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Thread: Brooklyn Blues

  1. #31
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    February, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The 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. #32
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    March, 2021

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

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

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

    Terrific.

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

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

    "So where are we going?" I asked.

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

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

    "Fort Huachuca."

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

    Oh, the other teams are going to love us.

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

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

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

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

    "Uh huh. Um...why?"

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

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

    "The JV field for triple A."

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

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

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

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

    "Why not?"

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

    Of course we are.

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

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

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

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The 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. #33
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    March, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The 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. #34
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

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

  5. #35
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

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

    * * *

    March, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

    The 2021 Brooklyn Barons

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

    * * *

    Our Minor Leagues, 2021

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

    * * *

    Our Opening Day Pitchers, 2021

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

    Our Minor Leagues, 2021

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

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The 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. #36
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    March, 2021

    Frank Scurry leaned forward at his desk, the sun from the window behind him filling the tiny office. Beyond the glass behind him, Scurry knew that his guest could see the continuing construction on the ballpark. Scurry's distracted look belied the concern he felt. Not for the man in front of him - they'd worked together for years, and known each other longer than that. He and Deandre Drake had been the star players on their respective high school baseball teams, long ago and far away. 1980s Baltimore. Gilman vs. McDonogh. Drake's team...

    "You have no idea what I just said, do you?"

    Scurry shook his head. "Not one. Sorry, Dre."

    Drake leaned back, satisfied that he'd gotten his boss's attention. "What was going on in your head?" he asked.

    Sheepishly, Scurry replied. "I was thinking back to high school. And that-"

    "That home run you've never let me forget."

    "The one that won the 1989 conference championship? The one that I hit off you on a 1 - 2 count, when you had no business coming anywhere near the plate with two on and two out? That home run?" Scurry gloated.

    "Funny how you never daydream to the year before, when I struck your ass out on three pitches and McDonogh won the conference."

    "Not funny at all," Scurry replied.

    Drake cocked his head sideways a bit. "What's really on your mind, Hoss? Thinking about the team? I get it. You know I'm in a better spot than you are."

    Scurry had started to answer the question, but the last statement brought him up short. "How so? I get to try to put a team together across four or five different levels, and I don't have the players to do it, and I'm only now even getting the scouts to find the players to do it. And when they fail, because they just don't have the talent, I'm the one the blame is going to fall on."

    "My point. So I'm in a better spot than you."

    Scurry's eyes flashed a bit. "But when they do win, when I do get the system built up, to where it's producing enough stars that Weston can trade them away for pennies on the dollar, then I'm the one who gets the credit, too. So how is being my advance scout a better spot than mine?"

    "You have to watch the current teams play." Both men laughed. After a bit, Drake continued. "Really, man. You're going to watch so many losses for the next couple of years. Me? I'm out on the road ahead of them. I'll watch good teams play each other, and the only hard part for me is trying to figure out what I can tell Kyser about how to win, when there ain't no way we're going to win unless we poison the other team's bullpen food."

    "I think there's a league rule against that."

    "Probably is. Doesn't mean it's not still the best chance we got."

    The brief fire gone from his eyes, Scurry just sadly said, "You're not wrong."

    Drake asked again. "So what's the problem? You like a challenge. Hell, you live for a challenge. Well, you ain't going to find a bigger one in baseball."

    Scurry didn't answer right away. When he finally did, it was with a wistful tone. "I'm starting to wonder if the game is passing me by."

    Drake immediately got more serious. This was a side of his friend he almost never saw. "What do you mean?"

    "After you leave, I've got 15 minutes until my next meeting. It's with Theo Doumanakos."

    Drake winced a bit. "The Greek Geek? I heard you brought him on."

    "Not me," Scurry corrected. "Nomen. Possibly at Weston's suggestion, though I'm not sure. 'Director of Advanced Analytics,' they call him."

    "Oh, is that the problem? The numbers guy?"

    "Hell yeah. I don't speak computer, and now I'm the director of scouting, and I'm supposed to take a whole lot of computer pages and figure out which guy has the better chance of hitting a 2 - 2 fastball in sector 16 with runners on first and third and two outs in a night game with the wind blowing in from left between six and seven point five miles an hour when it's 7:45 PM and the damn moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars. "

    "And all you want to know is who can hit a curve ball."

    "Exactly!" Scurry said, far louder than the thin office walls could really contain. He expected to hear from Kelly Halliwell as soon as Dre left, complaining again about the noise.

    Dre looked at his watch. "Don't know what to tell you, Hoss. Wave of the future and all that." He rose from the chair, continued. "Makes the game as much fun as a rager at the IRS, but that's the way the big shots want to go. You and me, we just have to try to get some good players and hope the number crunchers don't eat them up." He waved to Scurry from the door. "My advice? Leave now, before he gets here. Do what I do." And with that, he demonstrated.

    Scurry chuckled to himself. He knew that he not only would have to be more flexible on the subject, but that he really wanted to. Learning had never been a problem for him, and he was looking forward to the learning. He just wasn't looking forward to daily reminders that the game had passed him by.

    Working with Doumanakos, though. That wasn't the problem. If nothing else, it helped him to think of the matter as just another challenge.

