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Old 06-08-2004, 11:44 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tib
Yes, I did. I have a solo fictional league, the Continental Baseball Association (original, huh?), which I've had since my days playing Miller Bros.' Baseball for Windows.

My intention is to preface some of the chapters with information about Dave's world and the world of the CBA. Historical information and fun facts, sort of like footnotes. As the story progresses I'll try to give you more about the league and its structure.

I'm very relieved for all the supportive comments. Uploading Chapter One was like sending my baby off to kindergarten.
I eagerly await the next chapter.
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Old 06-12-2004, 05:40 PM   #22
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Welcome to the next installment of Short Hop. Many of you will have noticed some of the obvious references to ITP so far: Fiddler's Bar, Michael the Bartender, the little house across from the stadium, Cliff's house next door (with the nice fence), not to mention the Swamp in Dave's back yard. For those who haven't noticed, Hinesville's main thoroughfare, Highway 84, is actually the road at the top of the screen. Keep your ears peeled (can you do that?) for other clues as the story goes on.
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Old 06-12-2004, 05:45 PM   #23
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CHAPTER 6:

April in A-Ball


When I went back over my notes for this chapter I was trying to decide what information from my emails best described my first days in the Eastern Developmental League. Then I realized the best way for you to get a true glimpse of my early days in baseball was just to reprint my emails from that time.


From: Dave Driscoll (ddriscoll@CBPA.org)
Sent: March 30, 2003 4:46PM
To: Don Driscoll (dondriscoll@familynet.com)
Subject:

Dear Dad,
Hello! Sorry I haven’t written in some time but I’ve been a little busy. I’m an official member of the players’ union now. See my new email address? We’ve been working out all day every day for two weeks now. I’ve hardly had time to do anything but get the computer going. I did get some furniture. Thanks for the $$$. Did you get my postcard from Savannah? Some of the guys and I went there to see Return of the King. What a beautiful city! Beautiful girls, too. Had to send you something from there.

Well, it looks like I’ll be starting our first game. Lino, the other shortstop, is good but I have more range. Been working out almost every day and I feel stronger, like I have more bat control. Knee feels good. No twinges so far. Also, switching to wooden bats hasn’t been too tough. Gable has been working with us. I’ve been roping the ball. We all have. Except off of Keith Hassell. That guy is good. I figure we either have a great hitting team or a poor pitching team. I guess we’ll find out in two days! Yoogie said his elbow has been sore since Costello changed his motion, but his curve is tougher to hit now.

Met our manager, Theo Garner. I guess he’s about 60. He’s really something. He used to manage in Kansas City. Guess he wasn’t there for very long because I don’t remember him. But he did manage Horatio Munoz while he was there. He knows everything about being a ballplayer, from how to put pine tar on your bat down to how to sign a baseball. Can you believe he actually had us signing our practice balls? Now we have 12 dozen banged up balls with scribbling all over them. Met the team owner, Mr. DuPree. He owns a trucking company. Nice enough, but a little flashy. Likes to show off, impress people. If he really wanted to impress someone, he could replace our outfield fence. Somebody’s going to get killed out there. What a plywood piece of crap. That would impress me. He took us over to the team offices where we had a class on how we are supposed to behave now that we’re professionals. Suttles farted through the whole thing. We couldn’t stop laughing. Garner almost fined us.

The guys are all pretty cool, except for our center fielder, Keith Hart. He thinks he’s the next Wilbur Simpson or something. All full of himself. On his cell phone all the time. Garner’s constantly on him for playing his music too loud in the locker room. He can play, though. I’ve tried to talk to Kearse, but he sort of keeps to himself. I don’t think he thinks he should be here. Well, he’s older and he’s the only one of us who’s been to AAA.

I’ve been hanging out mostly with Steve McCammon, Jon Rowland (RF) and Yoogie, Steve Ugarte (P), from San Diego. It turned out McCammon and Rowland needed a place to stay, so I offered the extra bedroom to them. Miss Draper had a fit when I told her. She said they were subletting and I was still responsible for all the rent and for any damage they do. I said ok. I hope that’s all right. Let me know if I should do something.

McCammon is from some little town in Wisconsin - Pardeeville. He’s huge – like 6’5”. Rowland is a cowboy from Dallas. His folks own a ranch or cattle or something. He’s a little quiet sometimes, but he’s a good guy. Did you get the roster? I asked Caroline, the team secretary, to send you one. When you get it, take a look at what number I am! How about that? It was totally by accident, too. I’ll tell you about that some time.

There’s another Dave on the team, Dave Guevara. Nobody calls him Davey. I don’t know why the hell not. Thad Martinez plays third for us. He’s a good hitter but he can’t go to his left very well, so I wind up having to make a lot of plays in the hole. Good guy, though. One of our starters, John Dang, is from Chicago, but his parents were born in Korea. Our closer is Lucas Romero, from Venezuela. Can’t speak a word of English. He hangs with Lino a lot, of course. One of our power hitters is our left fielder Manuel Aguirre, from the Dominican. Dead pull hitter. Huge arms. He absolutely murders fastballs but can’t hit an outside breaking pitch to save his life. I hear he’s got a kid back home.

