Greg Holland was preparing to leave the KC clubhouse but had one more stop to make. He walked past the manager’s office to the end of the hall. He stopped in front of a wooden door with the word “CLOSERS” etched into it. He turned the worn out knob to open the door and walked through. He was in a small chapel. Almost immediately the air in the room changed and he could barely hear a faint men’s choir in the background. Unable to locate the sound (it just seemed to come from everywhere!) he stepped inside a tiny confessional and sat down.
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been a week since my last confession. I completely blew a save and ruined Shield’s masterpiece. I couldn’t locate my fastball and my slider wasn’t fooling anyone.”
A little wooden panel opened at eye level and through it Holland could see Mariano Rivera.
“The Savior!” he blurted out.
Mo (as he was affectionately known) had a facial expression that radiated kindness and sincerity. “You’re right, fastball location was a big issue. Without, your slider lost its usual bite”.
Mariano paused briefly to consider his next words. “You must understand, as Closers it is our duty to shut the door on the other team. If we work hard and perform we will succeed – most of the time. This does not mean we won’t fail. However, if we fail, let’s make sure it’s because the other team bested us rather than because we failed ourselves.”
“For penance, throw ten fastballs and eight sliders – INSIDE the strike zone. Now go, and sin no more!”
“Thank you Savior!”
Greg Holland stood up and left the Chapel, vowing to do better!
Hey Craig is off to ST! While I’m stuck in the middle of a snow storm in an office. Life is cruel.
Kay Adams reached the rooftop of the GE building and paused a moment before locating Craig off to one side. For once he wasn’t wearing his usual bathrobe garb and was instead wearing some kind of suit and harness. He looked like paratrooper.
“Craig this is ridiculous, I’m not even sure we’re allowed up here.”
“Don’t fret my dear. Did you get my gear?”
Kay handed off a gym bag with all the items Craig requested, including some very nice high zoom optics for observing Spring Training action. Craig made a cursory examination of the contents before nodding in satsifaction and pressing a button on a device on his harness. Kay stepped back and uttered a surprised cry as Criag’s suit popped a helium balloon with a line attached rising rapidly.
“Thanks for the help Kay, my ride is here and I must be off to Arizona and Spring Training.”
“Your ride? what ri-”, Kay asked before she was cut off by a the drone of the engines of a massive MC-130 that passed overhead, caught Craig’s balloon and snatched him from the roof before heading west.
Kay looked baffled as Craig’s figure disappeared into the aircraft. She thought flights were not allowed this close over New York buildings?
Baseball Had Arrived.
The lair was a hive of activity! Craig was sitting in his usual high chair while typing copiously using his laptop computer. His 71″ LED smart TV was turned on, the display divided into sections with all sorts of news outlets pumping information out. At his side table lay the bubble pipe, temporairly forgotten in the current frenzy. The Braves bathrobe though was immaculate and properly tied. He may be busy but it was important not be a slob.
The door to his lair opened and Kay Adams walked in carrying a set of newspapers caredled in her arms.
“Craig, I got a copy of all the print news outlets you requested.”
Craig waved at her with a hand making a gesture to add them to an already considerable stack of publications. What they all had in common were the headlines, which in one or another were announcing the end of Alex Rodriguez. Beside the stack sat a white cat, which looked at Kay rather menacingly as she approached the stack.
“Don’t mind him, he’s just huffy cause I put him on a diet.”
Kay quickly set her items on the top of the stack and backed away from the moody cat.
“Craig, are you sure it’s a good idea to spend so much time on these A-Rod articles? This morning I got my schedule from NBC and they want us to a segment on the upcomming WBC, spring training and speculate about where Michael Bourne will end up.”
Craig, paused briefly from his typing to look at her. “My dear, the baseball world has gone nuts with this A-Rod news cycle. They are going bananas. Someone has to step in and put some order. Really, this entire thing has been blown so completely out of proportion, I’ve put all my resources to ensure a proper perspective is gained. Way too much attention has been devoted to this by my so-called pairs. Someone has to set them straight!”
“So… in order to get these people to stop paying so much attention to the A-Rod story, we have to focus everything on the A-Rod story ourselves?”
Craig positively smiled at her and gestured with his palm face up. “Now you get it! I’m glad we’re on the same page Kay. Now go along and tackle the next set of items…”
Kay sighed and went through the door.
Kidding aside, I do kind of wonder at what point this all just becomes beating a dead horse.
So Craig has spotted some awesome stuff at the trade shows. But more intriguing are the people he commiserates with at those places:
Craig was back in his suite after another day at the Winter Meetings. The Trade Shows were nice, he was thinking of spluring for one of the many fascinating items he saw. It was really slow news day when he thought more about trades shows and merchandise than baseball trades and deals. It’s just that there was nothing really big or juicy to report. Yet. Oh there have been signings, but after B.J. Upton’s five year deal was finalized ( Glad Craig took the time to find a personal guide and recruiter to coax B.J to Atlana – Take that Phanssss! Rassspberrrrrryyy! ), people are still waiting for the Next Big Deal or the Next Big Trade. Back in his bathrobe and filling out his bubble pipe, he paused as he saw a shadowy figure standing in the corner of the room. He frowned and then let out an exasperated sigh as the figure turned on the lamp and stepped forward.