    And as Drake had said, he'd always liked a challenge. More specifically, except for that trifling matter of his own aborted baseball career, he'd always risen to a challenge.

    But now, instead, he'd rise and leave the office.

    At the end of the hall, still thinking about numbers, he ran into Jack Weston. "Sorry Jack," he said. "I was thinking about analytics, didn't see you there." Never hurt to let the boss know that you're doing your job, he thought.

    Not that it mattered. Weston continued to look down the hall, where, Scurry realized, he had been headed prior to the collision. "What? Um, no," Weston said.

    "No what?"

    "Um...no...problem? Yeah, no, um, no problem. Sorry Frank. Well, gotta go." And with that, he took off to the other end of the hall.

    Frank stood and thought. At the other end of the hall, he saw Jack look around, and turn right. Which was odd, because that was the way to the field, and the construction still going on. "What could he have been nervous about?" Scurry mused. "If he's going to the field, that's nothing suspicious. And if he's not..." he trailed off, trying to think of what else could be accessed through that particular door. The only option he could figure was a back door that led to the construction parking lot.

    While he stood in front of his office thinking, Doumanakos arrived. Scurry had almost forgotten that he'd gotten up to escape the meeting - and sighed as he realized that he wouldn't get to now.
    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. #37
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    March, 2021

    Odd as it is to admit, I'm still, despite everything I've been saying, excited about the upcoming season. I'd love to say that it's because I don't think we're going to be as bad as everybody says. I told Jan Tyler in an interview that we're going to surprise some people this year. She then turned off the recorder and said that if I wasn't going to take the interview seriously she'd just stop.

    "No, that's not it," I went on. I then paused for a couple of minutes as Mal came in and gave me a report on the new super-HD screens we're having installed at the park. If they do what the saleswoman told me they do, the fans will have a better and clearer view on the screen than they do from actually being there. I'd spent the extra money to have the kind that was compatible with the new NomenTech gadget I'd been looking at too. We're not sure, but again if it all works, we may be breaking new ground with our technology. I turned and started talking to Jan about it, kind of trying to impress a little. What can I say, she's very cute, and I've been busy for the months since I got here. From long ago and far away I kind of remember how to get with a woman. Maybe.

    Mal kept waiting for me to talk to her rather than Jan. When I didn't, she referred to the new system as "our very own quadrophonic Blaupunkt" and left. Well, kind of "stormed out," would be the better words. Huh. Women.

    I turned back to Jan, and she was laughing. "What's so funny?" I asked.

    "The quadrophonic Blaupunkt," she replied, her green eyes dancing in the light from the window overlooking the park. Wait, eyes dancing? Where did that come from?

    "What about it?" I asked, confused. Not sure if I was confused by the blau-whatever, or wondering where I came up with her eyes dancing. Man, it's been a long time. Sometimes being...well, let's just say that some resolutions are harder to keep than others.

    Jan pulled her light brown hair back from her eyes. The green ones.

    Harder to keep than others.

    "She's quoting from one of the best baseball movies ever. Bull Durham. The pitcher brags about his Porsche with a quadrophonic Blaupunkt stereo, and the wily old veteran tells him that he doesn't need a quadrophonic Blaupunkt, he needs a curve ball."

    Now I'm totally lost. She can see it. Dammit, nice smile too.

    "She's talking about your team."

    "She what?"

    Jan just kind of looked at me for a while. So I asked her out. No dice. She's a sportswriter and editor in chief for the web site Brooklynsports.com. I probably shouldn't be going out with her anyway. At least that's what she said.

    Mal gave me the cold shoulder the next day anyway. And I still don't get the quadro-whatever joke.
    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

  8. #38
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    April 2, 2021. Opening Day. A million things to do, and not one of them really the most important thing. The most important thing would be the numbers, and there was nothing I could do about them.

    I don't mean the score, by the way. That was going to happen, and it could range from Cal Mifflin's prediction of "ugly" to, well...

    Okay, my personal expectations were that "ugly" was going to be the highlight of the year. Hell, for that matter, as soon as Mifflin came out and said we were going to be ugly, Jill Weaver jumped on it with both feet in her marketing. "Come On Out...It's Gonna Get Ugly." I had to admit, I was coming to like Jill. She's very good at what she does. If only she could go a day without wanting everybody in the office to tell her how good she is at what she does.

    I was kind of impressed by her boy Drew Davis, too. Okay, first I was impressed by him because Emma Davis remained utterly stunning, and even her scary crazy personality wasn't enough to stop that. And if he was keeping her happy, well then, good on you Drew.

    But he'd also gone out for the Opening Day festivities. He'd been searching for months for any members of the 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers who were still alive and would like to come to the game. Found several, actually. Tom Acker was a relief pitcher for them, got into 36 games - and was now 91 years old. Pitcher Gary Blaylock went 14 - 9 back in 57. He's 90. Del Crandall, the catcher that year, batted .238 and hit 31 home runs. He just turned 91 less than a month ago. Hank Foiles was 92, and had batted .298 in 48 games as Crandall's backup. And the one I was hoping for came as well. He's going to turn 93 this year. Whitey Ford had pitched for the Giants, Clippers, Indians, and Dodgers/Stars. He was never as good a pitcher as he was a personality - but what a personality! When he was in New York, he was one of the men who positively owned the town. When he went to Los Angeles, and his movie-star looks got him into magazines and movies? He owned the country. He'd even retired at age 30, after the 1959 season, to go into film. Made a decent career of it, too. Better than his 100 - 143 pitching record, anyway.

