Grand Tour VII, Part Two: Letting It Go

Maybe the home run sculpture at Marlins Park wasn’t so bad after all. (via Jared)

When last we left our intrepid protagonists (Paul and me), they were midway through their latest annual baseball tour. Having witnessed the dire reality of baseball in Tampa Bay, they were ready to cross between Florida coasts to see the Marlins in their natural habitat, all while throwing some deserved shade on Jeffrey Loria.

We now begin that tale, meaning I can quit referring to myself in the third person.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 – Marlins Park
St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins

We skirted the southern edge of the Everglades, past “Panther Crossing” signs and various open campgrounds—in disturbing proximity to each other—to reach Miami on another hot June day. Lunch was at the best location for Cuban sandwiches Paul could find; dinner was at Marlins Park.

The entry we used was notable for the huge capital letters strewn about, rising from the ground, falling into the ground, or sunk partway into the ground. I’m sure this odd art installation has some rhyme or reason, and I probably should look it up to learn something. Instead, I’ll pretend it commemorates a rough night of Scrabble for Loria and press onward.

One thing I did not see while entering the stadium was the old home run sculpture. I was most grateful for this. From its inception, I found that color riot to be a Lovecraftian horror, mirrored by the slightly lesser riot that was the Marlins’ new color scheme when they changed their logo (and geographical identity) in 2012. The team finally took the sculpture out of its ballpark this year, re-stationing it outside, and re-did their logo in an apparent break with the past.

The change has been, astonishingly, for the worse. The new Marlins color scheme, black with muted blue and orange highlighting, sometimes seems barely to exist. The home run sculpture’s place has been filled by the AutoNation Alley home-run porch, a light-gray nullity. Its blandness accentuates the adjoining batter’s eye, of a green hue so hideous I first thought it was artificial turf. It’s not, though, just live plant life that looks horrible, plastic, and dead. Was that Devil’s kaleidoscope of a home run sculpture really better than this?

I’m not saying I was wrong. I’m only saying I may have been wrong.

This double-barreled rant does not do Marlins Park justice. The stadium has incorporated many of the lessons Tropicana Field came too early to embrace. The main concourse is wonderfully open, the field visible from most points. The underside of the retractable roof is a medium gray, excellent for keeping baseballs visible. The retracting machinery itself isn’t visible from inside, and while there is some pleasure in seeing those mechanisms at work (as I did at Minute Maid Park in Houston), it leaves the Marlins Park roof very clean-looking. One has the aesthetic advantage of a permanent roof and the practical advantage of a movable one.

A huge boondoggle, yes, but a prettier one than most.

A huge boondoggle, yes, but a prettier one than most.

Concessions there are tremendously varied. The first stand I noticed when I entered was offering Peruvian-style sushi and ceviche. Novecento offered Argentinian fare, while Pincho had a broader Latin American bent. Butterfly and La Pepa fell into similar categories. Sadly, I went for more standard baseball fare, as much trying to save a few bucks as anything. I ended up wishing I had been as daring when eating at the ballpark as Paul and I had been when eating on the road. Next time — if there is a next time — I might even learn what a ceviche is.

Marlins Park doesn’t make a real stab at commemorating team history. Perhaps that’s a pity, since at least Miami has more historic success than Tampa Bay, but it does avoid risking embarrassment. Their big crowd-pleasing display, back behind center field, is “The Bobblehead Museum.” A long glass case is filled with a thousand or so bobbleheads and is jostled every couple of seconds to get them doing what they were intended to do. The dolls are grouped by city, meaning, for instance, that Buck O’Neil, in a Kansas City Monarchs uniform, stands among the Royals. The ambition may be modest, but it is achieved and maybe more.

(I noted with wry amusement roughly a dozen “Game of Thrones”-themed dolls, including four players and three mascots sitting on the Iron Throne. This was a few weeks after the series concluded with that epic thud. Well, at least the bobbleheads’ guesses at who would wind up on the Iron Throne were literally no further off than everyone else’s.)

Marlins Park stands squarely in the mainstream of current ballparks, meaning it’s a good place for a ball game. Paul and I took our seats, even better ones than at Tampa Bay and even cheaper, from which we could clearly view the beautiful ranks of glass windows beyond center field. We could also view the crowd, if we looked hard enough.