Well, got to go. Steve and Jon and I are heading out for BBQ with Dex and Guy Rennie, one of our other pitchers. I’ll email you after our first game. Wish me luck!

Dave


It’s a very strange feeling, standing in a dugout before a game. You’re nervous, excited. Maybe you’re anxious, maybe you’re confident. But sometimes you’re remarkably calm. Sometimes you’re so cool you seem apathetic. The first day of April 2003 saw me in my first professional baseball game. I was not calm. I was not cool. I was a basket case. I couldn’t remember how Gable wanted me to put my fingers on the bat. While out at short, I switched my finger in my glove every three pitches. Index finger out. Index finger in. Now out. Now in. I was fidgeting so bad McCammon called a mound meeting in the third inning and said, “Jesus Christ, Davey. You’re not going to do that all year, are you?”


From: Dave Driscoll <ddriscoll@CBPA.org>
Sent: April 1, 2003 9:17PM
To: Don Driscoll <dondriscoll@familynet.com>
Subject:

Dear Dad,
We won! 9-6 over the Fort Myers Pelicans, Miami’s A-ball club. Not only that, I came up with the bases loaded in my first AB and drove in two runs with a single! The Pelicans’ pitcher, Quesinberry, almost got his head taken off! It felt great! I hardly felt it come off the bat. Then I went to second on the throw and Kearse knocked me in. I went 0-2 the rest of the game, but I got that first hit out of the way. I also had a SAC fly, so I had 3 rbis!

I was worried about switching to wooden bats, but not any more. I’m really getting used to them. They are not that much heavier than aluminum, but the balance is different. You have to be a little stronger in the forearms to get them around quickly.

A bunch of us went to Smokey’s Ribs after the game and hung out. Hart was there, and Ervin Curlee, another three-year vet of the minors. Dex even got a couple of the Latin players to come. It was a good feeling to enjoy our first win like that.

Well, we’ve got them again tomorrow and I’ve got to get to the gym in the morning before batting practice. Talk to you soon.

Dave
(.333)



We went 2-3 the rest of the week against Thunder Bay and Beaumont. But that wasn’t the worst of it:


From: Dave Driscoll <ddriscoll@CBPA.org>
Sent: April 4, 2003 5:51PM
To: Don Driscoll <dondriscoll@familynet.com>
Subject:

Dear Dad,
Won today vs. Thunder Bay. Hassell mowed them down. Haven’t made an error since we lost to Ft. Myers. Haven’t had a hit, either. 0 for my last 10. I haven’t had a hit since the first game. Garner’s been pinching Lopez for me in the late innings. Today, of all days, he pulls me in the 8th and Lopez singles in a run. Happy birthday to me. Well, it was his birthday, too.

I’m taking extra BP tomorrow. These wooden bats feel heavier when you’re not hitting well. Keith Hart, of all people, came up and told me to keep working at it. It must have showed. Gable hasn’t said anything yet. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Dave
(.091)



From: Dave Driscoll <ddriscoll@CBPA.org>
Sent: April 7, 2003 9:37PM
To: Don Driscoll <dondriscoll@familynet.com>
Subject:

Dear Dad,
0 for 4 again today. I really can’t believe it. 1 for 21. If I go 4 for 4 I’ll still be hitting just .200. I can’t get comfortable, I can’t decide which pitch to hit. I can’t decide where to put my feet, my hands; I’m trying everything and it’s not working. I’m just swinging at anything. Gable says it’s common to go through an “adjustment slump”. Really? It hasn’t seemed to affect Lopez. He’s hitting .364 with as many rbis as me and half the AB. I’m thinking about buying a new bat I saw at Ridley’s. It’s supposed to help you make better contact.

At least I’m not the only one. McCammon’s 1 for 19. He just jokes about it like it’s no big deal. How can he just shrug it off like that? He’s got John Miller, our other catcher, breathing down his neck. I’m just going to keep trying. Something’s got to break soon.

Dave



Are you sensing a pattern here? And my Dad, like he had done so many times, tells me exactly what I need to hear.


From: Don Driscoll<dondriscoll@familynet.com>
Sent: April 7, 2003 11:37PM
To: Dave Driscoll <ddriscoll@CBPA.org>

Subject:

Dear David,
Don’t buy the new bat. Slumps are going to happen. Gable’s right, there is an adjustment to be made when you switch equipment like that. But don’t try everything at once. Try one thing, then keep it or rule it out. Then try the next thing.

Don’t make a number your goal. Saying you have to go 4 for 4 is only going to put more pressure on you. Tell yourself you want to make good contact every time. Hit it hard somewhere and the hits will come. Pick a pitch you are hitting well and look for it in the game. Remember, these pitchers don’t know your strengths and weaknesses. Take advantage of their mistakes. Teach them a lesson.