    Drew convinced them to come back and throw out simultaneous first pitches. Yes, I was afraid they were going to break at least one hip in the doing, but the ticket sales had spiked after it was announced, so I had to go with it.

    He also had formed an organization of team boosters. Personally, I always found things like that to be kind of pointless - mostly an excuse for people who like to think they're important to convince themselves, surprise, that they're important. You know, you're a fan, the other guy is a fan, but now you're part of the booster club, so you're a more important fan. Although technically, since we were considering letting the president of the club have an actual non-voting spot on our board of directors, it would make you a more important fan.

    Then we found out that when Adam drew up all the paperwork, he had heard "non-voting" as "voting." So it was that the head of the Benevolent Order of Brooklyn Baseball Supporters (the BOBBS) would have as much of a vote on the board as I did.

    Oh, yes, Adam. You may be wondering why somebody who was introduced to you months ago as the Minor League Director was now drawing up legal paperwork. And doing it badly. Well, it turned out that he was directing the minor leagues just as badly. I wanted someone else in charge. I wanted Frank Scurry in charge, but he didn't want to give up his spot at head of scouting. But Adam just wasn't going to cut it. I'd had to make several adjustments on assignments in the minors as soon as Adam had assigned them in the first place, and I thought I was going to have to hold Kyser back from Adam's throat when he saw who had been sent where. "He's building a better triple A team than I'm going to have in Brooklyn," was only the opener. I'd had to make a couple of shuffles there, too. Jody Montanye on the big club, for example.

    But if I moved Adam out of that spot, that left me with only two problems to solve. One, who takes over? Two, where do I put Adam? And "out on the street" wasn't a viable answer to the second question.

    "I owe him," was all Mr. Nomen had said when I had brought up the move. "He stays here. I don't care where you keep him, but he's got a job here for life, okay?"

    That had been part of a fun meeting. Nomen's secretary Lucy Adornato had warned me when she sent me through that Nomen wasn't in a good mood. I'd asked why, and she had just shrugged her shoulders expressively. Okay, I wasn't looking at her shoulders when she did it. Nomen had taste. Anyway, I'd tried to bring it up to him, and he just told me it was "business." Stupidly, I tried one more time, and he had said "Look, I'm tryn'a stay out of your business, yes? How's about you stay outta mine?" Which didn't sound like his TED talk voice at all.

    Okay then. We went on to baseball talk. Specifically, we talked about his ultimatum to me. He'd read it in somebody's book about the early days of the Kansas City club, and liked it. "You have a choice, yes? Either you finish out of sixth in the division, or you beat that pussy Northcutt's team in Boston. One or the other. Got it?"

    Well. ESPN had picked us to finish ten games behind the Resistance. Then again, they'd picked us to finish 45 games behind Tampa, solidly in dead last.

    It's great to have a goal, isn't it?
    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. #39
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    So I was talking about the BOBBS. Anybody could join the big group. For a little bit of money (around ten bucks) you got a higher level membership, which gave you more loot. But what was important about them on that opening day was the Senior level membership. That wasn't something you had to pay for (well, you did, but no more than anybody else). That required something special. Longevity.

    You had to have been here when the Dodgers were here. We had the basic Senior level, where you could just prove that you'd been born before October 2, 1957. Basically that just meant you were over 63, and we had plenty of those.

    Then there was the Confirmed Senior level. These were people who could produce a ticket stub, or a program, or something, that showed that they'd actually seen a Brooklyn Dodgers game. That brought us down to about a hundred people. Sure, some of them had gone to eBay to get the ticket stub, but we didn't really care.

    And then there was Zack Harris.

    About a week after we announced the Senior levels for the BOBBS, this old guy showed up at the offices and demanded to see the man in charge. My secretary Colt told him he didn't have time for him now. I'm going to assume that he was kidding, but with Colt we never know.

    Eventually he got to see me. He was...well, he was old. There were still wisps of hair on his head, but they were very white, and very rare. His skin wasn't so much wrinkled as just one big wrinkle. His nose could be used to hide a family of refugees, his ears could touch both walls of my office at the same time, and his pants were pulled up to his armpits and secured with belt, suspenders, and possibly glue. I prepared for an hour of talking to my grandpa Karl and then sending him on his way.

    Then he started to talk to me. "I am going to be 100 years old on May 2. On the day I was born, Zack Wheat of the Brooklyn Robins went 4 for 5 with two doubles to lead them to a 5-1 win over the Boston Braves. My father named me after him the next day." No hesitation, no fumbling for the memory. He looked like he was going to fall apart at any second, but his mind seemed pretty sharp.

    "Okay, Mr. Harris, what can I do for you?"

    "Call me Zack. I have some things to show you." And with that he reached into his briefcase and pulled out a program. "This is from that day. My pap was at the park while ma was having me."

    "Must have made him very popular."

