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Thread: Brooklyn Blues

  1. #46
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    I paused just inside the door, letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. It took a while - just when I thought it was going to work, I'd look over to the small stage that for some reason was lit up, even though the band was nowhere to be found. And I'd be blind again.

    Eventually, I got to where I could look to the other end of the bar. He was already there. Of course.

    I slid onto the stool next to him. "Tom," I said. Then I waved to the blonde bartender who probably thought she was fat, and was so, so very wrong about that. When I had her attention, I said, "Maker's Mark, neat." Tom and I sat next to each other in silence, him nursing his drink, me waiting for mine.

    After a few moments, the bartender placed my drink in front of me. I started to hand her money, but she waved it off, saying "I'll start a tab."

    I'd become at least a semi-regular.

    I sipped my drink, savoring the taste, and not for the first time wishing I wouldn't get ridden quite so hard if I'd ordered some water in it. But Tom wasn't likely to let it slide.

    "How did you ever find this place?" I asked him as we drank.

    "Google," he replied, his gruff baritone making the single word sound like an insult. Or maybe it was just that I had known Tom for twenty years, and believed that he really was insulting me. "Plainville is almost exactly half way between Brooklyn and Boston. Tangles is the best bar in Plainville. So here we are. Drink up, I'm one ahead of you."

    While I sipped, I turned to look at the man next to me. Still about 6' 1", his hair now turned to iron gray, so that it finally matched his eyes. Tanned far more than a resident of Boston should be in April, though I was sure he traveled back to his home in Los Angeles as often as he could. Wiry muscles everywhere, and a rugged face that worked magic on the ladies.

    Seriously, I'd seen him do it, back in our playing days long ago and far away. He would just look at them, and it would make panties drop faster than a vodka punch at a freshman mixer. I'd asked one of them about it, the next morning. "I don't know," was all she could say. "It's like he looks at you, and his eyes are saying 'We both know I can have you whenever I want to, so how about we stop pretending.' And then, he does."

    All my eyes ever seemed to say was 'Give me glasses, I can't read the small print any more.'

    "So how's the team going?" Tom Slade asked me.

    "Actually?" I replied. "We lost to the Blue Jays, 5 - 0. We lost to the Blue Jays, 11 - 3."

    "Did you expect anything else?"

    "Ah, but in between those two. It wasn't pretty. We got a 5 - 1 lead and barely hung on. But we did, in fact, hang on. Toronto is 12 - 4, and one of those four losses was to us. Lowly little us."

    Tom tossed back the rest of his...whatever it was. Something manly, I'm sure. "Well, you're beating us, that's for sure. That bunch of losers I've got in Boston has managed three wins, and one of them was lucky."

    "what do you mean?"

    "A 1 - 0 game is lucky, no matter who wins it. Orlando Marston got hold of one when we were in Chicago, the wind was blowing out, and it was enough. Otherwise, if you ain't the Brewers, we can't beat you."

    I wanted to sympathize with him. But I really couldn't. The worse his team was, the worse mine could be with me keeping my job. And it didn't go the other way - we'd established early in our clandestine meetings that his team owner, Northcutt, wasn't doing anything as stupid as the little challenge my owner had set for me. Tom had his job, and he had it for at least a couple of years.

    Northcutt was probably afraid that if he fired him, Slade would steal his wife. He may have been right. Tom's morals had changed since his divorce. Or was it his second divorce? Then again...

    "How about your attendance?" I asked, hoping for a subject change. But this was the wrong question.

    "We're averaging about 30k. And we've played the Giants and Marlins at home, so you can't say that nobody wants to come see bad teams. You?"

    "We're doing pretty good. Better than that, even." Actually, all three games had sold out. I think that's the part that I'm having the hardest time accepting. That we're 7 - 8, and appear to be flirting with respectability for a few moments? I can accept, I shouldn't lie. I can't quite accept that either. I fully expected us to be no better than 5 - 10 by this point, and if you'd told me we'd be 0 - 15 I'd have been disappointed, but not surprised at all. 7-8 is better than Tampa and Boston.

    And it's four games better than Tom.

    Tom ordered another. I'm sure it was purely my imagination that she served him faster than she had me. And with a more hopeful look on her face. "The bottom half of my rotation and three quarters of my bullpen are in their contract year, and on a good day they're not worth one contract between them all. The top two in my rotation are set, but they're also over the hill and over 20 million a year."

    "Bull, Tom." His eyebrows both rose, as they always did when I contradicted him. I didn't do it much, but most people didn't do it at all. This was how I knew we were friends. "Your staff ERA is 3.6. Mine's over 6. I'd kill to have the pitching problems you have."

    "I didn't say I had pitching problems, kid. I said I had contract problems with my pitchers."

    "Fair enough," I said as I sipped again. "No, your problem is that your team batting average is a buck eighty-eight. Makes my .226 look like the second coming of the '27 Murderer's Row." I took another sip, this one larger. "Besides, I've got contract problems of my own."

    "Do tell."

    "How about this? The one player I got who was supposed to be decent, the one guy who is relatively young and might be able to hit the ball? Matt Delahanty?"

    "Ah yes, how is the Hammerin' Hawaiian?"

    If I looked sour at the mention of Delahanty's nickname, there's a reason. "Still Hawaiian, but he ain't hammerin'" I said. "He hit 103 homers over the past two years. Know how many he has now? 2. One. Two. And an average of .115."

    "Sh1t, that's not an average, that's what a drunk girl tells you she weighs at closing time." I wasn't exactly sure how to respond to that, but a nod seemed safest. I did look around to see if the bartender had heard. She had not.

    "Tell me about it. Not only that, I'm hearing clubhouse rumors that he's pissed that he got traded from the champ to the basement. But his agent is starting to call me about renegotiating. He's up for arbitration this year, making 840, and he wants to go over 4 mil."

    "Sign him. That's cheap, you sign him long term, and he's there when he gets out of the slump."

    "I know that," I said impatiently. "But what if he's clubhouse poison? And more immediately, what if he doesn't get out of the slump?"

    "Then you're still not out much. Unless you're dumb enough to give him a no trade deal." He took another drink, and saw my look. "You didn't?"

    "No, I didn't. And he's not here long enough to have actually earned one. But he's got it in his head that he's getting one. I think our team press releases when we got him are going to his head."

    "Yeah, well, boo hoo hoo. I'd kill to have him. At least your first baseman has potential. I've got a 33 year old career minor leaguer who's just barely over half the Mendoza line. So don't tell me how bad you've got it. Why..."

    As they tend to, the conversation went into the night. It was good to have someone who understood. It was worth the two hour drive back to Brooklyn. I left around 11. Tom was staying, and almost certainly going home with the bartender.

    And my team had still won more than twice as many as his had.
    Last edited by birdsin89; 12-06-2020 at 08:28 PM.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  2. #47
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    Barons Travel and Bring Their Fans With Them

    By Jan Tyler

    April 19, 2021 - New York

    The Brooklyn Barons made their first trip up the D line to Yankee Stadium today, and were wondering if their fans would follow. Or if there would be any room for them. They found that the answer to both questions was yes. While no official statistics can be kept of how many of the sellout 52,325 crowd were Brooklynites, there was certainly far more purple in the crowd than could otherwise be accounted for.

    What Baron fans did make the trip went home happy, as they saw their team even its record to 8 - 8 with a 2 - 1 win in the Bronx. Justin Verlander pitched seven innings, allowing five hits and one home run to Yankee cleanup man John Threatt, his third of the season. Nick Markakis homered in the third after David Morgan was hit to open the inning, and those two runs were all Verlander would need. Sam Tibbett and Vinnie Treisman came on in the 8th and 9th respectively to close out the game.

    * * *

    That was the good part of that series. The rest wasn't terrible, but it still added two losses to our record. We're 8 - 10.

    And apparently, while Matt Delahanty is driving me crazy with his demands for a new contract ahead of arbitration, while not hitting worth a darn, he's not the only one in the league who thinks he's going to turn it around. Over the past three days, I've been contacted by GMs Bobby Diamundo out in California, Alex Cox in Georgia, and Tim Lubaski in San Diego. They all want to make me an offer for Matt.

    None of them want to make me a particularly good offer for him, but I'll take what I can get.

    I wasn't off the phone with Lubaski more than ten minutes when it rang again. "Daniel Aaron for you from Baltimore," Colt said. He's getting much better to work with lately. He hasn't assured me that he won't have sex with me in nearly a week. I'm starting to wonder if I've done something wrong.

    "Jack!" Daniel boomed over the phone. "I've got something I'd like to talk to you about. Great game in New York the other day, by the way."