The game itself began with a twist for the home team. The starting pitcher for the Marlins was Jordan Yamamoto, just called up from Double-A to make his major-league debut. This hinted at disaster, as did a soon-revealed penchant for giving up long fly balls, two in the first inning. Both stayed in the yard, though, and he completed a perfect first.

Beating the Odds: When Teams Outperform Their Projections
When it comes to outperforming projections, some teams are better than others.

Also introduced to me in that first inning were Marlins Park’s bilingual scoreboard messages. I had already seen much evidence of Spanish-language influence there, starting with the slogan “Our Colores” emblazoned below the new colorless logo on the outside stadium walls, but this represented a fuller immersion.

Some of the dual messages raised skepticism. The very first, after the first out, was “One Down/Un Out.” Un out? It struck me almost as an attempt at humor. Later examples like “Walk/Bases Por Bolas” and “Double Play/Doble Play” deepened the impression of a not-very-serious Spanglish patois. However, I’ve since done my research with Ralph Insinga’s English/Spanish baseball dictionary. “Out” and “bases” are legitimate Spanish baseball terms, though “doble play” perhaps should be rendered “doble pléy.” Plus, “ponche,” echoing “punchout,” is a valid translation of “strikeout,” which is just cool.

Other dual messages were more prosaic fan exhortations, like “Clap Your Hands/Aplauso Miami” and “Get Loud/Hagan Ruido.” I most preferred the one telling us to “Make Noise/Hagan Bulla.” For those unfamiliar with Spanish pronunciation, that last word would be rendered ‘boo-ya,’ or more aptly, ‘BOO-yah!’ I don’t know whether the Spanish word got turned into an English interjection or the semi-articulate shout was back-formed into Spanish slang, but I love it either way. In any case, the bilingualism was far easier to read in Miami than to hear in Charleston.

Back in the game, the Marlins woke up the home first with a one-out triple down the right-field line. I had to double-check to learn the Miami batter was named Garrett Cooper, not Gary. Having someone named Gary Cooper playing first base would have been just too ironic. Brian Anderson singled Cooper home for a 1-0 Marlins advantage. That edge would become a chasm next inning, when Cooper clouted a two-out grand slam.

Yamamoto kept giving up long flies…and kept having them caught. He only allowed his first hit in the fourth, a Paul DeJong double, which soon led to his only jam of the night. With runners at the corners and no outs, he coaxed a foul-out from Marcell Ozuna, which brought up Yadier Molina. From a giveaway at Busch Stadium a few years back, I had a Molina jersey I wore to the game. He repaid my support by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play that ended the threat.

Yamamoto would face the minimum the next two frames, then be left in to bat in the sixth with one gone and Miguel Rojas on second. A balk moved Rojas to third, and a fresh Cardinal soon took the mound. Yamamoto responded with a sweet suicide squeeze bunt that made it 6-0. He was having a dream debut, which would conclude with seven innings of shutout ball on 95 pitches, allowing three hits and two walks while fanning five.

This gets ahead of the other big story of the night, though. An inning earlier, Cooper led off with a groundball single, leaving him a double shy of the cycle. The Grand Tour had never seen such an achievement come this close, not even when Masahiro Tanaka carried a perfect game through 17 batters. Cooper had at least one shot, perhaps two, at an eminently attainable double.

When he led off the Miami seventh, it was clear he knew. He swung over-eagerly early in the at-bat and would go down hacking. The Marlins needed to bring six batters to the plate in the eighth for Cooper to get a second chance—and they did, putting up a two-out rally punctuated by a Curtis Granderson homer that made it 9-0 Miami. Cooper took his gift of a chance…and struck out on three pitches.

The very next night, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani would bat for the cycle back at Tropicana Field. The next evening, Cleveland’s Jake Bauers would hit for the cycle in Detroit. Wrong time, wrong place for us.

Despite that missed chance, the Marlins had a great night, trouncing the Cardinals. Not many people noticed. Again, attendance was not announced at the game, but the official figure was a paltry 7,001. It was a good thing Paul and I were there to push them over the 7K mark.

We know the reason for all the empty seats: the team teardown that traded away seemingly every decent player the Marlins had and turned “Jeter” into a bilingual curse word in South Florida. That’s how a new, good, and reachable ballpark ended up with a mid-week crowd that would be so-so for Double-A’s Frisco RoughRiders.