    "She stayed with him for 62 years, and gave him 14 children. And the only reason she wasn't at the game was because she was having me." He then pulled out more programs, and some ticket stubs. An autographed picture of Joe Judge, who came over in 1922. Another autographed photo, this time of a young boy who, judging by the ears, was Zack, with someone whose autograph said he was Bob Meusel. Another of Zack, someone who I guessed was his sister, and two men who had signed their names as "Mule" Symuleski and Jim Weeks. Nice stuff - coming from my family, I've spent my share of time around old baseball memorabilia, and I've always liked it.

    "And now this," he said. He pulled out a ticket in a clear plastic (probably Mylar - as I said, I know from memorabilia) holder.

    "What's that?" I asked. At first I had been polite, but now I was interested.

    "This, youngster, is the ticket stub to the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Brooklyn Robins at Ebbetts Field on October 4, 1929. This was game seven of the 1929 World Series - you can even see on the ticket that it said 'World's Series', as though it was a series that was owned by the world. In that game, Bob Meusel singled home Jimmy O'Connell in the bottom of the eleventh inning to win the series for Brooklyn. I was there."

    I looked at him with respect. "You mean you're - "

    "Actually old enough to remember the last time Brooklyn had a world champion team, young man."

    I called Malinda. She called George Reed, head of the ticket office. Zack Harris has tickets to every home game we play, just behind the screen to the first base side of the plate, third row. (Yes, it was still available. Yes, that was not good.) I called Jill, and told her that I wanted him in our marketing right away. She said since he was there when Brooklyn was a winner, she'd make him our good luck charm.

    Then he asked me for another ticket. "I might like to bring a lady with me, you know."

    So he got two tickets.
    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. #40
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    The Resistance got to open their season the day before we did. They lost to the Marlins, 6 - 0. I appreciated them making it easier for me to start well.

    I hoped.

    The crowd started arriving early. Well, game time was going to be around 3 PM, so most people who had jobs were going to have to take a day off from them anyway. Before game day we'd sold almost 40,000 tickets, which wasn't terrible, though our stadium holds 57,231, so we had a way to go. I really wanted that sellout. You see, Massachusetts hadn't gotten one. They were about 10K below capacity on opening day. Personally I thought it was because they were charging too much for the tickets. But until I got the sellout, I couldn't say anything.

    Hideous gold and purple bunting and decorations were all over the park. The bigger the area covered in the stuff, the harder it was to avert your eyes. But you really wanted to.

    God did His part for the game. Sure, it was early April in New York, which can be cold, snowy, wet, and miserable. The day dawned clear and stayed that way. By 3 we had reached 58 degrees. It was, in other words, a beautiful spring day.

    And I didn't have a manager.

    "Where the hell is he?" I demanded of Adam. Of Drew. Of Emma.

    Okay, nobody demanded anything of Emma. But I came close.

    "He asked me to inform you that he has objected to the purple and gold uniform colors of this team since the day he met with you to take the job. And he said that if you were willing to see reason and not require him to wear said uniform, he was accessible at his usual location."

    I was surprised. "Did he tell you where his usual location is?" I asked her.

    She snorted. "As if he'd have to."

    Well, no. I knew. "Jasmin's?"

    "Of course. On U. I believe you know the way."

    I should. I had found the place before he did, and brought Bill there months ago. Didn't know it had become his "usual", but then, come to think of it, he had been there a lot of the times I'd come in.

    Naming it "Jasmin's" made one think it was owned by a woman. Actually, the man who owned it was named Don Jasmin. He was about 5' 8", wore thick wire-rimmed glasses, and had a big bushy beard, partly to make up for a hairline that had receded so far that he'd just given up and shaved it off. In a comic book the light would have reflected off his glasses and you wouldn't have seen any eyeballs. I knew this because most of the time in the bar that's what happened.

    Especially on those rare occasions in which he could be coaxed out from behind the bar up to the small stage. Jasmin was a big fan of live music, and gave lots of local bands their first paying gigs. ("Local" bands in New York being mostly a figure of speech anyway, but still...) But on some days, when the stars were right, he would take to the keyboard himself. People went to Jasmin's in hope that they'd be there when that happened. I'd met one woman who told me that her job transferred her out of Brooklyn, but she hadn't wanted to go because she'd been there for not one but two of the Jasmin nights. "So what did you do?" I'd asked. "Quit the job," she replied.

    I could believe it.

    I turned to Colt. "Get Daria over there, and have her bring him back. Tell her to tell him whatever he wants to hear."

    "Who?"

    "Our intern. Daria."

    Colt just shook his head. "Dana will get right on it. But would Bill really stay away from opening day over this?"

    "Of course not. But he wants me to think he would. So if I don't play the game and send somebody, he'll be stuck there, and I'll have a hell of a time trying to get him past it."

    "And when he shows up here thinking that he doesn't have to wear the uniform?"

    "One thing at a time."

    Just before 1230 Dara brought him in. He just looked at me. "You lied to me. Worse, you sent this young lady to lie to me."

    "As long as we understand each other. Now get out there, put on the hideous uniform, and do your job, old man."

    To my concern, he didn't get angry. To my horror, he was smiling. "Yes sir," he said, and left.