    "Thank you Daniel," I said, much more quietly. I recognized the tone he was using by now. I'm about to get offered nothing for something. Which doesn't really bother me, I just hope that some day I get to the point where I can offer somebody else nothing for something.

    Well, I suppose I could right now. I've certainly got nothing to offer.

    "So, Jack, I was looking at your first base situation. I think I can help you. Two words - Alberto Alverio." He paused, waiting for me to jump up and down and scream with joy, I supposed.

    And Alverio would be a fine addition to our team. 28, batting .276, an excellent glove man at first, and with a surprising amount of speed. I was at least interested. "What do you want for him?" I asked.

    "Just your failed experiment at first, a benchwarming third baseman, and a minor league infielder. And probably some cash, but you're raking it in up there in Brooklyn, aren't you? I've seen the attendance figures."

    I thought about it. Delahanty is a year younger than Alverio. His past indicates a much higher ceiling for him, though Frank Scurry's group currently disagrees. While I'd probably have to pay him much more next year, at least this year I had him for next to nothing. The only third baseman on my bench was Jody Montanye, who would probably cost me more cash to get rid of him than if I kept him out of the deal, but as Bill Kyser is fond of reminding me, somebody has to take the field. And the minor leaguer was probably the real key to the deal anyway.

    "Who in the minors, Daniel?"

    "Well, in my experience, the minor leaguer is never the sticking point on any of these deals. That's why they're usually called players to be named later, right?" Very happy, very friendly...and very much about to stick the knife in and expect me to thank him for it.

    "Who is it, Dan?" I repeated.

    "John Davis. So does this mean you're interested?"

    John Davis is my shortstop in Albany. He probably should be down a level or two, but in my system, I had to give Albany something, and he was it. He's only batting .240 there. But Frank's people have him rated at 65/94. He's among the best prospects in my system. He's among the only prospects in my system.

    "Have a nice day, Daniel."

    The team was about to start their game in Toronto. I wasn't expecting much, but just another win out of the three game set would be okay.

    To my surprise and delight, three days later we'd won two of three. 9-6 on the first day, and 5-1 on the last. Got blown out 13 - 3 in between.

    And I had five more inquiries about Matt Delahanty.

    Guess I'm going to have to talk to him when he gets home.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  3. #48
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    The team is home from Toronto. As I said, they actually won two out of three. I'd be happy to be known as the Blue Jay killer for this season. I've seen stuff like this happen. A team that can't beat an egg, but put them up against the best team in the league and they win two thirds of the time or more. I'd be okay with that.

    Hell, I'd be thrilled with that.

    On the other hand, right now? We're 10 - 11. No, that's not what a real, playoff-bound team should be. Which is not to say that I haven't seen teams start like this, get hot, and win it all.

    But we're not going to get hot. This is hot for us. Lukewarm is our hot.

    So we're at the start of an eight game homestand. Four against the very very good Tigers (currently 15 - 8), and four against the very not good Indians (7 - 15). In the middle of the Indians series, we'll round out the month. And I'll have my scheduled monthly status meeting with Frank, and Mal. And Adam, who we put back in charge of the minor leagues, but took most of his power and gave it to Frank. It was a great compromise - except for Frank, who hates it. And Mal, who I think resents that I didn't give that power to her, and also doesn't like the way I'm treating Adam.

    Adam loves it. He should, he basically has a high paying job, with no real duties.

    Oh, and the meeting will also include Bill, of course. Bill has been a bit of a pain in the butt. I get it, he's managing a not-very-good team (which is so much better than I was expecting them to be a month ago). Connie Mack finished his career with a sub-.500 winning percentage as a manager, and he's in the Hall of Fame. Bill is headed far away from the Hall of Fame. He looks like he's heading for a rubber room, to be honest.

    Never easy, is it?

    * * *

    "You wanted to see me, ma'am?"

    Mal sat in her darkened office and continued to look at the laptop screen on her desk. These were good laptops the team had given everyone, she thought. Good NomenTech laptops. Fast, sleek, aesthetically pleasing. Yep, very nice laptops.

    Anything to avoid looking at the man in the doorway. Who was, she knew, also fast, sleek, and aesthetically pleasing.

    "Mal?" the man repeated. Steeling herself, she looked up. Silhouetted in the doorway, she momentarily thought she'd been wrong, and it was only Jack Weston.

    Then her eyes focused, and she saw that it was Pete. Pete Thomas. His 6'1", 225 pound frame filled the doorway nicely. (She'd looked him up in the Tigers' media guide. Not that she didn't remember that body very well. Some nights, entirely too well.)

    "Pete," she said as neutrally as she could. "Glad to see you're back up with the big club again.

    "Well, mostly," he said easily, as he slid into one of her visitor seats. It was now only by the glow of her computer screen that she could see him. Or that he could see her, she thought, and cursed herself for hoping that it might soften any stray lines she'd picked up since they were last...together.

    "The team's probably got one more good year before they start dumping veterans, so I made a big push to get another chance to show what I could do." She knew that he was right about that - several Tigers' bench players were ready to make the move to starting every day - whereas Pete was a starter four years ago, and mostly in the minors since.

    She looked at him again. She knew that Pete was 30, which was...younger than she was. By half a decade and then some. And oh, my, he was looking good. Ten year old, familiar feelings started coming up again.

    "And we're both up in the bigs now. You seem to be doing pretty good for yourself," he went on. "Though they might want to spring for some lights for your office." She gave the joke a small chuckle, though inwardly she was pleased. In the old days, Pete's humor tended to reach only as high as a Dutch Oven, or the occasional "pull my finger."

    And, inevitably, the Dutch Oven thoughts led to more pleasant memories of being in his bed. Which led to...

    "Do you see Henderson any more?" he asked, and she was surprised for the second time in as many moments.

    "He's retired now, lives back in Reno. I'll tell him you asked after him," she said. Then, knowing she'd have to ask sooner or later, "How's Kelly?"

    Pete stared blankly at her. "Kelly?" he asked.

    "Kelly. You know, the team owner's daughter, who you left me for?" She heard herself sounding much more sharp than she'd intended it to come out.

    "Oh. Kelly, my girlfriend, who you tried to steal me away from?" he replied.

    "I guess you could say that."

    "Kelly certainly did. So did her father when he fired you-"

    "I know what he did," she interrupted. They sat and stared a bit.

    "Maybe I shouldn't have dropped by," he said, starting to rise.

    "No," she said. "No, it''s just been a while." Still, he remained standing, as they looked at each other.

    "I just wanted to check in and say hello Mal," he finally said. "I'm glad you're doing good."

    "I'm-" she said, before catching herself. Then, with a bit of a smile, she rose, held out her hand. "I'm glad you're doing 'good' too, Pete."

    "You know we never really got to say goodbye."

    "Yeah," she said. "I remember that. You were on the road, I was told to clear my stuff out and be out of the area in a day."

    He nodded, glumly. "And when I got back, Kelly said that it would be best for me not to call you."

    "So you didn't." She said it bluntly, but even in the dim light of the room she could see the look cross his face that said that the remark had hit home.

    "No. And then I got traded to Detroit anyway. Still wonder if that wasn't her Dad getting the big club to do him a favor."

    She let that sit for a moment. "Do you wonder if things might have been different for your career if that hadn't happened?"

    He laughed. "Do you mean, do I wonder if I'd never met you, would I have stayed in an organization that didn't really have any decent first base prospects to block me, and would I have been playing in the bigs for the past eight years? Yeah, sometimes I do."

    "That's fair," was all she could say.

    "But then," he went on, "sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we'd worked out, you know? And if you might want to try again." He moved closer to her.

    She had not expected this. She had really not expected him to reach out to her, to touch her. She had really really not expected to respond the way she did.

    After the passionate kiss was over, and it all came back to her, she pulled away. "Wait. Pete. You didn't tell me how Kelly is."

    He squinted at her. She remembered the "I'm thinking hard now" tell. "I told you they traded me away from her."

    She stepped fully back. She saw it now. "Yes, they did. But you never said you didn't stay with her. Did you? Pete, are you married to Kelly?"

    "Does that matter?" he asked.

    She stared at him. Then, sitting back down, she pointed toward the door. "Thank you Mr. Thomas. Have a good day, get the hell out of my office, and don't call me again."

    As his farewell, he smiled that smile that she'd always found utterly irresistible. "Can't blame me for trying," he said, and left.

    "Yes, Pete. Yes I can," she said, dejectedly.
    Last edited by birdsin89; 12-06-2020 at 08:42 PM.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  4. #49
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    Holy crap!

    We played the first place Tigers our first day back. And we kind of beat them.

    15 - 0.