We’ve seen such “tanking” succeed recently with the Cubs and Astros. Miami fans, burned frequently over the years, aren’t convinced by those examples. All they see is their stars traded away. Giancarlo Stanton, reigning MVP, gets sent to the Yankees just as his long-term contract gets expensive. Christian Yelich is traded to the Brewers—and wins the MVP there—for a bunch of minor-league nobodies like…um, Jordan Yamamoto. Who toted up 0.9 fWAR and 1.3 bWAR in his first 29 innings as a Marlin.

Hang on, Miami. The cavalry may be coming. I may have seen the first outrider charge over the hill myself.

Thursday, June 13, 2019 – Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, Florida
Dunedin Blue Jays at Florida Fire Frogs

The Miami-to-Orlando leg of the tour was our tightest connection, but we made it to Osceola County Stadium with a healthy 45 minutes to spare. We were also racing the weather that day, as a band of thunderstorms was rolling east. Radar showed it due to arrive around 2:30. With a noontime start scheduled, there were reasonable prospects of completing a briskly-played game, or at least playing enough of one to make it official and produce a result.

Fire Frogs management had a different plan. Or perhaps they had no plan.

Nobody was on the field when we arrived, swinging or shagging or stretching, and just a couple of pitchers were tossing in the bullpen. There was no sense of an imminent ballgame, and apparently with good reason. At 11:40, the PA announced the start of the game had been delayed. No new time was given. This came without a drop of rain falling.

Who could dare play in conditions like this?

Who could dare play in conditions like this?

Those drops would come, a while after noon, though never enough to have interrupted a game underway. By half past noon, thunder rolled through the air, and several flashes of lightning could be seen. This soon passed, taking the sprinkle of rain with it. At 1:07, the PA announced the game had been called for lightning in the area—which had ended half an hour earlier—and “impending weather”—which had been an hour and a half less impending when the game originally was delayed.

It seemed like they didn’t care whether baseball got played that day, and that was probably true. The Fire Frogs were last in their division, days before the season broke, while Dunedin had clinched their first-half divisional championship. The game was meaningless. Arguably, the season was meaningless. Weeks before, the team had accepted a half-million dollar buyout from Osceola Country to leave at year’s end so the ground of the ball field could be incorporated into a training complex for Orlando’s MLS soccer team.

I had never before seen a baseball team that couldn’t be bothered about baseball. They were playing out the string, or running it out, as there was no playing to be seen. Not that there were many to see it: attendance, on a weekday afternoon with heavy rains in the forecast, to watch a last-place team being paid to leave the city, may have been as high as 50. I counted 40, but I am being generous.

I’ve heard it speculated before that, with its huge commitment to entertainment resorts, the Orlando area won’t support minor-league baseball. The blunt economics of that argument fail when you consider that it supports both NBA basketball and MLS soccer just fine, to the extent Orlando City SC can gobble up the grounds where the MiLB team is playing. Perhaps the sport has to be “major” to get a foothold.

Or perhaps Fire Frogs management is just no stinkin’ good. I wish I had seen evidence to the contrary.

Friday, June 14, 2019 – SRP Park, North Augusta, South Carolina
Rome Braves at Augusta GreenJackets

SRP Park is another new and very nice minor-league ballpark, even if it suffers from East Rutherford Disease. It’s in not just another town but another state from where the team name claims to place it, much like the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants playing in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (I used to live one town away, in Rutherford, which is south of East Rutherford. No, nothing makes sense, not even geography, so why should I be griping about North Augusta? I’ll stop now.)

Every new park seems to need a quirk, and SRP has a couple. One is the GreenJackets Hall of Fame, a series of photos and plaques displayed on vertical girders holding up the roof behind home. Well-known players like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval, and Kevin Youkilis have their spots, as does original GreenJackets owner Bill Heaton, and Stan Swann, designated “SuperFan.”

Another quirk is The Clubhouse, a building whose façade runs behind the left field wall. It’s like left field for the Erie SeaWolves, if you remember that entry from two years back, or a mirror-image of the B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards if you don’t. Nobody could know it then, but that building would figure meaningfully in the ninth inning—which must go down as the most sustained inning of baseball insanity I have seen in my entire life.

SRP Park, complete with foreshadowing.

SRP Park, complete with foreshadowing.