    Oh crap, what's he doing now?
    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. #41
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    Well, I found out.

    The ceremonies went off very well. The Mayor of New York City, the Honorable Helen K. Alexander, made her speech. Maybe it was me, but I didn't think she sounded as happy for us to be here as I would have liked. She'd been working for several years to try to get an established team to move here, so she could run as the Mayor Who Brought Baseball Back To Brooklyn (in capital letters, yes). So here we were, and she didn't seem to like it. Oh well, politicians - as my grandfather always said, can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em and hide the bodies in shallow unmarked graves in the Pine Barrens.

    Commissioner of baseball, the Honorable Alvin James Thompson, former Senator from the Great State of New York, made his welcome speech, and sounded much more welcoming. Didn't say anything of any substance, but then, politicians.

    WJRO-TV's Cal Mifflin was there, of course, taking charge of the media contingent. This would have been fine, except that that was Natalie's job, and she wasn't as big a fan of Mifflin as, well, as he was. Then again, nobody was and nobody could have been. WJRO radio's broadcast team of Chris Bailey and Fred Lewis was there, talking up the potential of the new season. That would be why I was kind of excited myself - potential. I knew it was going to come crashing down horribly, but today, before the first pitch, was all about potential. Like any other Opening Day.

    Stadium PA announcer Dustin Dorsey gave a perfunctory reading of the Pilots' lineup. Then a big show of our benchwarmers and bullpen. Our coaches, led by third base coach Chris Sabo and first base coach Nelson Cruz, and pitching coach Billy Wagner, had come out to what must be admitted was more applause than the actual playing team. Not surprising - between Cruz and Sabo, they had nearly 1300 major league home runs - or 1200 more than my entire team. Plus Sabo had played all his career in New York, and was much loved. Wagner even more so - 22 seasons, all with the New York Giants. 714 career saves, third on the all time list.

    Actually, I couldn't get over how well it was going. There didn't appear to be a empty seat in the house. We must have had a hell of a walkup gate. Everybody was having a good time.

    Dorsey announced the starting lineup. Everybody came out in the most tasteful uniform we have - the simple home whites. Delahanty got some applause. Amella and Blanco got more. I swear Amella shot me a nasty look.

    Then Dorsey announced the manager, Bill Kyser. And he came out of the bullpen to make the same walk along the yellow carpet that we'd laid out for all of them.

    I understood why he was smiling. He hadn't rejected the uniform. He hadn't ignored my wishes, and worn street clothes. No, he was in purple and gold.

    Gold pants. Gold lamé pants, a really shiny gold, and they were parachute pants. A purple shirt, again a shiny, satiny look. Purple shoes, which we didn't require, and from where I sat I believed I could see that they were actually pointed. And a shiny purple cape, with a gold liner. Carrying a bat that had been shaped into a scepter, and wearing a full-on crown. Made of gold, or at least something that looked like gold, and laden with purple amethysts. 21, I later found out, representing the year in which the team entered the league.

    Ever hear 57,231 people go silent? And then start laughing?

    He walked to the end of the carpet. Mal was waiting for him, with a baseball cap, and - was that a pillow? Why yes, it was. Purple, looked like velvet. He made a big show of removing his crown, and placing it on the pillow she held. She gave him the cap, and he made an equally big show of placing it on his head.

    And he looked up to my office, pulled an imaginary finger gun, and shot me down. Just like he used to do to the lowest rookies on the team.

    While all the trappings were being cleared away, I texted him to change his uniform. Nice joke, now it's over, etc.

    When he went out to exchange lineups, he was still in purple and gold. Not the uniform, still in the royal tights and tunic outfit. I texted again, this time with more urgency - "Joke's over. Change."

    After he shook hands with the umpires and Pilots' manager Dave Kinnult, he pulled out his phone, and typed something, using his index finger instead of his thumbs. My phone buzzed.

    "No."
    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. #42
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    Yes, but other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?

    Or the game?

    Justin Verlander set them down in order in the first and second. David Morgan got our first hit, a single in the first. Catcher Ryan Thelen got our first run, first RBI, and first home run on a solo shot in the second. They got a leadoff double in the third, at which point Verlander got a line drive out and two strikeouts. In the fourth, Morgan singled again, Delahanty walked, Markakis sacrificed them to scoring position, and Thelen hit a long line drive out to left, that was deep enough for Morgan to score.

    They gave us a scare in the seventh when Brad White reached on a one out error by our third baseman Miller and Jonathan Schoop doubled after another out. But James John in right cut White down at the plate to stop the threat and end the inning.

    After 7 2/3 innings, and ten strikeouts, Verlander allowed his first walk. Bill (who radio announcer Chris Bailey started calling "King Kyser", and I think it's going to stick) took him out, to actual loud applause. Sam Tibbett came in and got the final out, and then three more in the ninth.

    Barons 2, Pilots 0

    Hell, it was even done by 5:15 PM, clocking in at two hours and seven minutes. Even with postgame media stuff, everything was ready for the six o'clock news.

    It was...perfect.

    I know tomorrow is another game. I know we're in third place. But for this one day, baseball is back. Kyser is back.

    And I am back. Really. I am.

    * * *

    One week later? I'm not sure what to say.

