With our dear Editor-in-Chief leaving Baseball Prospectus for his next chapter, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite chapters of his career here. There's an incredible number of timeless Sam Miller articles to choose from, but we whittled it down enough to not break the internet. This article originally ran on December 6, 2013.
On waking, he found himself in a parking lot, beneath the same ringing bell under which he had first bitten into the XXL Chalupa. It was bright and sunny, as he had left it, and rent was outlandishly high, as he remembered. Yet something was different about his surroundings, something not as much geographic or structural as intuited, a taste deep in his throat, a vibration humming on his ear drums, a sore in his big toe, an accumulation of blood in his, er, in the neighborhood of his groin area region. It was as though he had slept for an epoch or more.
He tried to deduce how long he had been away. His pants reeked of urine, but long dried. His beard also reeked of urine; how did that… never to mind, the point was that it had grown several arms length. Most importantly, the wounds in his elbow that he had suffered before his sleep had healed completely. His body, though stiff from disuse, was reborn at full capacity. This was assuredly The Future! He turned to his super cool ironic calculator watch from the 1980s and spoke in a clear voice into it: “Databank! Assess subject’s temporal location.” The watch did not respond. Shoot, he thought. Still not sentient.
As he went in search of machines that had become sentient, he found that the world was much different than he remembered it. Everywhere he looked, he saw people that looked like him. No longer was he the freak. Rather, all of the new gods, demigods and laymen wore disgusting thatches of filth on their faces, just as he always had. The chalupas, he discovered, were even more stacked now. The ruling party had been overthrown, and the hated opposition had become the Great Power, with an opulent vengeance that had seared fear into its rivals’ dreams. Everybody worked for the Great Power now. There was no economy but the Great Power.
He approached the Great Power to ask for its assistance. He wondered whether he would be treated like a prophet, or a god, a commander, as he had been before his sleep. But his new conformity made him just another unexceptional laborer, and he was assigned to toil far from the municipal center. As day after day passed, he felt his body weaken. His arm, used for the repetitive motion that the Great Power assigned him to, became progressively less strong. The readings on his gauges ticked downward. 94.89. Day passes. 94.88. Day passes. 94.87. Day passes. 94.86. Day passes. 94.85. Days pass, his beard grows, his body weakens. Every day he becomes less like the young laborers who toil alongside him, all strength and intimidation, and more like the greybeards who use craft and deception to hide their weakenings. Once he had been a hero, the most proven closer in all of the land. With each day, it was less likely he would regain his place of prestige.
Every so often, he would try once more, one last time, to speak to his watch. “Databank! Assess subject’s optimal strategy.” But the watch never replied, never became sentient. The future, for Brian Wilson, came too soon, yet paradoxically not soon enough. He was stranded in the purgatory that traps so many great men, when the forces of change can’t catch up to man’s desire to destroy. He was—
Withrow removed a wad of toilet paper from his ear. “Say again?”
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