June 16, 1976
From: Mike Bates, General Manager, Minnesota Twins
Re: Red Sox Trade
I received your memo dated this morning, about our impending trade with the Red Sox, sending Bert Blyleven, Tom Burgmeier, and Randy Bass for Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, John Tudor, Don Aase, and Bruce Hurst, in which you wrote, “This is not fair at all, we’re not getting much in return!”
I don’t think I expect too much from my subordinates, Juan. I expect them to show up on time. I expect them to work hard. I expect them to be team players and to help push our organization toward a championship. And, I have to admit, you absolutely do that. You work your butt off and have the best attitude of anyone in this front office.
I need you because it’s 1976, Juan. The days of the one-man front office are behind us. I can’t run this team by myself. But as much as I need to trust you to show up, I need to be able to trust you and your instincts.
I value your honesty, Juan; I really do. I appreciate your willingness to challenge our assumptions in this front office and to make us do the hard work to ensure the moves we make are actually going to improve our team. But sometimes I think you go a little far. Perhaps you’re not even aware you’re being so willfully obtuse, but it’s beginning to wear down my confidence in your abilities.
Look, I realize we’re all trying to adjust to the new reality of the Seitz decision, but I think we both know that Bert Blyleven, as one of the best pitchers in the American League, wants to be paid like it. And the first chance he gets to test the waters of free agency, he’s going to take it. That’s why we need to strike now, before we’re left with nothing! And to categorize an All-Star catcher in Fisk, an excellent young right fielder in Evans, and three very solid pitching prospects as “not much” is simply laughable.
I’m going to take the deal. I would appreciate your support on this, both behind closed doors and in public. And if you can’t get with the program, maybe you need to find yourself another organization. The Red Sox seem like they could use someone.
*The writer of this historical memo would like to thank the producers of Out of the Park Baseball XX for creating such a ridiculously fun and detailed baseball sim game, and the engine of that game for creating Juan Romero, who also tried to prevent me from trading Disco Dan Ford for Jack Clark.
On a weekly basis, I write prompts for the students who attend our campus writers’ group sessions. The prompts vary in their approaches: I offer scraps of plot or setting and look forward to the many iterations one common thread can create; writers are encouraged to make some creative cocktail from a handful of supplied words; more stringent constraints demand a particular form or a refrain; at my most draconian, there are outright prohibitions.
Most of the prompts I draw from what’s on my mind, what I’ve read lately, what’s going on outside my office window. I’m really only flinging whims into the universe. Most students don’t even use the prompts; they come with projects already in progress—novels, short stories, even epic poems—and even if they didn’t have the work they’ve created on their own, they would sniff at the assignments people like me have set for them. But I put together prompts for just-in-case, for use later, for the fun of making them. So, here, baseball: Here are my prompts for you for the week. Please see what you can do.
Imagine three different scenarios in which the same pitcher gives up a home run on a good pitch to a good hitter. Each batter celebrates his triumph. The pitcher feels disappointed. Constraint: Each instance of emotion must be singular to the character. No repeated gestures, no sad and busted clichés like a single tear upon a cheek, fist-pumps, or beanballs.
Create an entire baseball team from players on other teams’ Injured Lists, but rather than filling a roster with them, send them to IKEA. How many Hemnes bookcases can they assemble during a standard Yankees-Red Sox game?
Set a game in a place called Ugueth Urbina Memorial Stadium. What does such a place look like? Who else is there? What is the crowd like?
Invent a new clubhouse pet. How does it react when an umpire or some other person attempts to interfere with its destined purpose?
Describe an inning that contains all of the following: a trebuchet (may be metaphorical), an ornamental ficus, chicanery, a tub of bubble gum, the word “balk” used in two different contexts.
I’m sitting behind a dad and his two young daughters at a Cubs game. I lean forward and said to the dress-wearing daughter, “Who’s your favorite Cubs player?” And she replies, “Kris Bryant.” I ask the jersey-wearing daughter and she says, “Kyle Schwarber.” She is wearing a Bryant jersey. But as a woman who collects jerseys, I respect her right to wear whomever she wants.
The girls and I chat for a brief moment. They’re both definitely certified Cubs fans. It made me think, “Wow, they’ve seen their favorite team win a World Series!” I’ve never experienced that. I’m 36 years old, my team has been to three World Series in my lifetime. They’re 0-3. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of baseball fan I’d be had Cleveland won. I wonder if I would be cautiously optimistic the way I am. I wonder if I’d be able to relate in a very real and complicated way to seeing a team be destined for greatness but also lose in dramatic fashion. I wonder… what it would be like to… not be miserable season after season?
You’re laughing now. I know because I’m chuckling to myself. Those young girls, both definitely under six, have experienced the the ultimate high. They know what it’s like to see your city celebrate baseball victory on a grand scale. No one will ever remind them of that time they were so close but a rain delay. No one will ever say that maybe their team can’t win because the mascot was racist. (If only the world really worked this way.)
For them, baseball is fun. There will always be a time where they were winners. They will have memories of a parade. Of awesome speeches. Of a muddy Grant Park. But me? I’m always waiting for next year.
I hear Francisco Lindor is back and the AL Central is wide open. A girl can dream. Again.
Thank you for reading
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