Inkslinger

A collection of writing by Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson

“Lovers’ Balk” published in Spitball

My short story, “Lovers’ Balk,” has been published in the latest issue (#67) of Spitball, which was mailed out today. “Lovers’ Balk” is the story of a fantasy baseball geek who uses his player forecasting algorithm to find himself the perfect woman on the Internet.

Lovers’ Balk

Stephen Schtingenshreif, or Stevie Baseball as he was known to his loyal bloggers at welovethebrewcrew.com, had developed the perfect sabermetric model for forecasting the fortunes of major league hitters. He called it OPSMOPP: Official Prognostic Statistical Model of Outstanding Player Performance. Stevie Baseball had used OPSMOPP to successfully predict breakout seasons by several Major League talents. Starting in 2003, he’d ridden his superior statistical knowledge to three consecutive titles in the BBL (Blogosphere Baseball League—the fantasy baseball league of all fantasy baseball leagues, populated exclusively by baseball blogmasters).

The 2006 season, though, was different.

Stevie Baseball was a paranoid sort, prone to winning-streak socks. When he started loosing he went looking for a cause. He had prepared for the league in the same manner as the prior years but there was one significant personal difference in his life. In 2006, he had been without the good luck that seemed to follow his quietly contemptuous X. She had never expressed interest in baseball, never entered the room as he sat in his den with his back to the door, absorbed in Excel worksheets. Had her presence somehow contributed to his three-year winning streak? She’d moved out in March and he hadn’t sniffed .500 all season.

The way he was losing made it worse. A new owner, Rodney Estrogini, had stolen all of Stevie’s sleeper picks during their online draft. Estrogini had followed with a series of bold trades, creating a juggernaut the likes of which the BBL had never seen. Stevie found himself in uncomfortable territory: Last place, hoping for statistically impossible results from a crop of injured arms and underachieving bats.

Worst of all, Estrogini had picked out Stevie (who operated anonymously under the handle of LittleBoyBrew on the fantasy site), as a favorite subject of trash talking.

 

LittleBoyBrew,

 

If you were more of a man and less of a boy, maybe you’d stop looking at these Brewer rookies without falling in love. But as long as you continue to staff middle-infielders with sub-.320 OBP, well, I’ll be happy to keep kicking your ass all over the BBL.

 

Love,

Rodney Estrogini

Stevie needed to disengage from fantasy baseball for a while. He went looking for something else to occupy his statistically-needy brain.

He found it, late one night, after wasting untold hours looking for a date on myspace.

He’d made his way to a woman who listed snakes and babies as her two favorite things (Stevie’s two least favorite things). He felt like he’d taken a wrong turn into a bad neighborhood. Then it hit him: He could apply the same algorithms he used on fantasy baseball toward his search for Mrs. Stevie Baseball. That way he’d avoid all the wasted time searching so he could just focus on the wooing.

There was only one problem.

“You can’t tell me that the data you find on internet dating sites is clean,” Paid-Ro said one night over beers, after another unfortunate loss had knocked the Brewers five games south of the Wild Card. “It’s the equivalent of trying to project the major league performance of Cuban defectors. There’s no reliable data from those leagues.”

Stevie looked down his long, discerning nose at this dark man of unknown ethnic origin who threw around methodological statistical criticism like infielders lobbing pop ups during warmups at Miller Field. Stevie and Paid-Ro were co-blogmasters and both owners in the BBL. It had been Paid-Ro who sniffed out Rodney Estrogini as a fake. Estrogini? We’re being shown-up by a girl!

“Clearly I can’t make a perfect prediction,” Stevie said. “But this is a great way to separate the replacement-level dates from the real prospects.”

“Maybe…”

Paid-Ro’s unshakable integrity in the world of applied statistical theory had made him the logical person for Stevie to go to with his newest project, which he’d nicknamed BOPSMOPP (the B was for Babes).

“I don’t see a way around the data cleanliness issue,” Stevie said, hiding his nose in the schooner glass.

“We have to assume some level of accuracy as a baseline,” Paid-Ro said. “It’s not like we can audit all internet dating sites for accuracy.” He leaned back and folded his short, thick arms over his chest. Paid-Ro wore only Brewers t-shirts. His collection encompassed every uniform in the franchise’s history. On this day, he wore a Robin Yount knock-off jersey that he must have gotten at some first-10,000-through-the-gates giveaway in 1986.

“It’s not like we can tell if a girl is lying online,” Stevie said. “But that problem was already there. I think it will work.”

