We at the Birdos Literary Review are pleased to offer our loyal readership the opportunity to glimpse the enticing opening 'graphs of a gripping memoir of big-league baseball strategy and tactical decision-making. The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming VEB Publishing Co. Release, "Pinch-Managing: A Memoir of My Time as Interim Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals During the La Russa Shingles Attack of Twenty-Eleven," by Joe "Pepe" Pettini.
THE SKIPPER'S SICK; I GET THE CALL AND A SATELLITE PHONE
It all began on an Monday. It usually does. It was an off day. Off days are lousy. Monday off days are lousier. I got a call from Mo--that's our nickname for John Mozeliak, General Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Tony wasn't going to be making it to Chicago. The doctors said he couldn't. We all knew that Tony had been hurting. He had caught something, an illness. It had attacked his eye and spread over his face. Sure, Tony had told us it was a possibility that the doctors wouldn't let him manage, but what were the odds that our crack team medical staff would be wrong? Not very high, in my estimation.
Anyway, Mo calls me and he says, "Congratulations, Joe. You're the interim manager."
I says to Mo, I says, "Mo, I can't. I can't do this without Tony's blessing. It's an Italian thing. You might not understand."
Mo replies in an understanding tone, "Oh, sure. But, I already called Tony. He gave his blessing and everything."
I says to him, "Mo, I have to have the blessing from his own lips. He's my skipper; I'm his bench coach. I'm his right-hand man. We're Italian...ya know?"
Mo says, "Okay. I understand. An Italian thing. Gotcha. Let me see what I can do." And Mo hangs up.
Just then, there's a knock on my hotel room door. I open it. A courier is standing there with an envelope. The courier was from some delivery service I hadn't heard of. "ARF" was on his cap and the crest on his shirt had dogs and cats on it.
The courier says, "Joe Pettini?"
"Yeah, that's me. What's it to ya?"
"I got a special delivery for you, Mr. Pettini." That's what the courier says to me and he hands me the envelope.
"Do I have to sign something for ya?" I ask.
The courier smiles and shakes his head "no." He turns to leave.
I call after him, "Hey, what company is ARF?"
The courier says, "Animal Rescue Foundation."
"Huh." That's the name of the skipper's foundation. This is a delivery from him. I shut my door and rip open the envelope.
In it, there's some sort of walkie-talkie/cellphone thingy and a letter in an envelope. A red wax seal on the envelope had been sealed with what I recognized as the La Russa family crest. It was from Tony. I broke the seal and read the letter.
If the seal has been broken, you must burn this letter, use athletic tape to make a "T" on your hotel window, and shine a light on it. My courier is watching and will know what to do. After the incident in Cleveland back in '09, we know the Cubs will stop at nothing to discover our secrets to winning. We mustn't risk any compromise of our tactics, strategy, or methods of communication.
Enclosed you will find a secure satellite communication device, also known as a "satellite phone." It is the same technology used by Bill Belichik and his coaches on Sundays. (You mustn't share this information with a soul, for Goodell and the NFL brass would be none too happy. Neither would Selig.) My device will be dialed into channel 1372.4. You must do the same. The code to type in is 1987642978633897, followed by the pound sign.
My codename will be "Lord." This way, if the Cubs are listening--and they most assuredly ARE--they will believe you to simply be praying to your God. I will call you "Temp," because you are a TEMPORARY and manager. That is what INTERIM means. TEMPORARY. NEVER FORGET THIS.
With Ellsbury making the Red Sox, I fear that our Navajo communications could very easily be compromised. What the Empire of Japan couldn't do, the Boston Red Sox have. Not surprising with the way that Francona works. I thought we'd seen the last of him when he left Philadelphia.
Here are the new code phrases. MEMORIZE them and then BURN this letter. It mustn't fall into the hands of the ENEMY.
The rooster crows at dawn = PINCH HIT for the pitcher with Allen Craig
The rooster crows at dawn on the solstice = PINCH HIT for the pitcher with Craig & DOUBLE SWITCH Craig for Descalso
The rooster crows at dawn on Columbus Day = PINCH HIT for the pitcher with Craig, DOUBLE SWITCH Craig for Punto, & shift Descalso to second base.
The wolf howls at midnight = PINCH HIT for the pitcher with Tyler Greene
The wolf howls at the Harvest Moon = PINCH HIT for the pitcher with Tyler Greene & DOUBLE SWITCH Greene for Punto
The wolf prowls the Dakota Plains = PINCH RUN Greene when the TYING or GO-AHEAD run is on base
The jaguar stalks the jungle = PINCH HIT Jon Jay against a RIGHT-HANDED starting pitcher
The jaguar slays the boa = PINCH HIT Jay after a RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVER has been brought in to face one of our RIGHT-HANDED batters
The ham bastes on Easter Eve = PINCH HIT Laird and DOUBLE SWITCH Yadi to FIRST BASE
The lion roars, the wildebeast nays & the elephant trumpets in the Serengeti chorus = PINCH HIT Jay but do NOT insert him defensively, SHIFT Pujols to THIRD BASE, SHIFT Descalso to SECOND BASE, and
Horseshoe the Buffalo = SHIFT Craig to SECOND BASE
Kamikazes sank my battelship = SUICIDE SQUEEZE
The light brigade charges = SACRIFICE BUNT
Father knows best = Call on Batista AFTER THE SIXTH INNING
Excurse the stealth chopper = Call on Motte WITH RUNNERS ON-BASE
General Washington crossed the Delaware = Call on Miller to face a LEFT-HANDED BATTER
The hounds overtake the limping fox = Call on Franklin
The limping fox has eluded the hounds and can scamper another mile (I think. Maybe.) = LEAVE Franklin in for ANOTHER INNING
The Ark melts evil's face = Call on Sanchez IN THE NINTH INNING WITH A LEAD OF THREE RUNS OR LESS
The ox flies, the goose gallops, and the butterfly floats = PINCH HIT Jay for Greene, PINCH HIT Hamilton for the PITCHER, do NOT leave Jay in the game, leave Hamilton at FIRST BASE, leave Berkman in RIGHT FIELD, shift Descalso from THIRD BASE to SECOND BASE, and shift Pujols from FIRST BASE to THIRD BASE
Blueberry pancakes for brunch = Have Greene SACRIFICE BUNT on a 3-0 COUNT
A second helping of blueberry pancakes would be delicious = Have Greene SACRIFICE BUNT on a 3-1 COUNT
I didn't like Inception near as much as Memento = HIT AND RUN
No, I do not want a third helping of blueberry pancakes, but thank you for offering = Have Greene SACRIFICE BUNT on a 3-2 COUNT
The walking stick looks the twig = Have the PITCHER square around and SHOW BUNT, but pull the bat back and SWING AWAY
Everyone likes Batman comics without Robin better = Use the final bench bat to PINCH HIT FOR THE RELIEF PITCHER, but DOUBLE SWITCH so that the new reliever replaces Holliday and bats behind Pujols for the rest of the game
The spectre crossed the Rubicon = UNWRITTEN RULE VIOLATION requiring a retaliatory HBP BY BATISTA
I will be in contact as need dictates.