It was late when the first dispatch was read over the radio from the western front. The news was not good. Our boys were taking it on the chin, making the slow trickle of news all the more excruciating. Finally, in a voice made to sound all the more gravely from the broken cross-country radio signal, Michael R. Shannon read to us the wires from reporters on the front.
Cardinals bogged down on the shores of the Bay. -(STOP)- Fierce pitching from los Gigantes keeping our boys' bats in check. -(STOP)- Unable to mount offensive. -(STOP)-
Then, hours later, our hopes were raised with news of a successful advance on the black-and-orange enemy.
Heroics from T.H. Eriot. -(STOP)- Long, drawn-out slog leads to advances. -(STOP)- Victory possible. -(STOP)-
The hopes of our family and, indeed, our nation, were dashed with the subsequent cable. Mother wept.
Franklin down! Franklin down! -(STOP)- Craig! Craig! Craig! -(STOP)- Cardinals pushed back to the shores in crushing defeat. -(STOP)- General La Russa says he hopes to regroup tonight and mount new offensive tomorrow. -(STOP)-
Father let us stay up past our bedtimes for news from the western front. Our hopes were dashed, but our fears went unrecognized, as news came from Michael R. Shannon's report of another deadlock on the Bay.
Our Garcia SP-54 has stifled the enemy's offensive capabilities. -(STOP)- Cardinals advance into enemy territory behind the Garcia SP-54. -(STOP)-
After this news, Father sent us to bed. But neither of us slept, our minds racing of what was happening in the west. Victory? Defeat? So long as General La Russa did not turn to the aging and haggard Franklin unit, victory may be had. Father came and woke us. From his mood, we knew something was wrong.
Garcia SP-54 out of gas. -(STOP)- Batista RP brought to the front. -(STOP)- Giants advance halted. -(STOP)- Franklin down! Franklin down! -(STOP)- Cardinals' lines breached. -(STOP)- Retreat to the beaches. Again. -(STOP)-
The Franklin unit again. Even as children we recognized that General La Russa's faith in the aging and declining F-U, so effective in past campaigns, was becoming a liability.
The news came in as Teddy and I played catch in the warm afternoon sun. Yet more deadlock on the western front.
Neither club has been able to sustain an advance. -(STOP)- Each hunkered down in its respective bunkers. -(STOP)- Cardinals seem to have no stomach for offensive advancement. -(STOP)- Still nothing from former WAR champion Pujols. -(STOP)- Where is our hero? -(STOP)-
Even from across the continent, MIchael R. Shannon's jubilation was evidence when he read of the successful offensive thrust against the Giants. Father danced a jig, clicking his heels at news of a victory after the brutal news of days past.
Major offensive advance by the Cardinals. -(STOP)- Icy laser from Freese drives Giants back. -(STOP)- Cobbler powers home more runs. -(STOP)- Giants vanquished. -(STOP)-
While pleased with our good fortunes in the San Francisco Bay, we knew that taking the roofed and air-conditioned oasis of Chase Field, surrounded by desolate desert with no cover, would be a daunting challenge.
An aerial bombardment caught the Diamondbacks off-guard.
Shock and awe. -(STOP)- Puma swats two bombs. -(STOP)- K-Mac defenses impenetrable. -(STOP)- Vipers shellshocked. -(STOP)-
"Thank the gods," said Mother. "No Franklin Unit," agreed Father. The mood was light as we made an offering to the gods of baseball before going to bed.
The following day, the clash escalated.
Horrible bombardment from the vipers. -(STOP)- Cardinals stunned, scrambling. -(STOP)- Counter-assault results in great damage on the D-Backs. -(STOP)- Counteroffensive routes Cardinals. -(STOP)- Pitching arms strewn across the battlefield. -(STOP)- Both sides regroup in respective clubhouse bunkers. -(STOP)-
"Dear lords," muttered Father. "Such brutality. The modern advancements in hitting leave no hope for peace and pitching. Tomorrow will be the decisive battle." We went to bed in silence; neither Teddy nor I knew what to say.
La Russa launches all-out assault on viper stronghold. -(STOP)- Puma shows no mercy. -(STOP)- Bombardment leads to total demolition of Chase Field oasis. -(STOP)- Desert conquered. -(STOP)- Overwhelming victory for Cardinals. -(STOP)-
The series of confrontations int he desert, the destruction of the Chase Field oasis, and General La Russa's brazen deployment of a newly potent offensive unit had changed Father's mood. The tense mood that had permeated the house throughout early April had given way to a kind of perverse joy. We felt that our troops could overwhelm any opponent. We would find out in the coming days, as our boys would storm the fabled Chavez Ravine.
Pujols WAR machine unleashed. -(STOP)- Pujols/Puma bombard Dodger defenses. -(STOP)- Cardinals route Angelenos. -(STOP)-
Mother cried tears of joy. Tales of the Dodgers' vicious attack had spread throughout the village, but our boys had beaten them back convincingly. Timmy and I kept track on a map from the newspaper. Our position in the standings was strengthened with our conquest of the Chase Field oasis. If we could take Chavez Ravine...
Pujols WAR machine bombs Dodgers twice. -(STOP)- Puma bombs Dodgers twice. -(STOP)- Rasmus shoots lasers, penetrates Dodgers defenses. -(STOP)- Angelenos routed. -(STOP)- Gen La Russa pledges no mercy/rejects Gen Mattingly's offer of ceasefire and peace talks. -(STOP)-
"If the Pujols WAR machine is truly unleashed, then the defensive measures of opposition pitchers stand no chance," said Father.
Mother said, "The Pujols WAR machine, the sleek Rasmus, the powerful Holliday, and the Puma will lay waste to those who dare oppose us."
Timmy and I smiled.
The two sides at a standstill. -(STOP)- Angeleno's Kershaw worn down. -(STOP)- Craigen unleashed. -(STOP)- Dodger defenses breached. -(STOP)- Victory assured. -(STOP)-
Another day, another victory. Timmy and Mother danced. Father lit a cigar.
No breakthrough near. -(STOP)- Both sides stifled by opposition's defenses. -(STOP)- Holliday and Freese break through. -(STOP)- Victory nigh. -(STOP)- Franklin down! -(STOP)- Franklin down! -(STOP)- Franklin down! -(STOP)- Gen La Russa refuses to address need for reinforcements.
We sat in silence around the table. Father stared into space, at nothing yet something. Mother wept. Timmy ran to his room and slammed the door. In the distance, the rumble of artillery could be heard.
"Was that cannon fire, or my heart pounding?" asked Mother.
"That's the new Washington Werth-28. And from the sounds of it, not too far off. They'll be here tomorrow at the latest," Father said.
We slept uneasily that night. None of us knew what the next day would hold.