Some of you know that I got some amazing news on Friday relating to The Season.
Let's just say, I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and there's a dent in the wood from how many times I've been knocking on it.
As always, (c) Rebecca Glass, all international copyright laws apply. Please protect intellectual property rights.
The Season, Part 18
#1, Dennis Howard, bench coach
Like TJ, Dennis is so distracted by the news about Pete that he almost loses his capacity to process what should be important, albeit disturbing, information. He doesn’t chide any of the Spartans for sloppy play since he knows that he himself is guilty of sloppy coaching. Pete’s not much of one to talk about his personal life, so it’s not even like Dennis can talk to Pete about it, either.
When Kent comes to him, with Eliot in tow, and they remark on the conversation that Eliot heard the night before, Dennis’s first instinct is to ignore it, and wonder why Kent or Eliot would care at all about what TJ and Damien were doing. The four get on well enough on the field and in the clubhouse, but Dennis doubts the four have ever socialized together over the winter. Why Kent would come to him at all makes no sense; these aren’t middle school boys, they should be past the tattling and petty arguments. He tells Kent he’ll take care of it, goes back to eating his oatmeal, and then promptly forgets what it is.
It’s later, when he’s sitting in the dugout, bottom of the fifth inning, sun slowly roasting his arms, that he notices something. Florida’s got a man on first, with their second baseman up at bat. Graeme pitches a fastball that’s a little low outside of the strike zone, but the batter swings anyway, driving the ball into the ground, straight to Damien. It’s an easy double play ball; any high school shortstop would be capable of the soft underhand toss from short to the force out at second. However, instead of a gentle underhand, Damien tosses a bullet to TJ, and it catches TJ off guard. TJ has to take a step back just to keep his balance; the runner on first is still out easily, but TJ is obviously too surprised to make the throw to first.
Eliot sees it too. He gives Dennis a sharp stare and, like an anvil, Dennis realizes why Kent and Eliot told him what they did. It’s not tattling if not doing so hurts the team. They might have no proof as to whether or not Damien is using again, but that toss is all Dennis needs to see that there is definitely something bad between him and TJ at the moment. Dennis, who has been sitting next to Pete, on the far end of the bench in the dugout, gets up and walks over towards Eliot.
“Got any seeds?” Dennis isn’t really a sunflower seeds fan, but it’s an easy way to start a conversation with anyone on the bench. Eliot nudges Dan, who’s seated next to him, for the bag. Dylan, who’s usually seated with them, is by the water cooler, getting himself something to drink and talking to Terry, who is still recovering from his hamstring injury. Dan glares for half a second before he sees Dennis and hands the bag directly to him.
“What brings you down to this neck of the woods?” Dan laughs, emphasizing his faint southern accent.
“Just a quick word with Eliot.” Dennis pauses, knowing he has to come up with something to deflate Dan’s curiosity. “About his baserunning.”
“Ah, sure, no problem.” It’s no secret that Eliot’s baserunning is his biggest weakness, and Dan’s curiosity is easily satiated. He goes over towards Dylan and Terry to join in their conversation.
“My baserunning?” Eliot arches his eyebrows a bit, but doesn’t make much of a scene. Dennis doesn’t waste any time trying to keep up the charade.
“What you and Kent told me, earlier today…”
“You saw the throw?”
“Yes. Listen, I think there’s something going on, if he’s throwing like that to his best friend, but I have to tell you, don’t tell Pete.” It comes out before
Dennis even knows what he’s saying, but when it does, he knows he means it, and why.
“You mean he’s got enough on his mind? Or something else?”
“You weren’t around last time, but you know what happened.”
“Well, if Pete finds out, it’ll be the same thing, all over again, and probably worse.” Dennis doesn’t add because our bench is depleted enough as is and we can’t afford the negative publicity attached to Damien going into rehab, again. He doesn’t have to.
“Someone’s got to talk to him, though.” Eliot surprises Dennis with his unrelenting concern; if it was Kent they were talking about, it’d be far less surprising, but it’s not.
“TJ’s been doing that, hasn’t he? From what you told me, anyway? I’ll talk to TJ.”
“He doesn’t know I heard him, though.”
“I know. Listen, we’ll figure it out, and I’ll have a talk with Damien about that throw of his.” Dennis grabs a few more sunflower seeds from the bag he’s been holding, and places the bag back down on the bench.
“Hey, dude, speaking of my baserunning,” Eliot starts, “how am I supposed to get any better at it if I don’t get a chance to practice?” It’s almost, but not quite, a joke.
“You want practice? All right, if Leo or Richie gets on next inning, you run.” It’s an easy solution, though it relies on one of them actually reaching base.
It might, Dennis muses, be an easier task to keep Damien clean.
#57, Eduardo Gomez, relief pitcher
It’s not any obvious injury, and for that reason, Eduardo won’t complain, but that doesn’t change the basic truth. He hurts.
