The following story is fiction. Some of the persons are real, one is a composite of local sports radio personalities, and one is named Bob.
Yu Darvish is a star pitcher with the Texas Rangers. He’s just finished his second season in the American League after coming over from Nippon Pro Baseball in Japan. He was invited to Game 1 by Mike Napoli, a former Ranger now on the Red Sox.
So Taguchi played in both leagues, won a championship in Japan on a club with Ichiro, and had some big hits as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in the early 2000’s. He’s calling the World Series for Japanese television.
Jamey Wright has pitched in the big leagues for 17 years. He’s a journeyman who’s attending the Series in Boston.
Cryin Dull is a St Louis “insider” on the Cardinals who works for the local FM ESPN radio affiliate.
Bob is a smarty-pants wanna-be interlocutor/assistant/conscience for and of Mr. Dull.
They’ve convened at Fenway Park in Boston hours before Game 1 of the World Series between the Cardinals and Red Sox. Players from both teams are taking turns on the field. The group is sitting together halfway up the stands on a cool but sunny New England afternoon.
This is what was overheard…
Dull: Yu, So, Mr. Wright, how ya doin’?
In unison: Great, you?
(Darvish snaps his head around).
Dull: Great. Say Yu, how good is that arm?
Darvish: My right arm is fine.
Dull: So, (Taguchi snaps his head), you enjoying the AL?
Darvish: I am.
Dull: He’s really been impactful, right Jamey?
Wright: Um, yes.
Dull: Hey, is that Saltyamacchia?
Bob: It’s Saltalamacchia. (Whispering).
Dull: Irregardless, that guy’s playing tonight.
Bob shakes his head.
Dull: So, (Taguchi…) in regards to your career Mr. Wright, or Jamey, did you feel like you had a good season?
Wright: I would have liked a better ending.
Dull: Well, there was a lot of reasons the wheels came off, right?
Wright: Sort of.
Dull: Talk about it.
Wright: Well, I thought my role would be a bigger one than it was.
Dull: Don’t you mean than WHAT it was?
Wright: I’m not sure…
Dull: Nevermind. So, (Taguchi…) you know, (Darvish…) you literally came a long way over the years.
Wright: Yeah, a lot of riding buses. In the Carolina League our uniforms would get torn and we had nobody to repair ’em. I had to learn to sew. Found a kit at a Rite-Aid.
(Bob shares a smirk with Wright. Bob’s pretending not to be listening to the conclave but he can’t help himself.)
Allen Craig limps onto the field to attempt some light running. The Cardinals slugger suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot after rounding first base in a game at Cincinnati on September 4th. He’s only now become available to play in the World Series. Taguchi is intrigued.
Taguchi: Why is he limping?
Dull: It’s the foot.
Taguchi: Which foot?
Dull: Craig’s foot. It’s that foot that he’s fighting.
Taguchi: Left or right? (Exasperation mounts. Darvish is starting to sweat, even though the air is crisp and he’s just sitting there. Wright is looking anywhere but at Dull, because he’s fuming.)
Dull: It’s the foot that is in front when he bats–the front foot.
(Taguchi starts to frown).
Taguchi: So he hasn’t been playing?
Dull: Yeah, no. So he’s being ginger with it, right (uprise, question mark, I don’t know.) He’s taking care of it, right.
Taguchi: Do they think he’ll be alright?
Dull: So (pause) they’re trying to see where he’s at, and that. Right? He’s running better than what he was. In fact, recently he made a play that looked harder than it wa…then what it wa…um…it is what it is.
(Groans are now emanating from all around. Eyes are rolling in their sockets. A very uncomfortable air sets in).
Darvish: Craig’s a very good hitter.
Dull: He led the majors in hitting with runners in scoring position. He’s very unique.
Wright: When did he get injured?
Dull: So, (Taguchi…) I feel like I want to say the end of August.
Bob, in Dull’s ear: September 4th, Cincy, remember?
Dull: At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. See, look, he’s ran a lot. He’s running good.
Darvish bolts upright and takes his leave. He’s exhausted by Dull’s inane patter. Taguchi and Wright are hanging in there.
Taguchi: Who will win tonight, Mr. Dull?
Dull: I tell you what, you know, maybe if you were still with the Cardinals..
Taguchi: (Smiling) They’d have a chance?
Dull: Right, so you would be the difference-maker.
Taguchi: Come on, Mr. Dull!
Dull: You hit ’em in the huevos rancheros a few years ago, right? I’m right, right?
The assembled group disperses. Bob and Dull grab their sacks and start trudging up the steps. Dull turns to Bob and says,
Anyway, I can’t wait to see Tavares!
It’s Taveras. Why do all you guys pronounce it wrong?
I’m not wrong. He’s gonna burn down the house. Don’t you know that “Disco Inferno” song? Who did that?
You are so right…