“What are you doing here? Don’t you have another gun speech to pontificate about?”, asked Craig.
“I was bored, I just pick something and rant,” said the man. He was also wearing a bathrobe, much more elegant and shiny with all sorts of decorations. “I’m here because the League of Extraordinarily Bathrobed Gentlemen is concerned that you may be pushing too hard on the Hall of Fame PED issues.”
Craig shrugged. “Too hard? What makes the league think that?”
“Oh, just the 30 to 40 posts a day you seem to blog on the subject. We don’t want rock the boat too hard.”
Craig gave him a dismissive wave. “That’s exageration. In any case the topic deserves a spotlight. This is Clemens and Bonds we’re talking about. Arguably the most controversial cases the Hall of Fame has yet to consider.”
The man gave a light chuckle. “You see? You’re the adventurer, that’s why they call you Craig the Gray and they call me Costas the White.”
“I think they call you that because you’re older.” said Craig as Bob walked back to his corner.
Bob waved a nagging finger back. “Be careful, Craig. We gave you the Bathrobe, we can take it back. Tread lightly.” With that the lamp turned out and Costas disappeared. Craig wondered how he did that…
And we have a NEW Host! Craig’s new right hand man, er, woman. The new Robin to his Batman. Tiffany, like Dick Grayson, decided it was time to find her own way and out of the shadows
Somewhere in the Caribbean:
The Beach was nice, the Sun was glorious and Tiffany was enjoying a nice tan and a drink. It was time to take a break and move on, even if she wasn’t quite where she wanted to move on next. But this environment certainly helped. Working with Craig was… interesting, but as the saying goes: All good things must come to an end.
A man with a tray walked along the beach and stood next to her. She thought it was a refill. Turns out it was a phone.
“A Call for you Ms. Simons,” said the man. “From a Ms. Adams.”
She rolled her eyes, not one day on the job and her successor was calling already.
“What’s up Kay?”
“Tiff? Is Craig for real? He has the oddest requests. I had to fill in an order for an oak chair with sculpted baseballs. Never mind the fact that I had to hunt down Mike Schmidt and Andre Dawson to sign those baseballs. Or rather sculpt their signatures into them. After that I had to inventory his collection of bobbleheads, which amounted to 273 of them with 19 different versions of Chipper Jones. He owns this huge Blimp and I needed to get air traffic clearance for it so he could get his own personal feed for the Yankees-Orioles game last night. Also, what’s up with the Bathrobe and the Bubble Pipe?”
“Kay, is the pay fantastic?”
Hesitation on the line. “The pay is awesome actually,” she said.
“Then just deal with it, don’t worry a lot of this stuff is basically harmless. Bye, bye.”
Tiffany chucked the phone into the sea. It was her time to go off into the sunset. Craig was Kay’s problem now.
Let’s just hope Kay doesn’t end up like Jason Todd. As for the reason I keep writing this stuff? Charlie Harper said it best: It amuses me.
Friday Night: It was tense in the Lair. The Braves-Cardinals game has had some tough moments to watch (Oh Chipper what the HELL kind of throw was that?). Craig had already gone through TWO boxes of bubbles in his pipe! After a third reload he kept puffing furiously as he watched the next pitch on his 71″ LED screen. Leaning forward as Simmons took a whack at the ball. Oh no! A lazy popup. Kozma going back. Seems to have it. But wait at the last minute moves away! Was he thinking Holliday called him off? The ball dropped! Awesome- wait what-
“Infield Fly! Holbrook you fiend!,” Craig jumped out of his high chair, and immediately pressed a button on his armrest.
“Sir?”, said the nondescript voice.
“Implement General Order 66.” Craig declared ominously.
“Right away sir.”
“Craig kept watching the field as Fredi argued with Holbrook and… wait what was this? BRAVES fans throwing stuff on the field! FOR SHAME! What the heck was this. He didn’t order that! He pressed the button again:
“What the heck is that crap on the field!??”
The voice came back uncertain, “Uh, you said to implement order 66 sir.”
Craig would have pulled out his hair if still had any! “No! No! No! Order 66 is to send a strongly worded letter to Bud Selig on this abomination of a call. What I’m seeing is General Order 99!!!”
“Uh, Ok. Umm… Oops?”
Craig loves to troll Phillies fans, I’ll just point out this little incident anytime talk comes up of how rowdy and unruly the Phans can get.
The final day of the [regular] season!
The man in the [Braves] Bathrobe moved into the brand new situation room of the Lair. A very large conference table was in the middle. The walls were decked with video monitors showing baseball in all its glory. The others were already seated at the table. Craig took out his bubble pipe from a pocket and puffed a few before sitting on his chair at the end.
