Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Streak - 47

Jim Bosworth gathered his players in the clubhouse before batting practice. The boys braced themselves for one of his harangues, which had tended to cycle through a specific set of themes since about when the streak hit double digits. These were now so rigid and predictable that they could be expressed as titles: Why Is It We Play This Game, Anyway?; What Is the Meaning of One Victory, Just One Lousy Victory, for Chrissakes?; Fundamentals, Fundamentals, Fundamentals; Do It for the Children; Why Do I Even Try?; and his favorite, You're All Nothing But a Bunch of Faggots and You Make Me Sick to My Stomach Just Lookin' at Ya.

However, it was clear from the skipper's abstracted demeanor that there was something else in store.

"Guys, fellas. Everybody dressed? OK, in just a second I'm going to bring in our VP of uh, of Community, um, Corporate. Um, help me out here. Cynthia, Cynthia."

Jim gazed pleadingly at his players and they stared back.

"Hell, Cynthia Gleason. You guys know her. Right?"

There were murmurs of assent from the assembled.

"OK. No more ado." Jim shuffled to the door and let in a statuesque brunette in a navy pantsuit and heels.

"Thank you, Jim! Thanks for your time, guys. I just have a couple of things to bring to your attention this afternoon. First, I want you all to take note of the memorial ribbons on your sleeves. Has everyone taken note of them? Good, good, good. I want you all to be aware. Does anyone have any questions about the memorial ribbons?"

There was an unsteady pause. Then Marlon Hines, a middle reliever, raised his hand.

"Yes, Marlon?"

"What are they for?"

"Good question, Marlon. Memorial ribbons are a time-honored tradition here at the New York Yankees. We like to show our respect and extend our sympathies to members of the–"

"No, I mean what's this one for? Why are we wearing them tonight?"

"Oh. Of course. Of course," replied Cynthia, suddenly flustered. "I'm sorry, I don't have that in my notes," she said. This was curious, because she did not seem to have any notes. "But I believe they, uh. Well, we have experienced quite a momentous... There has in fact been quite a tragedy here, in the Bronx. As you may recall. Yesterday. I believe that may definitely be the reason."

Neither Marlon nor the rest of the team seemed particularly satisfied. So Cynthia elaborated.

"Also, in addition, we have recently experienced the passing of a great contributor to our way of life. And this person, naturally, is Mick Jagger."

Some of the guys began to nod. This, apparently, would do.

"Which brings me to the second agenda item," she continued, confidence restored. "As you are no doubt aware, Sir Jagger appears to have been the victim of a terrorist campaign to undermine all that we cherish and all that we stand for via the systematic extermination of our most beloved celebrities. In light of this, representatives from the Department of Homeland Security were deployed across the country today to interface with famous persons or the proxies or employers of famous persons in order to counsel them as to the severity of this threat and to recommend a program of mitigation strategies."

She paused to let it all sink in.

"Jim, can you get the guys from SPR? Thank you, Jim," she told the manager, who dutifully walked back out the door and reappeared with Matt Gillis and Joe Maines, immaculately dressed just as the day before.

"Some of you know Matt and Joe. Matt Maines and Joe Gillis–"

"Matt Gillis," said Matt.

"Joe Maines," said Joe.

"I'm sorry. Matt Gillis and Joe Maines. They're from Special Player Relations. They're going to walk you through the new security guidelines and answer any questions you may have. Matt and Joe?"

"Thanks Cynthia. Thanks guys. We'll let you out to BP in just a minute," Joe began. "I'm Joe Maines, and this is Matt Gillis. Some of you have already crossed paths with us for one reason or another. All of you probably will at one time or another. Our responsibility is to address the special needs of players. This can mean a lot of things."

"We're fixers," Matt interjected.

"We're fixers. You got a problem, we fix it. Our role is to make it so all you have is one problem: playing baseball."

"We can't help you with that," said Matt.

"We can't help you with that. However big a problem that may be is your concern. And Jim's. But we can help you if you get arrested for drunk-driving your Escalade onto the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at four o'clock on a Tuesday morning. Isn't that right, Carlos?"

Southpaw starter Carlos Nunez buried his face in his hands as the others erupted in a razzing cheer.

"Not to name names," said Matt.

"Not to name names. We can help you if there's a spot on your cock and you're not sure what it is."

"Maybe you scribbled on it with a pen," Matt interjected. "Brendan, you listening?"

Now Brendan Terry convulsed with embarrassment as his teammates howled gleefully.

"Maybe it's a harmless mark from a ballpoint pen," continued Joe. "Maybe it's cock cancer. Maybe you forgot you wrote on your cock and now you're worried you got cancer of the cock. We can allay your fears."

"We can point you in the right direction. Doctors. Medical and otherwise," added Matt.

"Doctors, shrinks, what-have-yous. We can help you engage in wanton, highly promiscuous sexual activity while limiting your exposure on various fronts. Medical. Legal."

"Emotional."

"Emotional. Spiritual. Many of you have benefited from our assistance in this regard without yet realizing it. And if you are inclined to indulge in recreational drugs, we can facilitate your, your, your..."

"Inclination?"

"Inclination. We can facilitate your inclination while ensuring that it does not adversely impact your ability to perform on the field. But today we have been given a new mandate."

"New mandate."

"As Cynthia mentioned, DHS was at the front office today, and at the front offices of every other team in the league. They impressed upon us the fact that you are famous."

"Well, not all of you," Matt said. He turned to Joe. "Not all of them."

"The more famous among you know who you are. And you should also know that you are at risk of abduction and/or death at the hands of a terrorist group known as Moo."

"M.U. or Moo."

"Now, the DHS reps told us that there appears to be some intelligence that it is the intention of this group to assassinate one celebrity representative from each of the following fields of human endeavor: music–"

"That one's done already," said Matt.

Joe turned to his colleague. "I know, I know. But this is their plan–"

"You said their intention. They're not going to do another music one."

"No, but their plan is to–"

"They did music. Music is done. Music was Mick Jagger."

"OK, OK, OK," Joe said irritatedly. "According to some intelligence this group's intention is to assassinate one celebrity representative from each of the following remaining fields." He turned to Matt. "Satisfied?"

"Satisfied."

"Movies. Television. Food. What does food mean?"

"Food means chefs. Food means Bobby Flay."

"Ah. Movies. Television. Food. Fashion. Self-help literature. New technology entrepreneurship. Blogging. This one's weird: wealth wildcard."

"I think that just means a random rich person."

"A random rich person in addition? That hardly seems fair."

"Probably someone who's just famous for being rich. They wouldn't necessarily be eligible in any other category."

"Ah, right. That's OK then. Where was I? Wealth wildcard. Punditry. Rabble-rousing. Architecture. And, of course..."

"Of course."

"Sports. OK. So these guys gave us a bullet-pointed list as to what to do. But Matt and I wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't interpret that list for your benefit."

"Filter it."

"Filter it. Distill it. Extract the gist. And the gist is this–gentlemen, are you all paying attention?"

"Everybody paying attention?"

"Guys! Listen up," Jim chimed in.

"The gist is this," said Joe. "Be vigilant."

"Be vigilant and be aware."

"Above all: be vigilant."

Joe swept the room with a grave expression.

"Any questions?"

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