Good luck,
Dad

Last edited by Tib; 01-03-2007 at 01:37 AM.
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Old 06-12-2004, 05:52 PM   #24
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April in A-Ball continued:

I went 2 for 4 the next game and 2 for 11 the rest of the week but I started hitting the ball better. After a loss in which I had gone 0 for 4 I was particularly depressed. I was sitting out on the back porch looking at the Swamp and listening to the frogs. The sun was going down and it was getting brisk. Cars moved on the highway in the distance. I hear a noise and there’s Cliff Tyler coming out his screen door with two bowls of something hot in his hands.
“Made some chili,” he called across the side yard. “Want some?”
“Nah, thanks.”
“It’s good,” he argued.
“Thanks, Mr. Tyler, but I’m not real hungry right now.”
“Suit yourself.” His wicker patio chair crackled when he sat down. “Where’s your buddies?”
“Out.”
“Why aren’t you with them?”
“I’m not very good company right now.”
“Ah, I understand,” said Cliff. “You’re not hitting. Eating you up inside. Don’t want to think about it. Can’t think about anything else. That about right?”
Does the whole town know? “Yeah, that’s about it.”
I could hear him slurping his chili. It was making me hungry.
“You know what I do when I have a problem that won’t go away?” he said between bites.
“No, what?”
“I invite someone over for chili.”
So I went over and had a bowl of very good chili with Cliff Tyler. We talked about frogs and pine trees. When we were cleaning up the dishes, I asked, “What’s your problem that won’t go away?”
“How’s that?”
“You said you invite someone over for chili when you have a problem that won’t go away.”
He eyed me strangely, then. I started to think I had said something wrong. He wiped his hands on a dishtowel slung over his shoulder, then he gestured to his kitchen table and we sat.

“For thirty-one years I was married to the most beautiful woman in the world. Cancer took her four years ago. You asked what my problem was, my problem that wouldn’t go away. Well, Davey Driscoll, my problem is that I still wake up every day expecting her to be here.”
Jesus. I didn’t know what to say. “Mr. Tyler, I—.”
“It’s all right,” he said. “She was a good woman, and a good wife, and she would have made a wonderful mother. She was the biggest part of my life. Now that she’s gone I fill the empty space with memories of her, memories so vivid it’s like she’s really here. But it’s lonely when memories are your only companions. So I cook chili. I don’t know why, exactly, but it takes my mind off things for a while.”

I’ll never forget that moment. That big man in that little room. That’s when it dawned on me that the furniture in the house, and the plates, and the flowered dishtowel on his shoulder were all hers. He had not changed anything.
“Mr. Tyler,” I said. “I will always have room for a bowl of your chili.”
He pointed a thick finger at me, smiling. “I will hold you to that.”


I started hitting. I didn’t exactly burn up the league, but I raised my average to .203 by the end of April. Dave Guevara and I started to click on double plays. I led the league in fielding for shortstops. McCammon was hitting the tar out of the ball, finishing the month at .298. Rowland was struggling, and Steve Ugarte was put on the DL with an elbow tear. I felt so bad about that. Lino Lopez began a slow decline to .250. I didn’t feel too bad about that.

Next week: The Unthinkable Happens

Last edited by Tib; 01-03-2007 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 06-12-2004, 11:50 PM   #25
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beautiful!, its a work of art
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Old 06-13-2004, 03:10 AM   #26
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This is incredible
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Old 06-13-2004, 01:35 PM   #27
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now i'm gonna go insane for a week waiting for the next chapter. But this is the greatest writing I have seen.
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Old 06-19-2004, 01:34 PM   #28
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Welcome to the next chapter of Short Hop. This may be last one for a little while. I'm getting a brand new computer, so I'll be setting it up over the next couple of weeks. Not to worry, I need the time to write a couple more chapters, anyway. Season two has already started and there is a lot going on.

Notes: Hinesville's pitching coach is Larry Costello. You may remember Dave saying he pitched for Pittsburgh "back when they were the Drillers". I'm sure many of you recognize the Drillers as a logo from logoserver. All of the teams in the CBA (and their minor league affiliates) have logos from logoserver. It was just easier to name them after already-existing logos. If you know logoserver you're going to know how the CBA's team logos look. In Pittsburgh's case, they began as the Cannons. Then, in a move reminiscent of Brooklyn's move to California, the franchise moved to Vancouver to become the Mounties, to the everlasting dismay of their loyal fans. For years there was no team in Pittsburgh, then a tycoon bought an expansion franchise and the Cannons were resurrected in the Steel City.
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Old 06-19-2004, 01:41 PM   #29
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CHAPTER 7:

The Unthinkable Happens


The first two weeks of May the team hovered around .500. I still couldn’t get anything going. Lopez couldn’t either, which is probably why I still had a starting job. But Theo was more upset with our pitching than our bats. In truth we were a good hitting team, but Don Takahiro had not won a game yet and Keith Hart was struggling at the plate. I tried my best to stay up, but it was hard. On the 11th of May I had three multi-hit games out of 35.