The game itself was important, if you cared about the GreenJackets. They stood in second place in the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division, 34-31 to Charleston’s 36-31. (This means Asheville’s win over Los Perros Santos on Sunday had tightened the race.) Lexington stood half a game back in third at 34-32, with three days of games left to play. It was all but a must-win game for the GreenJackets if they hoped to take the first-half title.

A foretaste of the impending madness came in the top of the seventh. With one gone, a runner on second, and the score 2-0 Augusta, Rome’s Darling Florentino whiffed for strike three. His backswing hit catcher Jeffry Parra in the back of the head, which didn’t stop Parra from making a throw nailing the runner trying to take third. The home plate umpire, however, ruled the play dead when Parra got brained and sent the runner back to second. This let Ariel Montesino double him in to give Rome its first run. A subsequent foul pop would fall untouched between the catcher and third baseman Shane Matheny, but a groundout made this embarrassing, not costly.

Augusta would get the run back after the stretch, on a walk, error, sacrifice bunt, and sacrifice fly. After an uneventful eighth, it seemed a moderately entertaining game was headed for a calm ending. Instead, it was headed for giddy lunacy.

Two straight singles against Augusta reliever Ryan Walker made things interesting right away. Walker struck out Florentino looking to regain some control, but Montesino took it back by fighting from an 0-2 count to single home a run and put the tying runner on third. Up came left fielder Andrew Moritz.

Moritz was the subject, or target, of a GreenJackets promotion. If Augusta struck him out in that game, everyone in attendance would get a voucher for a Bojangles biscuit. Once the count reached 1-2, the PA announcer led the park in a chant of “We Want Biscuits!” Personally, I would have preferred a two-hop grounder to second, but I was outvoted.

Moritz took one ball then hit a short nubber to the left. Walker charged from the mound, fielded it, then slipped and fell on his rump. All hands were safe. The tying run was in. Nobody got free biscuits.

The runners on first and second moved up when Walker loosed a wild pitch and Parra’s throw to third was not in time. The go-ahead run was 90 feet away. On a full count, for maximum tension, Jeremy Fernandez hit a chopper to the left side. Shortstop Nico Giarratano fielded it and came home, his throw a little wide. Montesito collided with Parra. The home plate umpire hesitated maybe a second before making his call: Out!

The call was at least debatable, and Braves manager Matt Tuiasosopo came out to debate it. It wasn’t long before the umpire made his second “out” call in as many minutes. Tuiasosopo didn’t subside, arguing as if it was his team fighting for the first-half championship, arguing so strenuously that the umpire’s partner came over to have his back. Two of the manager’s coaches finally emerged to tell their boss to just let it go. He listened, returning to the dugout and thence to the clubhouse.

One hiccup: That building fronting left field labeled The Clubhouse actually is the clubhouse. To depart the game, Tuiasosopo had to walk all the way across the field to a door in the left-center wall. This he did…eventually. His long walk was a slow-rolling masterpiece, milking every possible second of delay as an apparent gesture of defiance to the umpires.

Augusta’s counter-gesture was magnificent. They played Tuiasosopo out with “Let It Go,” running the song’s scene from Frozen on the scoreboard in tandem. With kids in the stands naturally singing along, they went through the chorus, a full stanza, and a second chorus before Moseyin’ Matt finally reached the door…which did not open. Someone inside presently got it unlocked, but not before the surreal scene had received a punch line worthy of the moment.

With that insanity concluded, the madness could resume. In most games, the controversial second out would have led to the sputtering of the rally. Not here. Greg Cullen rapped the go-ahead single to center, making second on a bad throw-in. Augusta’s pitcher was finally pulled for a fresh reliever, so fresh he couldn’t find home plate with GPS. Two regular balls preceded a wild pitch that made it 5-3 Rome. A long shot to right wasn’t long enough to miss leather, and the shellshock of the top of the ninth reached its end.

Then came the bottom. Ismael Munguia hit a grounder straight to first, which pinch-runner-turned-first baseman Derian Cruz dropped once. And then again. And then again. And then again. His shovel to the pitcher covering was not in time. Chaos had returned; for GreenJackets fans, hope had returned.

One pitch later, Mikey Edie hit into a 5-4-3 double play. The fever had broken. The end seemed inevitable.

