The following is an excerpt from Chapter 15: The Baseball Team. Click here to read the chapter in its entirety for just $0.99
Chapter 15: The Baseball Team
It had taken the entire school year, but the nucleus of success that surrounded the football and basketball team had finally succumbed to the turmoil that had been swirling since the first week game on the gridiron back in August. The bizarre pep-rally had shaken the team. It was not that it was any more bewildering than anything that had happened previously. It was certainly not violent, neither was it of any sort of humiliating nature. It was emotionally taxing as the school year had been, and as the team left the pep rally it had the feeling of being the last emotional straw.
The Bears lost their last two games of the regular season and their only game in the regional tournament. Those losses cost St. Bart’s not only their chance at the region’s title, but precious seeding in the state tournament as well as they slipped all the way to the seven-seed. It all put them in a tough quarterfinal matchup with second-seeded North, a team that was largely thought to be the best team in the state and only had missed the state’s top spot because of a scheduling gaffe.
The Bears were able to slip past their opening round opponent, Desert Willow, a new school still trying to find its personality. Dave Swanson provided almost all of the heroics as he tracked down 30 points and had a key steal late in the ball game to preserve the win. But North proved to have earned its reputation by dispatching a generally reeling St. Bart’s team in an easy 72-41 fashion. The game was not as close as the final score indicated, and this, of course, caused great delight with everyone involved with the Real Bearz who had been claiming to have been denied their proper place on the roster.
“Well, at least now you guys get to take some time off, maybe enjoy being seniors… Or infinitely popular juniors,” Beth said to Gondola, Swanson and CC in homeroom the Monday following the elimination.
“Eff that! Baseball tryouts started last week!” Swanson informed.
“You guys play baseball too!” Ruth exclaimed, “How did we not get that?”
“Probably a sick combo of all these other sports and all of the running for our lives and junk,” Lucy volunteered.
“Hmpf, it is a lot like an athletic night of the living dead around here,” Beth agreed.
“Night of the what now?” Costa asked while looking up at an equally perplexed Gwenn.
“You know, the never-say-die zombie flick,” Beth explained.
“Dude, how do you know all of this stuff?” Costa asked with mild irritation.
“Scrow! How do you not!?” Beth returned with a smile, though actual irritation.
“Whatever it is they’re letting all of the basketball players tryout that want to, and you know we all want to, zombies or not,” Swanson sang while dancing in his desk.
“Why don’t you guys go down the right field line and warm up, I’m gonna have to talk to everyone about…this,” Coach Melendez explained while looking at the rest of his team down the left field line apprehensively.
“Explain what?” CC asked, “Basketball players don’t get to tryout when they get to state? What’s there to talk about?”
“Easy,” Melendez said sharply, “You’re going to try out, they have some beef, you know? They thought that the final cuts were made, and that they were all in the clear. But… You’ll get to tryout. But the always have beef…”
Gondola led five other basketball players into right field to get loose as Swanson muttered, “Sheesh, would it be that bad if they just cut us, or wouldn’t let us make it or something like that?”
“Ah, come on! That’s a big turnaround from earlier today,” Gondola began as they stretched, “What’s the worst that has happened, and what’s the worst that could happen? They’re gonna get their feelings hurt and play pepper during our games? Come on… Ain’t nobody going to allow for any pepper during baseball games.”
“You’re probably right, but still…,” Swanson laughed as the six basketball players stretched in an otherwise silence while periodically taking looks back to the dugout and down the left field line to try and gauge emotions from those who might be their teammates. “I just don’t get what their deal is.”
“That’s your problem. You gotta stop trying,” CC rebuked as the six basketball players snorted in agreement.
They played catch quickly as voices were heard rising in both volume and intensity across the diamond. “Good grief, almighty, what could they be up in arms about now?” Costa asked rhetorically as periodically raised voices could be heard and disgruntled hand gestures seen from afar.
“Hey guys, why don’t you come down here!” Melendez shouted almost as if in answer to Costa’s query. The six would-be players trotted through the outfield grass and joined a seething huddle where Melendez immediately began, “All right, here’s what’s going on. These guys somehow had the impression that basketball players were not on the team. Beats me and anyone else how that could be since basketball players are always given the chance to try out, but that was the idea that they had. You guys get three days to tryout, just like everyone else did-.”
“That’s messed up!” someone shouted in the circle.
“Ah, I’m really sorry you feel that way,” Melendez interrupted, “But everyone, every year gets a chance to tryout and make the team. All right?”
“Well, then how come no wrestlers get a chance to tryout?” someone else demanded.
“If any wrestler wanted to try out, then they would get the same chance. Doggoneit! Am I having the déjà vu? Because it feels like I just had this conversation. You know, word-for-word? One minute ago!” Melendez stared into the squinting, angry and silent faces that made up his team and continued, “All right, that’s actually a perfect way to talk about this other thing I need to bring to your attention. I just got a grade check back, and, you know what, you’re grades tell me that maybe you should be asking the same stupid questions over and over and over. You know, ‘cuz your grades are awful…”
Contact DS Palmer at email@example.com