To break the monotony, I was out in left field shagging flies one afternoon during batting practice. Hart, Sam Escalona, Ervin Curlee and J.R. were out there, too. Just for fun, I fired one back in to Jose Landeros shagging at second.
“I think this little man is trying to show me up,” said Hart.
“I’m just goofing around,” I said.
But Hart took the next fly ball and threw a strike to Landeros and the game was on. We traded fly balls for the next five minutes, throwing as hard as we could to Landeros straddling second. My arm wasn’t as strong as Hart’s, but it was quicker. I really did want to show up that guy, too. He was always talking about how he was going to get to the big leagues before any of us and how he didn’t feel challenged by A ball. He should have felt challenged; he was only hitting .226. At the gym, he’d spend twenty minutes watching himself do curls in the mirror.

Garner shows up in the dugout, sees what’s going on and yells, “Knock that **** off! We got a game tonight! You two numbnuts think the Generals spend batting practice throwing their arms out?”

I iced my elbow before the game because it was sore, but I couldn’t get to my second at bat. Warming up before the third inning I bounced two balls to first. It felt like someone stuck a knife into the back of my arm. Thad Martinez, our third baseman, came over.
“That didn’t look too good,” he said.
“No,” I agreed.
“Driscoll!” Theo Garner scowled at me from the dugout. “Get your ass in here and let Arthur have a look at you. Lopez! Get out there.”
I spent the next two hours with my elbow in ice, watching Lino Lopez go 2 for 3 wearing my old number.

Arthur, our trainer, suggested I go see Doc Roberts, our team physician. That night Roberts took x-rays and said he’d get back to me tomorrow. When I got home I couldn’t even hold a piece of pizza. I tried to hide it, but J.R. noticed it.
“You OK?” he asked.
“Yeah. Threw my arm out, is all.”
“****, Davey, you’re a worse liar than me. Your elbow. Is it all right?”
“I don’t know. I went to see the doc and he took some x-rays of it. Said he’d get back to me tomorrow.”
“Does it hurt now?”
Yeah, it feels like my arm is going to fall off. “A little, but not too bad. Probably a muscle strain or something.”

It was not a muscle strain. It was not the muscle at all.


March 14, 2003

I have torn a tendon in my elbow. It hurts like hell. If it wasn’t for Vicadin, I wouldn’t be able to write this note. Dr. Roberts tells me if I were ten years older it might have ended my career. He doesn’t want to operate because I’m young and there’s a good possibility I can rehab it. He says without surgery I’ll be out 7 weeks.

7 weeks. That’s a third of our season. I’m sick to my stomach. I haven’t been able to sleep. I wonder if they’ll release me. Told Dad this afternoon via email. Didn’t tell him how it happened. Couldn’t. I can’t believe I was so stupid. Now what am I going to do? Sit on my ass for seven weeks while Lino Lopez takes my job away?

Garner had some choice words for me, too. I just sat there and took it. What else could I do? Mark Kearse said at least I wasn’t in AAA when it happened, like him. Hart didn’t say anything. What a prick.

Stayed in the house until almost game time. Tried to focus on our game. We beat San Bernardino 4-1 to even our record at 18-18. Can’t stand sitting. My whole life I’ve never had to sit. I hate it.

I shouldn’t complain, though. Yoogie’s injury is worse. He honestly doesn’t know if he’ll ever pitch again. I see the emptiness on his face as he sits alone on the bench, like he’s a leper or something. Dex and I are the only ones who talk to him, who try to cheer him up. Good old Dex. He tries to joke around, but I can tell Yoogie’s scared. Every time I see Lopez run out to short I think I know how he feels.



Now began a terrible, depressing time for me. It was made worse by the fact that with Lopez in the lineup, we went on a six game winning streak. By the end of my second week on the DL, Lopez was hitting .343 with 4 HR. He could hit. He could run, field and throw. He was quick, smart and always in position. After a two-week period where we went 8-4, he was hitting 4th in the lineup. Big Steve McCammon was actually hitting in front of him!

Naturally, I was sick. Every day I saw “Lopez” penciled in the lineup I was reminded of my mistake. Every day I vowed never again to jeopardize my baseball ability. I had a high profile and that got me the starting spot over Lopez, but every day Lino was proving them wrong. It was humiliating, but it was one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. Never take your good fortune for granted, because it can disappear very quickly. There are thousands of excellent ballplayers in the world and one of them just might have your number. Lino Lopez had mine. Literally.


From: Don Driscoll (dondriscoll@familynet.com)
Sent: March 18, 2003 9:06PM
To: Dave Driscoll (ddriscoll@CBPA.org)

Subject:

Dear David,
The team is not going to cut you. Not after one month. What exactly is wrong with your arm? How did you do it? You said only that it was a tendon. If it is a tendon, there are specific exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles around it. Be careful how you work out. Don’t strain the ligament at all. If you want me to call Dr. Bosri, I will. He was the guy who re-did my knee, remember?

In the meantime, DON’T GET DISCOURAGED! It will be OK. Don’t rush things, listen to the team doctors and stay positive. You can still continue with your other workouts. I know it’s going to be frustrating sitting on the bench, but you can still better other skills like reading pitchers, picking up signs and spitting sunflower seeds.

STAY ACTIVE. STAY POSITIVE.

