Fast Train to Somewhere

Here we were, the Squallpocket Nine reunited again, shooting our way west under the earth at 700 miles an hour. Seamus, who everyone assumed had evaporated, was actually spared and revitalized to lead us to season’s end, and Fred and me had everything to do with it.

Seems that Vernon Q. Ridgerucker, the CEO of Patriot Act Inc., was also a monster John Lennon fan, and because our day spent with the ex-Beatle last week apparently enabled him to survive into the future, Patriot’s reward was a brand new luxury mode of ballpark transportation for us.  In addition to being a creepy millionaire entrepreneur, Ridgerucker also had a crapload of stock in the Rand Corporation, which was developing an eerily similar high-speed tube train project during the 70s.

“Don’t think for a second, though, that evaporation still won’t happen,” said Seamus as we dined on roast capon and fresh greens in the Zipline‘s dining car.  As he said this he stared right at Amy, whose Indians half of her Ohio rooting interest were next on the endangered list.

“Yeah, but YOU sure didn’t!” she barked. “How come?”

“We’ve been over that, Amy. Employee perks. Besides I was just following the Expos, not fanatically obsessed with them.”

Sheila wasn’t all that thrilled to see me again after I ditched the group, but she obviously still had feelings. As the train rose and lurched somewhere under the Appalachians, she slid closer to me on one of our leather couches.

“I know this sounds weird…” she muttered, “but I do hope our teams get to play each other in the World Series.” I told her not to get her hopes up the way Boston’s pitching staff was going, and she reached for my hand and squeezed it.

“There’s still a few weeks left, Carlton. If we believe in ourselves, give 110%, never say die, don’t say till it’s over till the fat lady says it’s over, win one for the Gipper, humm baby and pound some Budweiser, it just might happen.”

“Yeah, maybe. Except Reggie Cleveland sucks.”

Game of the Day

ARLINGTON, TX—As Fred’s Yanks take the field against Peachy’s Rangers for the first of their final two against each other (barring a 1-game playoff), things have tightened even more.  K.C. has already been pecked to death by the Orioles, while Boston has gopher balled another one away at Comiskey.  If Texas wins here they’re back in first.

Ellis gets the ball against Figueroa, and they’re scoreless through three until Zeber walks, Rivers gaps a double and Reggie crushes one way out to Beniquez for a sac fly and 1-0 lead. Figueroa isn’t wetting himself for a change,; it’s the New York bats that aren’t giving him help.  White and Chambliss rap into DPs to kill rallies, and the Rangers knot it in the 6th on a Keith Smith double and two-out Beniquez single.

You can usually set you watch for a late-inning Yankee meltdown, and it starts in the 7th. Wills pops a solo shot leading off.  Rivers butchers his umpteenth fly of the year for a double and error, Harrah sac flies Sundberg home and just like that it’s 3-1 for Dock.

But Ellis has hid his fill of late-inning misery, too.  Stanley and Alston open with singles to get him tired.  Enter Roger Moret, and Zeber greets him with a double to make it 3-2. Rivers whiffs, but Reggie gets ahold of one and rams it into the left center bleachers for a 5-3 lead! (Fred just jumped on my back.) The Blair-Randolph-Dent defense team comes in, Lyle takes over for Figueroa…and Beniquez hits Sparky’s first pitch over the fence. If I had a dime for every time Lyle gives up an extra-base hit to the first guy he sees, I’d be eating filet mignon at Del Frisco’s right now.

This time, though, he recovers.  Campaneris singles with two outs, but Alomar grounds out. Then in the 9th, Sparky gets Ellis, Harrah and Hargrove with ease, the Yanks are just three out again (two in the loss column), and their upcoming final two at Royals Stadium are looking huge.