“Just so long as you know that OPSMOPP’s pick is only as good as that first faulty assumption,” Paid-Ro said.

Stevie Baseball smiled, showing the gap between his foremost upper teeth.

“First off, it’s not OPSMOPP. It’s BOPSMOPP. Second, I’m not about to let something like a little dirty data get in the way of the perfect catch.”

“You could use a good catch.”

They drank some beer.

“Did you see what Estrogini said?”

Stevie closed his eyes, wishing he could close his ears.

“’VORP-loving prima donna,’” Paid-Ro said. “Who talks shit that way?”

“Just quit talking ‘bout it, Paid-Ro.”

*            *            *

OSMOPP was beautifully simple. You could feed it all kinds of data and it would spit out a single number that quantified a numerical measure of a player’s future performance. Results were on a spectrum of -100 to 100, with Ted Williams coming the closest to 100 (93.82) and a backup second baseman from the 1977 Mariners named Davey Volks representing the extreme low-end, at -84.72. A quick glance at a player’s OPSMOPP number could give any sabermetrically-minded baseball fan a clean indication of future performance.

Now Stevie had recalibrated OPSMOPP to do the same for women; specifically, all of those currently posting their availability on the internet: MySpace, Match.com, Friendster, and even the fake sites run by identity thieves.  (He tried to get a Facebook account but, in the early days of Facebook, was a generation apart from even being eligible—“you’re way too old for Facebook,” said a 22-year-old he had enlisted for help.)

Stevie constrained his search to females in Wisconsin, so as not to get his hopes set too high on some damned Cubs fan, and he ruled out anyone over the age of 50 (at a lean 35, Stevie figured he could reasonably look 15 years in either direction without seeming overly fetished).

There were various subjective qualities that he wasn’t quite sure what to do with. Were blue eyes somehow more numerically valuable than green? Was a Badger alumnus somehow more attractive than a Golden Gopher? What about girls self-described as “fun-loving?” (What about the fun-hating ones?) Was BOSMOPP more interested in girls with slutty pictures posted, or those without? If a girl said she had an “average” body type, did that make her homely or humble?

Stevie decided on a few key principles. Education was good, as was singleness. And any hint of baseball fandom or blogging aptitude should be rewarded. And since he was the other person in the equation, he ran his own, newly-minted myspace profile through the algorithm as a point of comparison. Then he left the selection to BOSMOPP’s discretion.

*            *            *

Like many good sabermetric models, OSMOPP was capable of using statistics to make comparisons. That was how Stevie had known, as soon as 1999, that Albert Pujols would be tremendous. OSMOPP had looked at Pujols’ minor league stats and pegged him as a dead ringer for Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron.

He hadn’t counted on BOSMOPP comparing women to baseball players:

 

Name                                    Age             BOSMOPP Score            Comparable                        Source

Cindy Wordinger            29.4                        91.6                        Ted Williams                        match.com

Allison Bostox            25.1                        88.4                        Joe Dimaggio                        myspace.com

Gwen Slapsmata            37.2                        84.2                        Jason Giambi                        blogmate.com

There were others on the list, but none with a BOSMOPP score higher than 80. Stevie Baseball recognized a strong BOSMOPP bias for what it was: a good sign of quality and compatibility. He fired up the dating sites and set up some dates.

*            *            *

Cindy Wordinger showed up fashionably late—just three minutes after the agreed-upon 8:00 rendezvous at Moonrakers Pub and Grub. She wore jeans and a seasonally-appropriate t-shirt that hugged her breasts and waist and left Stevie feeling inadequate from the start. He was similarly attired—jeans and his favorite t-shirt. He’d had these shirts made special for a welovethebrewcrew fundraiser: a silk-screened picture of the infamous Randall-Simon-tripping-the-Italian-sausage-with-the-bat incident, with the headline plucked from one of Simon’s contrite post-Sausagegate interviews: “That wasn’t my intention in my heart for that to happen.”

The shirt was a litmus test of sorts. If Cindy thought it overly weird, he could safely walk away early. If she inquired, he’d know she was a keeper. If she said nothing at all, he would have to wait her out. And if she mentioned the Brewers recent addition of Chorizo to the sausage races, well, he’d know it was love at first site.

“Stevie?” she said, shyly tucking her cheek in her shoulder.

“Cindy,” he said, getting up from his chair to shake her hand. He gestured toward the seat opposite his. “Please.”