Diego Rincones deferred the inevitable with a shot to the left-center gap that left fielder Moritz just missed. It was a double for Jimmy Corners—except he slowed up so much coasting into second that he was almost tagged out! Frankie Tostado took two over-aggressive swings, but on his team’s final strike hit a nubber left that the catcher chased, grabbed, and ate. Runners on the corners; pinch-runner sent to first as the tying run. The fever lingered, briefly. Jacob Gonzalez hit an easy one-hopper to third, where Florentino picked it, threw…

…and air-mailed first base! One run scored, the tying run went to third, and the winning run was aboard. On the next batter, the tying run came home the way it virtually had to: by a wild pitch. There was a grounder to first Cruz didn’t dribble even once, and that was the final out. The ninth inning was over, after six runs, seven hits, three errors, three wild pitches, one ejection, and one Oscar-winning sing-along.

The game itself was not over. We went to the 10th, and I got to see my very first sudden-death baseball game. I wrote last year about the change to extra-inning games in the minors, one that, as intended, has greatly shortened extra innings.

This should have been a chance to examine my own initial resistance to the rule, especially to its possible extension to the majors. (Which is closer to happening that you might have thought. If last month’s All-Star Game had gone to a 10th frame…) Instead, it merely provided the setting for an epilogue of zaniness to that lunatic ninth.

Rome started the 10th with its runner on second and elected to play for the big inning. The Braves’ first batter fanned on a dropped third strike. Augusta’s new catcher got the ball, cleared some space, and threw to first—wide. The first baseman stretched into foul ground, caught the throw, held the bag—and dropped the ball! But he held it long enough, and out was the call. The second batter fanned on a dropped third strike. The catcher got it, cleared room, and threw to first—wide! The first baseman stretched into foul ground, caught the throw, held the bag—and held the ball. A routine grounder ended the inning, the runner never having gotten past second.

Augusta started its half with a runner on second and obviously playing for one. The wild-throwing backup catcher Andres Angulo was at the plate bunting but got himself in a 1-2 hole. He did get one down, but right back to the pitcher, who had time to throw to third for a tag play. He also had time to throw it past third, which he did. The runner easily beat the peg home, and the GreenJackets swarmed out of the dugout to celebrate their walkoff win. A moment later, Angulo was walking back to the dugout bare-chested, his teammates having joyously stripped him of his jersey.

A few minutes later, we learned Charleston had lost. Augusta was now in a virtual tie for the division lead. The crowd of 4,822—the GreenJackets had no reluctance to announce their attendance figures—was in a wonderful whirl. And that whirling crowd wasn’t dispersing, because there was post-game entertainment planned. The encore to the night’s game was a drone light show.

What did that mean? That was still a good question when it was over. It turned out to be a thudding anticlimax, but one so odd that it ended up fitting perfectly with the end of the game.

The show began with a couple dozen drones lifting off from behind center field and flying behind right, lit in alterable colors to be visible in the night sky. Things began going off the rails immediately, as a couple drones collided and fell to earth. The survivors then began making patterns in the air. The first seemed to be a red heart. The rest…did not seem to be anything at all.

The accompanying music clips didn’t help. Okay, they’re playing “Hip to be Square” by Huey Lewis and the News. So is that a square up there? Or a hip? Or an abstract representation of the concept of hipness? I’m pretty sure it was none of them, but I cannot be absolutely certain.

The other fans, likewise flummoxed, began streaming for the exits. Their one positive reaction to the show came late. Another drone suffered a mid-air collision, dropped, then recovered and rejoined the formation flying. That brought a few cheers, the most of the entire show.

Paul and I actually began piecing together the show the next day, looking at photos he took. One pattern was a baseball, white with red stitching. Another was an alternative Augusta GreenJackets logo, a winged A. That white starburst thing was actually a palmetto, state tree of the place we had watched the game, if not of the place it’s named after. It started making sense…18 hours later. That’s about as satisfying as thinking up a comeback to that publicly humiliating put-down the following day.

In short, the concept of the drone light show needs work. So does the steering.

(Epilogue: Despite the dramatic win, Augusta couldn’t overcome Charleston for the semi-pennant. Lexington wound up overhauling both teams and winning the race by half a game.)

Saturday, June 15, 2019 – McCormick Field, Asheville, North Carolina
Lakewood BlueClaws at Asheville Tourists

Home. Sweet home.

Home, sweet home.