    If the season ended right now, we'd be the second wild card team. We have five times as many wins as Tom Slade. Okay, so that means we have five wins, but still. We're 5 - 3.

    More details? We won our second game. We got blown out in game three, 14 - 2, and everybody figured that the party was over, especially with the AL champion Twins coming to town.

    We swept them. 3 - 1, 7 - 4, and 3 - 1.

    Okay, so the next two days we were beaten by the Tarpons, and it was 12-0 and 12-3. So we've allowed 48 runs and only scored 25. Bill pointed out in an interview that they don't measure success by who gets the most runs in a season, but by who wins the most games. He was then protested by a local outfit that said that he was making a veiled political statement about the electoral college and that there was no room for that kind of sexism in today's baseball.

    And sure, in the next week, it wasn't as good. We won once, and lost four times, to drop below .500. Pythagorean standings still show us trying to get our third win. Bart Coade, who had pitched a complete game (remember those?) in his first time out barely made it past the third and gave up nine runs the second time. Ugly started coming out a bit.

    Oh, and after our first two weeks, our attendance? Just over 51K per game. The Yankee's attendance? Just under 50k.

    Apparently it's not that the people of Brooklyn don't want to see us. They just don't want to buy season tickets to see us. And honestly? As long as they're buying some kind of ticket, I don't care.
    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. #43
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    Malinda put the empty glass on the bar. She smiled, thinking of the last time she'd been able to have two gimlets in the same day. "Back before I got to Brooklyn, at least." That thought made her realize how long it had been since she'd really relaxed and enjoyed herself. And that thought made her ask the bartender for another.

    Jasmin merely nodded and placed the drink smoothly in front of her, equally smoothly removing the empty. She took a drink - perfect, just like the last two.

    She turned to him and smiled. Not her best smile, but a decent one, she thought. "I wasn't sure you were going to give me a third," she said, somewhat coyly. It had also been a long time since she'd flirted with a bartender.

    Not that it mattered. "A good bartender knows the limits of his regulars. I'm a very good bartender," he said matter-of-factly.

    "Am I one of your regulars?"

    "You're here often enough that I know that you don't normally drink gimlets."

    "Then how do you know I can handle three?"

    He turned to stare at her. "I don't know if it's too much alcohol. I do know that you can handle absolutely anything." There was nothing to the comment really, and yet she found a quick shiver running down her back. He continued to stare.

    She was the one who broke off eye contact, and changed the subject. "Anything except that baseball team I work for."

    "They're doing well. That means you're doing well, right?" he asked, wiping down the bar as he talked.

    "Hah!" Her exclamation caught him by surprise. That rarely happened, and it always made him happy when it did.

    "You going to explain that little burst of eloquence?" he asked when she didn't.

    "Sure. It's the middle of April. We're home for two more against the Blue Jays, then we have three away games, all the way in the wilds of the Bronx. That one has me curious - will our fans "travel"? I mean, it's not that it's all that much travel, just a longer subway ride and a transfer or two. But will they do it?"

    "They're New Yorkers. If they want to see something in New York, they will."

    "But do they? Do they want to?" she replied. Then, opening up a bit, she went on. "Actually, the question of New York, and New York fans, and New York provincial attitudes, is on my mind a lot. And don't try to tell me that New Yorkers are cosmopolitan and don't have a provincial attitude. They're every bit as much a home town bunch as anybody else, they just happen to have an entertainment industry and a news industry that likes to show them that they're right when they say that New York is the center of the world. Which, fine, live like you want to live."

    He looked at her again and thought for a moment. "But you're not worried about whether your fans will travel to the Bronx, are you?"

    "No, not really. They will, or they won't, and it's not my department to see to either one. But New Yorkers and their attitude are important to me because in about two months the draft is coming up. The team's first."

    Jasmin continued to wipe down the bar. The tourists had left to go out and do whatever tourists do, and the regulars weren't in yet, so it was kind of quiet. The waitress put a couple of songs on the classic old jukebox in the corner. At the moment, Bobby "Blue" Bland was giving a weather report for Monday.

    "And you want to do well," Jasmin replied to her comment.

    "I have to do well. The first draft could help us to climb out of the hole we're in within a couple of years. Or if he screws it up, we could stay right where we are in the basement."

    "You don't seem to be in that much of a hole. You're almost at .500. That's not bad for a team this new, is it?" Jasmin wasn't much of a sports fan. Good listener, which is the true key to being a bartender of course.

    "We will be. It's a matter of time. If we had a season that was about ten games, I'd give us a decent chance, but you can't hide bad over 162 games. We're still going to be bad." He nodded, as though she'd just shared with him the wisdom of the ages. "But that's not it either. We're going to have the number one pick in the draft. There are a couple of people who are the consensus top picks. But there's also this kid named Greg Aaron."

    "Ah," he said.

    "You've heard of him?"

    "Of course. I live in Brooklyn, and I talk to people in Brooklyn. Everybody in Brooklyn, from the guy on the corner to Bezmenov the mob guy to the richest business mogul has heard of the number one can't-miss ballplayer at Abraham Lincoln High School?"

    "Right! Can't miss! Except of course that he can, because there is no such thing as a can't miss prospect in baseball."

