May 13, 2022

I’ve made a huge mistake. That’s what the data says so far about the flurry of cuts and acquisitions I made yesterday afternoon, altering the original roster of the Worcester Birds, while my kids were in their karate class. The class was being held outside, in a nice park near our house. My wife and I were both there, sitting in folding chairs, and I could have just enjoyed myself, breathing deeply and looking at trees waving around in the breeze, or whatever it is people do when they’re enjoying nature. Instead, I went nuts with a rash of imaginary baseball moves.

I made these moves after my wife and I talked about how exhausted we both were by the puppy we’d decided to add to the mix of our family a few days ago. We have two kids, two cats, and now, two dogs, one of them apparently a diabolical genius of mayhem. You make moves in life. Are they for good reasons? Are they for more love, not less? That was the thinking with the puppy, who lay at our feet trying to eat our feet, and we couldn’t help it. We were in love with the asshole.

The driving force of all my imaginary baseball moves was not too far from love. Or what the hell, I can say it: I love Ed Kranepool. It was all for Ed Kranepool. How do I add Ed Kranepool to my team and not weaken the support Mark Fidrych will get for each of his starts? Well, I better make sure to make up the defense deficit in moving from a young, quick Keith Hernandez to an Ed Kranepool who had been galumphing around at first since the Kennedy presidency. So I swapped in Al Cowens, winner of a 1977 Gold Glove in right field, for the good but not great fielder Jose Cruz. I also grabbed good glove, no-hit Tony Muser as a late-inning defensive replacement for both Ed Kranepool and his right-handed platoon counterpart, Ron Jackson. Bruce Boisclar was picked up for essentially the same salary as Dan Thomas, who had been struggling, and I figured adding another Shea Stadium denizen in addition to Ed Kranepool would help create the kind of magic fusing of computer algorithms and personal memories that I’m hoping for. Mike Marshall had a lousy season in 1977 in real life, and it has been going even worse for him in this virtual universe, and I imagined that the abrasive personality he reportedly displayed throughout his career might also be affecting my team, so I decided to try improving morale with charming David Letterman guest Terry Forster, but to do I had to free up a little more salary, which I was able to do by dumping Glenn Burke for Joe Zdeb.

This last shift may have been the move that dooms the season, as Glenn Burke, in real life, was valued by his 1977 Dodgers teammates as a hugely important clubhouse presence. In Andrew Maraniss’s Singled Out, opponent Tito Fuentes described Burke “as like a glistening mirror ball at a discoteque when the light hits it and all of these different reflections and colors flash all over room.” What happens when you remove that kind of light from a team?

Well, so far, what has happened is that the aged Ed Kranepool got injured almost instantly. The other new acquisitions have played well, except for Terry Forster, who immediately got the new version of the team off to a shaky start. But something else seems to have come completely undone, and if there’s such a thing as team morale with an imaginary team, it is surely guttering with Glenn Burke’s departure and with the unwarranted punishment of Bill Campbell, who prior to the series described in the notes below was leading the team in innings pitched and leading the entire league in ERA.

I’m still hoping the team will get it turned back around. There are still signs of life. The team has been good at home, and Mark Fidrych is has been good at home, and he is scheduled to pitch the next game, at home. Also, as you can see at the bottom of this post, the new puppy ruining our lovestruck lives has David Bowie eyes. Everything will always be a beautiful collapsing mess.

Worcester Birds notes, games 37 through 42:

  • G37: L 13-3
    • New acquisition Terry Forster struggles, and bullpen mopper Steve Mingori pushes a lopsided loss into an embarrassment.
  • G38: L 14-11
    • Putrid Bob Stanley records only two outs before getting the hook (allowing 5 runs); Bill Campbell’s league-leading ERA goes the way of the dodo bird after he is, for some reason unknown to the team, forced to go the whole rest of the way with nothing working (7.1 IP, 8 H, 7 BB, 9 ER). Team is grumbling.
  • G39: L 16-3
    • Tiant rocked for 10 runs; Campbell brought in again to finish up with humiliating batting practice (2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER). Team on brink of outright revolt.

One comment

  1. Not sure why i thought glenn burke was white….probably conflagrating the names of glenn borgman and glenn abbot….
    I am looking forward to the day where you are forced to start
    danny thomas ( i am guessing i am mixing up the thomases, i am thinking of SS who died in 77)
    tony muser
    and joe zdeb

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