NYY 000 100 040 – 5 10 2
TEX 000 001 210 – 4  9  0

W-Figueroa L-Moret SV-Lyle HRS: Jackson, Wills, GWRBI-Jackson

The Buzz Line

ORIOLES 8-15-0, at ROYALS 5-11-1
Hard to believe, but Baltimore is the hottest team going right now.  Colborn follows up his brilliant 2-hit shutout last time with a wicked ugly showing,  giving up six hits to Billy Smith and Mark Belanger at the bottom of the Birds’ lineup.  K.C. gets their licks in against Rudy May, but McRae, Mayberry, and Cowens ground into three killing DPs to murder rallies in the 5th, 6th and 7th.  The Orioles not only win their fifth straight, but tie the Red Sox for fourth place.

at WHITE SOX 6-7-1, RED SOX 5-10-0
All-around weird game.  Jenkins falls behind 5-0 thanks to a 4-run Chicago 5th.  Boston roars right back with five quick runs off Stone the next inning, sparked by a Fisk tater. Hamilton and LaGrow come on to no-hit the Red Sox the rest of the way, and Orta, whose godawful range directly helped Boston score their runs, lines a Fergie pitch into the RF seats to start the bottom of the 9th.  Dice mojo is an amazing thing, and whatever amount of it the Red Sox had all year has definitely tumbled down a storm drain.

INDIANS 5-11-1, at TWINS 4-11-1
Very much like the double Sox game.  Four runs for the Twins in the 3rd, five for the Tribe in the 5th, nothing but stranded runners for the rest of the night and Cleveland stays mathematically and miraculously alive for the second day in a row.

PIRATES 2-9-0, at CUBS 1-7-0
You know these are magical days for the Bucs when Odell Jones throws a complete-game win at Wrigley with the wind blowing a gale out to center.  The fact that Ray 2-18 Burris starts for the Cubs may have something to do with it, but except for the two doubles Odell hits off him and the two singles, walk and homer Cobra Parker racks up, Burris throws damn good!

REDS 20-23-1, at CARDS 2-6-2
Oh right, these guys. The ones that cold-cocked the entire league a few months ago, only to suffer some injuries and lose their offense.  (Figures the Reds would do this the same day I mock their hitting in my Strat column.) For the record, though, George Foster is still sleepwalking. In seven trips to the plate here, he gets only one cheap single and drives in no one.

PHILLIES 5-5-0, at ASTROS 3-9-1
Richard’s given a 3-1 lead, but Houston just plain never beats the Phils.  Right after the hideous Christenson is pulled, the more hideous Julio Gonzalez boots a McBride grounder with two outs, Luzinski follows with a 3-run bomb and it’s all the relief tag team of Brusstar and Garber need.

at DODGERS 10-10-0, EXPOS 6-9-1
Sutton the Barbarian starts the final Dodger homestand by allowing six hits and four runs in the first two innings, before Don Stanhouse shows the world why he’s now 4-17. Baker: solo homer. Monday: solo homer.  Cey: solo homer. Smith: 2-run homer to put L.A. up 5-4 in the 8th. Four tack-on runs follow off Hal Dues, Garvey finally getting a semi-useful single with his team now in the lead, and even with Lopes out and his fill-in Martinez getting knoked out for eight games, Sutton gets a rare complete game win.

ETCETERA: I posted two articles elsewhere this week, a review of the MLB Network’s amazing re-broadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, and my second-to-last Funk Zone column for the Strat Web site.  This Sunday morning, look for a mini-post here featuring a funky holiday video and my posting schedule for the upcoming yule week.

American League through Tuesday, September 9

Kansas City 78 63 .553
Texas 77 63 .550 0.5
New York 74 65 .532 3
Boston 71 66 .518 5
Baltimore 73 68 .518 5
Cleveland 64 76 .457 13.5
Chicago 61 78 .439 16
Minnesota 61 80 .433 17

National League through Tuesday, September 9

Pittsburgh 82 59 .582
Philadelphia 77 61 .558 3.5
Los Angeles 77 62 .554 4
Cincinnati 76 63 .547 5
St. Louis 73 67 .529 8.5
Houston 64 75 .460 17
Montreal 55 85 .393 26.5
Chicago 53 85 .384 27.5

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