The final day of the tour, as sometimes happens, was back home (for me) again to watch the local minor-league squad. Last year’s capper was made interesting by the Bull Durham anniversary promotion, including the Crash Davis bobblehead giveaway*. This year had a jersey giveaway that produced a similar line at the gate, but the game itself was sadly far less interesting.

* Regrettably, Crash lived up to his name. While dusting my bobblehead a few months back, I dropped it a few feet onto a carpeted floor, and both legs shattered. I knew catching was tough on the knees, but sheesh.

The ballpark experience itself was not lacking. Attendance was over 4,000, which the Tourists were glad to announce. The bratwurst is still mighty fine. (I had green peppers with mine, because those are vegetables and that makes it healthy, right?) They still hold goofy competitions for kids between innings. Everything was all right except the ballgame, in which Lakewood slowly built up a 4-0 lead and Asheville’s chipping away never really threatened the final result.

The letdown made sense on two levels. First, how was one going to top the spectacle in Augusta? They tried to in Augusta, and look how that turned out. Best to make no attempt and avoid having someone get brained by a plummeting drone.

The second reason was that, in a way, the tour had already ended. Not in the sense of having arrived home, but of having checked off the final box. The Grand Tours are about new baseball experiences, and the Augusta ballpark was the final new experience this year. Or, likely, for the foreseeable future.

Truth is, the Grand Tours have run their course. Paul and I have seen 22 big-league teams at their home fields, every franchise east of the Rocky Mountains. To continue the Grand Tours would require a great geographical leap, a big financial commitment, and a heavier investment of time. I can’t really justify those things. Reorienting the tours around minor-league teams, rather than using them as waypoints in the treks to major-league destinations, doesn’t meet the standard, either.

It was all ending that night at McCormick Field, and I knew it. I didn’t realize at the time that it was ending the way it had begun: with the Tourists losing at home. It took even longer to realize the major-league elements of the Grand Tours had ended the way they had begun: with the Miami Marlins overcoming their notorious ineptitude and beating an NL Central team. We even had Weird Al concerts book-ending it, part of our first and last trips.

The circle was complete. The journey was complete.

What Did I Learn?

After we’ve watched an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, or one of its several conceptual spinoffs, it’s Paul’s habit to ask “What have we learned?” from the cheesy movie just ended. It’s all for added laughs, interrupted rarely with actual attempts at insight. What he has often asked me in jest, I now ask myself earnestly. What have I learned from my travels of the last seven years?

I learned today’s ballparks are the best baseball has ever had, majors and minors alike, and I’m confident in saying that without even having gone to San Francisco or San Diego. That manages to include its oldest parks as well as its newest. If Tropicana Field is the worst the majors offer up, the game is blessed.

I learned the more a team embraces and communicates its history, and that of baseball in its city, the better. Some of my favorite memories from the tours come from statues, museums, and displays at literally dozens of stadiums. From Monument Park at Yankee Stadium to the plaque for Sam “Jet” Jethroe at UPMC Park in Erie, the stories of baseball are myriad. The more who tell them, the stronger the web of the game grows. Yes, that includes the Trop’s dinky little displays. Something is better than nothing.

I would say I learned the minors are holding up their end in baseball, but I knew that years and years ago. A few teams and a few cities might let things down, but there will be others that make it work. May the 30 at the top never take them for granted.

I learned if you build it, they don’t always come. Maybe the Rays and Marlins need to invest in a couple of cornfields…except parking would be brutal. Maybe not as brutal as SunTrust Park’s, but pretty rough.

Most of all, I learned a lesson in the making for decades: Every game you see has the potential to be the greatest game you’ll ever see. It could be a six-run rally in the last of the ninth, begun and ended by the same nine-hole catcher. It could be a walk-off home run to win a minor-league championship. It could be a pitcher going deep into a perfect game, the stands echoing with his chanted name. It could be a hot-and-bothered manager being sung out of the park by Idina Menzel. The greatness can come a thousand different ways, in a trillion different combinations, and it would be a pity if you only heard about it later.

I would write more, but 8,500 words in two days is as much as you need from me. Besides, I have a game to catch this evening. It’s a modest little amateur contest, but it has that potential.

References and Resources


A writer for The Hardball Times, Shane has been writing about baseball and science fiction since 1997. His stories have been translated into French, Russian and Japanese, and he was nominated for the 2002 Hugo Award.

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