Dad

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Old 06-19-2004, 01:41 PM   #30
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The Unthinkable Happens - Part Two

The first half of June came and went. The Gents were at 32-33 – not exactly first place. Lino was still hitting above .300, McCammon was at .323 with 14 HR (tops in the league), and Guevara had stolen 21 of 22 bases. Dex was pitching in almost every game. He was our workhorse, and he could handle the load. Yoogie was still out. There was talk he might leave the team to rehab his arm. I hoped not. He was the only other guy injured as badly as me.

Yoogie and I would sit on the end of the bench and talk about all kinds of stuff. Anything to make the games go a little faster. In San Diego he was called the best left-handed pitching prospect since Brian Graveer. “That was a curse,” he told me once. “Everyone expected me to strike everybody out like he did. I wasn’t that kind of pitcher. So I just did my own thing. I knew I couldn’t succeed by doing what worked for everyone else. I knew I had to do what was effective and right for me.”

Ugarte could do an unbelievable Theo Garner. One game in June we were down 10-4 in the sixth. It’s hotter than Hell. Theo had been tossed and Gable had the team. Ugarte puts four towels in his jersey, gravels up his voice and starts in with these little comments like, “You call that a swing, Linares? ****, my crippled grandmother has better footwork than that. Jeeeeesus Christ, Guevara, get in front of the ball! This is a baseball game, not a bullfight! McCammon! You got a date? Well, stop swinging at the first goddamn pitch! Hart! You’re playing too shallow. What are you, a goddamn track star or something?”

I start laughing and I can’t stop. Gable’s giving me dirty looks and it just makes me crack up even more. Then Gable says to me, “We’re down by six runs, Driscoll. Maybe you can tell us what’s so ****ing funny?” And I’m dying. All the miserable things I’ve been thinking, and all the pain in my arm and all the tedious rehab exercises were momentarily forgotten. Everybody’s looking at me cracking up and they start laughing. Pretty soon Rennie’s laughing, Hassell’s laughing, Martinez is laughing, Nitta’s spitting up tobacco, and Gable and Costello have no idea what the hell is going on.

The fans around the dugout start laughing at us laughing. Even Imosuke Soseke, one of our relief pitchers, starts laughing and he doesn’t even know what we’re saying because he’s from Japan! By now I’m on the dugout floor having an aneurysm, the umpire has called time because he thinks I’m having a seizure, shy little Jose Landeros is on the bench next to us with his mitt over his face, and Ugarte’s still going: “Keep ****ing laughing, Driscoll. Keep it up. I’ll break your other goddamned arm. Get up, you’re embarrassing yourself. What’s worse, you’re embarrassing me. You call yourself a baseball player? Jeeeesus Christ. You couldn’t wipe the ass of a real baseball player. Why, when I was managing back during the Roman Empire…”

Miss Draper came over right away when she heard. Grilled me for half an hour. Then she left a chicken casserole.
“This ain’t going to heal that arm any faster, but you won’t have to make as many meals.”
“I appreciate it, Miss Draper.”
“You better. I don’t cook for just anybody. Remember, son, this is God’s will. There’s a reason this challenge is before you.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“I don’t mean to pry into your private affairs, David, but why don’t you come out to church with me and my daughter this Sunday? That is, if you’re a churchgoer. Be a real nice service.”
“Uh, well, I guess that would be fine, Miss Draper.”
“Good,” she nodded solemnly. “Pick you up here at seven-thirty sharp. And David?”
“Yes, ma’am?”
“If you own a tie, please wear it.”

Cliff would come by often to see how I was doing. He wouldn’t come right out and say it, of course. It was just a coincidence that my paper got in his yard, or that he happened to have some time to look at the leak in the upstairs bathroom. He invited me to see his workshop. Inside were about a hundred unfinished bats he had made.
“So this is why you took such an interest in my bat,” I said.
“I was really more interested in you,” he confessed. “I’ve been making bats since I was your age. No offense, but your bat ain’t nothing special.”
“I’ve been thinking about getting a new one.”
“Don’t do that now,” he said. “Get back to swinging, then see where you are. But if you do want another bat, I can give you a few of these that might work. They’re not finished, but you can still hit with them. They’re better than that fencepost you’re using.”
“That would be great,” I said. “A Clifford Tyler Special. Where did you learn to make bats?”
“From my dad,” he replied. “Carpenter. Had a lathe for turning chair legs and the like. I used to use leftover dowels to make bats. Why, I used to make bats for all the teams I played on.”
“What do you mean, ‘played on’?”
“I played a little baseball in my day, too.”
“Really? Were you any good?”
“I was pretty good. I was a catcher.”
“Who’d you play for? Local team or something?”
“You could say that. The Birmingham Black Generals.”
“The Birming---. In the BBA?”
“Yes, sir. From ‘48 to ‘51. And I played for the Kansas City Comets and the Cleveland Black Barons, too.”
I was stunned. Baseball history was standing right in front of me. “Wow, Cliff. How come you never mentioned it before?”
“Oh, I don’t talk about it much these days. I’m a retired feed and grain store manager. Nobody has the time to listen to all those old stories anymore.”
I do. “Well, I’d like to hear them.”
Cliff smiled. “I’ll have to put on a pot of chili,” he said.

