The World Baseball Classic (#4) is not far away, and the headline in today’s paper referring to the “Fourth World Baseball Classic” caught my eye. Buster Posey will be a star in WBC#4, but in my sci-fi novel Fourth World, Benn Marr is the main feature: you remember, he’s the Hydra Giants shortstop who helped defeat the Meteor Dodgers in the Tharsis league championship game with an amazing 6-4-6-3 double play! There’s a surprising amount of baseball in Fourth World, which I started writing when my son was playing in Little League (see my earlier post, “How True is Fiction?”).
Here’s an excerpt from a New York Yanquis playoff game Benn attends with his med school friends from New Haven:
After the Great War of Unification, the stadium and team had passed from the ownership of despised capitalist exploiters into the hands of El Mercado, a Mexican District conglomerate. And the new owners had promptly renamed the team, much to the delight of New York Metropol’s dominant ethnic group, and to the resentment of everyone else. The “House that Ruth Built” became “Casa al Mercado”. More universally well-received in New York was the Yanquis’ continued domination of the World Series, a contest more aptly named in recent times: a round-robin tournament in which teams from all over the world competed for the championship. The team closest to the Yanquis, in terms of their daunting winning record year after year, their image of invincibility, was the Caribbean District Fidels. Although this was only a first-round playoff game in which the two rival teams, like wolves circling warily before a fight, would each test the other’s skills, the tension in the air was as heady and dense as the aromatic smoke billowing upwards from dozens of hot dog stands into the hazy blue October sky.
The number of visits that Sool had paid to the nearest of these stands was all the more remarkable because the game had only reached the bottom of the fourth inning. The Yanquis had men on first and third, with two outs, and their cleanup hitter, Max Quintero, was at bat. Benn asked, “Hey Program. What’s the count?”
“One ball, two strikes,” replied the program in a hearty male voice. The pitcher, who had “great stuff,” according to the program, nodded to his catcher, then took a quick look at first base. From the stretch, he threw a breaking ball which Benn’s program later said “hung just a mite too long over the plate.” CRACK! The sound of the ball embarking on its towering journey out of Yanqui Stadium sent Benn instinctively to his feet, as though he might sprint to the outfield and attempt a leaping catch at the wall. A program somewhere in the next row down excitedly announced, “He hits it hard… he hits it deep… it is outta here! Adios Pelota!”
(With a nod to Kruk, Kuip and JM).