Good afternoon baseball fans and a special tip of the cap to Bud, Lou and Chief T for their inspiration.
Welcome to Stadium City, home of the major league Stadium City Firefighters. Today, we are bringing you an exclusive home plate seat while the team’s owner, Sally Mayor, introduces the new head coach, John T. Chief, to the team members.
“Welcome, Coach Chief. Thank you for agreeing to guide our team through the playoffs and the series against our old, arch rival team, the Uncontrolled Blazes. This rivalry has existed for a long time here in Stadium City and the teams have faced each other many times over the years.
The Firefighters have a long and proud tradition of excellence and our team has acquired some unique and unusual names. Allow me to introduce the players.
On the bases, we have Engine 1 on first base, Engine 2 on second base, and Engine 3 on third-base. Right field is Ladder 1, center field is Ladder 2, and left field is Ladder 3. Our pitcher is Res Q. Squad and our catcher is Battalion Chief. Shortstop is Engine 6. We used to have two additional players, Engine 4 and Engine 5, but we had to lay them off during the most recent budget crisis and during the previous budget crisis before that.
Our team is chronically short of money and it gets worse when federal grants expire. But it is the players own fault for wanting to be paid what we promised to pay them. While our ticket sales are brisk, a large percentage of the tickets are given away free to fans who cannot afford to buy them. The stadium is full but we can’t pay the mortgage. We have tried to raise the ticket prices for those who can afford to pay for them, but strangely enough, the higher the ticket prices go, the more tickets we give away. We will be hiring a consultant to look into this.
Most of the time, when we cannot meet the payroll, we put fewer players on the field. We do this by citing extensive and irrelevant statistical data and then applying unscientific political analysis. For example, Ladder 1, in right field, does not play most of the time because most of our opposition team is right-handed. Fewer hits go to right field, so why keep a player there every game? On the other hand, Engine 6, the shortstop, also doesn’t play frequently because that area of the playing field has a higher concentration of players between Engine 2, Engine 3, and Ladder 3. Also, we expect our pitcher, Res Q. Squad to run all over the field because the pitcher’s mound is centrally located.
Our former coach, Coach Brown Out, felt that we should rotate the players who do not play each game. While that has the appearance of being fair to the players, it really masks that the full team is not on the field. It becomes difficult to play the game on days when the pitcher, the catcher, or a baseman are uncovered. On those days, we move a player from another position to the critical position even if the player is unfamiliar with playing that position.
Although our team is well-trained, each player has a different level of skill and experience. It is often a challenge to choose which rookie to put in a particular key position because it always disrupts the teams effectiveness. Our catcher, Battalion Chief, has it really difficult because he never knows if he throws the ball to a particular part of the field whether that position will be filled for that game. Acting catchers have it even worse because they don’t play the position every game.
Our players are very dedicated. While they may have all started with two good arms and two good legs, because of the extra running and fielding that they have to do to cover for other positions, they tend to suffer sprains and strains with greater frequency. Because we cannot replace them, they often will play with only three good limbs. They compensate for this by having more players run after the ball on the field with every play. Unfortunately, that leaves bases uncovered so it is more difficult to throw runners out. Now Coach, before you tell me this makes it impossible to play the game, allow me to point out that we have four squads of players, equally short staffed. This means that every inning is played by a different squad, each unique in their own ways.
Most coaches dislike playing a game with four different squads, each with their own levels of experience and ability. We have tried reducing the number of squads, we have tried having squads play multiple consecutive innings, and we allow players to play on multiple squads, but the players’ performance always diminishes. They start to complain about not having enough time with their families but we cannot allow them to have visitors at the stadium.
We do cooperate with other teams and sometimes we send players to assist at their games at other stadiums. Sometimes we ask other teams to help us at our games, but it takes a while for them to get here and find their way around.
The opposing team, Uncontrolled Blazes, hits their fireballs all over the field. Even shorthanded, we are well equipped with properly sized mitts, to field the fireballs. However as the owner, I was concerned that the players still had time to stand around between plays. To make it more interesting and productive, we now allow spectators to throw ping-pong balls, which we call EMS balls, randomly throughout the playing field and at any time during the game. Each player is expected to field EMS ping-pong balls in their big heavy mitts between batters, on the field and when at bat. The team is always looking forward to the end of the inning.
The Uncontrolled Blazes are always trying to change the game to their advantage. They have managed to reduce the distance between bases, allow the manufacture of composite bats, and used new materials to hit hotter fireballs that are more difficult to catch. We have tried to ‘level the playing field’ by requiring that the games be played on wet turf, since that slows the other teams advantages. However, whenever we attempt to change that one rule in our favor, the Uncontrolled Blazes have their supporters lobby the league owners to reject the wetting sprinklers.
Our one hope for having a chance to win games fairly, is to have everyone play according to the rules. To enforce the rules, we have Umpire Marshals. However, they are the first ones to be laid off and are usually let go to keep more players on the field. A game without Umpire Marshals is like a ghost ship on its final voyage.
Let’s watch a typical play. At bat for the Uncontrolled Blazes is Homer. Pitching today is third base, Engine 3, covering for pitcher, Res Q. Squad. Here’s the pitch, Homer swings, and it’s a long fly fireball to right field where Ladder 1 is out of the game tonight. First base, Engine 1 is chasing the fireball because center field, Ladder 2, has a mitt full of ping-pong balls and second base, Engine 2, is moving slowly because of a sprained ankle. First base, Engine 1, fields the ball and throws it to Engine 2, who cannot reach first base in time for the out. Left field, Ladder 3, is moving to cover shortstop, Engine 6, who is also not playing today. Acting pitcher, Engine 3, will move back towards her regular assignment after dropping off her ping-pong ball. Catcher, Battalion Chief has just requested the neighboring team to send a couple of players, but they are in the middle of their own triple play third alarm at their own game.
There is a better chance when the team gets to bat because they’ll have players on the bench resting. We haven’t taken the benches away yet. If they are playing injured or tired, (or both), we call that running short. We can’t run with less than six players because then we could have three on base, two out, and one at bat. Imagine being on base and being next at bat. It’s gotten close, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Fortunately, the team loves to play the game. Look at how many hopefuls come to the tryouts. The Uncontrolled Blazes are always ready to play especially when the umpire Marshals aren’t around.
Well Coach Chief, I hope that you are up to the job. We will get you more flashlights for night games if we get a federal grant but you will have to buy your own batteries. Now get out there and win us the pennant. Make it happen!”