Friday, January 30, 2009

The Streak - 16 - Tragedy in the Bronx

Evan sat glumly in the clubhouse, one sock on and one sock off. He'd been the goat on a team of goats in the Yankees' 25th loss in a row, hitting into an unassisted triple play that provoked a gasp of awed dismay from the crowd. He'd played the rest of the game in a mild trance, an insulation against grief and self-reproach. It seemed he'd barely had the will to put one foot ahead of the other, but he did; nor to carry out his ritual gesticulations at the plate and in the field, but he did; nor to gather grounders and throw to first with alacrity and accuracy, but he did. He'd performed mechanically, robotically, keeping at arm's length the worry that he'd fall off the high wire and into the void. He even had a hit, a pointless double to the gap in center field with two outs and no one on in the eighth, down 12-4. Now he saw the press corps coming; the many-limbed, interloping beast. He stood up to face the music.

"Evan!"

"Evan!"

"Evan!"

The noisy gaggle of wide-eyed men and women jostled around him like Third World urchins, mics and mini-cassette recorders out like wanting hands, hectoring him to grace them with the charity of words.

"Evan! How does it feel to be the fifteenth player ever to hit into an unassisted triple play?"

"It's a terrific honor."

Dutiful scribbling, the flashes of cameras.

"Evan!"

"Evan!"

"Evan!"

"Don't print that. It was a joke."

"How does it feel?"

"How does it feel, Evan?"

"I'm going to do what I need to do to get this team back on track and in the right direction."

"Evan!"

"Evan!"

"Evan, does Jim need to change the lineup again?"

"I can't speak for Jim Bosworth. Jim Bosworth is his own man."

"Should he be fired?"

"It's not my time or place to say."

"Do you think you should be batting cleanup again?"

"I'm happy to bat where they put me."

"Evan! What did you think of Chris Bailey's performance today?"

Bailey had lasted five and two-thirds innings, giving up eight runs on ten hits.

"Chris is a great pitcher and he needs to focus on what he needs to do to help this team succeed."

"Evan, the Yankees just broke the record for the longest losing streak in baseball history. Is this the worst team of all time?"

"I don't... I can't –"

"Evan, when will you stop losing?"

"Yeah, Evan! When will the Yankees stop losing?"

"Do you think you'll lose thirty in a row?"

"Yeah. How many games in a row are the Yankees going to lose?"

"Will you lose forty games in a row, Evan? Fifty? Can you lose fifty?"

"Evan: How many games is it possible that you might lose? In a row."

"When will you start winning again, Evan? When will the Yankees win?"

"Yeah. When will you stop losing and start winning?"

"When will it end, Evan?"

"I don't know."

The reporters moved on to Esteban's locker and Evan sat back down on his stool. He picked up his other sock and contemplated it a good, long time. Finally, he lifted his head and saw the television hanging from the clubhouse ceiling. It was tuned to CNN. An indistinct cityscape, helicopter-viewed, punctuated by a deep red fire and its inverted cone of smoke. The crawl said:

    TRAGEDY IN THE BRONX


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