    This was the sixth game this season that one of the two teams in our box score reached double digits. It was the first time we were on the good side.

    David Morgan is on fire. He homered twice in the final game against the Blue Jays, and then twice more in this game. He's tied for fourth in the league in homers.

    And then I signed Delahanty. Three years, $4.1 million per. A big raise over this year, but I came to agree with everybody else. He's going to get hot. Then his price is going to go into eight figures. Then I'm going to have to trade him.

    I'm still probably going to have to trade him. But now I'll be trading a potential All-Star first baseman who's under team control for three years, and is cheap to boot.

    Avoiding a no-trade clause cost me about $200k. His agent, the deeply hot Alexandra Pinto, kept flashing her dark brown eyes at me and saying "A no-trade clause is very important to us." Then she'd throw in about how much he likes Brooklyn and doesn't want to leave.

    Then the eyes again, and the smile.

    Then me, signing over more money.

    I really need to work on my game.

    * * *

    The next day we lost. 25 - 3.

    I don't want to talk about it.

    The day after that, we lost 16 - 6.

    Okay, the Tigers are a really good team. (And, by the way, the Pirates really want Matt Delahanty, even though I'd think that signing him indicates that we're at least keeping him for another couple of months. Not getting continual calls and emails like that was part of the reason I signed him when I did. It doesn't seem to have worked.)

    And on the fourth day, we squeaked out a 3 - 1 win. Fifth starter Shane Rowde gave a very tired bullpen a rest, pitching eight innings and allowing only one, and winning his first major league game since 2017. So sure, they outscored us 42 - 27 in the series. But we split. We're in third place, two games behind the Blue Jays and Yankees, who are tied. We're five games ahead of Massachusetts, in my own personal standings.

    Heck, we're even still listed on the wild card standings.

    Then Allan Bestine, the Tigers GM, announces that he's considering filing a protest against us. And I can't get anyone to tell me why.

    * * *


    We won the first two games against the Indians. A 2-1 tight match, and an 8-0 laugher. Bill is starting to juggle the lineup a bit, saying that now that he has seen his regulars with about 100 plate appearances, he has something to judge them on.

    The fact that this is leading to the de facto benching of Gustavo Amella is a major headache to me. Not because it's wrong, but because Amella's fan club is raising holy hell over it. But I do hope that R. J. Chenault is happy about it, in whatever Mexican prison he may still be in.

    I'd seen Bill coming out of a meeting in the office of Don Boyko. Don's the head groundskeeper. Unless Bill thinks the dirt is too hard, or not raked enough, there's no real reason for him to be meeting with Don.

    Then I remember that over the past two days, Bill has had our boys running the bases like someone was chasing them. Anybody who had any kind of speed at all, we have them running.

    And I remember that Ryan Thelen has been throwing out some of the fastest runners in the league. Detroit and Cleveland have both, as do the Blue Jays. Even the Tarpons have a couple of decent runners. But Ryan has been nailing them on the basepath. So much so that I just signed him to an extension as well. He's willing to go three years for only 1.3 million per. I'm willing to let him. I'd have preferred longer, but this will take him up to his age 27 year, where we'll know by then if he's someone we need to overpay to keep, or not.

    Then I remember the Tigers and the possibility of protest. And that Cleveland GM Dan Landerman has hinted the same thing.

    And then I remember that I'm not totally stupid. Not about baseball, anyway.

    "How are you doing it, Don?" I ask Boyko. His office isn't as nice as mine. It's much smaller, for one. It doesn't have a view of the stadium, for another.

    And I'm blocking the door, for a third.

    "Doing what?" he asks. In a tone that instantly tells me that I'm right.

    Turns out that he's doing it with magnets. Very powerful magnets, which he can turn on and off. Under the dirt circle around first base.

    "Well, that would explain why Orlando Tachias ran right out of his spikes this past week."

    Don looks pleased.

    I tell him to dig them out of the ground before the commissioner comes sniffing around, and dump the equipment into Gravesend Bay. "At least as deep as Bezmenov's goons throw the bodies," I suggest.

    My team.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  5. #50
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    May, 2021

    Kyser waited in his office. It was just like Weston to keep him waiting.

    Bill wasn't sure what the problem was with Jack recently. "I'm doing everything I can short of hiring an actual voodoo priest to curse the other teams, and he's still giving me crap at all levels."

    "Sorry I'm late," Jack said as he blew into Bill's office. "Nice paint job. Did you have the company do this?"

    Bill looked around. "I hired somebody. Just because you continue to sit in that Viking whore house, doesn't mean I have to."

    Jack looked sour at the mention of his own office. "Does Loretta Jefferson know you did this?" he said defiantly.

    Bill stared back. "Yes, Stadium Maintenance knows. Who do you think I got to do the paint job? You don't pay that woman enough." Then, somewhat quieter, he added, "Or at least I think that's what she said. Who knows?"

    Jack sat in the chromium and burlap seat across from Bill's desk. He decided to ignore the first part of the conversation. "What did you need from me?"

    "What do I need from you? I need a bullpen, two or three more starters, and an outfield other than Morgan. I'll settle for going over the roster with you and telling you why I'm about to bring a world of hurt down on your shoulders."

    "Jeez Bill, why?" Jack's tone held no more of the affection with which he'd spoken to Bill in the past. It was weary, and angry.

    "Because Amella is batting .184 with only two walks. I'd say he clogs the basepaths, but he's almost never there, so that's not the problem."

    "What about his fielding? He's only made one error this year."

    "Yeah, because he doesn't run after the ball any more. You can't make an error if you're in another zip code from where the ball comes down. You used to know that."

    "I used to know a lot of things. I still do. I know that Amella's fan club is going to give somebody hell for this, but it's not going to be me. You're the one who's benching him."

    "And you're the one who's giving him his release."

    "The hell I am. We've got nobody in Albany who could do any better."

    "We've got nobody in the state who could do worse. I'm putting Goodall in at left today, and it's going to be that way until he screws the pooch. Which he will, I know, but maybe by then I'll have somebody else in the pipeline."

    "Not unless he holds up until after the draft. And I don't want to start some high school kid in the majors. That might have worked a hundred years ago, but it doesn't work now."

    "Bullsh1t. What about that Cuban kid, Higgareda? Get him, put him out there, and Amella can go do beer commercials or whatever the hell else he's good for."

    "There are some legal matters with his status. Higgareda may not be eligible for the draft," Jack said sourly.

    "Then how about Dan Dedrick, down in Clemson? You don't want to put a high school kid in the majors, fine, how about a college boy? A college boy with an OPS over 1. Or Tom McKinnis at Lafayette?"

    "You think either one is going to be there when we're drafting?" Jack asked scornfully.

    Bill stared at him for a second. "For Christ's sake, Jack, we have the number one pick. Of course one of them is going to be there when we draft!"

    "And how many players do you think I can get with that single number one pick, Bill?"

    Bill paused. "You're still thinking of the Aaron kid, aren't you?"

    "I'm thinking of getting the best player I can with the one and only damn thing we've got going for us right now, which is our number one pick. If this was football I could trade it for a whole bunch of picks, but I can't, so I've got to make this one right. And you putting Amella's dogs on me isn't going to help me with any of it!" The anger in Jack's voice had been rising from the beginning - it was shaking the walls when he finished.

    Bill stared coldly at his long time friend. "First, you can apologize for taking that tone with me, boy," he bit out. It was something he hadn't called Weston seriously for a very long time. "Then, you can sit down and listen to what I'm telling you I'm going to do with this goddam asylum we've got here. Then you can get the hell back to your palace and sit and think about how I've managed to hold this piece of crap you call a team not only together, but in third place and with a winning record."

    Jack hadn't realized he was even standing until Bill mentioned it. He blinked, as though he was trying to remember where he was. Finally he said, "Make your changes. Email them to me. I'll make them work." He turned and left.

    "Sh1t," Bill said quietly to the empty room.
    Last edited by birdsin89; 12-06-2020 at 09:02 PM.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  6. #51
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    May, 2021

    Okay, we're finished with our first month. We've played 27 games. Are we 5 - 22, which would be what we might expect if we were going to win 29 total games as predicted?

    We are not.

    Are we 8 - 19, as our fellow expansion team is?

    We are not.

    Well, then, surely we're 11 - 16, as the Orioles are in our own division? Or 12 - 16 like Tampa, or 12 - 17 like the Red Sox?


    We're 14 - 13.

    We have a winning record for our first month of play.

    We are the first expansion team in major league history with a winning record for our first month of play.

    Holy cow.

    Yes, I know, our Pythagorean record is the same 8 - 19 as the Resistance. Our team batting, at .243, is terrible. Our team ERA, at 5.79, is worse.

