"Ball 4!" screams the umpire!!!
Wacha kicks the dirt after walking the bases loaded in the 1st inning of Game 2 of the World Series. He stares out into the screaming Boston faithful, his stomach in knots. Taking a deep breath, he reaches for his last resort… the frog balm he placed under his shirt… as he turns to 3rd base he notices a man in the crowd pointing right at him… the man points and says something to his friend… the rumor spreads and the crowd murmur turns to boos, points, and heckles… before long, the dugouts on both teams are curiously staring at him… then from behind… a tug at his shirt.
Umpire: "Mr Wacha, we saw you reach for the substance on your jersey… it is illegal to use foreign substances while pitching… as stated by section 42 of the Major League Baseball handbook..."
Wacha: "What... I mean... It’s only dirt… I just thought… since Lester did it..."
Ump: "Sorry... That's not how it works, kid..."
The umpire turns to a man in the dugout and nods upward toward him... A hooded figure emerges from the dugout... almost floating... it drifts to the mound and approaches the umpire...
Ump: "Thanks for coming..."
Hooded figure nods...
Wacha: (a tear rolls down his cheek, recognizing the face of the hooded figure) "This isn't how I imagined seeing you..."
The hooded figure looks to the umpire, the umpire responds, "Take it from him…"
Wacha: "Please not my jersey… not the birds… not the bat… I worked so hard!!!"
As the hooded figure raises his hands to the middle of Michael Wacha's chest he takes hold of each side of the uniform. A dampened red light noticeably begins to shine through, as the fingers tighten upon the shirt... The hooded figure in one great pull begins to pull apart the shirt of the young pitcher. In chorus, the light brightens and as the shirt is ripped apart into a thousand pieces, the shredded remains fly through the air and the red light erupts over the mound and exponentially throughout Fenway Park… (fades to black)
Wacha on his back opens his eyes to a familiar outstretched hand…
"Hey Michael, its Adam." "Let me help you up." Light shines on every side of Adam's countenance.
Adam Wainwright helps Michael to his feet… they are in a bright white room with no end…
Wacha: "Where are we?"
Adam: "Don’t worry… We’re in a safe place. Chris is here too… we’re all here."
A divine light fades away from Waino’s face as Wacha finally gets on his feet…
Adam: "Look Michael, you are here because you have something special. We know you’ve been thinking about greasing, and that’s okay… we all have. But you are special… you don’t need any special enhancers…"
Wacha: "Forget it… I’ve already walked the bases loaded, It’s all I got!"
Adam: "No man… you aren’t done. You’re special, you have more to give."
Wacha "You keep saying I’m special, but I’m just me…just Michael… what if I’m no good? What if all I got... isn’t enough…?"
Adam: "Heh… I said the same thing when I was here… 2006 NLCS…" Waino smiles and nods… "Bases loaded… 3-1… Carlos Beltran at the plate…?"
Wacha nods and smiles…
Adam: "I almost went to my belt for a little help… but that’s when Chris stepped in for me." Chris Carpenter steps out from behind Adam Wainwright.
Carp: "He was a fucking mess."
Wacha looks over to the ground to see a naked shriveled up man lying on the ground… "Is that Nick Punto? But, he was the one who shredded my…" Wacha looks down at his chest to see his Jersey intact and in perfect condition… a glimmer shines in the eye of one of the crimson cardinals sewn upon his jersey… Confused, Wacha looks up at Adam.
Adam: "Do you wanna know why Punto couldn’t shred you? … Look, you just asked me, ‘what if I’m not good enough?’ Well… It’s like I said. You are special, and not just because you are good pitcher, but because now… now you are more than a pitcher… now, you are Michael Wacha… …you are Adam Wainwright" Adam takes Michael’s hand and places it on his chest, right where his heart would be… right by the ‘birds on the bat’ …Wacha blushes.
Adam: "And you are Chris Carpenter… you are Gibby, Forsh, and Dizzy" A trove of smiling Cardinal greats step out from behind Adam and Chris... Dizzy and Forsh both give a thumbs up. "Michael, you are all the greats… you are the Saint Louis Cardinals… and we are all one. This is our strength, and this is our life-blood! We are the Saint Louis Cardinals! And no one can take that away from you… especially not Nick Punto."
Michael, overcome with joy, nods his head… he can’t speak… his eyes are full of tears. Carp walks up and puts his arm around Waino and his other around Wacha…
Carp: "Look kid, we know you got the stuff, you don’t need that damn frog glue… you’ve got us. Now go pitch the game of your fucking life!!!"
Wacha wakes from a lucid dream and watches Pedroia trot to first… bases loaded… With a new confidence, Wacha walks up to the mound… ball in his hand… he peeks over to the dugout to see all the Cardinal greats at the edge of the dugout smiling… Wacha drops his head… smiles… "yeah… we got this…"