Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Slammer: Fifth Inning: Chapter Five.Five

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Chris said in a matter of fact sort of way, as he continued to massage the back of Lily’s head, “I think the black eye gives you a little color,” he added as he looked over at John who was still staring at all of them in disbelief. Lily just swooned mildly as his fingers did their job, but the swelling in her eye had noticeably gone down in the last hour. Jack was swishing through his French fries left on his plate, and staring down so John wouldn’t start reprimanding him about his black eye and the split beside his mouth. Jay, the only one noticeably free of harm was looking through a copy of ESPN the Magazine that had just come out with his face adorning the cover.

“You’re tied with the Yankees and one game back of the Blue Jays, and this is how you idiots decide you want to celebrate a great come back?” he said while looking at all of them. “You all should teach Jay, better than this!” he barked out for what now is the thirtieth time. “He cocked three guys with his throwing hand, and as for YOU,” he started as he looked directly at Jack, “How many cracks to the eye, do you think your already soft and old skull can take?”

The strangest part was that it was Chris that responded to John when he said, “Come on John. You’ve been watching these types of fights between these two teams since you were a kid and your father told you about the ‘good old days’ when you were still in diapers,” he looked around for courage from the others and didn’t get it. “I used to hear about it back in Chicago growing up, and my old man used to talk about it by explaining how the Cardinal, Cubs brawls were nothing compared to those.”

“That isn’t exactly Carlton Fisk sitting next to you!” John barked back at him.

Chris blanched a bit and then recovered rather gracefully by stating, “Thank God, he was a lousy kisser,” which got Lily and Jack sniggering. Unfortunately it didn’t change the usually light hearted John who continued to scowl around the table. “It’s part of the game John. You can’t expect a team to go from last place to contention without creating harsh feelings that often turn into violence,” his look strengthened when he said, “We’ve been paid to watch this sort of thing for years, and the rest of the division is going to be pretty scared knowing this team has turned into a family.”

“Well this family is going to find itself seven games back after all of the suspensions, and I am sure that you all thought about that?” John added refusing to give up on the argument that easily. “I’m under the impression that half the team at best will get suspensions, because there wasn’t a person left on the bench. The managers were in on it, and the ball boys even went and attacked the mascot!”

The only person silent at this point while the whole table started arguing was Jay. He tapped John sitting next to him on the shoulder, and getting his attention, showed him a picture of him and Chris sitting together at one of the games. It stopped the arguing long enough for John to read the caption under it out loud, “Lead Scout Chris Pollard and Veteran John Reilly found this young hurler while scouting talent in the Atlantic League, and with the help of wily veteran pitcher Jack Foster, encouraged the Red Sox to bring his sister along to the big leagues as well. They deserve as much credit for the Red Sox recent success as anyone,” and then he smiled at Jay.

Jack finally ended his silence by stating, “We haven’t had a losing streak in almost two months, so it’s probably a good idea to get it out of our system now. We’ll get through this, but the kid is right, if we didn’t get this out of our system it would have started showing up at the end of the season and we wouldn’t have recovered from it,” he reached across the table and patted John on the hand, “We’re a good team now and the other teams in the division are starting to resent us, but that beat down that we put on the Yankees will keep the other teams a bit worried if they think that they are going to bully the kids, I could hear it in their voices every time they started talking smack.”

“If I were as slow as most catchers, I’d have a broken bone by now from all the pitchers that take shots at me John,” Lily chirped in, “I’ll take a black eye if I can get less pitches in on my thighs, but I think it’s more important to get the other players to stop chattering. It had been getting so nasty, that I figured it was going to turn into dirty play,” she looked directly at John, “We still have our best short stop out from taking spikes in the face from the last Yankees game, if you haven’t forgotten that one, so I think that everyone on the team wanted to get some anger out.”

“Make sure everyone get’s desert,” Jay said over his shoulder to the waitress walking by, taking everyone by surprise. The waitress shot him a smile and he added, “They’ve had a bad day.”

The waitress started laughing a bit and then said back to Jay, “We were all crowded around the bar watching your bad day. Everything stopped and the people in here were cheering you guys on,” she then leaned into Jay and said to him rather softly, “Your wicked cute when you’re angry, but it didn’t look like you guys were having the bad day,” and then she walked away to deal with another table.

“See, they gave the fans something to get excited about,” Chris stated as if that settled the matter, and John sighed to demonstrate that he had had enough of the whole topic finally.

“The league offices will call tomorrow and tell us what suspensions will be met out,” he looked at John probably to see if this would start another tirade and when it didn’t he started calmly again, “Since you two are new, you need to know that under no circumstances are either of you to talk to any of them. The Players Union does all of your talking for you, and you can manipulate your suspensions that way,” and he stopped to think for a moment. “Tug will think up the way he wants the suspensions to go, which works out good because we won’t be back to New York for a month, so they can’t force your arbitration.”

Lily nodded and then said, “I understand, and Jay doesn’t really have to understand,” she then looked across the table at her brother, “He’s probably going to get it the worst too, but it doesn’t matter since a five game suspension would only push his start back a day if he just drops his arbitration after his next start.”

“He and I don’t matter, but the team is going to have it really tough without you for whatever amount of games you get,” he laughed at that thought, “we have a rookie and a disgruntled catcher who blames you for not playing to back you up.”

“I scouted that jerk, but he isn’t an idiot,” John piped in for the first time tonight he didn’t sound angry, “He’ll play his ass off to try to get a trade prospect. The timing might be better than we thought because the absolute August deadline for trades is coming up, and if he plays on fire he could get onto a play-off caliber team,” he looked at Jack, “Try to be civil when you explain that to him tomorrow,” … to be continued