    Make no mistake, these Brooklyn Barons are bad. Their underlying fundamentals are bad. Three of their nine batters on any given day are batting under .200 (Matt Delehanty .176, John James .150, Gustavo Amella .184). A third of the team can't hit their weight. I've seen beer league softball teams with a stronger base. - Steven Weston, radio/TV announcer, Cincinnati Reds, in The Sporting News.

    Well thanks a lot, Dad.

    * * *

    My manager with delusions of grandeur (yes, he's still wearing the royal uniform, every game) did what he said he was going to do. He benched Gus Amella. Took Nick Markakis out of the DH spot, put his tired old legs back in right field, moved the even worse hitting John James to left, and put the never-had-it, never-will Jody Montanye in the DH spot. Batting ninth. I remember great-grandpa Willie talking baseball with me when I was a kid. One of the things he said was that if your team was good enough that your DH didn't have to bat in the top four or five, you were doing great.

    As in so much, our team has broken conventional wisdom. Great-grandpa Willie never saw anybody quite like us.

    We finished our home series against the Indians with a split. Went to Detroit for three, and did what we've been doing. That is, got blown out in the games we lost, and squeaked by in the game we won.

    Came home, faced the White Sox. Squeaked out a 4 - 2 win, sandwiched between losing 8 - 3 and 14 - 2. Your 2021 Brooklyn Barons!

    Still, I'd have bet that we'd have started below .500 and stayed there. So we're to the good, right?

    Well, except for...

    * * *

    "Colt," I said to the intercom, "please ask Natalie and Jill to come to my office."

    Unusually, for my secretary anyway, I heard no response. I knew he was at his desk - he'd clicked the button that said so. Normally he'd have at least said "Yes - and that's the only time you're going to hear me say yes to you, you know" or something like it.

    I still wasn't interested, by the way. Though it had been a long time...

    I did get a response of sorts from him though. He was standing in my door. He looked...odd. I wasn't sure what it was. On a normal person, I'd have said "afraid", but Colt had proven many times over that while he is many things, he is not a normal person.

    "Are you sure about that?" he asked. Timidly. "I mean...are you sure you want to do that, Mr. Weston?"

    Holy cow, he called me by name. It must be serious.

    "What are you talking about?" I asked in my most soothing tones. Not that I really have soothing tones.

    It didn't appear to work. If anything, he looked more nervous. "Jill...and the same room?"

    I laughed. More ridiculousness from my team, right? "Colt, I've been in meetings with the two of them many times. What's the big deal?"

    That got through his fear. It did so at the expense of him ridiculing me, but I was much more used to that. The eye rolling, I assumed, would just get me ready in case I ever had a teenager. In case I ever had...never mind.

    "Well, no kidding, boss," he said, and there was the eye roll. "They have to be in meetings together. But never alone, or with only one other person." He said it as though it explained everything.

    It almost did. "Oh, I see," I said. "So, since Natalie is, um, a bit prickly when her pride is injured..." Colt began nodding frantically, almost as if he was willing me to get it.

    I went on. "And since Jill is equally sure of her own, to make a new word, critical-ness to our operation..."

    He was smiling now. At last, his dummy boss got it.

    "You're afraid to put them in the same room together?" The fact that I made it a question showed him that I didn't, in fact, get it. Not really. Or that I did, but thought it was stupid.

    "Boss. Look." He had crossed the room and was actually grasping my arm. Desperate to get through to me. "I like you. I know you didn't start off with me on the right foot, but I've come to see that you're doing a good job of hiding your overwhelming urges, and I can respect that. I don't want to have to break in a new boss like this."

    I did probably the worst thing I could do. I laughed. Loudly enough, apparently, that Frank came in from the hall and asked what was going on.

    "Colt is trying to warn me away from committing suicide in my office in a very creative way. The suicide, not the warning."

    Frank laughed, that booming chuckle he has that always makes me think of the doctor on the Simpsons. "Why, what are you trying to do?"

    Colt answered. "He wants to have a meeting with himself, Jill, and Natalie."

    Frank's face froze. "Are you out of your damn mind?"

    My turn to laugh. "Frank, I'm a grown ass man in my...I'm a grown ass man. I think I can handle the two of them."

    "You mean, you can handle the woman who thinks she is the most important person around here, and the woman who knows that she is the most important person around here. One of whom we all pity whoever she decides to turn her attention to, and one of whom we've actually written a set of rules to avoid getting your head bitten off by her? Together, in the same room, where they will both be confronted with the fact that the other doesn't agree with her about how important she is?"

    Well, since he put it that way..."Do you want to stay for the meeting then? To protect me?"

    So by the time both women arrived, I was alone in my office, and Colt had requested the rest of the day off. He did promise to send help if I didn't call him in one hour.
    Attached Images Attached Images      
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  7. #52
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Ashley, MI

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    14-13, 5.79 era, 48-114 projected record. Over achieving?

  8. #53
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    jshaw: Severely overachieving. Strongly overachieving. Wildly overachieving. (And thanks for checking in!)

    * * *

    May, 2021

    "Is he still in there?" Frank asked. Very quietly.

    "He seems to be," Colt replied. He was standing next to the door to Jack's office, bent over slightly. His ear was close enough to the door that he could hope to hear what was going on.

    "What do you hear?"

    "Nothing. Not for the past ten minutes."

    Frank approached, quietly. He whispered "How do you know he's in there?"

    Colt rolled his eyes at the question. "When I heard they were both coming here, I got the hell out of my office. I parked around the corner where I could see the door and hear any screams for help. Once Natalie and Jill went in, nobody came out."

    Frank nodded, then a look of confusion crossed his face. "Your office?"

    Still focused on the door to Jack's office, Colt waved one arm aimlessly to encompass the reception area. "This," he said dismissively. "My office."

    "The reception area."

    "Call it whatever makes you feel better. It's the biggest office in the place."

    "Because it's not an office, it's a reception room with your desk in it."

    "Sure. And I suppose you believe that Weston really runs things around here too." Another eye roll. "Like I said, whatever makes you feel better." He turned his attention back to the door. After a moment, Frank bent down to get his head closer to the door too.

    After another minute of silence, Frank asked "Colt?"


    "Why are we standing hunched over like this? It's not as though there's a keyhole to be listening through, you know."

    Without responding, Colt stood, keeping his head near the door. Shortly, Frank did the same.

    Another pause. "And you're sure they're in there?"

    "You don't believe me? Knock on the door."

    "Hell no."

    Another pause. When they heard "What's going on here?" they both jumped about two feet in the air. It was Adam, standing behind them. Looking quizzically at them. Frank held his hand to his own heart.

    Colt replied, still whispering. "Jack is in there."

    Adam chuckled. "Well, it's his office."

    "He's in there with Natalie."

    "Okay, sure."

    "And Jill."

    Adam's eyes doubled in size. "Sweet Merciful Jesus, alone?" He beat a retreat toward the door to the reception area and Frank and Colt heard his steps pound down the hall.

    After only thirty seconds of silence, they were startled again, this time by a skinny, awkward-looking teenage boy in a dark suit with a pink bow tie. This was Joe, the summer work-study student from Lincoln High School. They explained again what they were doing. This time the response was a more mundane "So?" Frank started to answer, but Colt cut him off.

    "Look, I know you're new here. What is it, your first week?"

    "Second," Joe answered proudly. As he said most things.

    "Cool, good for you, second," Colt continued. "You have to understand. Natalie Harper and Jill Weaver are both very, very good at what they do. And that's fine. They're also both very aware that they're good at what they do. That's fine too. They are both convinced that they are the best in the world at what they do, which, again, it's wrong but it's okay."

    Frank cut in. "But that only works as long as what they do doesn't overlap."

    Joe asked "And?"

    "Sometimes it does."

    "Joe," Colt asked, still whispering. "Are you familiar with the Jill Rules?"

    "I heard something like that, but I don't know what it is."

    "Very simple. It's a set of 25 rules that we've come up with around the office for not getting on Jill's bad side."

    "26," interjected Frank.

    "26?" Colt asked.

    "We added one right after 'Her parents are better than your parents' and 'Her kids, if she ever has them, will be better than your kids.' This one says 'Her pets are better than your pets.'"

    Colt nodded. "Right, 26. Well, Rule 5 is 'If you do something and it's good, it was her idea. If you do something and it's not good, she warned you not to do it and you should have listened to her.'"

    Frank shook his head, saying, "No, that's number 8. Number 5 is 'If you absolutely must give her bad news before 8 AM, and we don't recommend it, first find out who she's mad at that morning and start your conversation by telling her how much you hate that person.'"

