 million. Or any of the other top free agents.

    I kept looking at the roster. It kept not getting better. And especialy in my infield. I was going to have a lot of players to be named later. Apparently Ray Bernard had thought that you could never have too many bad-hitting, not-much-better-fielding middle infielders. As my first trade indicates, I did not subscribe to this point of view.

    On the other hand, I went out and added less than 2 million to this year's payroll, and hopefully bought myself a starting rotation. In 2025.

    Signed:

    - SP Mike Horon (79/92): 22 years old, left handed starter. One year, $900k, plus option years. Not sure why he was sitting out there, and don't care.
    - SP Tyler Mullens (68/92): 20 years old, left handed, probably could start, currently a long reliever. $500k, should be six years. Not my fault if he decided to negotiate for himself. Was playing in Puerto Rico and the Dominican this past year, as was Horon.
    - SP Nathaniel Hunt (66/92): 21 years old, righty, starter. Fastball needs a little work, comes in around 91 or so, but he's got a decent curve and gets ground balls over 40% of the time. Four years, $400k.

    And the one about whom I should feel the most guilt, and somehow don't.

    - SP Godfrey Player (65/91): Another 21 year old, right handed, middle reliever who can be stretched. And we've got ten years to do it, for only $500k per year. Couldn't believe it when his agent said ten years, and didn't much care.

    So that's four, all kicking around in the Dominican and Puerto Rico. I surely hope our scout there is a good one. I suspect he's not. Because I can't imagine four players with potential like that all sitting in international ball and not already on somebody's roster. So I can either assume that 31 other GMs are too dumb to see what I see, or that one scout is too dumb to see what they see. I know which is more likely. I had had a meeting with Scurry just for that purpose, and told him to get to work on making our scouts the best in the game. It makes no sense to have the money to spend on a deal and have to guess who's good among who's available.

    I'd also met with Adam Talbot one on one to talk about our minor league system. And then personally went over every coach he had hired, planned to hire, or was committed to. Then we went hunting for better ones. My major league team is going to play like a minor league team, but my minor league teams should be coached like major league teams. They should be the best.

    If only I can get rid of the crap on their rosters.
    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

  5. #20
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    October, 2021

    Emma left the conference room, her lips pursed in frustration. The meeting had gone far longer than she had expected - and even further longer than it had any reason to go. There was very little that frustrated her more than pointless meetings. Perhaps local news. And people who voluntarily voted away their freedoms. Also those who explained things to her that she already knew. Oh, and people who assumed that because of her looks she couldn't do her job well. People who misused the word "irony." Or "literally." The Department of Motor Vehicles. The concept of a Department of Motor Vehicles, and in fact the concept of a state presuming to license an activity freely engaged in by its citizens. Most churches. Seth Myers. Social media. And -

    Pointless meetings were definitely in the top ten things that frustrated her. Or at least the top fifteen.

    As meetings go, this one hadn't really been as bad as most. It should have required ten minutes for her to explain to Kelly Halliwell, the Director of Facilities, and Loretta Jefferson, the Director of Stadium Maintenance, just how much she needed some of those security features she's presented oh-so-respectfully to them. She knew she wasn't going to get the camera coverage on every square foot of the park, the way Ray Bernard had wanted. She also knew she wasn't going to get the 100% lack of camera coverage, the way her freedom-loving soul wanted. She thought she had worked out a decent compromise. She'd also compromised on the full scale jail and Common Pleas Court she'd originally wanted, and the NYPD sub-station was right out. But she thought she should be able to get some things to make her security staff's job easier.

    Then she was reminded of why she should never compromise. Started the meeting with all that she had ever wanted. Kelly argued how it was all impossible, every square foot of stadium space was accounted for, it couldn't happen. Loretta...Emma wasn't sure what Loretta had said. She never was. Even when the sounds that Loretta made could be distinguished as speech, they rarely made sense. It had taken about twenty minutes between the two of them to wind down their objections.

    So Emma had tried again. This time, with a bit of a concession to the other two. Who hadn't budged (she thought - Loretta might have, but who would know?)