She giggled, a sound rich with sexual promise, and took a seat. As she slid the chair closer to the table he caught her eyes on the front of his shirt, saw the crinkle in her forehead. But she said nothing. So it’s going to be one of those, he thought.

“You find the place OK?” Stevie said.

“Oh yeah,” she said. “I’ve been here before to watch Brewers games.”

Stevie smiled, though he wasn’t overly impressed. He had sent her his blog url during the five-message back-and-forth that had led up to the date (at first on the dating site, then on personal emails). She claimed to be a late arrival to the Brew Crew, having grown up a Red Sox fan. Stevie tried not to hold this against her, even though he knew Red Sox fans to be among the most sycophantic sports microorganisms on the planet.

“You said you liked the Sox, though,” Stevie said, needing to scratch that itch.

Cindy didn’t shy away away from the question, again tucking her cheek in her shoulder.

“Well, yeah. I have to.”

“Why’s that,” Stevie said, as he caught the eye of the waitress from across the room. She started in their direction.

“Well, my grandpa played for them,” she said, shrugging. The shrug’s rehearsed quality told him that her grandpa was a name player.

“I’m a font of baseball trivia,” Stevie said. “Chances are I can recite his stat line.”

Her eyes downcast on the tabletop, Cindy spoke in a near whisper.

“My grandpa was Ted Williams,” she said.

This admission created an unusual conflict in Stevie.

On the one hand, it ignited a firestorm of moral outrage, as he harkened back to his blog rants over Ted Williams’s heirs cryogenically freezing the Great Man’s head.

On the other hand, it sparked the kind of libidinal overdrive that Stevie had never felt this side of 30. He wanted nothing more than to sire Cindy Wordinger’s children. Visions of .400-hitting offspring were enough to induce a cold sweat.

Fortunately, the waitress arrived and took their drink orders. Stevie was happy to hear Cindy order one of the big beers.

The time spent ordering gave Stevie a moment to decide to avoid any discussion of grandpa’s frozen head. After the waitress had cleared out. Stevie decided it was best if he didn’t beat around the bush.

“That’s about the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said. “You’ve got heroic blood beating in that heart of yours.” Cindy giggled again, with the same rippling sexuality. Stevie said a silent prayer of thanks to BOSMOPP.

They began to drink. By the bottom of the first big beer, Cindy’s hand had found its way into Stevie’s hand (which was clammy, though Cindy seemed not to notice). By the bottom of the second big beer she had scooted around to his side of the table so they could watch the scores come in on the ESPN ticker. It wasn’t until mid-way through the third, as Stevie was explaining how OSMOPP worked, that he balked.

“…the whole statistical revolution thing is so interesting,” Cindy said in response to his explanation of how OSMOPP worked. “I mean, I studied science at college, right? So I can appreciate how rare it is to find a scientific approach to a game. It’s why baseball is so much better than the other sports. If only the rest of life could be so, well, predictable.”

“I’d like to think it can be,” Stevie said. His arm draped over the back of Cindy’s chair; his hand rested on her shoulder. He could do no wrong. “That’s how I found you.”

He grinned. Cindy looked away from him to the ticker.

“What was that?” she said.

“See I had this statistical model for identifying the best players and I used it on all these girls’ profiles to find the perfect date.With a BOSMOPP score of 91.6, you are leading the league!”

Stevie pursed his lips, ready for the kiss. Which is why he couldn’t understand how, 30 seconds later, he found himself out on the street, running after a fleeing Cindy Wordinger, tears in her eyes. He grabbed her by the arm and she spun around and slapped him hard across the left cheek.

“You think I want to be objectified like that? Boiled down to some…some stat.  It was all about my grandpa after all, like it always is. A fucking baseball predictive model?”

“Cindy I’m…I’m sorry. I thought you’d be flattered.”

“Fucking Brew Crew hicks!” she screamed as she stormed off. Too shocked by the disparaging words, Stevie stalked inside to finish his beer, settle the tab, and watch the Brewers closer get blown up in the bottom of the ninth.

*            *            *

“Well I guess the lesson is pretty obvious,” Paid-Ro said at the end of their debriefing the next morning.

“Never tell the girls about BOSMOPP,” Stevie intoned for what must have been the hundredth time.

“If you’re going to talk baseball just keep it to the Wild Card race. Girls don’t care any further than that.”

“Rodney Estrogini does.”

“I never took you for self-punishing but whatever floats your boat.”