    "Right, sorry. Anyway, we have all these rules. If you follow them exactly, the one thing most precious to Jill in the universe will be safe, and life can go on."

    "And what's that?"

    "Her sense of importance."

    "No," Joe insisted. "I mean, I understand all of this." He shook his head slightly, "I think, anyway. But why are you two standing outside a meeting room with Mr. Weston, Ms. Harper, and Ms. Weaver?"

    "Because Natalie never, ever, EVER, follows the Jill Rules."

    "And we're working on a similar set of Rules for Natalie, because she's just as, um, what would you call it Frank?"


    "Right, good, prickly," Colt went on seamlessly. "Natalie is just as prickly as Jill, and neither of them play by the other one's rules."

    "We do everything we can to make sure that they're never in a room together with fewer than three other people," Frank went on.

    "And Jack's alone in there with them," they said together. Joe just stared at them.

    "Actually, Jack was alone in there with them," Weston's voice said from the now-opened door. "Now he'd like to leave his office to use the restroom, since his is working as well as most other things in this building. But," and his voice dropped to the same conspiratorial whisper they'd been using, "if you're really nice and let me go, I promise not to tell Jill or Natalie about the rules. Deal?"

    Colt made for his desk immediately, Frank stared for a moment, and said "Joe, come with me. I, uh, have a couple of my scouts coming in today, yeah, let me, um, show you how they, ah...scout." Putting an arm on the young man's shoulders, he hastily guided him out of reception.

    Jack shook his head. "These are my people," he muttered.
    Last edited by birdsin89; 12-06-2020 at 09:17 PM.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  9. #54
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    May, 2021

    Colt looked in the general direction of the man sitting patiently in one of the reception guest chairs. Putting as much disdain in his voice as he could muster (and he had been voted Most Likely To Disdain The Rest Of Us by his graduating class, so that was quite a bit), Colt told him that he could go in.

    Gustavo Amella stood, smoothing out the odd wrinkle in his suit as he did so. The suit was a Dormeuil Vanquish II, made of six of the world's rarest fabrics, and had cost just south of $100,000. The tailoring had brought it over that mark. It was a color that the designer had created just for the suit, and then never used again. Amella didn't have to do much to smooth it, as the fibers of the suit looked upon wrinkles with a disdain that would have made Colt proud. (Colt may have disdained Amella, but he did like the suit.) With a final small motion to allow the fibers to do their job and banish any imperfections, Amella strode to the inner door and opened it.

    "Mr. Weston," his smooth baritone began as he settled himself into Jack's better guest chair. The suit began plans for a sneak attack on the leather of the chair, hoping to catch it by surprise and complete the takeover with minimal resistance.

    "Mr. Amella," Jack replied from behind his desk. He looked tired. He looked to have aged five years in the past two weeks. And was Amella imagining it, or was Weston gripping the wood a bit more tightly than the last time they'd talked in this...this...monument to bad taste that Weston called an office?

    "Yes," Amella thought after a moment's consideration, "he's definitely holding onto the desk. And he's sweating a little. He's not just tired. He's...afraid." Another moment's observation produced the follow-on thought "Good."

    "Well," Jack said after another few moments passed. "This is certainly thrilling. But if you'll excuse me, I have a team to run, so if you could..." he trailed off.

    "I understand," Amella began. "I will be brief. You have a problem and I can help you with it, if you'd like."

    Jack looked at him warily from behind the desk. To no one in particular he said quietly "Some help would be nice." Turning to Amella and speaking more loudly, he added "I'm listening."

    Amella smiled inside. This was a much better reception than the one he'd received on meeting with Weston months ago. Perhaps the man was reachable. "You have had a very bad couple of weeks. Your team has won one game in that time, and hasn't been particularly close in the losses."

    "Tell me something I don't know," Jack said.

    "I am sure that I cannot. But I can tell you this. Your losing streak has coincided more or less exactly with the time I have spent on the bench. I can help you out of this situation, but only if you help me."

    "How?" That was the moment Amella knew he'd won. Four months ago when he'd told Jack that he was going to be the starting left fielder, Jack had blustered and fought. Now he wasn't rejecting the idea out of hand. That, Amella knew, would be enough.

    "You have a manager who, while skilled, may not be seeing the bigger picture. That's fair. That's not his job." Amella put more of his considerable charm into the next statement. "Your job is to see the whole thing. Not just the lineup, or the rotation, but the makeup of the team. The way the team relates to its fans. The city, and the local government, and the fans, and those who don't care about baseball. You have to take all of that into account. It's a very big job, and it all falls to you."

    Jack's shoulders seemed to slump a bit. "You have no idea," he breathed out.

    "Of course I don't," Amella lied. Smoothly. While thinking "If I had no idea, then why did I just say all of that?" However, he went on, setting the hook with Jack. "Very few do. The job of the general manager is a lonely one. You are lonely, are you not?"

    Jack looked across the desk at Amella, and for just a second to the door. Amella knew what the look meant. "Out the door is the hall. Down the hall are several women. One of them seems to have caught Weston's attention," he thought. Jack only nodded at Amella's question.

    "And yet," Amella continued, "you must bear up under it, because in the end the responsibility is yours. I understand, Mr. Weston. I could not do your job," he again lied. "But there is no shame in accepting help from others. As you can accept it from me."

    Jack paused briefly. Amella knew that the decision was being made, regardless of whether he had made his specific request. If Jack decided, right now, to ask, then the answer was as good as yes.

    After another moment pause, Jack did. "What could you do?"

    "When I was a regular player, I admit that I did not do as much at the plate as I would have liked to have done. But I made up for it in other ways. Mostly those involve team morale and camaraderie. But these are things which I cannot affect from the bench. The men must see me in the game, in the battle, in order to fully listen and respond."

    Jack sat back. "So you want me to put you in the lineup. That's what this is about."

    Amella knew it was a close moment. He could lose him here if he wasn't careful. But he'd learned from his first conflict months ago. "Mr. Weston, have you ever been to Niagara Falls?"

    Jack blinked in confusion at the non sequitur. "Um...yes?"

    "Beautiful, is it not?"


    "But we could say that what it is about is just water. Water, going over a cliff. That would be true in a sense, wouldn't it?"

    "I suppose."

    "So yes, Jack. May I call you Jack?" At Weston's nod, he continued. "So yes, Jack. What this is about is me being in the lineup every day. In the same sense that what Niagara Falls is about is water going over a cliff. Which is to say, not much at all."

    "How?" Jack asked.

    "Is not a winning baseball team a beautiful thing, Jack? Was it not beautiful when the team, beyond anyone's expectations, was winning most of their games, and filling the stadium with happy and paying fans?" Jack nodded again, his mouth slightly agape.

    "Well, this relates to my" he allowed a mildly self-deprecating chuckle to escape, as planned, "somewhat off topic tale of one of nature's beauties, in the same way as what I can do to bring back the beauty and the fans to your team," he said, with a small emphasis on the word "your." He continued "Because, while all you have to do is to get me into the lineup, the benefits I will provide to your team are much beyond that."

    Jack nodded.

    It took another five minutes, but the deal was basically done.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  10. #55
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    May, 2021

    "Another screwdriver," I asked the cute new bartender. Very cute. Very new. She only had eyes for Tom. I wasn't interested in her eyes.

    With a touch of a smirk, she put the drink in front of me.

    "Drinking the woman's drinks now, boy?" Tom asked as he tossed back a shot. I'm sure it was a shot of good whiskey. I wasn't in the mood for it. I've never had a hangover with whiskey, and I wanted to suffer a little.

    "F**k you, Tom," I said cordially as I drank. We were back at Tangles, in Plainville Connecticut. It had become at least a once a week thing.

    "Give me a kiss first, sweetheart," Tom replied. It was the proper response to what I'd said. If he'd said to me what I said to him, I'd have replied the same as he did. We'd started it back in Los Angeles. I raised my glass. "To tradition," I said, and took another drink. As did he.

    "So what's the problem, kid?"

    "Have you seen my past two weeks? One and eleven in the past twelve games. One win. One."

    "I heard you. And I had three. You don't see me celebrating."

    "I wouldn't be celebrating if we'd won three either. But we won one. It's a damn good thing Verlander seems to have found the fountain of youth. We have 21 wins, and he has 8 of them." I drank more. It was sweet, and I couldn't taste the alcohol. There was no quicker way to get drunk that I was aware of, unless I wanted to go IV. I've never liked needles, so this was it.

    "You're still eight games better than we are, you know." Tom was sipping now. "You don't have it all that bad."