    None of this was overly difficult for Emma. She hadn't expected the first two offers to be accepted anyway. Not for the first time she wished that Ray Bernard had hired more men. At least for the jobs that would force them to interact with her. Men were so much easier. Most of the time. But he hadn't, and here she was. So she made the third offer, the one that she took seriously. And then found out that Kelly and Loretta were suspicious. "Why would you give in to us? You must be hiding something. I don't believe it." "Yeah, I can't suspell my disbelievement" (or something like that).

    It took a little over an hour. She didn't even get all that she had really wanted. This was not the way her day was supposed to go. But at least she was mostly done, and could go sit in the office and not think about it.

    On the way she saw Weston. Sneaking out one of the side doors, heading down into the stadium proper. She was very good at her job - she knew "sneaking" when she saw it.

    There was only one proper response to sneaking. It wasn't to leave alone the person doing the sneaking.

    She followed him through the vast, empty main concession area. Empty of people, but also empty of taps, and refrigerators, and ovens, and everything else that would make it a concession area. They'd all be in...some time. Over the next few months. Despite her earlier headaches from Kelly, she felt sorry for her in her dealings with the delivery people. Nobody was quite sure why, but all items that had been ordered well in advance had then been shipped back before arrival, to be replaced at some indeterminate point by the exact same items, but sold by nobody-quite-knew-who.

    Emma had it on her list of things to investigate. Or rather, she had had it there, until Mr. Nomen himself had made one of his relatively rare appearances and told her not to worry about it. He'd put his best people on it. She didn't know who Nomen's people were, but she was existentially certain that his best people weren't as good as she was. Then again, she was sure about that in regard to almost anyone in the world.

    Shaking off her thoughts, she continued to follow Weston. If anything, his sneakiness had gotten more pronounced as he went into areas where, if caught, he would have no reasonable explanation for being there. "Which is silly," she thought. "He's the GM. He can be anywhere in the place and nobody will complain." Which meant...what, exactly.

    Eventually she came out of the door he had left. And found that he was getting into a beat-up sports car. She wasn't a car person, and didn't know what kind it was, other than that it looked expensive, and somewhat old. She couldn't tell if it was his or he had borrowed it, and realized that she didn't know if he owned a car. This bothered her more for her lapse in knowledge than anything else.

    She also couldn't follow him any more. If she'd seen him driving off normally, if he'd parked in the employee lot and not in the construction lot where he was, if he hadn't been sneaking, she'd have never thought anything of it. She'd have catalogued the information in her "could be useful someday" file, but not really have thought about it. But he was definitely sneaking.

    And she wanted to know why.
    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

  6. #21
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    I feel a little presence of the ghost of Charlie "cheapskate" Aaron. I say that with much love.

  7. #22
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    jshaw: And it is received in that spirit. Plus, I agree, it took me a little while to feel that I'm "getting" the characters, particularly Jack, and the ways in which he isn't Charlie. If I was revising these instead of basically posting as is, I'd be going back to the first twenty or so and making some changes. But his baseball strategy is Charlie's is mine, so that (as you'll see today) isn't likely to change. Hopefully you (and I say you because I kind of suspect that you're the only one reading this ) will begin to see Jack's character take shape in the future. And thanks as always for checking in!

    * * *

    November, 2020

    Mr. Nomen wanted to know why I didn't have a couple of expensive free agents on the roster after the first day of free agency.

    Cal Mifflin, the so-called "Dean of Brooklyn Sports" on WJRO-TV Channel 8 Brooklyn ("The Station That Serves Brooklyn First"), wanted to know why I didn't have a couple of expensive free agents on the roster after the first day of free agency.

    The rest of the local sports media wanted to know why I didn't have a couple of expensive free agents on the roster after the first day of free agency.

    My dad wanted to know why I didn't have a couple of expensive free agents on the roster after the first day of free agency.

    Ranked in terms of obnoxiousness, I'd go with my dad as the worst, then Mifflin, the general media, and Mr. Nomen. He just seemed kind of clueless about how to run a team. Which I would have said explains why he hired his secretary to run the team, but then, he later hired me.

