Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

An Old Buff Tale

May 3, 2012

Houston Daily Post, Wednesday, October 26, 1887.

Early last Tuesday morning, this past one, the one going forward into Tuesday, May 1st, in the wee small hours, no less, I awoke from a most amazing slumber vision at about 3:30 AM. I had dreamed I finally made a successful trip back in time to Houston of the late 19th century. To be more precise, the date was October 25, 1887. I had been out there a lot lately in reality concordance with our 21st century time and space zone, but now, in the dream, at least, I was in this other place.

Everything about my senses in the dream made it feel completely real. In fact, it was the visceral intensity of the whole thing, far more than the content of what actually happened there, that had awakened me in the pre-dawn hours of May Day, 2012.

All I remember of it went as follows:

It was late in the day on an autumn Tuesday in Houston of 1887. I was walking through the almost vacant grandstands of the old ball park that used to stand at the corner of Travis and McGowen. In a strange departure from my normal character and habits, I had been gambling with a small group of cigar-chomping swells, betting on everything from ball and strike calls to the over/under number on foul balls that would reach the grandstands per inning. – It’s a good thing I won because I’d already raised enough sand among my companions by the 1932 Houston Buffs jersey and cap I had been wearing – and I don’t know how I could have paid off with modern money that none of them had ever previously seen.

I walked away from the “five guys” – listening to their mumbled questions about me.

As I approached the stands on the McGowen side, I saw a Houston Daily Post reporter that apparently had passed out from too much to drink on the second bench from the front row. I figured he was the Post guy because he had one of those press cards stuck in the ribbon of his derby hat and the Post was the only paper covering the game that day.

I bumped him in the side with my knee. “Hey,” I said, “get up.”

“Who’s there?” The startled Post reporter asked as he rubbed his eyes hard and swiveled quickly to a sitting position, all the while staring up at me distrustfully and quite defensively.

“I say,” the reporter demanded. “Who in blazes are you, sir? – And why do you come to the ballpark today dressed in that strange garb?”

“Just think of me as the Spirit of Old Buff, sir” I answered. “My friends and i are here from the future to learn what we can about how our city embraced the game of baseball back in the 19th century. – And while I’m at it, I have to tell you – you 19th century writers could make it a lot easier for us if you could write more specifically bout the names and locations of ballparks and teams back in the old days!”

“What do you mean by ‘old days’, sir,” the Post reporter demanded. “These are the days – the only days in time that belong to us. If you and your sort do not understand when we write that the Houstons play to day at the ball park, that’s no concern of mine. I have my own deadlines to meet, sir, and, as for you – your impertinence is only matched by the unsightly vision of your peculiar clothing and shady-sided contact with crooked gentlemen who choose to gamble on every occurrence in Houston from sunrise to sunset.”

About this time in the dream, the image of the reporter began to waver and fade before my eyes, as did the sound of his voice weaken and fadeaway as though it were disappearing down a long narrow pipeline to nowhere. The next thing I knew, I was sitting upright in bed, reorienting to the fact that it apparently all had been nothing more than one of those inexplicably weird dreams.

I probably would have forgotten the whole thing, except for a little discovery I made later the same morning during my research time downtown at the Harris County Archives. I felt compelled to take a look at the files of the Houston Daily Post for the day following my somnolent trip to the ball park with the gamblers and the sleeping-it-off anonymous-to-this-day reporter.

That’s when I found the clipping I used at the top of this story. Draw your own conclusions.

The Monster Team Nine.

January 25, 2010

"If you can't stretch for a few of my wild and hairy throws to first base, I'm going for the jugular!"

For want of a better Monday morning idea this week, here’s my Monster Club Baseball Nine. All those days at the Avalon Theatre armed me hard and fast for days like today.

Pitcher: Count Dracula. Biggest Assets: (1) Knows how to handle bats. (2) When everything is at stake, you will find his heart where it needs to be. Biggest Drawbacks: (1) Never available for day games. (2) When he gets knocked out of the box, he really gets knocked out of the box.

Catcher: The Thing from Another World. Biggest Asset: Possessing the vegetative body of an alien carrot, he has nothing to fear from proximity to his blood-hungry battery mate. Biggest Drawback: Tends to strike base runners with the back of his open right hand at the cost of ignoring the out tag with his ball-clutched glove hand.

First Base: The Frankenstein Monster. Biggest Asset: Plays with an extra charge of enthusiasm and power in games that follow rain-outs from thunderstorms. Biggest Drawback: Bad relations and misunderstandings with teammates are blamed on his poor communication skills.

Second Base: The Wolfman. Biggest Asset: Facial expressions are given credit for stopping baserunners from even trying to steal second base. Biggest Drawback: Only available to play once in a blue moon.

