Hey everyone, it’s Jake again. I spent most of the last week trying to figure out some way to stay conscious for longer than a minute or two on my next visit to Cream City. Although to the untrained eye I suppose it might just look like I’ve been lazing around taking naps all day long.
I really can’t describe how exhausting this whole time-travel thing has been. It’s not like you see in the movies. Basically, your body feels like a frozen custard shake being sucked up through one of those tiny cocktail straws. Except you’re also the one doing the sucking. It’s weird. Or maybe think of it like this: you’re running a race – let’s say it’s the 100-meter dash – through a thin, dark tunnel. You’re pumping as hard as you can, but for some reason you’re not moving as fast as you think you should be. That’s when you realize that you’re attached to an industrial-strength bungee cord, and each step you take stretches the cord tighter and tighter. When you finally cross the finish line, your overwhelming instinct is to relax. But you know that the second you do, you’ll be whipped right back to the starting line. You want to look around, but at the same time you’re terrified that the bungee cord might snap. It’s the only thing that’s keeping you from plunging headlong into a whole ocean of impossibilities. Then it hits you: it’s not a bungee cord at all, but the very fabric of reality itself. And if it breaks, there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get back to the only home you’ve ever known. So you dig in, plant your feet, and try to stand your ground. Of course, there’s only so much one person can do against the staggering forces of the space-time continuum. Just as your body turns to Jello, you get yanked back through the tunnel, like a fish on the end of some cosmic line. And then you wake up quivering on the floor of the lab.
Actually, I’m not even sure if the cord could ever snap. I’m just not really prepared to take that risk. I suppose you could argue that I should try it anyways, in the name of science or whatever. And I actually don’t have much to lose, compared to a lot of other people. I have my friends, sure, but nothing really ties me down. I don’t have much family to speak of. I was adopted when I was little. The couple who raised me died a few years ago. I have a couple of half-sisters, but they’re a lot older than me. Also, they’re football fans. But still! I’m quite comfortable where I am. No need to go around trying to cut any cords, just to see if I can.
Sorry to get so introspective there. What I really wanted to tell you is that I’ve made another trip over to the other side. It was still pretty fuzzy, but I was able to stay there for at least two minutes this time. I’m beginning to think that I’m exiting the wormhole at the Schlitz Stadium press box. It would certainly explain all the articles I’ve found. Speaking of, here’s the latest:
Cream City Herald Sunday Evening Edition
Hops Creamed; Crabs RollBy Margaret Piper
The Hops are swept out of Baltimore as the early-season doldrums roll on. Maggie Piper voices her concern.
The Cream City Hops are learning the hard way: baseball is a cruel mistress. After taking two of three from the Kansas City Swing to kick off the road-trip with some promise, the Baltimore Blue Crabs handed down a four-game drubbing, culminating in today’s double-header double-shutout.
Guillaume Guy-Homme took the mound for game one, fresh off his first victory of the young season at Kansas City. He would replicate his line from that game – seven innings pitched, two earned runs, and six strikeouts – but today’s results were different. The Hops’ bats missed their morning wake-up call, mustering just four measly singles in a complete-game effort by Baltimore ace Larry Crowston. Young right-hander Chip Camp battled admirably through the eighth, but the Hops came up short. The morning final: 2-0 Baltimore.
Game two got off to an eventful start, as Hops stalwart Red Bailey loaded up the bases with one out in the bottom of the first inning. Pitching on short rest, Bailey appeared to be struggling to locate his secondary pitches. After walking in the first run of the game, Bud Barrington hit a smash right into the glove of first baseman Chaz Simmons. Simmons astutely kicked the bag for a double play, and the inning was over.
Bailey found trouble again in the fifth, allowing a two runs to score on a sharply hit ground ball through the middle by second baseman Rolf Douglas. One of those runs was unearned, on account of a costly throwing error by the sure-handed Raul Cassavetes two batters previously. Just as a beautiful spring evening was settling in during the eighth, Bud Barrington took his revenge for his earlier double play, blasting a two-run home run into the right field seats.
Though Barrington’s bomb certainly didn’t help matters much, one could make the argument that the Hops’ fate had already been sealed by another in a string of toothless offensive showings that characterized the series. I caught up with player-manager Wrench Ruxley, owner of a 2-15 line with seven Ks versus Baltimore, after the game. A transcript of our interview is below.
MP: Tough series, skipper. Can you speak at all to the mindset of the team right now?
WR: Mindset? Our mindset is to go out there and win ballgames.
MP: Which has proven rather difficult to do. How is morale in the clubhouse?
WR: Fine. It’s fine.
MP: What about the offense? Any ideas for how to break them out of their collective slump?
WR: You know, these things come and go. We scored eight runs our last game out in Kansas City, then came here to Baltimore and managed, what, six for the whole series? [Editor’s note: the Hops scored four runs total in the Baltimore series.] We’re capable of putting some runs on the board. I expect we’ll break out of it pretty soon here.
MP: And you personally? It’s been a shaky start to the season for you. How has it been balancing your on-field duties with your new managerial responsibilities?
WR: You know, it’s a work in progress. Figuring out when to pinch-hit, when to bunt, how to fill out that lineup card. I feel fine, though. Seeing the ball fine. Like I said, these things come and go.
MP: You mentioned the lineup. One bright spot so far has been Chaz Simmons, who leads the team with three home runs and a dozen batted in. Any plans to start batting him third or fourth?
WR: Well, we’ve got [right fielder] Griff [Jones] hitting third, which he’s done for the past few years now, and I’ve been hitting cleanup for, what, fifteen years? [Editor’s note: It’s been eleven.] Those two spots are the easiest for me to fill out! It’s the other seven that I need to worry about.
If Ruxley’s not panicking yet, then neither should you. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played this summer. The Hops will look to turn things around on Tuesday, and they’ll have an appropriate stage for a new beginning. Tomorrow they embark on their first-ever road trip to sunny Los Angeles to take on the Lizards, that contentious new expansion franchise at the heart of so many offseason debates. Bugs Robbins gets the start against Tom Tooley, once thought to be Cream City’s next great ace in the hole. Of course, that before he was plucked away in the expansion draft last November. Tooley is of to an impressive start to the season – he’ll bring a 2-0 record and a glittering 1.20 ERA to the mound Tuesday night.
Finally, I have received a number of letters from statistical enthusiasts at home imploring me to include box scores in my Sunday columns. Since today’s game was a double-header, I’ve decided to throw you all a bone. Please find them below, along with the updated standings.
See you at the ballpark, folks.
– Maggie Piper
Jake here again. I guess our counterparts in Cream City aren’t off to that hot of a start! I wasn’t able to grab anything else this time around. I thought I had a pack of cards, but it turned out just to be an old crackerjack wrapper. Until next time! Go Hops! And, hey, go Brewers!