Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Right Earth, Vol. 1

All right, I think it's time for a respite from all the gloom the year end assessments are inevitably bringing on.  So, at the behest of one of our brethren and to honor El Duque and Mustang's incredible new venture, we present volume one of what might have been.

Time:  A few days from now.

Buck Showalter leaned back in his chair in the Yankees' executive suite and sighed wistfully at the framed photograph on his desk.  Three men grinned back at him from the photo, one of them his own, younger self.  Each holding up two hands adorned with rings on every finger.

There was a knock on his door, and then a grinning, goggled face looked in, its close-cropped hair soaked in champagne.

"Mule!  You ought to be with your men," Showalter chided mildly.

"They've seen enough of me all year," Hensley Meulens said, entering the room while holding something behind his back.  "I brought a little something just for you."

He pulled out the bottle of bourbon and placed it on Showalter's desk.  Buck's eyes lit up despite himself.

"Ah, the good stuff!"

"Well you taught me all about it.  Like so much else."

"You were a quick study."

"And of course, you didn't have to teach me anything about cigars," Meulens continued, pulling out a fistful of fine Havanas.

They lit the cigars, and Buck filled a pair of shot glasses.  They toasted, drank down the shots, then Buck filled them again.  They both sat back, smoking contentedly and listening to the muffled sounds of the celebration drifting up from the locker room.

"Two in a row."

"Two in a row."

"Nothing like what you did, of course.  Twenty-one in a row!  Who wins like that?  Nobody.  Ever."

Buck shrugged modestly, but grinned despite himself.

"It was easier for me.  Having all that big corporate money from CBS behind us.  It's like what Yogi said when he won all those championships in the '60s and '70s:  'You can't buy money.'"

"But it was more than money.  You know that.  It was all three of you.  Buck and Bob and Stick, the Old Man.  The Holy Trinity."

"Mostly it was the Old Man," Buck still demurred.  "He put it all in motion, once he took over for Pat Gillick in the early '90s.  I mean Pat was great, but Stick really put it all together."

"All those titles.  It was driving them nuts.  Everyone going on about what an unfair advantage the Yanks had in their big market.  They were even thinking of passing a rule where the team in first place couldn't make a trade after the All-Star Game.  They actually tried that back in the 1930s, you know."

"As if that would have stopped you guys."

"Well, we were actually getting tired of winning.  I mean, it was wearing us down.  The Old Man wanted to retire, and Bob's health was becoming a factor."

"And I remember those pictures of you!  Looking more cramped up than ever in the dugout every year."

Buck Showalter chuckled, a sound that had become very rare indeed near the end of his incredible managerial run.

"The road wears you down.  And every year, we had to win.  That last year, 2014, was so close.  It went to extra innings in Game Seven against the Giants.  You remember?"

"How could anyone forget it?  Jeter grounding that single through the right side to score the tying and winning running run in bottom of the 13th—the lucky 13th, they called it.  Soriano sliding home just ahead of the throw with the winning run."

"How the hell could you top that?"

"How could anyone?  I wanted out.  So the Old Man said, why not come upstairs and take his job?  And then I thought of you."

"Lucky me."

"No, it was more than luck," Buck said thoughtfully.  "You were the right man for the job.  Not everybody could've taken up a team rebuilding after 21 straight championships.  With everybody retiring, and CBS even selling the team so they could invest in Elon Musk's hyperloop."

Hensley rolled his eyes.

"Boy, that was a good idea."

"Yeah, what were they smoking?"

"Who's idea was it anyway to sell the team to New Yorkers, the way the Packers did in Green Bay?" Meulens asked.

"Oh, that was the New Guy's idea.  San Diego tried to do that years ago, but MLB stopped it.  But the New Guy threatened to go all the way to the Supreme Court about it, and who the hell knows what you'll get with those clowns?  Plus, everyone was just glad to see that we were finally going to rebuild."

"That's when you came up with the master plan."

"Well, I suppose," said Buck.  "But you had to take the heat.  A rookie manager with a rebuilding team whose fans were very, very used to winning."

"Fortunately they were having too much fun being owners," Hensley said with a smile.  "Who came up with that idea to sell the luxury boxes on a lottery basis every game?"

"Oh, that was the New Guy, too.  That helped.  Still, it was a wild couple of years.  The Cubs winning the World Series!"

"The Mets in the World Series.  Was that weird, or what?"

Both men just had to laugh for a few minutes, as they let the very idea of it soak in.  Mets!

"But then we were ready again," Buck said softly.

"Yep, we sure were.  What do you think the first step was?" asked Hensley. "i mean the first big thing?"

Buck Showalter leaned forward, rubbing his chin.

"Well, I'll tell ya—"



TheWinWarblist said...

Buck. Get him a donut pillow .

Anonymous said...

Is this the universe where Gary Sanchez is forced to live in a cage with Jorge Posada until he learns to block a ball? The one where we get Yellich instead of Stanton? The one where Aaron Boone ends up calling girls college badminton on ESPN 12?

Sign me up!

Doug K.

KD said...

Winners can get tired of winning? Must be due to the lame quality and mindless flailing of the competition. I’m sure President Trump could relate.