Yoogie and Dex and J.R. and McCammon were all great. While I was cooped up at the house, it became the place to hang out. Guys from the team would come and go as they pleased. We had many late night video game competitions. I was thankful for all the distractions because even a month into rehab my arm was still killing me.

Late one night I was awakened by a loud knock at the front door. Throwing on a pair of sweats, I went downstairs to see who it was. When I opened the door, there were Rowland and McCammon, drunk as skunks, being propped up by the biggest police officer I had ever seen.
“These boys belong to you?” he said. I could see by his insignia he was from the Savannah Police.
“They live here, if that’s what you mean,” I replied.
“Hi, Davey!” slurred Rowland. “Hey, Steve. It’s Davey.”
“Davey?” said McCammon. “What are you doing in Savannah?”
“If my partner wasn’t such a Gents fan, these two would’ve spent the night in jail,” said the cop. “Do me a favor and keep them away from the Savannah city limits for a day or two.”
“Uh, sure thing. What did they do?”
“This one,” he said, raising Rowland with one hand, “was directing traffic. And this one,” he raised McCammon with the other, “was singing some kind of fight song from the top of a tree.”
“Go Badgers!” said McCammon.
“I’m very sorry, officer. It won’t happen again.”
“Just keep them out of Savannah.”

No, those seven weeks weren’t all terrible. I have Yoogie to thank for that. Between his positive attitude, encouraging emails from my dad, and Cliff’s stories of the BBA I got through it somehow. When Yoogie finally did return he held the lead in the seventh against Wilkes-Barre by striking out the side – all three on curveballs.

By the time I got back the team was at 36-42. Lopez was hitting .289 and averaging a run scored per game. McCammon was at .326 with 20 homers. Keith Hart, the new savior of the franchise, was gone. So much for not feeling challenged by A ball. His replacement was a skinny Puerto Rican kid. You might have heard of him: Cristobal Ayala.


June 28, 2003

Doc says I’m cleared to play. What a relief. I don’t know if I’ll start. Lopez is playing well. I hate to say this, but he probably deserves to keep on playing.

The arm feels good. Threw at full speed this week without complication. I feel a little weaker in BP; not making the contact I used to. Doc says it’s from having to ease back on the muscles during rehab.

Nervous about tomorrow. Will I see my name in the lineup? Moose and J.R. think I’ll be in again. Yoogie and I went out for BBQ to celebrate. He told me I’m going to be scared to death of re-injuring the arm. He said the biggest thing is going to be the first time I have to throw, really throw. He said when he came back he was petrified. He just had to believe his arm was OK. He knew it was all over for him if he couldn’t get it out of his head.

But I remember the pain so well. I remember the cold fear that washed over me when I knew there was something wrong with my arm. It’s been seven weeks, but it feels like it happened yesterday. What if I can’t throw like I used to? What if I totally blow it out this time? What if I no longer have something I’ve relied on my whole life?

I do know one thing: I’m not going to make the bigs if the Atlanta Generals are worried about my arm. I’m going to have to show them it’s all right. Like Dad says, there is no substitute for perseverance. There are thousands of geniuses out there who won’t pound sand into a rat hole.

Time to go pound some sand.


Next time: Pounding Sand

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Old 06-20-2004, 03:28 PM   #31
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Way to go. This is great. Please keep it up.
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Old 06-23-2004, 06:39 PM   #32
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I've never played the game, but this is consistently excellent writing, much like a novel. I'm going to have to re-think how I write my own OOTP dynasties. Your writing allows for such a level of immersion that I can't think it possible for ITP to be as flawed as it's been made out to be.

Fantastic work.

Craig
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Old 06-26-2004, 12:32 PM   #33
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Thanks for your comments, Craig. I believed from the very beginning that if I could create interesting characters the story would remain interesting to readers. You can't expect people to remain interested in a stat parade. I confess that I am inserting some of my ideas for the game into the story. Not that ITP is flawed, but I definitely see room for many interesting new features. Some of those features will make their way into Dave's career.

There won't be a new chapter today because I'm "going dark" and will be changing to my new computer. But I should be ready next week to upload Pounding Sand.

Thanks to all for your encouraging comments.

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Old 06-26-2004, 01:21 PM   #34
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Dang. I have been sitting here waiting. I saw you posted and jumped right here. You now have a big fan in me. Can't wait for the next chapter.
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Old 06-26-2004, 04:14 PM   #35
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Me too. Looking for my Saturday fix....
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Old 06-27-2004, 02:41 AM   #36
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I don't know how i'll survive
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Old 07-03-2004, 02:29 PM   #37
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OK, the next chapter of SHORT HOP is ready to go. Thanks to everybody for their patience. I admit I was a little concerned about losing my files in the move, but everything worked out fine.

One note about Pittsburgh. I said before that they began as the Cannons, but they actually began as the Drillers before moving to Vancouver in 1979 to become the Mounties. The franchise in Miami actually moved north to Pittsburgh in 1998 and became the Cannons. Declining attendance and the promise of a new stadium in Pittsburgh (not to mention a loyal fan base) lured them away from the Sunshine State (hey, it's unusual but it's my league). There. I feel better now.

