Ron Schueler (2)

January 16, 2008


Act II

(continued from Ron Schueler (1))

The back of this card, the same card I displayed a couple days ago, shows a handful of years and a handful of teams, a portrait in numbers and place names of a nonessential migratory clause, a body to throw at the useless innings, an adjunct. Add him, junk him. Add junk? Adjunct. I hadn’t planned to rely so heavily on Ron Schueler in this latest attempt of mine to defeat the defeat of the past. Who would? But the computer hooked to my scanner is wheezing, unusable, poisoned with viral malignancies. I have no other option, no one in the bullpen. For better or worse, it’s Ron Schueler’s game to win.

I spend much of my waking life wired to a computer, so when the thing went down with a virus a couple days ago it felt like more than just the malfunctioning of an inanimate tool. I felt damaged, invaded. As the popups kept mushrooming relentlessly across the screen I had the urge to bash the computer to shards with a baseball bat and head for the hills. Maybe in the hills I’d find peace or maybe instead I’d feel the need to hack at my skull with a screwdriver to dislodge what I believed to be a wireless transmitter embedded inside. I mean maybe it’s too late. Maybe I’m beyond repair.

This possibly fatal graft of my brain to the computer began about the time where we last left off. As an adjunct professor I was given space in an office shared by several other adjunct professors. I was also given the use of a computer. A friend from graduate school, Rick, had begun working as an adjunct professor at the school that year, and he helped me set up a Yahoo account. He had one, which he used to play fantasy football. “It’s fun,” Rick said. He seemed unconvinced. Still, I drafted a fantasy basketball team within minutes of creating my online proxy. I named them Desolation Angels, after Jack Kerouac’s saddest novel.  

There were days, plenty of them, when the Desolation Angels provided the brightest moment of my day. I didn’t have much else going on. I had an apartment with two empty bedrooms, blindless windows that stared unblinkingly at Time, and terror that crested four times a week in the firing-squad minutes directly preceding each meeting of one of my two classes. Each flare-up of terror gave way to a kind of public seizure that gripped me for 90 minutes before casting me back to my solitude sweaty and stunned, my voice raw, as if I had spent the entire hazy interval sobbing.

The students gone, I sat at the head of the empty class until my legs stopped trembling. I usually felt ashamed about one or another of the things that had tumbled from my mouth during the ill-planned lesson.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” I said out loud.

But the Desolation Angels got off to a decent start and kept climbing. As the days got shorter and colder, I leaned on them more and more. I started coming into the office on weekends to study the numbers of guys on the free agent wire. I made shrewd pickups. I climbed into third place. I climbed into second.

“I can win this,” I said out loud. 

(to be continued)


  1. 1.  “I spend much of my waking life wired to a computer”

    I don’t own a TV because I tend to get lost in it when I need to be productive. I thought not having one around would free me up to be productive. Now I get lost in my computer, but at least I find little things like this place as opposed to watching another rerun of Law and Order.

  2. 2.  for all of the Internet’s productivity torment and its nicotine-hook, though, just think of the vistas of baseball arcana that it opens wide….

    although on second thought that might be in and of itself the problem.

  3. 3.  2 simply: amen

    and as a smoker, the nicotine reference is spot-on.

  4. 4.  I sometimes wonder with fear what work would be like if it did not have a computer. What would I do to pass these hours? How did I get through the day when I had jobs where there was no computer and I had to pass the idle hours without baseball blogs, fantasy football and email conversations? I feel comforted when I first get to work in the morning and the good old computer is glowing.

  5. 5.  Schueler went on from being a mediocre pitcher to become GM of the White Sox. He was the guy who traded Sammy Sosa for George Bell.

  6. 6.  love the teaching insights. first time I taught english (which I still do) at the New School I seriously thought I might die due to an adverse physiological response to stress. it got better.

    the first computer that got me was at Chelsea House, a horrid old PC that ran on DOS and featured blinking orange characters. years before real graphics.

    but it ran Strat-o-matic

    I occasionally even beat your brother in a game or two.

  7. 7.  While spending my formative years inventing numerous games, competitions, and activities with my baseball cards, sometimes the name of a player took on an identity of its own.

    I never knew how to pronounce this particular hurler’s name, and have no memory of ever hearing it pronounced by the Kiner/Murphy/Nelson greek chorus of my childhood listening dramas.

    I did, however, have his card several times over with the Phillies and White Sox.

    When his card would partake in some intricately devised contest (and there were many) I never knew how exactly to pronounce the name. What was his Identity?
    Who, exactly, Was he?

    Was it “Shoo-lur?” “Skool-yer?” Some bastrdized combination of “Skewer” or “Shooooer?”

    Perhaps on account of it being the late ’70s, and my youthful fascination with Star Wars, Micronauts, Shogun Warriors, and all things somehow science-fiction related erupting in full bloom, the surname of the man pictured went through various incarnations of pronunciation.

    Before he developed a vaguely sci-fi-ish, outer-spacey moniker as unique as the moon dust that finally settled on my card-collecting days.


    After a certain point he just became Ron “Shway-ar.” Like a Quasar. Or a Pan-Galactic Transport of some hazy order.

    Long after he hung up the cleats, RON “SHWAY-AR” still rose to super-nova-like heights in the numerous games I’d devise in my bedroom, his appearance always bringing with it some slight futuristic sense of hope and other-worldly triumph.

    I still don’t know how his name is actually pronounced.

  8. 8.  7 : Your take on futuristic star-traveler “Ron Schway-ar” sheds new light on why he seems to be gazing at the heavens.

  9. 9.  Pete – The Kalas/Ashburn/Musser chorus always said “Shooler”, so I think that’s right. You must have had him confused with Mike Cuellar.

  10. 10.  Ah!
    Well, I didn’t confuse the two of them per se, given Cuellar’s solidly tenured status as an Oriole and, uh, the obvious physical differences…

    The scowling, afroed, and fiercely weary mug-shot profile on his ’75 card with the O’s remains particulary vivid in my memory.

    BUT, yes, there’s another perfect example of a guy whose name was veritably unpronouncable and thus fluid in my mind’s private soundtrack during any and all baseball-card-related activities.

    “Koo-ler?” “Kool-Yer?” “Kool-yoo-ler?”

    Thank heavens cellular phones weren’t yet on the scene…

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