*            *            *

Allison Bostox had incredible raw stats and the best resume out there. She was five-foot nine, 120 pounds, graduated Phi Delta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin, made six figures annually, and was a member of every myspace.com group Stevie would ever want to puruse, including Brewer Girls, Badger Cheerleaders, and MENSA. She was only three degrees of myspace separation removed from several baseball fans Stevie knew personally. Stevie even found a connection between Allison and a girl someone in the BBL had once dated who allegedly had challenged this guy to a game of Strip Tecmo Bowl.

Stevie had appreciated Allison’s insistence (over email) that they visit a particular Irish Pub. Stevie always liked a girl with plans; he thought of himself as a talent without a manager, and the idea of a girl who would take charge appealed. He needed a Phil Garner to point him on his way.

He entered the Pub and was immediately greeted by a throng of people who all seemed to know one another, all of them ten years younger than him. At first Stevie thought he might have come to the wrong place, a belief that was reinforced after he’d made a lap of the bar and found not one solitary person. No one there was waiting for a blind date.

He made another lap and was ready to leave when someone called his name.  He looked up and saw her; recognition set in as he connected this bright person—the pronounced cheekbones and high-maintenance corporate hair—to the picture on her online profile. Allison Bostox.

He saw now how he’d missed her on his first lap through the pub. She wasn’t alone. Two other young women huddled with her. As Stevie reached the table, they both excused themselves.

“Allison?”

“Stevie?” She stood and shook his hand. It seemed a rehearsed motion. She’d told him during their email correspondence that she worked in sales for a software company.  She probably met new people all the time, giving each of them a private dose of the same perky hello.

“Nice to meet you,” he said. “Run into some friends of yours?”

“They were just keeping me company while I waited for you.”  She sat down, smoothing her mid-length skirt over her knees.

“So…” Stevie said, hoping she would take over. She did. Allison didn’t seem to have any problem talking about herself.

“I’m an AE for Beetlejuice Software. You know what that is, I’m sure. We’re the leading provider of wireless-enabled CRM for handhelds, PDAs, and Blackberries.”

“Right right.” Stevie hoped his ignorance wasn’t too obvious.

“…so you like the Brewers, and they’re one of our top clients. You know how in the box seats the waiters come and you order food there on the spot and they use a handheld computer to put in your order.?”

“Sure sure…”  Stevie had only sat in expensive seats once, when he shelled out for tickets on the first base line so he could see Yount’s last home game up close.

“That’s my deal, actually. The Brewers.” She held up her cell phone. “I’ve got Doug Melvin on speed dial. I mean I know I’m young but that’s what I love about sales. It’s all about results.”

About 45 minutes into the date, with Stevie not having contributed much of anything to the conversation other than polite nods a deceitful affirmation, Allison started receiving and replying to text messages. The silence during these moments told Stevie all he needed to know. While he sat with only his beer as company, a little blue light on Allison’s cell phone flickered incessantly.

Then someone (Stevie started to lose track of names) sat down and introduced herself as a close friend of Allison’s who’d posed in the same group Prom picture. Another claimed an old allegiance from the South Milwaukee High School track team. Then a small girl with a large purse arrived; she seemed to have the phone number of everyone Allison had ever met. They swapped digits for what must have been a half-hour. Finally, Stevie got up the nerve to ask Allison for some context.

“So how do you know her?”

Allison had not an ounce of shame.

“I went to high school with her.”

“Is there some kind of…party…going on here tonight?”

“It’s more of a mixer.” She took a long suck on her Long Island ice tea. “Oh look—it’s Angie!”

Word of who Stevie was—a total baseball nerd!—had spread among the classmates (after all, he was not from South Milwaukee High). Several people engaged him in unsolicited talk of the Brewers and their shaky bullpen. Meanwhile, Stevie found a new source of distraction. A tall, Aryan man with broad shoulders, large biceps, and a babyface. He sat at a distant table, alone, separated from Stevie and Allison by a river of mingling classmates. He took every opportunity to scowl across the crowd at Stevie, furiously polishing off pints. He lined the empty glasses up in a row at the edge of his table, counting scalps.

“Do you know that guy?” Stevie asked her, trying not to stare at the hostile fellow in the corner.

“He’s my ex-boyfriend, Zed,” she said.

“He looks like he wants to murder me,” Stevie says.

“He does,” she said. “He just texted about you.” She turned away from Stevie and back to the latest girlfriend who had come by for a visit.