One other note: the Eastern Developmental League consists of the Hinesville Gents, the Ft. Myers Pelicans, the Delta (Lafayette) Pilots, the Beaumont Hornets, and the independent Tuscaloosa Tomcats.

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Old 07-03-2004, 02:33 PM   #38
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CHAPTER 8:

Pounding Sand


I finally broke through in Game 81, three games into my post-injury career, going 3 for 4 against Tuscaloosa, the doormat of the Eastern Developmental League. It felt like I found a hundred dollars under my pillow. The next day we were in Terre Haute to play the Turtles and I hit what was to be my only home run that year, my first as a professional. In the sixth, with the bases empty, this skinny sidearmer threw me something that wiffle-balled down onto my bat and I golfed it over the wall in left, just inside the foul pole. Not exactly a Joe Keith tape measure special, but a homer is a homer.

Then I went 0 for a four game series against Bullhead City. Late that night on the bus, somewhere between Albuquerque and New Orleans, I was watching the lights of little Texas towns glide by my window. I was trying to get the images of my miserable hesitant swing out of my head when Mark Kearse drops into the seat next to mine. Wordlessly, he holds up a flask of something copper colored. I took a big gulp. When my eyes stopped watering, I glanced at him.
“Thanks,” I wheezed.
“Don’t mention it. You looked like you needed it.”
“I need a swing, not a swig.”
“****, Driscoll. You don’t need a swing. You need an attitude.”
“An attitude?”
“Yep. You need contempt.”
“Contempt?”
“Yep. I’ve been watching you for a while. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I want to be your friend or anything, but if I get to the Bigs chances are you’ll be getting there about the same time. If I’m going to make a living driving in runs, chances are you’re going to be scoring some of those runs.”
“So?”
“So, it’s in my best interest for you to become a good hitter. Hell, you’re already a good hitter. You just don’t believe you’re a good hitter.”
I think I understand. “And you’re going to tell me what’s wrong with my swing?”
He conked me on the head with the flask. “No! What am I, stupid? That’s Gable’s job. I’m going to tell you something nobody’s told you yet.”
“I’m listening.”
“When I was in Raleigh, back before I got hurt, I played with Amaro Garza. He was there for about two weeks on a rehab assignment. Man, I was beside myself. We all were.”
“I can imagine.”
“So, one night on a bus trip, a lot like this one in fact, I asked him what he thinks about when he’s at the plate. You know what he said? He said, ‘I think I am the king of the game’”.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“That’s what I said. He said he believes whatever the pitcher throws, he’s going to kill it. He really believes there is no pitcher good enough to face him.”
“Contempt.”
“Right,” said Kearse. “When you’re at the plate, you’ve got to stare at that pitcher and know you’re better than he is. He’s got to see that in you. Then you’ve got him.”
“What if he’s not intimidated?”
Kearse winced like he was in genuine pain. “Aren’t you listening? It doesn’t matter what he thinks. He’s a busher, a scrub. He’s a rag arm. Look, Dave, every at bat is a battle. At the end of every season somebody goes home. And believe me, you may be the flavor of the month now, but months change. It’s either you or them.”

For once, Kearse was making sense. I really didn’t have a killer instinct. I had always just done the ‘try hard and oh, well’ approach. I began to realize there’s no one who’s going to fight for me but me. And I hadn’t been fighting very hard.
“Thanks,” I said.
“One for the road?” said Kearse, holding up the flask.
“Uh, no thanks.”

Over the next two weeks against Burlington, Ventura and Colorado Springs I went 5-34. Not exactly contemptuous. Why Theo kept me in the lineup I’ll never know. Lopez continued to hit well, when he was used. He was not too happy at seeing me playing, that’s for sure. Scarcely a word passed between us. I began to feel very uncomfortable, even guilty. Dex and J.R. were right on track, and McCammon was on fire. At the end of July he was hitting .349 with 26 homers. Parks shrunk when he was at the plate. Watching him hit was like getting a lesson in how to relax. He just didn’t seem to care whether he homered or struck out. At the end of July I wrote my dad.

From: Dave Driscoll (ddriscoll@CBPA.org)
Sent: July 30, 2003 10:21PM
To: Don Driscoll (dondriscoll@familynet.com)

Subject:

Dear Dad,
It’s been a month since I’ve been back and nothing’s clicking. 14 hits in 24 games? I haven’t had two hits in a game since my home run. Am I doing something wrong? Has my swing changed and I don’t know it? During the day I can’t get my mind off this slump. Guys aren’t talking to me like they used to. I continue to hit well in batting practice, but I can’t seem to feel comfortable at the plate. I’d do anything for a couple of base hits.

Defensively, I’ve been doing well. Only 8 errors in 502 innings. I can’t wait to take the field and I dread coming in when I know I’m going to hit. There’s only one month left of the season and I’ve got to make some kind of dent or I think I’m going home. Lopez is pissed at me for taking my spot back. I don’t blame him.

We started a two-week stretch of games at home. Maybe that will help. It is nice to sleep in my own bed and shower in my own room. Give my best to mom.

