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Tampa, April 2018 – Tampa Bay Rays R&D Department

The entire back half of the warehouse was a jumbled mess of wires, server racks, and exotic machines that looked one step removed from a sixth-grade science fair. In front of them was what appeared to be a portable shower festooned with dials and pulsing with radioactive light. A man in a baby-blue polo stood inside, perspiring.

“…and after the Longoria trade, things all just went to hell. So I joked that if we could only go back in time, once decision could fix everything. The one they always say: Posey, and the 2008 draft. Three weeks later, here we are.”

He tugged gently at his collar, and a younger man adjusted his glasses and gave a final look at his tablet. His hand slowly stretched toward a massive lever sticking out of a road case nearby.

“Is this really going to work?” the man in the contraption asked, mostly to himself. “Can one decision make all that much of a difference?”

The intern hesitated for a moment, then shrugged. He flipped the switch, a flash of light, then nothing.


San Francisco, April 2018 – San Francisco Giants R&D Department

The entire back half of the warehouse was jumbled mess of wires, server racks, and exotic machines that looked one step removed from a sixth-grade science fair. In front of them was what appeared to be a bathtub festooned with dials and pulsing with radioactive light. A man in a burnt orange polo stood inside, perspiring.

“…they’re laughing at us. Everyone else in the Bay Area is so good! Kaepernick and the Niners just won another Super Bowl. LeBron and the Warriors are the greatest basketball team in history. But the Giants are a laughingstock. If only the Giants had moved to Tampa 25 years ago. Then we’d be the ones with three World Series in five years, with Evan Longoria and Buster Posey and a brand new stadium in downtown Tampa. Commissioner Steinbrenner wouldn’t be talking about contracting the Giants.”

He tugged gently at his collar, and a younger man adjusted his beret and gave a final look at his tablet. His hand slowly stretched toward a massive lever sticking out of a cardboard box nearby.

“Is this really going to work?” the man in the contraption asked, mostly to himself. “Can one decision make all that much of a difference?”

The intern hesitated for a moment, then shrugged. He flipped the switch, a flash of light, then nothing.


San Francisco, April 2018 – San Francisco Athletics R&D Department

The entire back half of the warehouse was jumbled mess of wires, server racks, and exotic machines that looked one step removed from a sixth-grade science fair. In front of them was what appeared to be an oversized beer barrel festooned with dials and pulsing with radioactive light. A man in a hunter green polo stood inside, perspiring.

“If they never would have moved to San Francisco, then the Giants never would’ve left this city to move to Tampa and the Athletics would’ve never had to live in their shadow. We wouldn’t be a laughingstock that’s unable to draft players like Buster Posey and Evan Longoria because they refuse to play for the A’s. They might’ve even made a movie about us. If only they were never here.”

He tugged gently at his collar, and a younger man adjusted his monocle and gave a final look at his tablet. His hand slowly stretched toward a massive lever sticking out of a old-timey television nearby.

“Is this really going to work?” the man in the contraption asked, mostly to himself. “Can one decision make all that much of a difference?”

The intern hesitated for a moment, then shrugged. He flipped the switch, a flash of light, then nothing.


San Francisco, April 2018 – New York Yankees R&D Department

The entire back half of the warehouse was jumbled mess of wires, server racks, and exotic machines that looked one step removed from a sixth-grade science fair. In front of them was what appeared to be an oversized beer barrel festooned with dials and pulsing with radioactive light. A man in a white polo stood inside, perspiring.

“…sixty years of failure and I’ve had it! We were the Yankees once but now we’re a joke, the third-tier team in the city of New York. Commissioner Bush is talking about relegating us to the Eastern League, both the Giants and the Expos draw twice as many fans. Forget National League MVP Buster Posey or AL MVP Russell Wilson, we’ll never again attract a player as good as Neil Walker. It has to end.”

He tugged animatedly at his collar, and his personal android nervously glanced up from his tablet. The robot’s hand slowly stretched toward a baseball bat sticking out of a cardboard box nearby.

“I don’t care if it kills me.” the man in the contraption asked, mostly to himself. “With one decision I can fix it all.”

The clockwork man in the corner hesitated for a moment, then shrugged. He flipped the switch, a flash of light, then nothing.


New York, June 1842 – Knickerbocker Base Ball Club

The man in the white polo looked out of place, and not just because of his clothes. He carried something clean and neat and festooned with interlocking white and black shapes, a ball several times again as large as the one that the Knickerbocker Base Ball club had used in their games.

“Excuse me!” the man–the anachronism–yelled. The neatly-dressed ballplayers on the field turned his way to look at his ball and his strange dress.

“Listen up! I’d like to teach you a game called ‘soccer.’”


As a couple discovered this week, the addition of one’s favorite baseball players increases tenfold the excitement and wonder of a joyous piece of news, such as a pregnancy announcement. Of course, this comes as no surprise: It’s difficult to ruin positive news. The real challenge, in an era so enraptured by the notion of diversity, is to employ the presence of one’s favorite player to soften the arrival of bad news.

Humor me, if you will, by entertaining the following scenarios:

1. Being served divorce papers
Sure, your marriage has crumbled around you, the once all-consuming love replaced by bitterness and resentment. You know you’ll spend the ensuing months in court fighting for ownership of your labrador, Jack, and the thought of giving him up permanently has made you question the purpose of your existence. But, hey, at least you get to meet Mike Trout. He tells you it’s likely to rain all next week. You realize your ex-spouse took all the umbrellas.

2. Receiving a medical bill
It’s just a cough and it will go away in a couple of days, so no need to go to the doctor. This was what you told yourself for over a month until it became evident–first to your friends and then to yourself–that this was not going away, and you would, unfortunately, have to get it looked at. Three hours, two doctors, one rejected insurance, and a future $3,000 bill later, you leave with an inhaler for your newly-discovered asthma. Now, each night, you stare at your framed, Gary Sanchez-autographed medical bill knowing that you could have had his career if it wasn’t for your flawed lungs.

3. Being laid off
There had been whispers for months that in this tough economy, the billion-dollar company you work(ed) for would need to make some “necessary” cutbacks, but in no way did you think that included cutting your job. Alright, yeah, it wasn’t a job you loved or entirely understood the purpose of or ever envisioned yourself doing, but it was a job you desperately needed. The pay was decent enough, as were the benefits, and it had finally gotten your parents to stop asking you what you were going to do with your life. At least the news came with an autographed Byron Buxton bat, which could get you… just enough for three nights of heavy drinking before you have to call your parents.

4. Flaking out on a movie
You don’t really have any excuse. You just don’t feel like going out, and your friend Jackie has been breaking up with her boyfriend for two months now, and you already put your sweats on. Sure, you could feel goaded into fulfilling the social demands and quietly hating a popcorn flick you probably would have liked any other time. You could brush it off, allowing your relationship, so strong in undergrad, to continue dwindling. Or you could send Trevor Cahill. Trevor likes lots of movies, and makes solid jokes during the trailers. Plus, he’s not busy. Jackie could do worse than hang out with Trevor Cahill for an evening.

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