Spending over two months in a bus with the same nine people ain’t easy. I mean, I have best friends I wouldn’t want to drive three hours in a car with. On top of that we got pennant race lives at stake, everyone thinking they deserve to win, and on some days, like this one where we go nowhere because Seamus has to fix some kind of transport sensor in the engine, the whole operation starts to feel like some bean-brained sitcom…
INT. BACK OF BUS – DAY
Fred exits rest room, chewing on a toothpick. Sees the bus TV tuned to the Boston at K.C. game and visibly freaks.
FRED: What the hell? Change that shit!
BUZZ: Forget it, man. Two contenders in a game beats one.
LESTER: 67 percent to 50, to be exact.
FRED: Shut your geek hole, Lesterine, and put the damn Yanks on. Figueroa’s goin’!
On the TV, Fred Lynn smacks one out against Colborn to but Boston ahead 3-1 in the 4th. Fred GROANS.
FRED: Uh-uh. No way. I ain’t watchin’ this—
He grabs the remote off a seat and switches to Minnesota, where the Yankees have just scored six runs in the top of the 1st. Fred lets out a WAR CRY that wakes Little Buzz from his nap and gets Amy out of her celebrity trash magazine.
AMY: Keep it down, wackos! And what’s the Cleveland score?
FRED: Nobody cares about the crummy Indians, or those right-wing Reds of yours, so keep outta this—
Amy’s soda can ring hits his eye and he HOWLS, drops the remote. Lester grabs it, switches back to the Royals game. Rick Wise is falling apart, gives up a Mayberry double to cap a 3-run rally and put K.C. ahead 4-3.
LESTER: I sense broom activity here, boys.
BUZZ: It’s the 5th inning, Lester. And it’s also Jim Colborn.
LESTER: And it’s also Rick Wise.
Sheila appears with a cup of yogurt, grabs the remote from Lester and puts the Pirates game in Houston on. For all of three seconds.
SHEILA: Huh?? I didn’t even see the score.
BUZZ: Bucs are ahead, so relax. Thursday is American League Day in these parts.
SHEILA: Says who?
BUZZ: Says me. And three-fifths of Lester.
SHERMAN (O.S.): Dodgers on yet?
FRED: Go back to sleep, fool!
On screen in K.C., a rested Littell relieves Colborn in the 5th, after two singles, two walks and two more Boston runs and it’s 5-4 Red Sox.
INT. BACK OF BUS – TEN MINUTES LATER
Five straight Royals have reached to start their 5th, Stanley is in, and the Royals are back up 8-5. Fred rocks back and forth on the seat, talking to himself, flashing Buzz and Lester dirty looks. Lester nudges Buzz, who SIGHS and puts the Yankee game back on. What used to be an 8-1 New York lead has been cut to 9-6.
FRED: Damn!! You jinxed it! Give me that thing—
He grabs the remote, tosses it out the bus window.
SHEILA: Fred? That was not acceptable! Lucky for you we’re not moving…
She hurries down the aisle and out the door to retrieve it. Fred suffers as Cliff Johnson leads an inning with a double…and doesn’t score. Nettles leads the 8th with a double…and doesn’t score. Blair triples with one out in the 9th…and gets stuck there. But Figueroa sets the Twins down in the last of the 9th for the complete game, and the seventh straight loss by Minnesota.
FRED: Thanks, brothers. Couldn’t have done it without you.
Shaking, he retreats to his spread-out sleeping bag way in the back and curls up in a fetal position.
Back in Kansas City, Mingori comes on for the final four outs, and the standings onscreen show all three teams a mere half game apart again. Buzz gives Lester’s hand a freak shake.
BUZZ: Nice sweep, man. But don’t forget us New Englanders like to get even.
Lester doesn’t respond. He already has his trademark glassy-eyed stare back, his mind in another ball park.
LESTER: Did I tell you Ted Simmons is back today?
FADE TO BLACK
BOS 101 120 110 – 7 13 0
K.C. 100 340 00x – 8 8 0
W-Littell L-Wise SV-Mingori HRS: Lynn, Brett GWRBI-Otis
NYY 601 110 000 – 9 13 1
MIN 010 112 100 – 7 11 3
W-Figueroa L-Zahn HRS: Zeber, Cubbage, Carew GWRBI-Zeber
The Buzz Line
INDIANS 2-5-1, at RANGERS 1-4-0
Dock Ellis gets no respect and even less support. With Bibby mopping the Arlington Stadium floor with Rangers, Dock still takes a 4-hitter into the 9th before Funky Twitter cover boy John Lowenstein takes him out for a game-winning homer with two outs. With a win, Texas would have closed to within three.
ORIOLES 9-11-0, at WHITE SOX 5-11-3
Singleton, Mora and Murray all go yard early off Kravec, and after Grimsley sputters in the 5th, Dennis Martinez and Drago finish off the save.
at CUBS 9-16-3, PHILLIES 8-13-0
Chicago takes a 6-1 lead off the putrid Christenson, Schmidt clubs two doubles and a homer and drives the usual Phillie comeback. Down 7-5 in the 8th and Sutter in the game, Philly gets their first five guys on anyway, score three times and take the lead. But Garber gets racked in the last of the 8th for two doubles and two singles, Sutter shuts them down in the 9th and the Cubbies somehow take two of three from the front-runners.
REDS 9-13-0, at DODGERS 8-11-0
Feel like another insane 9-8 game? Comin’ at ya! Seaver and John and their combined 28-7 record start on the hill, but neither ace has anything. Garvey is given a try in the cleanup spot and respnds with a single and two homers. Smith and Baker also go deep and it’s 6-3 L.A. into the 7th, when Cincy knocks out John with two runs. Hough pitches the 8th and is even worse, walking two Reds and giving up a single to Rose to load the sacks. Elias Sosa is hailed—but should have been jailed. Foster freezes him and the crowd with a laser of a grand slam into the bleachers, his 40th tater of the year, and the shellshocked Dodgers go out with a whimper the last two innings. Seaver wins his 16th, one of the luckiest wins ever.
PIRATES 5-11-1, at ASTROS 3-4-0
Reuss wins for a change, mainly because he’s yanked in the 6th for a Jackson-Teke-Goose tag team, and Pittsburgh hops back into third place, just two games out.
at CARDS 8-10-0, EXPOS 4-11-3
Yes, Lester, your teddy bear Simmons is back, and cranks a 3-run homer out in the 8th to help the Cards salvage the last game of the series. Now they welcome in the battling Bucs while the Reds try to wreck Wrigley and the Phillies hit L.A.
American League through Thursday, July 24
National League through Thursday, July 24