It’s been over a month now since the Accident, but the Haus brothers have not been able to manage anything to replenish the depleted bullpen. All potential trade talks have centered around Bran, and, with his recent slump, other teams have demanded more than just Bran, but Kent, who has taken nicely to the everyday role, as well. It’s too much for the Haus brothers, and thus the trade remains uncompleted and the bullpen overstretched and overworked.
Eduardo’s not thrown as many innings as Jeff or Cory, but he’s appeared in more games, and warming up nearly every day takes its toll. His arm is so sore that he’s taken to wearing a sling when he’s not throwing; it doesn’t do anything for the pain in his shoulder, so he alters his delivery to make it bearable. Not comfortable, just bearable. He goes to Liam after every game, but there’s only so much Liam can do before the few pain killers Eduardo can take lose their effect. So he hurts.
He doesn’t complain, but he does tell Steven that if it can be avoided, he’d rather not pitch today. It’s a tall order, though—Monty’s pitching, the Spartans are on the road, and they are at New York. If the Spartans can win in a blowout, Eduardo might get a reprieve, but it’s more than unlikely. While Monty’s been up to the task so far, New York’s hitters are simply too good to make a blow out a reasonable possibility.
It’s a hot night, with a stale breeze full of city fumes and the stars obscured by the city lights. Eduardo spends the early innings of the game in the bullpen, trying not to make his soreness obvious to Jeff or Cory, but it’s a lost cause. They’re just as sore as he is, and they envy his acting ability. They start they game as they do every game, watching it, taking every detail and then trying to estimate when one of them will be called to enter it, but they soon lose interest and the conversation turns to the one topic they haven’t been able to avoid for the past week: Pete.
It’s Jeff who starts it with a comment made all the more uncomfortable given his own turbulent situation: “I saw Anne earlier.”
“Really?” Cory’s not really interested in hearing about Pete’s wife, but he can’t think of anything better. “What’s she doing here?”
“Yeah. She’s got a ticket to the game, I guess, I saw her talking to Pete during warm ups.”
“I didn’t see her.”
“You were still in the locker room.” It’s believable—Jeff is usually one of the first out onto the field. Eduardo finds himself genuinely curious; he’s impressed the two are even speaking to each other.
“What were they talking about?”
“Dunno, I kept my distance. Don’t know about you, but if I was Pete right now, I’d probably try to stay clear of her. Did see one thing, though, she gave him an envelope. Don’t know what was in it.”
“An envelope?” This grabs Cory’s attention, and magnifies Eduardo’s curiosity tenfold. “How big?”
“One of those package ones…it was pretty full. Why?” Eduardo senses where Cory is going with this, and Cory answers exactly how he imagines he would.
“Anne’s lawyer is based in New York.”
“How do you know?”
“We use the same firm, I’ve seen her there before.”
“You have a lawyer?”
“My split from my first wife was pretty nasty.”
“Wait…you’re talking about a divorce lawyer?”
“Yeah,” Cory states, as if there is nothing in the world more obvious.
“And you think—“
“Damn. I feel bad for Pete.”
“I feel bad for Anne. He cheated on her, not the other way around.” Eduardo shares in Cory’s disgust that Jeff seems to forget that Pete is the one at fault here. He understands it, though—Pete is already idolized, and Jeff has fairly antiquated views about the roles of men and women in marriage and society.
“One mistake and this happens?”
“It’s probably more than one mistake. We just know about one.”
“C’mon, man, this is Pete we’re talking about…”
“I know. He’s not a saint.” There’s a long silence after this. Cory’s not lying, but it’s still hard for Eduardo to shake off the feeling of it being nearly blasphemous, and he can’t fathom what’s going through Jeff’s mind. He imagines Jeff is probably setting the ground rules for Cory’s heresy trial.
“Listen,” Eduardo says, “if it’s what you say it is, and Pete hasn’t told us, he probably doesn’t want it getting around.”
“We’re in New York,” Cory sighs, “it’s going to get around no matter what we do.”
It’s at this moment that the phone in the bullpen rings, and the signal comes for Eduardo to begin to throw. Eduardo is thrust back into the chaos of the game that had receded into the background; he has to check to scoreboard to see that they are in the seventh inning, with two out already, and up four to one, which would easily make this Monty’s best start of his career.
His arm tries to warn him not to abuse it, not to use it like a grenade launcher, by sending sharp aches to his elbow and his shoulder, but he ignores it. However bad his arm hurts, right now, it’s probably nothing compared to Pete. Or, for that matter, Anne.
STANDING AT THE END OF JUNE
New England Tribe 39-24
New York Knights 38-25
Hope City Spartans 35-28
Florida ‘Canes 27-36
Washington Sox 21-42
Chicago Lakemen 37-26
St. Louis Gold 37-26
Minnesota Berserkers 35-28
Cleveland Rivermen 34-29
Memphis Jazz 32-31
Detroit Moose 23-40
California Diablos 44-19
Seattle ‘Nauts 37-26
Denver Mustang 31-32
Texas Stampede 29-34
Kansas City ‘Nadoes 23-40
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Some of you know that I got some amazing news on Friday relating to The Season.