“Gentlemen! Today is Game 162. With much to be reported on and exciting baseball afoot! As your blogger-in-chief I’m divvying up the stories we will focus on. I know two of our regulars usually work the weekend shift, but it’s all hands on deck for this one. Check your topics and raise any concerns you might have.”
All of them opened up the folders in front of them and took out a page. Aaron was the first to speak up. “Craig, I’m not sure about this, the Cardinals don’t really have anything to play for anymore.”
Craig looked surprised for one second and then brightened up. “Turn over your page, that’s old.”
Aaron did so. “Ooh! Bandon Inge Injury Update!”.
Matthew got the N.L. race between the Reds-Nationals. Menawhile D.J. got the American League races. Drew…
“Er, Craig, my page is blank… on both sides.”
Craig briefly stood up and proclaimed: “You will write nothing and you will like it!”
“Man, still not over that twitter question…”
“I will handle the Triple Crown and Miguel Cabrera! You have your assignments men! It’s time to go forth and seize the finale!”
“Just one question Craig,” asked Aaron. Craig looked in his direction expectantly.
“Why is your chair so much higher than our chairs?”
“Yeah, is that made out of oak or something?”
“It’s sculpted too, the armrests end into large baseballs-”
“Is that Mike Schmidt’s autograph on one of the baseballs-”
“Did you get our plastic loser chairs from Home Depot or-”
Craig rolled his eyes. It’s tough to get good minions these days…
The sharp reader will notice I’ve been paying attention this season, even if I haven’t written many posts this year. (It’s tough to keep with a 6 month old!)
Craig posted yet another piece on the Miggy-Trout MVP War. But the highlight has to be a rare banning:
The International Space Station zipped by its usual orbit around the Earth. In the viewing lounge, an astronaut taking pictures paused to observe a funny-looking satellite the ISS happened to be close to. It started moving a short while ago into a different orbit. After a short period, small thrusters stopped the satellite’s movement. All of a sudden, it became frantic with activity as the non-descript cylinder had several doors open from its sides, revealing a slew of instrumentation and panels sticking out like a praying mantis raising its forearms. Then from the bottom jutted outward what looked to be a cannon. A great pulse of light shot out from under it towards the Earth. Then it closed all of its openings and became a silent cylinder once more…
“Craig, if you’re done smiting that internet commenter, we have more HBT Daily to do,” said Tiffany.
“Sure my dear,” answered Craig, in his usual Braves Bathrobe, puffing on his bubble pipe. “Just following up with my spy satellites. I want to get a picture of the crater I left… Now, let’s do some more Miggy-Trout comparisons!”
I wrote this by the way to the tune of Batman: Arkham City, Original Video Game Score’s track: “You Should Do What he Says”. Quite appropriate…
Chipper Jones has been getting gifts in his retirement tour this year
Tiffany looked at her screen from the comfort of her NBC Studio office, trying to figure out what Craig was up to now. Being Craig’s right hand certainly had perks at least. Nice office, Great Herman Miller chair. Flex hours. She wasn’t quite sure how Craig managed to obtain everything. Some days he seemed like an extra wheel, an eccentric cog that other colleagues tolerated for being great once. Other days it seemed like he ran the damn place. Today seemed to be the former.
“Shouldn’t we be focusing on HBT Extra right now Craig?” she said.
“In due time my Dear,” the voice in an empty screen replied. She sighed.
“What are you doing?”
“Every team has been honoring Chipper Jones with a gift. I can do no less. I will present Chipper with one as well”. With that, he appeared on the screen holding…?
“What’s that green thing?”, Tiffany asked squinting into her screen.
“Why, my Phillie Phanatic Rug. Chipper will need something cozy in front of his fireplace while eating some nice sausages from that grill the Brewers gave him”.
So that’s what happened to Ryan…
Craig’s strolled into his Lair, at on his high chair took hold of his bubble pipe as he watched the highlights on his 71″ LED screen. Hopefully MLB never expands beyond the current 30 teams, his 4×4 sub-display is perfect for 15 games and one conversation at the same time. After all, it’s possible to dilute the product too much!
He started reviewing notes for HBT daily as Tiffany Simons appeared on his screen once again. “Hi Craig ready for more HBT Daily?”
Craig leaned back and shook off a piece of lint on his Braves Bathrobe: “Of course my dear. Topic of the day: how the deadline deals have impacted their teams so far. I must say Dempster must improve in his next outings. Or maybe it’s the Rangers, it’s like a reverse Midas touch with every starter they sign or call up to help them.”
“I still think you went overboard when you torpedoed the deal between the Cubs and the Braves.”
Craig sat up straight. “Oh come now, a two month rental in exchange for one our finest pitching prospects in Randall Delgado? I think not. It’s a good thing I kept that access to the Braves site. I knew announcing the deal prematurely would blow up Dempster. Later on, I steered Frank Wren to a proper replacement.”
“Craig you can be evil sometimes.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Craig exercise his powers in MLB…