Third Base: The Wicked Witch of Oz. Biggest Asset: Doesn’t monkey around with batters who attempt to bunt their way safe with dribblers down the line. She’ll get you, you pretty fast base runners, and your little dog too. You may as well surrender to the idea of either holding back or swinging away. Biggest Drawback: She’s only good to go til it rains.

Shortstop: The Blob. Biggest Asset: No shortstop in history ever covered more ground. Biggest Drawbacks: (1) He is stuck on himself and anyone else who comes along. (2) He’s best known to his frustrated teammates as “the place where relay throws go to die.”

Left Field: Godzilla. Biggest Asset: Hits the long ball fifty times farther than McGwire, Sosa, or Bonds, and with no questions raised about his ‘roids use. Biggest Drawbacks: (1) Property damage judgments against him and the team for destruction caused simply by his ordinary game day walks to and from the ballpark  have destroyed the club’s profit edge. (2) Club has to bear the extra cost of paying for his Japanese translator.

Center Field: The Mummy. Biggest Asset: No need for expensive sun block lotions. Biggest Drawback: His snail-like locomotion is an issue. No game is ever considered “under wraps” with “Da Mum” on patrol in the huge central pasture of the outfield. In fact, any ball hit past The Mummy will routinely convert to either a four-base error or an inside-the-park home run.

Right Field: Bernie Madoff. Biggest Asset: His teammates trust him. Biggest Drawback: His teammates trust him.

That’s it for today. Maybe I’ll get serious tomorrow. Maybe I won’t.

Have a great week, everybody!

Black Friday Sale on Baseball Robots.

November 27, 2009

What if Major League Baseball teams were able to lease replica baseball player robots that were capable of performing at the same level of their namesakes? The only conditions and restrictions on these contracts are these:

1. Contracts must be completed with the PlayerMax Company Manufacturing Firm today, Black Friday, or not opened again for reconsideration again until the Friday after Thanksgiving 2010.

2. By agreement with MLB Licensing and the Players’ Union, player robots are modeled only upon big leaguers who played in the 20th century up to 1960 only.

3. By agreement with the Players’ Union Competition Committee, robots may only be leased per annum at the rate of their highest best year salary earned as humans in the big leagues. Salaries/leasing rates range from $3,000 to $80,000 per year. Leasing teams will pay a fee that is based on the actual player’s salary for the year he performed as you desire him to be programmed for their 2010 clubs. If you want a Babe Ruth robot from 1921, you will have to pay the company what Ruth made in salary for that year.

4. Only one model robot for each actual player is available to the leasing pool. If someone takes a ’21 or ’27 Babe Ruth model, no other club may choose a Babe Ruth robot from any other year. They must select a player model that has yet to be taken in this draft for any year.

5. All leasing opportunities are based inversely on each club’s 2009 record. The worst teams draft first; the best teams draft last. In case of ties, alphabetical order will rule as the tie-breaker on who drafts first.

6. Each MLB club will have four robot draft choices, but with a $100,000 budget ceiling on leasing funds that may be spent on all players chosen.

7. The draft will contain four rounds. Teams that exhaust their budget ceilings  earlier will be out of the draft for the remainder of their choices.

8. Teams that do not use their entire budgets will donate the unused portions to the Players Union Pension Fund, plus (major “harrumph” here), each MLB team will pay $10,000,000 into the Pension Fund each year in exchange for the right to indulge in the robot option.

9. All leasing arrangements are for one year only. No future service options are for sale and no refunds or replacements are allowed for robots that break down after the leasing contracts are signed.

Here’s the draft order for today’s robot picks. How would you pick ’em based on the most obvious needs of each club? If you have any ideas on what the weakest clubs should do, please post them below as comments upon this article.

Black Friday Baseball Fiction Bonus: The more time you spend on this exercise today, the less time you will have for spending money  at the mall.

Robot (1901-1960) Player Draft Order:

1. Washington; 2. Pittsburgh; 3. Baltimore; 4. Cleveland; 5. Kansas City; 6.Arizona; 7. New York Mets; 8. Houston; 9. Oakland; 10. San Diego; 11. Toronto; 12. Cincinnati; 13. Chicago White Sox; 14. Milwaukee; 15. Chicago Cubs; 16. Tampa Bay; 17. Seattle; 18. Detroit; 19. Atlanta; 20. Florida; 21. Minnesota; 22. Texas; 23. San Francisco; 24. St. Louis; 25. Colorado; 26. Philadelphia; 27. Boston; 28. Los Angeles Dodgers; 29. Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim; 30. New York Yankees.

If you were a real MLB general manager, and this cyber-solution were a real way to fill the holes on your club, this robot player draft would now likely loom as the most important business of your off-season administration period.

Hope some of you bedrock fans have fun with the idea. It really will be better for you than a Christmas shopping trip today.