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OOTP 19 - Historical Simulations Discuss historical simulations and their results in this forum.

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Old 08-20-2019, 01:29 AM   #1
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Catching Redemption

A half a million dollars was a lot of money!

At least, it was a lot of money to an 18-year old boy who had graduated high school just barely over a month prior.

It was $511K to be exact. And all I had to do to get it was sign one piece of paper. A piece of paper that would change my life forever. Direct me down the path to either immortality or irrelevance.

That would make me a hero or a goat.

That would make me the newest member of the Chicago White Sox baseball organization.

A half million dollars.

Seemed silly to be given that much money just to play a game.

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Old 08-22-2019, 08:30 AM   #2
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“Gosh. This is exciting!”

I sat down across the desk from Karen Prasek. Her teeth grinned wide behind silver braces. Her horn-rimmed glasses framed wide, eager eyes. Curly brown hair made a mess of itself on top of her head.

We were in the office of the Jackson County Herald-Tribune. Yes. Office. Not offices. The newspaper of the county was written inside a building about the size of a washateria. Most of the journalists there were like Karen. High school journalism students freelancing articles to the paper for ten, fifteen, twenty dollars tops.

Karen was one year behind me at Industrial High School. She would be entering her senior year in the fall of 1985. Already one of the candidates for Valedictorian for the Class of ’86. She was the middle child of three. Her older sister, Cheryl, had graduated in 1984 and gone on to Texas A&M University. Her youngest brother, Jason, was entering his sophomore year.

Donald Prasek was a farmer. Who wanted a son to leave his farm to. Which is the reason he ended up with three kids. He tried and tried until he got a boy. Then he was happy.

Cheryl, however, grew up to be the son Donald actually wanted. Except that she was a girl. She rode horses from the age of seven. Even participated in the Junior Miss Rodeo. Joined the Future Farmers of America in high school. Her senior year, she raised a calf that finished in eighth place at the Jackson County Livestock Show. But, she was a girl. And her daddy never would see her as the farmer he was. Simply because she was a girl.

But life has a sense of humor. And Jason Prasek had no interest in farming or animals or the outdoors of any kind. He preferred life inside the library reading mystery novels.

It was almost as if the fates were punishing Donald Prasek for not accepting his oldest daughter for who she was.

Then there was Cheryl. Freed from the burden of expectations, Cheryl was able to be her own girl and follow her own dreams. She had been with the school newspaper since her freshman year and worked with the Herald-Tribune since her sophomore year. She loved to write. And she was really good at it. She could take the results of a football game and turn the article into something that was poetic and dramatic and heartbreaking and ecstatic all with just the way she had with word usage.
Unfortunately, she, too, was a girl. And a female sportswriter would get even fewer chances than a female farmer would.

That was kind of too bad. Because she really did have a talent.

“This is the most exciting story I have ever gotten to write,” she said.

She was almost falling over herself. Which was very odd. Obviously, we were not strangers to one another. In a small high school like Industrial, everybody pretty much knew everybody. We didn’t hang out in the same social circles but we had spoken several times. She had interviewed me for the school paper after games before.

But, here, she was almost fawning over me like I was some kind of rock singer or ….

Wow, I thought as it dawned on me. This is what it is like.

I needed to remind Karen of who I was.

“Even more exciting than the time you went with Travis to see ET?”

The gasp from her lips could have sucked all the oxygen out of the newspaper room. Her face became so red her father could have renamed her Apple Prasek. Wide green eyes stared daggers through her glasses’ frames.

I grinned at her.

“Jerk!” She kicked me from under the desk. I started laughing. She started laughing.

“Okay,” I said. “Remember who you are talking to. We’ve done this dozens of times before. Take a deep breath and let’s have a chat about baseball.”

She shook her head. “Mention Travis again and I’ll be chatting baseball bat upside your head!”

As long as he doesn’t play for the White Sox, that shouldn’t be a problem.
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:51 PM   #3
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We talked about the baseball team at Industrial High School. The Cobras! I thanked Coach Grymes for being the leader of our team as well as the Industrial school board for reinstating baseball as a UIL sport in 1983.

“Without that, we would not be having this conversation,” I said.

“You shouldn’t be having this conversation anyways,” a deep male voice boomed into the newsroom.

Larry Cook was one of the minority owners of the Jackson County Herald-Tribune. A member of the Edna school board, owner of his own insurance company and outstanding member of the Edna Chamber of Commerce.

An all-around spoiled rich kid a-hole!

Larry’s son, Stephen, was a member of the Edna High School Class of ’85. A pitcher with a bazooka for an arm, he could have been a high-round draft pick as well. But, Stephen was not interested in becoming the next Nolan Ryan. He wanted to be the next Roger Staubach.

Like most young boys in Jackson County, Stephen Cook wanted to be a football star. But not just any football star. He wanted to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys! So, he accepted a scholarship to play quarterback for Stephen F Austin State University rather than play baseball. I had met Stephen a couple of times. The apple fell far from the tree with him. He never exhibited the entitled attitude his father possessed. He was pursuing a goal that made him happy. He had no animosity or jealousy towards me.

But the problem was. Being a scholarship football player at Stephen F Austin State University did not get him the media attention that being a first-round pick in the MLB Draft was getting me. And that made his father furious!

Larry Cook leaned close and nearly spit the words out of his mouth. “I promise you! This article will never see print in this paper.”

I shrugged. But, Karen was visibly hurt by this proclamation. He wasn’t just being towards me. He was stealing a part of her dream as well.

We let the jerk storm off into the editor’s office and slam the door before continuing.

“Where do you go now?”

“They are assigning me to a team in Niagara Falls.”

“Niagara Falls? Really? I want to go to Niagara Falls?”

I laughed. “I’m not there to see the sites. I have work to do.”

And, indeed I did. As soon as the Fourth of July holiday passed, I was on a plane headed to Niagara Falls.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:03 PM   #4
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“Strike three!”

The ump was very generous with the strike zone on that pitch. Damn near at my ankles! But, he called it a strike and I trodded back to the dugout, where I met the icy cold stare of Niagara Falls Sox manager Jack Gagnon.

It was the top of the fourth of my professional debut. And I had already struck out twice.

“That’s about right,” Gagnon said. “You swing at complete garbage and then watch a perfectly good pitch like that go by. Those Texas pitchers back in high school must have had noodle arms if the likes of you got hits off them.”

Oh, yes, me and the skipper were getting along great. He made sure of that the day I met him.

“I don’t like first round picks,” he had told me. “Sign for all that money and think you can just cruise right on in here and act like you are something special. Like you are too big for this place. Too important. Well, I got news for you, first-rounder. I’ll make damn sure you know where your place is on my team!”

And, so, for the second time in this game, I was in the dugout doing fifty pushups for striking out.

“We’re going to give you some upper body strength there, first-rounder,” he barked with a satisfied smirk.

I didn’t strike out again in that game. I grounded out twice to go 0-for-4. But, we got the win, 2-1 over the Erie Cardinals, when Scott Cooper hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth.

“Don’t worry about it, first-rounder,” Cooper told me after the game. “Gagnon don’t like much of anybody around here.”

Three days later, Cooper was dealt to the Orioles.

I guess Gagnon heard him.
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