Stevie recognized his cue to leave, but just as he gathered his things, he felt a presence above him. He looked up at Zed, who was as massive standing up as Stevie had feared.

“So you’re some kind of super Brewers fan,” he said.

Stevie had many flaws, but a lack of amicability was not one of them.

“Yeah, I love ‘em. I’m Stevie.” Zed eyed Stevie’s outstretched warily, as if it were a crack pipe.

“Who’s your favorite Brewer,” he said. Stevie saw Allison was again texting someone, and apparently not Zed.

“Other than Molitor and Robin Yount?” Stevie figured any fan worth his salt should be able to come up with someone more original. “I’d say Gorman Thomas.”

“I don’t even know who that is,” spat Zed.

“Bigtime slugger,” Stevie said, though he could tell that Zed didn’t care. All Zed wanted was an opening to begin kicking Stevie’s ass. “Who’s your favorite?” Stevie said.

The question seemed to soften Zed’s massive forehead.

“Jose Canseco,” he said.

Stevie opened his mouth to respond, to offer agreement, but he couldn’t. It was a betrayal of his fandom to allow this error to go unchallenged. Jose Canseco?

“Um, I’m sorry to tell you this, but Jose Canseco never played for the Brewers.”

Which created the opening Zed had been looking for.

“What are you saying?” He banged the table with his fists. “You saying I’m stupid?”

“No, I’m not saying you’re stupid, I’m saying-“

“You think I’m fucking stupid?”

“No, Zed, I-“

“You think I didn’t sit there and watch Jose Canseco? You saying I’m that stupid?” His jaw had a log boom quality; Stevie imagined breaking his hand against it if things came to blows (when things came to blows).

“No no no. But Jose Canseco never played for the Brewers. I’m sorry.”

Stevie realized he was shouting. Somehow he’d found his way to his feet. Stevie looked down, hoping to give Allison a polite see-ya before leaving the bar in one piece, which is when he realized she was gone. That’s when he ran for it. Zed cried out at him across the bar.

“Run you little bitch. Jose Canseco is a Brewer and you are a little bitch coward!”

*            *            *

“She’s an outlier—I still believe in BOSMOP,” Stevie said.

“So she sexted herself a new date?” Paid-Ro said. “I kind of figured the whole ‘sexting’ thing was actually bogus.”

“I can’t really blame her. She wasn’t going to go home with me or Zed.” He bit into the slice of cheese pizza.

“I can’t even believe that guy really thought Jose Canseco ever played for the Brewers. Say—you haven’t been on the site tonight, have you?”

“No. Why?” Dry throat.

“Oh, nothing, except Estrogini got four homers, four wins, and five steals and the night games haven’t even started yet.

*            *            *

Gwen Slapsmata was early, already sitting at the Blue Goose (right by the door) when Stevie walked in. He had hoped to have a moment to himself to get familiar with the surroundings and feel comfortable on this new turf. The last two dates had ended so abysmally.

Gwen was not nearly as voluptuous as Allison Bostox, nor as adorable as Cindy Wordinger. This was not to say she was homely—more like bookish: light wire-frame glasses, a bob, and a crooked little smile that might have seemed naughty on another face.

“I read your blog,” she said. “It’s really good. I read a lot of baseball blogs.”

“I hope you won’t take this the wrong way but you don’t seem like a baseball fan,” Stevie said. She wore a blue blouse and tan slacks and didn’t look all that sporty.

“Oh I hardly ever go to games,” she said, flashing the nerdy smile. “But I love reading all about baseball. Have you ever read The Biography of Roger Owens? He was the peanut guy at Dodger Stadium.”

Stevie knew she was showing off but he didn’t mind.

“I’m not so much into the history as much as the stats. I’ve got every Bill James Annual on a shelf by my bed.”

“Wow that’s hot!” she said, laughing. He knew this wasn’t what you’d call laughing with someone but he didn’t mind.

They ordered sandwiches. Stevie was glad when she asked only for water to drink. The booze hadn’t done him or his prospects much good on the prior dates.

“So you read about anything other than baseball?” Stevie said as they waited for the orders.

“The Civil War,” she said. “And I visit battlefields whenever I can.”

“Speaking of hot.” Now it was Stevie’s chance to laugh. He was glad to see Gwen didn’t seem to mind him poking fun.

The waitress brought them their sandwiches. Stevie’s club was of the overstuffed variety; he couldn’t really eat without making a mess. Gwen had ordered a simpler BLT. She kept her mouth sealed as she chewed, minimizing the crunching.