Dave



The next day we beat Thunder Bay for our fourth win in a row. I was working on a modest 5-game hitting streak, but the hits weren’t exactly line drives. Two were bunt singles. Pound sand, I told myself. Just pound sand.

So I did. I took extra batting practice. I figured everybody who hadn’t been injured had seen at least 100-140 more at bats than me. I decided to make up for lost time. I asked Theo if it was all right that I hit some by myself after practices.
“****, Driscoll,” he said, “where you are, it can’t hurt.”
I had Tuck set up the pitching machine after practice and I hit for about an hour a day. I started using one of Cliff’s bats. He was right; it was better than the fencepost I’d been using. Slowly, my strength came back. I started to snap my wrists like I used to. I started to drive my hips. I started to see the ball, to pick up the spin. I started to hit.

In early August, McCammon and I were playing MLB2003 on my Playstation (remember those?). About the seventh inning I was ahead something like 11-2. I became aware of his eyes on me, so I had my guy step out of the batter’s box.

“What?” I said, irritated.
McCammon just smiled at me.
“What the hell, Moose? You gotta crush on me, or something?”
“You should see you play this game,” he said.
“It’s a video game. So what?”
“So, you’re concentrating like it’s the seventh game of the CBA Championship. You haven’t blinked since the second inning.”
“So? I want to win.”
He just smiled that stupid grin of his. “I believe you’re going to start hitting.”

One thing about McCammon, and all catchers for that matter: he knew hitters. Some catchers know hitters better than hitters know themselves. I broke through in August by hitting in 19 out of 27 games (.326). But it’s a funny thing about baseball, and life, that when one thing is going well something else is just waiting around the corner to screw it up.

On August 14th we were playing Beaumont. I was riding the pine when Theo gets a phone call. He disappears into the locker room for about ten minutes, comes out again and says to me, “Driscoll, you’re in for Lopez next inning.” When I hit the steps in the bottom of the 5th, Lopez is nowhere to be found. After the game, Gable comes up to me.
“You’re going to be playing a lot of short from now on.”
“What do you mean?” I say. “Where’s Lino?”
“Theo got a call. Mike Wynn got hurt. Theo had to send someone to Durham. He sent Lopez.”
****. Lino got called to AA.

It’s weird how things work out. If I didn’t get hurt, Lino probably wouldn’t have played much. But I did get hurt and he did play. He played so well he earned a call-up. If he hadn’t played so well he wouldn’t have earned the call-up and I might not have played at all the rest of that first season. As it was I became a full-time starter again and I didn’t waste the opportunity this time. I went 12 for 33 (.363) to close out August, raising my average to .230. I had only made ten errors at short (.966), first in the league by far. By the end of the season I was up to .236 and had won Defensive Player of the Year in the Eastern Developmental League.

McCammon led the league in everything; home runs, runs, on base percentage. He was runner-up for MVP. J.R. hit .272 with 17 HR and 22 stolen bases. Guevara stole 35 of 36 bases. Keith Hart came back from wherever he had been sent with an entirely new attitude. Guys were hinting that he had been released outright and had returned to his family in Philadelphia. After a month or so of the real world, the team had offered him another contract – this time without a big signing bonus. All it took was thirty days of working in his family’s liquor store to give him a new appreciation for what he had been offered. He took it. Still no apology for me, though. He was still a prick, just a humble prick. He finished at .284, though. Contempt is one thing, arrogance is another.

Theo Garner’s contract was extended for another year, so it looked like I was going to be under his wing for another year. He rented a house up in the Spring Hill section outside Savannah, but as far as I know never invited anybody there. Theo and I were to see each other again before the start of our second season in Hinesville, but it would not be under the best of circumstances.

The Gents finished 63-67 for fourth place behind Beaumont, Ft. Myers and the Delta Pilots. Attendance was up from last season, so our owner bought himself a new Lincoln. The team threw a big fan appreciation barbeque after our last home game and gave away a bunch of prizes. I was given my Defensive Player of the Year trophy between a watermelon eating contest and a drawing for a new color television. The fans applauded, but I think they were more interested in winning the color television.

Cliff and I stayed friendly. He taught me how to cook chili and I taught him how to play video games. He was as good at video games as I was at making chili, which is to say, bad. I continued to work with Cliff on my bats, and even made a few of my own. I used them for kindling when the weather turned. I started going to church with Miss Draper, who made a point of introducing me to all the available young ladies. I was polite, of course, but didn’t think I needed an old lady helping me “score with the chicks”. There was one girl that caught my eye, though. More about her later.

I had decided to stay in Hinesville. My folks planned a trip out to spend Thanksgiving with me. I could have moved into a bigger place, but with McCammon and J.R. gone home for the off-season, the house was quite big enough. I took a job bussing tables at Fiddler’s Bar to stay busy. It was, at last, the off-season.

Next week: The Off-Season, Part One

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Old 07-05-2004, 02:53 PM   #39
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Great as always.
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Old 07-06-2004, 03:17 PM   #40
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Just curious, are you playing every individual game or what? Great writing..
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