    Truth was, I had no plans to take a team that might, at this point, win 45 games at a payroll cost of a million dollars a game, and make it a team that might win 60 at a cost of two or three million dollars a game. Which doesn't sound so bad that way, but rephrase it as 'I'm not going from a $45 million payroll to a $120 million or more payroll' and you begin to get the point. At least, Mr. Nomen did. I basically told him that I would spend this year and next to build a solid foundation, so that when the good players got here, they had something to support them. I may have used "I will build it, and they will come".

    The other truth was even simpler, and it's one that the sports blowhard seemed to accept. Nobody else had signed big free agents on the first day either. Detroit had picked up a teammate of some of my new kids when they were down in the Dominican. The other new team, the Massachusetts Resistance, had signed Oscar Serrata, a 28 year old never-would-be who had exactly one thing going for him - a pitching endurance rating of 94/100.

    An innings eater, in other words. I wondered what Tom was thinking.

    Oh yes. Tom. The general manager of the Resistance. A man who I'd known personally for almost twenty years, since that brief time when I'd played on his team. His World Champion team, the only ring I had. The only one he had as well, though he'd played a lot longer.

    Long enough to hit 745 home runs. And long enough to be caught using steroids, and kicked out of the game in disgrace. Barred from the Hall of Fame forever. But somehow not banned from being hired as the general manager of an expansion team.

    The basic information sheet tells one part of the story. Drafted out of the Universty of Arkansas with the 81st overall pick in the 1982 draft by the Los Angeles Stars. A very short stay in the minors, and then Rookie of the Year 1986. Ten time All Star. Four time MVP, in the mid to late 90s.

    And, of course, it all came back to the steroids. As it must, forever, with Tom.

    Tom Slade right now is 58 years old. He stands 6' 1", about the same as me. Still at playing weight of about 180, which I am most decidedly not. (To be fair, my playing weight had always been closer to 225, so my current 240 isn't that far off. Or so I tell myself every morning.) Slade had action hero looks to go with his action hero name. When I'd been basically a rookie on that 2001 champion team, he was 37 and looked like he should be leading a charge into enemy fire. He used that when it came time to motivate, especially in that Series. We should NOT have beaten the Orioles that year. But Slade wanted that ring, and he knew what buttons to push to get us to play beyond ourselves. And it worked.

    Then the scandal. Being named in Senator Aaron's report. The shunning by baseball. And he'd disappeared from everybody's radar for more than a decade. Until the day the Massachusetts Resistance were announced as the National League addition, the same day the Barons came into existence. Resistance owner Wellington Northcutt had brought Slade out on stage right there at the winter meetings, announced him as his new GM, and literally dared anyone to say anything. "You've mistreated this fine man long enough. Unfortunately for you, you did it incompetently. My attorneys have assured me that you badly worded his ban from baseball. Mr. Slade is completely and totally eligible to have any role he can get hired for in the front office of any team who will hire him. As of today, that team is mine. And those attorneys welcome any challenges you may have."

    The thing is, Wellington Northcutt could get away with that, at least in Massachusetts. He was one of those peculiar men who owned more money than God and could use it to make advertisements decrying how all rich people are something that he himself is not, and people either didn't see or ignored the conflict. And for his time owning a team all he had to do was convince the mob that he was on their side and sticking it to The Man, and they would love him all the more. As well as they would love anyone he told them to, which meant they adopted Slade as one of their own.

    This amused me, because I knew that Tom Slade would disagree with everyting Northcutt stood for in just about any way possible. Apparently he'd learned to stay very, very quiet when necessary.

    And to be honest, he did know baseball.

    Then again, so did I. Maybe not much else, but baseball. I still had Guerreb to deal, after all. I could do this.

    Until two days later, when Slade signed Chuck Trinkle, a 15 game winner or more for the past four years, for $28 million. "With this deal, we announce to the world that the Massachusetts Resistance are here, and do not intend to be anybody's doormat," Slade said at the presser.

    Well, crap.
    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

  8. #23
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Ashley, MI
    Posts
    1,872

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    I might be the only one reading, I'm not sure but I am loving this story so far. So you have one fan

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