“So what do you think of this Internet dating thing?” Stevie said as he tried to clean a gloopy mustard spot from his shirt.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Gwen said, looking out the window. “Sometimes it works out. You seem OK. Not one of those guys out on some kind of fetish hunt.”

Stevie swallowed.

“Of course not,” he said.

“I dated this one guy who seemed really normal at first. We’d hung out four or five times when he asked me to get dressed up in this outfit so he could take pictures of me. I said no way. Then later I found out he had this photo album full of girls wearing this outfit. They all had glasses and looked like his ex. Damn perverts. You couldn’t do something like that before Match.com.”

“I suppose not.” Stevie went back to eating his sandwich and wondered what she would think of BOSMOPP.

“I do like the anonymity of the Internet,” Gwen said, now warmed up on the topic. “You like baseball, so you’ll appreciate this. I play in this fantasy baseball league. I know that probably seems weird. I’ve been playing for a while, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. This one league I’m in, it’s some kind of experts league… There are all these agro guys and they take it really seriously. They keep players from year-to-year and talk lots of smack. Nobody uses their real names, which is fine with me. I don’t want to deal with their personalities—I just want to play. Anyway, I’m in first place and I can just tell they all hate me. Of course they think I’m a man.”

Stevie had stopped eating.

“What’s the name you made up?” he said.

“Oh…” She looked at him over her wire-frame glasses with flirty eyes. “Rodney Estrogini. Get it?”

“I get it,” Stevie said. He picked up his sandwich and tried to cram the whole thing into his mouth. He masticated turkey. This wasn’t lost on Gwen.

“What…did I strike a nerve there? You probably take your fantasy baseball really seriously.”

“Something like that,” he said with his mouth still full. He’d been feeling very attracted to Gwen up until then, and he had to admit there was a cruel side of him that wanted to bed her and then talk shit on the fantasy site. But mostly he just wanted to get out of paying for her lunch. And he had no interest in telling her that he was one of the agro fools from the BBL. After some serious chewing and brooding, Stevie concocted a better way out of the date.

“Sorry…I was just wondering, if you make up identities on your fantasy site, if maybe you do the same on blogmate.com.”

Gwen laughed. She pulled off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose. Stevie was starting to see that the naughty smile was in fact the only thing true about her.

“Does it matter?” she said. “I mean, if I told you I was out looking for guys who play fantasy sports who I can sleep with and ditch, would it matter?”

“Is that what you’re doing?” Stevie said.

“Would it matter? I mean, let’s say I let you fuck me and then I ditched you. That would be fine, wouldn’t it? You’d be one fuck the wiser.”

“I’m looking for something more substantial than that,” Stevie said as the waitress cleared their plates.

“So, what, you think there’s love to be had on blogmate.com?”

She was teasing him, and enjoying the discomfort this caused. Stevie couldn’t help his reaction.

“Look, when I go looking for someone I’m not all about some gimmick. Same as my fantasy team: you look for someone who’s good short-term but will also be around, still knocking them out of the park at the end of the season. For every Gormon Thomas there are dozens of Mark Witten’s.”

“I’m so flattered,” Gwen said. “Maybe you should get the check.”

“That’s probably a good idea.”

*            *            *

“What’s your plan now?” Paid-Ro said. They sat on opposite ends of the couch from one another, watching the Brewers try to hold onto a late lead against the Cardinals. The Brewers had lost the last three games on walk-off homeruns but today at least were trying out a new closer.

“I was thinking maybe I ought to start gearing up for next season,” Stevie said.

“No more BOSMOPP?”

“Let’s just say that maybe there are better ways to go than algorithmically.”

“Maybe this Gwen isn’t so bad. You said she’s pretty? She doen’t even have to know it’s you on the BBL. Cause you know the more I think about it, the more I think that not getting regularly laid is the reason you are doing poorly in fantasy baseball. I think nerds like us need something other than baseball to fixate on every now and again.”

Stevie found this prospect somewhat exciting but didn’t say anything, because just then the new Brewer closer served up a breaking ball that didn’t break. Albert Pujos caught hold of it and sent it rocketing toward right field.

“Shit, not again,” Paid-Ro said. He was wearing his most optimistic t-shirt, sporting an oversized Brewers logo: “The Best Things Come to Those Who Wait.” The slogan ran from nipple to nipple in stenciled letters.

“Oh well,” Stevie said. “There’s always next season.”

THE END

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