    I tried to take another drink, and realized that I was down to ice. I gestured to Tina - Tina? Tracy? Terry? Terri with an "i" that she probably dotted with a heart? - and motioned to my glass. She resisted the urge to throw herself at me. Probably didn't like orange juice. "Yesterday we lost a squeaker, 17 - 4. Tampa has beaten us like a rented mule and they're only at .500. Without us they're a losing team." Terri replaced my drink, and I downed about half of it before continuing. "Our team ERA is over six. The two top pitchers in the league in home runs allowed are both in my rotation. Well, actually one isn't any more. I lost Coade, the only other pitcher besides Verlander who had any real major league experience, when he dislocated his hip. Kyser asked me who I was going to bring up to replace him. You know what I said?"

    "What did you say?"

    "I said, 'Who gives a f**k, Bill, it's not like he could be any worse.' That's what I said."

    "You were always a witty one."

    I looked at Tom. I knew I was being insulted, but was starting to feel the second vodka. Or third. Which one was I on now? Guess I'll sleep in the car in the parking lot until tomorrow morning. Good, that'll make my back hurt as much as my head will.

    I went on. "And it's not just the stuff on the field, oh no. Have you heard about my announcers?"

    "Sure," he said. "Chris Bailey and Fred Lewis. Good team. She's good, knows her stuff, does great play by play."

    "Sure," I echoed. "Did you know she's a woman?"

    "Well, yeah. I did say 'she'."

    "I didn't. I mean, I didn't know. She's got a really deep voice for a woman, and with one thing after another I didn't have time to meet with them before the season started. I remember Fred from when he played. Adam just told me it was Chris Bailey and Fred Lewis, and I said okay. Then I listened, and thought it was a guy."

    Tom nodded, the small smile still on his lips. "And did you then embarrass yourself when this knowledge was presented to you?"

    " 'Course I did. I kind of had to talk to bof'em, when they started bickering like an old married couple on the air. Which started when the team started losing, by the way. I asked to see Bailey first. This woman shows up in my office, and I asked her who she was. It didn't go well. But then I told her to stop bickering like an old married couple, 'n' you know what she said? She said, 'That's going to be difficult, Mr. Weston. We are an old married couple. Actually, we're an old divorced couple."

    "I didn't know that."

    "Apparently not many people do. She married Lewis back when he was playing, they kep' it quiet. They divorced just as quiet. I have no idea if Adam knew it when he hired them. Knowing him, probably not. And I think my assistant GM slept with him."


    "No, Fred, stupid. Why would you care if my assistant GM slept with Adam?"

    "I don't even know who Adam is. So why do you say that?"

    "Why do I say what?" I asked. I was kind of hoping Tom would remind me where we were in this conversation.

    With exaggerated patience, he did. " you say...that your assistant GM...slept...with Fred Lewis?"

    "Little things. He's her type - dumb jock party boy. The way he looks at her. The way she looks at him. The way he told me what she's like in bed."

    "That'll do it," he said. Another sip. "So what are you going to do about-" and here he waved the hand holding his glass to encompass the entire bar- "all of it?" Tom had as close to a smile as he got when he wasn't on camera or picking up a woman.

    "Well," I said, with a conspiratorial wink. "I've got a plan."

    "Good to have."

    "Yup. I'm going to put Amella back in the outfield."

    Tom's drink, which had been on its way to his mouth, stopped. He even put it down on the bar and looked at me. Finally he said "Do you want to explain that?"

    "What's to explain? We were winning with him in the lineup, and when we took him out, we're not. So he's going back." I took another drink, my logic unassailable.

    Somehow he assailed anyway. "And did you win because of Amella? Or in spite of him?"

    "Because of, of course," I said with more confidence than I really felt. "Not his hitting, he was barely Mendoza with that. But his presential. Presence. He had a lot of it. It was like Niagara Falls."

    Tom looked at me some more. I've seen him use his looks to get panties to drop at a moment's notice. This look wasn't doing that, which was good, because it had been a damn long time and I wasn't sure I wouldn't drop mine too. Probably not. Not that I'm wearing panties. Anyway. This look was saying "What the hell are you talking about?" After a moment, he verbalized what his look had been saying. I laughed a little because he did. Then I explained the Niagara thing, but I don't know if I got all the details right. "So anyway," I finished, "that's why I told Kyser to put Amella back in the lineup. John James is hitting for s**t, so Amella will just go right back into left."

    Tom took another sip. "How did Kyser react to being told what his lineup should be?"

    "He doesn't understand. Amella sells tickets too. And he keeps the damn press off of my ass. Kyser'll come 'round."

    Tom watched as I finished the third drink. Or fourth. Fifth? It didn't matter. He said, "Look, kid, I'm not competing with you the way you're competing with me. But are you sure this is the way you want to do things?"

    "I've got to do something dammit!" I said maybe a little too loudly. Terri looked over at me. I think the band guys setting up on stage did too. "I've got to do something" I repeated a bit quieter.

    "Sure you do kid," he agreed. Tom was very agreeable. I always liked that about Tom. Very agreeable. Not like that asylum where I work.

    "And you think that's enough?" he asked.

    "That," I said, "and I'm going to get the main'nance crew to re-paint the goddam hideous purple and yellow in my office."
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  11. #56
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    June, 2021

    Kyser sat and thought. The thoughts were not pleasant.

    Around him the cabin was quiet. The flight back from Seattle was always going to be a long one. "After losing 17 - 1, it's even goddam longer," was the most printable of his thoughts on that matter. The players slept, or watched movies or listened to music on their headphones. Their individual headphones, of course.

    "And that's part of the damn problem," Kyser fumed. "I don't have a team. I have 25 individuals who happen to wear the same colors." Then he went off into what a script would have possibly called "undifferentiated ad-libbed cursing." He was doing more of that lately.

    He took a quick look at the end of the month standings on his tablet. {INSERT MAY STANDINGS HERE} It was a little bit into June, but nothing was changing. At least, not for the better.

    "Seventeen runs. Seven-goddam-teen runs. And it's not my starter. Hell, Horon gave up four in six innings. A real team can work with that. It ain't great, but on this bunch, it's Cy goddam Young.

    "No, it's my bullpen. Jesus what I wouldn't give to have Guerreb back in my bullpen. Or anybody who could pitch. And now with Shiflett laid up who knows how long..." He turned to look to the rear of the plane, where reliever Rod Shifflett was looking at his new crutches and talking quietly to King Harris, one of the team doctors. "Broken fibula," Kyser mused. "Maybe he could have broken it before he gave up six runs in two thirds of an inning. Before his ERA got to twelve and a half."

    Kyser took the miniature from the seatback pocket in front of him. One of them. He drained it and returned to his morose thoughts. "And Shiff wasn't even the worst. His 31 year old rookie ass is never going to pitch in the majors again, but Curle has no excuse. He's been in the majors. But with an ERA that has to be damn near twenty, he needs to not be there any more."

    He looked at another bottle, considered it. "Nah, I'd never be able to walk off the plane." He looked down at his copy of the team statistics. Freshly updated, even to include tonight's game. "Tonight's sh1tshow," he corrected.

    "Maybe if I move Montanye from the nine hole to leadoff. Since I put him in, he's at least been getting on base. That lets me drop Thelen to fifth. Morgan stays at cleanup, he's the only one on the team who deserves it. I hate doing that stupid crap Weston gave me with Amella, but to be honest, James has an OBP of .232 and an average of .165. If there was a case to be made to stay in the lineup, he's had a chance, and he hasn't made it."

    The second miniature looked better. "Problem is, James is supposed to be one of the best on the team. If this is the best, we're screwed."

    "Then I can bring the Whiteside kid in from long reliever to, hell, probably the third slot in the rotation." He chuckled mirthlessly. "That means he starts tomorrow night. Well, he can't do worse. And didn't Jack say he'd signed me a new reliever and starter in Albany?" He looked through the pad, found the email in question. Terse, as all his communications with Jack Weston had been lately. "Right, David Price, one of those guys who had a cup of coffee almost twenty years ago and suddenly decided with expansion to try again. He's my new long reliever. And Steve Trout, who has saved 71 and blown 29 over the past six years and until yesterday was playing in the Frontier League. Welcome back to the bigs, boys."

    It's a long flight from Seattle to Kennedy. Kyser had a lot of time to move the pieces around. He could only hope that it would matter.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  12. #57
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    June, 2021

    "Nicely done," Mal said as Jack came down from the stage in the press room. The smallest of the press rooms. The small, unadorned, made-smaller-by-opening-folding-walls, more-chairs-stacked-in-the-corner-than-in-rows-for-reporters, press room. It was early in the morning of the first day of the draft, or as it was officially known, "The 2021 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Where You Can Choose Your Ingredients Like Choosing a Player, and Hong Kong Semiconductor, Because Telling Rather Than Asking a Person Where He's Going To Work Is Just Our Kind Of Capitalism."