    "Ah," he repeated. "So you think it would be a good idea to draft him because he's very good, and because he's local and that will make us provincial New Yorkers like your team better..."

    She picked it up. "But he's considered a late first round pick, and if we pick him with the number one pick and he fails, we not only look like idiots, but we've set the team back at least another year."

    "Will he be there for your second pick?"

    "Not even in the compensatory rounds. I've run the scenarios a hundred times. If we don't grab him in the first round, we're not getting him. And then if he does turn out to be as good as everyone thinks he will be, we're stuck too." She looked down, realized that she'd managed to down the third gimlet. She looked a question at Jasmin. He shook his head.

    "You're at your limit for now. Besides, you probably don't do your clearest thinking on four drinks. And it sounds to me as though you have some important thinking to do."

    "Yes! That's right, I do." She looked at him and her look wasn't flirtatious any more. It was simple gratitude. "Thank you for understanding, Jasmin," she said as she slipped her jacket on. It had gotten colder since opening day.

    "All part of the service."
    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. #44
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Posts
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    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    The team was on the field early, hoping to do something against the Blue Jays. The division-leading Blue Jays. 11 - 3. No matter how you looked at it, Jack thought, 11 - 3 is better than 6 - 7. And 11 - 3 and currently projected to win 99 is a whole lot better than 6 - 7 and projected to win 43.

    Still, 43 projected wins is better than the 29 projected wins from the preseason polls.

    Jack laughed quietly to himself. "I'm a genius. I've successfully deduced that 43 is greater than 29. Sounds like something Grandpa Karl would have said on the radio like it was the heights of wisdom."

    He turned back to the computer on his desk. There was a decision to make. There was always a decision to make, but this one was a touch more immediate than most of the others.

    He completely lost track of time. Two hours later, he realized that he was late. He got up, grabbed his keys and jacket, and headed for the office door.

    * * *

    Mal figured she had to stay until at least six or seven in order to make up for the time she'd spent at Jasmin's that afternoon. That, and the fact that three gimlets when she had to go back to work really wasn't that good of an idea, so she hadn't done much even when back at her desk. "Just another couple of hours," she thought, "and then I can..."

    She trailed off, and it bothered her. It bothered her more when she realized that she wasn't trailing off because of an inability to concentrate, or think. She was trailing off because she had no idea what she was going to do when she left the office. She usually didn't.

    "And isn't that a depressing thought?" she asked herself.

    "Isn't what a depressing thought?" a voice from the door said. Mal, startled, turned to see Natalie standing there.

    "Nothing, sorry. Guess I just started thinking out loud." She tossed a quick glance at her laptop screen, hoping that she'd see a meeting with Nat on her schedule. Hoping even more that she'd see an agenda for it, so she's have any idea what the meeting was for.

    And hoping a little bit that Natalie wouldn't see her glance at the laptop.

    No such luck. "You don't remember why I'm here, do you?" Natalie asked sharply.

    Mal kept what she hoped was a convincing smile on her face. "Of course. How could I forget? It was...um...about media relations." Even to her, that sounded lame.

    Natalie's eyebrow arched. "Seeing as how I'm head of media relations, you're not exactly going out on a limb there, are you?"

    The faked smile wilted. "I have no idea why we're meeting," Mal said, more to herself than to Nat. "Way to impress," she thought. Raising her head to face the other woman, she asked "What did I forget?"

    Natalie continued to glare at her. "Let me ask you a question, Malinda. You look right now like you've done the worst thing in the world. Why?"

    Mal was brought up short. Finally, slowly and uncertainly, she said "Because...I should have remembered a meeting with you?" Even she could hear the question mark at the end of it.

    "Of course you should. But you didn't. But that's not my question. Why is this bothering you? You forgot a meeting. It happens to everyone. What is it about this one that is a problem to you?"

    Mal didn't want to look at her, wanted to be anywhere other than under that arch look. Wanted especially to be giving that arch look to someone. Anyone. Jack, particularly...who she saw walk behind her open door, on the way out of his office. She considered calling out to him, but something in Natalie's look told her that escape wasn't an option.

    As though she was reading her thoughts, Nat went on. "You're hoping that you can get out of this by waiting me out, aren't you? That I'll give in and give you the right answer?" Mal nodded again.

    Nat pulled up the guest chair and sat down. "Malinda, you're missing the point. There is no right answer. Or, there is, but it's to tell me that you just forgot, and you're sorry, and can we get on with it. Nothing more. Which leads me back to my first question - why is this one bothering you?"

    "I kind of want to do the job right," Mal tried to laugh it off.

    Nat wasn't laughing. "And by 'right', do you mean 'perfectly'? Because you can't do that, you know."

    Wondering where it came from even as she said it, and how much three gimlets might have to do with it, Mal exclaimed "But I have to! If I'm not perfect, nobody takes me seriously! You're a woman, you know what it's like."

    Natalie nodded. "I do know what being a woman is like, yes." She looked at Mal some more. Unspoken was a very clear "You're going to need more than that." And Mal, who, like most people, had simply thought it for years without ever really thinking about it, was silent.

