Back in April I posted the first two parts of what I’m calling “The Baseball Story.” Here is part three. I made some changes to parts one and two when I posted chapter one on the Ergonomic Fiction page. If you have already read that, then you get a day off from reading something current, but for those of you who only have time for 1000 words a day, here an installment. I’ve been working on three stories for the past few weeks and trying to get some headway in each one. I haven’t forgotten about the Bukake Culkin band story or Noisy World. I’ll get there again.
Hope your weekend is off to a great start.
One night in the fall of 1997 when Max was in the alarm bay alone, he thought back to 1981.
Recreating an entire baseball season had been a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. So much work, in fact, that it had been the only time he had ever done it. He remembered how his hands would be sore from all the dice rolling, writing, and erasing he did. He wondered what his parents had thought about all of the notebooks he went through.
At first, he had tried to do whatever games were scheduled on a given day, but sometimes that was a lot of games. It was easier to just do as much as he could do so that he could occasionally walk away from it. There were days, Max remembered, where he would have to talk himself into stopping.
Even at 10 and a half, because that’s how old he would have said he was at the time, Max knew he had to listen to that little voice in his head from time to time. It was hard to do, especially when he was on a roll (no pun intended). Sometimes too much of a good thing was not okay, but there were nights in the summer of 1981 when he would stay up very late playing games of dice baseball.
It was a Monday night, so there was not a whole lot to do. People, for whatever reason, did not like to buy a car on Monday. Looking out at the quiet car lot, Max thought about working on a few of the new trucks that had come to the lot earlier that day. He could put the base model alarm in these new S-10’s in less than five minutes. In fact, sometimes he dreamed about doing alarms, so he knew he could do them in his sleep if he ever needed to do so.
Max brushed that thought aside, though, since the trucks wouldn’t even get detailed for at least a day and Larry Rogers, the manager who was over himself, Lee Wilson, and the rest of the crew in the back lot didn’t want alarms to go in before the initial inspection and detailing was done. Seemed like a dumb idea to Max, but it bought him time that night to think back.
He remembered how he would go back and forth on the best way to compile the mounting statistics that needed to be kept for an entire 162 game season of baseball for 26 teams. Some days he would enter the game stats into his log for each team after every game and some days he would wait until the end. That might have been the toughest part of doing a whole season.
Some of the parameters he set for himself made it a bit easier. For example, he learned early on that substitution of the players during the games was a huge time commitment and hard to do realistically, so he made his league follow the designated hitter (DH) rule. This meant that the nine position players, including the DH, would stay the same for the whole game.
The only substitutions he would make were on the pitching side. He decided to leave space in his notebook for five total pitchers each game. This made it easier, too, even in the occasional blow outs that would occur. (The current trend of using a positional player as a pitcher in a blowout would have very much complicated Dice Baseball, but it could have been fun to do on a small scale.)
Max took a somewhat crumpled pack of Marlboro Reds out of the front pocket of his uniform shirt. The Friendly’s shirt looked anything but friendly, in Max’s opinion. It was a combination of black, red, and gray with two patches on the front. One was the Friendly’s logo, which was a patriotic smiley face over the familiar Chevy symbol. The other was his name. Max, it read, in a loopy font.
He knew he needed to quit the damn cigarettes, but it was hard to do when it seemed like everyone at the dealership smoked. In fact, he hadn’t been a smoker when he started, but over time, he broke down and joined the rest in their slow dissent into lung cancer. Kate played a small role, too, as she was a smoker if she had enough to drink. Max was always intrigued by how she could smoke when she drank, but then not pick one up for days or weeks. He wasn’t so fortunate.
As he shook out the pack to get one of the few smokes left, his thoughts drifted back to his old notebooks. It was amazing how looking at the games brought him back to the moments in time he was rolling the dice and filling them out. He could get a glimpse as to what he was thinking; It was like time travel, in a way.
The other thing, and this thought almost startled him a bit, was that when he was playing a game, in his mind, he could see the game, too. The players were real to him for those minutes and the action of the game was right there. He would have a running commentary in his head going the whole time, like when he would play his epic nerf basketball games in his bedroom when he was in junior high school.
Max had always had a talent for making something out of nothing. Here he was doing it again on a quiet night with nothing to do except let the minutes on the timecard stack up. His game was good. He knew it, but what could he do with it? How could he show it to someone without feeling like he was some weirdo?
Imagination, he thought almost ruefully as he took a long drag on his cigarette, is a powerful thing. It’s probably my favorite drug. He liked that idea a lot.
See you tomorrow.
1978. OG nerf action. Stolen from the internet.