    "You think so?" he asked her. "I mean, it's not like I had to handle a whole lot of questions from a room full of strangers. Those are mostly our people," he waved at the rapidly-dispersing group of reporters. They looked bored more than anything, or maybe not fully awake yet. Natalie was in the corner with one, trying to interest her in an exclusive interview with someone from the team. Anyone, really.

    "Okay, badly done then," Mal replied.

    "Now what does that mean?" he asked with a bit more heat.

    "I complimented you," she replied. "You rejected it. So I retracted it."

    Jack started to walk away, but to his own surprise found himself turning on her. "And why would you do that? What kind of person does that?"

    She had begun to put her earbuds back in, but stopped. "What are you getting upset for? Does it make some kind of difference what I think? It hasn't so far," she said with enough bitterness to keep a good argument simmering for a long time.

    "You know, I have had about enough of this from you. What the hell are you talking about?" Jack replied, with enough to turn the fire up a bit. Emma, who had been watching the crowd, or more accurately "crowd," turned to watch the two of them instead.

    "I'll tell you what I'm talking about, Jack," she said, biting off the words. "I'm talking about the deal I had with the Padres for Delahanty. Remember? Bradford Parks and Scott Gaskin, a pair of 22 year olds with potential ratings of 92 and 88. Major league ready, able to go in our rotation day one, so we're not grabbing guys whose career ended before yours did. And with a player to be named later to boot. Remember that?"

    Up to now, the conflict wasn't drawing attention from the few remaining reporters. Jack, only vaguely aware of that, lowered his voice to keep it that way. The lowering of volume seemed to have the effect of concentrating the anger though. "Sure, I remember it. It was a bad deal for us."

    "Funny, Cleveland didn't think it was such a bad deal. They sent a first baseman with even lower numbers for the two of them."

    "And you'll note that I didn't say it was a bad deal for Cleveland. I said it was a bad deal for us. It would be great if I weren't the second best first baseman in our whole damn organization, but there we are. So I vetoed it."

    "Of course you did. That's what you do. I make a decision, after lots of careful deliberation, and you veto it, to show that you're the boss and I'm not."

    "Oh, Mal. It has nothing to do with showing that I'm the boss. It has everything to do with you making bad decisions."

    "Well, that was nothing if not contemptuous. Good job," Mal rejoindered with all the considerable sarcasm she could muster.

    "Well what am I supposed to do? Just because you can't make a decision to save your life, I'm supposed to just let the ones you do finally make slide by even if they're dumb? That's not how this works." He knew, on some distant level, that the argument was sliding into that next level of conflict. The one where the words that are being said are not really the topics being argued about, or are not really being aimed at the right target. This moment of self-awareness was blissfully short, however, allowing him to get back into the right tone.

    "Of course not. But that's not really it, is it? You're not over-ruling me because it's a bad decision, just because it's not your decision. Because big bad family legacy Jack Weston is in over his head and knows it, and rather than just listen to smart people around him, he's got to put me down so he can feel like a man!"

    Jack stepped back a pace, somewhat stunned. He was about to come back with Emma stepped in. "You two are doing a marvelous job of getting the team free publicity, and I'm sure Natalie will be very happy to see so many more reporters showing up for our next pressers, but if you wouldn't mind, could you please lower your voices? And perhaps use them to speak to each other in a civil fashion, instead of...whatever that was that you've been doing?" Her tone was her usual, flat, clipped sound, but there was no mistaking the steel under it. If they chose not to do what she was so far asking, she would move on to no longer asking. And then possibly further.

    The anger levels in the room dropped. Both continued to glare at each other, breathing hard.

    "That's good. And now, I fully understand that neither of you is interested in backing down from the positions you've staked out. Even if the average observer would wonder how in the name of God you got to them. Your respective prides are at stake. What you've failed to consider is that mine is too. If it becomes known that I allowed my general manager and my assistant general manager to have a verbal slap fight in public, my reputation for being in control of any situation would be shaken. And this will not happen." Emma glared at them both, showing them how it should be done.

    The anger levels in the room dropped again. They were still staring at each other, angry, and hurt, and unsure if they would be losing if they broke eye contact first. The silence between them continued.

    Emma rolled her eyes. "I can see that I am going to have to provide an out for you both, because you are both fully grown adults who are quite capable of engaging on a rational level. I will offer on the higher plane the fact that the two of you obviously have a great deal in common, including your knowledge of baseball, your desire to produce a successful organization, and the fact that you both seem to think that you have the other figured out without allowing for the possibility that the other has you figured out as well. However, I do not expect this to be enough, so I ask you instead - Mal, what are you listening to?"

    It had the desired effect. They broke the emotionally-charged stare and turned as one to look at Emma with confusion.

    "On your phone there. You had your ear buds in while Jack was talking to the press. What are you listening to?"

    "Sam Cooke," Mal said quietly. Emma nodded as though this made a point for her, and then turned to Jack, as if to say "See?"

    Which he did. Almost under his breath, totally without moving his lips, he said, "I love Sam Cooke."

    "Amazing," Emma said. "Another thing which you have in common, and which I totally did not know prior to asking you. And let me add some more. You are both supposed to be in other meetings in about five minutes, and you are both annoying the hell out of me, so you will both be leaving now."

    Still looking at each other, they did. From separate doors.

    "What was that all about?" Natalie asked Emma a few minutes later.

    "Complications," Emma said with disgust.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  13. #58
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    June, 2021

    "Well, in my experience..."

    There it was again. Cousin Dan with the Orioles was lecturing me. Again.

    "...making a selection of any kind based on family relations never works out," he continued.

    We were in one of the many breakout rooms at the Luxor in Las Vegas. Officials from 32 major league baseball teams, all spending a couple of days in a pyramid-shaped monument to Mammon, god of money. Surrounded on all side by glitz, glitter, and what has to be the highest electric bill in the history of the world. Decorations ranging from "tacky" to "tawdry", especially those showing women with the same range. The town's brief period as a family vacation spot well in the past, the "adult playground" approach was on full display. Brooklyn's Bezmenov and other "upstanding pillars of the community" (you'd better call them that if you know what's good for you) were firmly back in charge.

    I loved it, to be honest.

    The Luxor was the location for the 2021 Major League Baseball draft, and I refuse to give it the official sponsored name. Three days of spectacle, carried live on ESPN round the clock and individual team networks as events warrant. Three days of analysis, interviews, family sob stories, signings, dealings, negotiations, politicking, back-stabbing...

    In a lot of ways, it reminded me of a family reunion. Especially since I had a lot of extended family here. My Dad was somewhere, commentating for the Reds. Grandpa was here - even 84 years old, the Giants fans who remembered his 25 years on the radio for them loved his "crotchety old man, tell it like it is" attitude. Some of them thought it was an act. Cousin Dan was here, of course, as the GM of the Orioles. With no fanfare at all, 87 year old former Senator Chuck Aaron, Dan's father and the man who investigated steroid use and put Tom Slade, among several others, out of the game, was here, for what would undoubtedly be the old man's final time. He was going to come as a fan, until Dan found out and brought him for his role as the former GM of the Orioles. Chuck, not Dan. Told you it was confusing. Dan's daughter Adeline is here too, as one of his assistants, and I don't know anybody who would take your bet that she won't become the next GM there in Baltimore. All of which made it kind of BS that Dan was lecturing me about making a selection based on family relations.

    Of course, he wasn't talking about him doing it. He was talking about me; specifically, about me taking Greg Aaron with the number one pick.

    My scouts, who actually appear to be getting better under Frank's direction (and culling), have Greg rated at 57/94. All the potential in the world, and very, very raw. In his four years as a starter at first base for Lincoln High in Brooklyn, he batted over .300 for the final three. OBP in the four hundreds since his sophomore year. OPS as a freshman was .798 and for the past two years has been over 1. Good fielding chops. Slow as molasses.

    And probably not as good as Daniel Dedrick, the left fielder from Clemson. Certainly not as good in the short term. Which even I know.

    "Jack?" Cousin Dan asked me. It brought me back to the room at least. Or made me have the conversation out loud, anyway.

    "I know, Dan. He's probably a top twenty candidate at best. He's a bright kid, could probably go to college and take a real major, not rocks for jocks or communication or psych. He's a good kid, but-"

    "But what's that got to do with anything?" Dan interrupted.