    It dragged on. Then Mal received evidence that God did in fact exist, or at least that Natalie had a heart somewhere in there, because she decided to change the subject. "I actually came by to talk to you about the Tigers series coming up in a couple of weeks. I know you were with Reno a while back, and wanted you to look over the roster and see if there was anything I'd need to know for our media guide for the series. Or that I could give Chris Bailey for the broadcasts."

    Mal laughed just a bit more shrilly than really necessary. "No problem! Let's see that roster!" Mentally she promised to hold herself to two drinks or less from here on, Jasmin's opinion or not.

    Natalie smirked, and produced a paper copy of the roster, placed it on Mal's desk. She listened as Mal gave her some tidbits that would sound good on a radio broadcast.

    "Oh no," Mal uttered after a few names.

    "What?"

    Mal lowered her head gently until her forehead was touching the desk. "This isn't my day."

    "What?" Nat repeated, a bit more acerbicly this time.

    Still witout raising her head, Mal replied. "Pete Thomas. He's back up with the Tigers, and will be coming here next week."

    "And the problem with that is?"

    Sigh. Still not looking up. "Pete and I have...a history."

    Nat laughed. "Seems to me I've heard this from you before. Sounds good. Dish."

    Raising her head, Mal replied in a monotone. "What can I say? I have a type. Pete is that type."

    "And Fred Lewis?"

    "And Fred Lewis. When I was much younger and even dumber than now, I indulged that type with Pete. I was aware that he was seeing someone else. I was not aware that the someone else was the daughter of the team owner. Fortunately I found employment elsewhere."

    Nat rose, took the paper. "I'll come back for this tomorrow. And you're right. This doesn't seem to be your day." She left.

    Ten minutes later, Mal finally looked at her calendar, and saw that there was no meeting scheduled. Nat had just dropped by.
    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

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    1,532

    Re: Brooklyn Blues

    April, 2021

    This time she was ready.

    She thought she had figured out his pattern. She waited. And when the time came, from her hiding place, she would pounce.

    And follow.

    And pounce again.

    Or...something like that? Follow, then pounce? Pounce on him but do it so he didn't know, so then she could follow, to where she could pounce?

    Didn't matter. While she was thinking about it, he had gotten so close that he was almost on top of her. She ducked back into her hiding place to avoid him literally running over her.

    He was distracted, and didn't see her. He continued on his way.

    When she was sure he had turned the corner, she pounced. And followed.

    Down to the end of the hall. Pulling herself up short at the corner, then peeking slowly around.

    He was about to turn again. She waited until he did. And then followed as quickly as she could.

    This time when she pulled up at the corner, she could just see someone else, coming from the opposite direction from where he had turned. It was too late, she couldn't back up in time.

    But then, neither could the other.

    Best to brazen it out.

    "Emma," she said quietly, so as not to alert him.

    "Jill," Emma replied.

    "Whatcha doin'?" she asked, nonchalantly.

    "Nothin'," Emma replied. Both circling each other enough that they could keep an eye on Jack's rapidly receding form. "You?"

    "Nothin'," Jill responded.

    "Uh huh. Funny place to be doing 'nothin'', isn't it?"

    "Yes," Jill replied, staring right back at Emma. "Yes, it is. So why are you here?"

    "Me? You're asking me? Why I am here?" Emma answered.

    Jill didn't back away. "Yes I am."

    "I," Emma drew herself up fully, still watching Jack more than the woman in front of her, "am head of stadium security. I was investigating to determine if there was a threat to said security. What are you doing here?"

    Jill turned a bit more red. "I don't have to answer that, you know. I'm not sure why you think you can get away with asking me anything. You want to ask me something that relates to work, that's fine. But if you're going to ask me something that doesn't, you'd better have a reason."

    Emma looked down at her, turning a bit red herself. "I have every reason in the world. What I do not have is the time. We will take this up again later." And she brushed past Jill, heading down the hall, hoping to catch up to Jack, knowing that she probably wouldn't.

    "Don't you walk away from me!" Jill exclaimed, still with enough awareness to keep the exclamation quiet. Well, at least to keep it from echoing off the still-only-partly-finished walls in this section of the park. She hurried after Emma.

    When they reached the corner at which Jack had turned, they both paused. "You are following our boss, aren't you?" Emma asked.

    "So are you."

    "As I said, I am the head of security. It is in my interest to know what is going on with everyone who works here. You are in marketing. Unless you plan to advertise what he's doing, you have no part in this."

    "He's my boss. I need to know what he thinks before he does. Most of the time I can do that simply by telling him what he thinks, but he's not like Bernard, that doesn't always work." Emma nodded, understanding the logic herself. "Therefore," Jill continued, "I need to know everything about him that I can. If that means I need to follow him to see where he goes when he leaves from the side parking lot, that he keeps hidden from me, then so be it."

    "I cannot disagree with anything you have said," Emma said after a moment. "But he is getting away."

    They got to the outside door just in time to see Jack pulling away. "I don't even recognize that car," Emma said with some evident disgust. Unusually, the disgust was aimed at herself.

    "I do. It's a Viper convertible. Looks like it's about 15 years old." At Emma's glace, Jill said "I know cars."

    Emma nodded. "And I know one thing more about our boss than I did before."

    "But neither of us know where he disappears to."
    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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