    "Right," I agreed. "His coach said he's 'got a great work ethic.' Big deal, anybody who gets this far has a good work ethic. If they don't, they don't get this far." Dan was nodding along with me. And I believe I knew why. "He's a right-handed first baseman. He's a good hitter, with some pop. Maybe even something you'd look twice at, but not three times."

    "Right," Dan said.

    "And you want him with the 19th pick."

    "Ri-um, I mean, um..."

    I looked down on him a bit, raised an eyebrow. "Come on Dan. You know it's true."

    "Well, okay. But the kid's a mid first round pick at best. If you waste the number one pick on him, you'll regret it for years. And your fans will eat you alive. Let the kid slip, take Dedrick from Clemson. Hell, he can be in your lineup by September call-ups, make an immediate impact. It's not like the old days when Grandpa Charlie could grab Lou Gehrig with the first pick and plop him in the lineup the next day. Aaron won't see Brooklyn for years."

    "If I let him go with the first pick, he'll only see Brooklyn when you come to town in four or five years. We both know he's not getting past you."

    "But," Dan argued, "we also know he's not what your team needs now. You don't need to win over the home town crowd, they're coming to see you in bigger numbers than just about any team in baseball. You're actually filling that airplane hangar of a stadium more often than not."

    I thought about that for a moment. Actually, I appeared to think about that for a moment - Dan had helped me to make up my mind already. Just to throw him off, I asked "What relation is the kid to us?"

    In addition to being a moderately-competent general manager, Dan is his side of the family's historian. My side doesn't have a historian. Dad said that my side uses the Hall of Fame to keep track of its history. He said that when he finally made it, on like his 15th year of eligibility.

    "My second cousin once removed. Your fourth cousin." He must have been expecting the question.

    "Which isn't all that close, is it?"

    "Not if you were going to marry the kid," he laughed at his joke. I smiled politely."But the media vultures will pick it up, you know."

    "But fourth cousin is further apart than second cousin, right?" I asked.

    "Sure, but-"

    "So if I take him, I'm farther away from him on the family tree than you are. I'd be helping you out, Dan. What's family for but to help each other? Thanks for the talk." I turned and left before he could tell me that that wasn't what he'd meant.

    Then to mess with him further, and because I really thought it was the best thing for the team, despite our current attendance, I took the kid. With the number one pick.

    Slade grabbed Dedrick with number two. And twisted the knife by thanking me publicly for making his pick possible.

    No pressure here.
    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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

  14. #59
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    Birds sighting! So glad I decided to log back in for no reason! What a great Christmas present. lol Great to have you back.

  15. #60
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    hotchickenstew: Great to hear from you again. Glad you like it. Just remember I "promised" that I would not finish it.

    * * *

    June, 2021

    Our top seven picks:

    1. 1B Greg Aaron IV, Brooklyn's Lincoln High School. 57/94. Good luck, kid.
    2. CF Joshua Bourne, Auburn. 73/88. Not as much potential, but closer to ready today. Because have I mentioned lately that all the good luck my team was having in April and the first half of May is gone, and we're losing badly, and can use help right away?
    3. 2B Alan James, Arcadia High School (Arcadia CA). 55/96. Felt pretty glad to get him, as without the home town appeal of Aaron, I might have taken him in the first round. Frank agreed. Mal didn't, but that's not a shock.
    4. Catcher Trevor Bowens, PS 192 (New York City). 56/93. Another sort of home town boy. Another position player for Sloatsburg, or maybe Yaphank. I'll have to discuss it with Adam. Who will tell me nothing, but for politeness' sake I'll go to him before Frank and Mal and I make up our minds.
    5. SP Liam MacPhadden, Francis Howell Central High (St. Louis, MO). 56/94. Amazed that I'm still getting those kind of potential levels this far down in the draft. Amazed, and, really, not believing it. At this point, the kid has a fastball and a curve and nothing else.
    6. SP Martin Bellairs, Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn. 52/90. Found another homer. Yeah, I'm really steering into this. Has a four-seam, two-seam, and a curve.
    7. SS Chris Butler, Truro High School (Truro, IA). 52/94. Okay, pretty much completes one minor league team up the middle.

    * * *

    With selections such as LF Dan Dedrick from Clemson, RF Jason Drakeford from North Carolina, Baylor's CF Zach Salzgeber, and Texas-El Paso's 2B Billy Lyons, the Resistance have set themselves up with a solid, college-experienced base at their A-level team which should progress to the majors rapidly. This is in contrast to their fellow expansion team in Brooklyn, where any consistent strategy behind this year's draft remains purely hypothetical. - ESPN The Magazine

    Are we really sure that Ray Bernard didn't make these draft picks too? - caller Mad Tony, on WJRO-AM's daily show Infield Chatter

    About the nicest thing I can say about this year's critical draft is that it made my job easy. I cover Brooklyn sports. Consequently, I already know half of the new draft class, since they all went to high school here. While for the past month the Barons have been playing like a Brooklyn high school team, this seems to be taking it a bit far. - Jan Tyler, Editor in Chief,

    "Yeah, well, that's her last exclusive." - Jack Weston, upon seeing Tyler's report.

    * * *

    "And now comes the fun part," I said as Mal arrived at the meeting room. It smelled powerfully of paint. And since there were only four of us in the room, we were all gathered at one end of the massive table.

    Frank raised one eyebrow in that way I could never do. Mal looked sharply at me, and as she settled into one of the seats said "I'm lots of fun. Which you will never know." Well, Adam seemed to like the line.

    I didn't, not much. "Wasn't talking about you Mal. You could assume that I'm not talking about you most days and be right. Anyway," I said quickly, to avoid giving her a chance to top my topper, "I'm talking about the fun of shuffling our minors, now that we've got the 2027 team in the house." I noticed Frank looking funny at Mal and me, but he didn't say anything.

    "Um, yeah," Adam said, as he handed out the statistics packets I'd asked him to prepare. Had to keep him busy, and this was at least a little bit connected to his job. "I don't really get that. I mean, we send all of them to Sloatsburg, we let them drop whoever they need to drop to make room, and we're done. Right?"

    Let me explain a little of that. Back a hundred or so years ago, when the old Commissioner Kimball had created the "farm system" using the minor league teams (by stealing the idea from Branch Rickey), the minor league teams had wanted to maintain at least a little bit of independence. The solution that some long-ago genius had come up with was to let the big clubs send their prospects to the minors as they saw fit - but limited to no more than fifteen per team. This left the bush teams to fill in the rest of their roster using whatever methods they wanted. In practice, it meant that most minor league teams tended to have the feel of a semi-pro team, with some players getting paid by the parent club and others by the local team.

    So if a major league team had a lot of decent prospects, they might send 15 to triple A, 15 to double A, and so forth. But the local fans would still have at least ten local boys to root for, in addition to the ones brought in from the outside. This helped to keep the minor leagues' home town feel that everybody said was important. And is was very common for a major league team that didn't have, say, a double A second baseman to look at whoever the minor league team had signed and decide that they were good enough to switch their contract over from the local team to the big club. This kept the minors in the scouting business, which didn't hurt the parent organization any either.

    Was it a perfect system? Not at all. But it was what we had.

    Anyway, I looked around the table. Frank was trying very hard not to nod in agreement with what Adam had said. Mal wasn't even trying.

    "Sure," I said. "But, on the other hand, no. How about we use the opportunity to just cut some dead weight at our lower levels? Guys who are never going to be anything. Guys like," and I looked at one of the papers Adam had given, "like Jake Capers. Batting a stellar .178, 36 years old. Why do we have him? No, I say we drop him, move Ken Yoshimura up to Yaphank, and that makes room for Chris Butler in Sloatsburg. That sort of thing." I looked around the table, hopefully.

    The skepticism was as strong as the smell of paint. I hurried on to try to convince them. "It'll be a good chance to do some other things too. Like putting Bourne and Aaron up at Yaphank, or even Elmira. We can show that we're committed to getting some help through the system quickly."

    "Is that a good idea?" Frank asked quietly. "Does it make us look desperate?

    "Have you seen our team?" I replied sharply. "We are desperate!"

    "But do we want to look that way?" He was very reasonable. I didn't like it.

    "I really don't care how we look, I just want this team to be better!" I said loudly. Even to myself it sounded a little whiny. "I want Capers, Segouia, McKaskill, and McNatt dropped to the lowest level we can put them, and if we can just drop them I'm okay with that. I want Brian Macniven on somebody else's mound, and he can take Rod what's his name with him!"

    I got my way.

    What I didn't get was an explanation for why the room smelled like paint, when we'd repainted it months ago. And why it was back to being that hideous purple and gold.

    But I got my way on the 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 Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

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

    The Never-to-be-Completed Sequel: Brooklyn Blues

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