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Cormac McCarthy

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  1. Read Volume One here Read Volume Two here The phone rang again. No one moved so the visitor took it upon himself to answer. He listened for a moment and then hung up. Who’d they want, said one of the pitchers. None of you, said the visitor. He called to say none of you are fit for the purpose at hand. He has chosen the one called La Tortuga. That mean we’re off the hook? No. Your fate is entwined in his. Should he allow any runs, all of you must answer for the indignity. They watched benumbed as Tortuga indolently and repeatedly lobbed the ball skyward in such a fashion so as the batter had time to ruminate on each bloodred stitch and its function in perpetuating the ball’s arc toward his lumber, each revolution drawing it that much nearer to its violent and predestined lot. And yet. The first two batters made outs and the bullpen thought its deliverance was at hand. Then: three straight misses to the next batter. On the fourth the batter propelled the ball for a home run into the same spot in the smoldering ashes as the one moments earlier. The visitor turned to the pitchers. It is done. I will give you a choice: to perish under the blade or the cudgel. Whoa there, said one of the pitchers. That one shouldn’t count. That was on 3-0. The pitcher went on to explain some recondite edict that decreed that batters should not swing in a situation such as this so as not to give offense to their opponent. The visitor started to say this fiat was without warrant when he was interrupted by a stir on the field, as Tortuga heaved a fullspeed ball at the next batter, striking him on his backside. Both teams spilled from their benches and bullpens to meet each other on the field of battle, faceless hordes unconstrained now that nothing of value was at hazard. The visitor and his mount quickly descended upon this legion of horribles, causing them to part and then to listen as the visitor pulled the reins. This absurdity exists without my consent, he said. The run that just scored means I will now exact my requital. Hold on. The voice came from a decrepit man, a revenant — the visiting team’s manager. I caint let you do that. That round fella had every right to do what he did. The batter had it comin. Was the target not one of your own, the visitor asked. The manager explained that yes this was true, but that he had long ago sworn a blood oath to protect the esoteric precepts that governed all man’s actions on the baseball diamond and that violating them would be like admitting that the common denominator of the universe was not harmony but chaos. The visitor contemplated the madness that surrounded him and decided it was no longer worthy of his craft. He rode out headed east with the dustveiled sun sinking behind him and vowed to himself that those who were practicing kicking footballs at Vikings OTA’s would not be so fortunate.
  2. Read Volume One here The last time he had been inside in a bullpen was in Coahuila to hold a vaquero accountable for bedding the hacendado’s wife. Yet somehow this bullpen held more misery. In one corner the pitchers sat on chairs huddled around a few desultory flames and passed around a small roasted animal impaled on a stick, their faces still firelit beneath some kind of soft velvety hood. He walked closer and saw they were all clad in identical robes, like tunics belonging to an ancient heathen sect that stopped believing in their deity after they wearied of their prayers being met instead only with calumny. He walked closer still and saw each of the dark robes had a name and number etched in scarlet on the back. One of the pitchers saw him studying the robes. All we got left of the time before everything went to hell, he said. He gestured toward the charred remains of the transfixed animal. Used to be we had the rally squirrel too. Not no more. He started to ask if the visitor would like some but the visitor waved away the request. That is not why I am here, he said. I have taken your measure and I find you wanting. Hold it. We been doin better last few games. Strikeouts up. Walks down. Still lettin in inherited runners like screech owls into a bored out cactus but — No. You don’t know what this is. But our ERA been — ERA, he said, as if pondering the quaint invention of the kinetoscope or the first webbed mitt. A crude cudgel wielded by false prophets. I am of the elect. I know your barrel rates and your exit velocities. I know who you are. What are you tellin me? You will have one more chance to save yourselves. When you are called you must choose and the chosen must be your redeemer. A deafening crack seemed to split the evening in two. Then silence. Then a white spheroid hurtling toward them. It landed in the smoldering remains of the fire, sending sparks arcing in every direction, once dying ashes now dying faster separated from that which gave them succor. Thought Shoemaker was goin tomorrow, the pitcher said. The phone rang. The inevitable progression of things. Like the settling of concrete.
  3. Horse and rider emerged from the yawning chasm beneath the field, as if escaping the jaws of some unfeeling limestone beast. He sat his horse and glassed downcountry. Through a veil of dust coppered by bloodred sunset he could make out the number 411 painted on a fence. Just beyond that number, swaddled in bootblack darkness, lay his warrant. A place whose dominion belonged neither to God nor man but a purgatory of whose provenance none were certain and all feared but him. He would go to the bullpen and exact a confession of all its truths. He scabbarded his rifle and put bootheel to horse’s flanks and they rode on. As they rode he looked up at the flags mounted atop the edifice surrounding him, flags that pointed downward sullenly like some ancient penitents. They bore the crude markings of years once thought remarkable and now thought of not at all, as though they belonged to another world entire. 1965. 1987. 1991. A world beyond imagining, preserved only in ancient scribes’ faded memories, palimpsests upon which now showed only the bottomless abyss of now, faint tracings of Jeff Reardon giving way to the stark outline of Alexander Colomé. Though lately he hadn’t been too bad. They rode on. He looked into the stands at the fans, their brokenness unable to be hidden by the grotesqueries they were committing with the barrelsized ales and meats lacquered with sauce embalmed in bread they unceasingly lifted to their mouths, trying without recompense to atone for what they were witnessing of their own free will. Is this how one baseballs? No it is not. Only the damned baseball such as this. Here was another. He held a crude placard aloft, beseeching an unseeable and unknowable God, Circle Me Bert. A plea for a faithless arbiter to encase him in a telastractic orb, thus consecrating him as worthy of notice on the sprawling contraption electric, so that all his kin may know his life was of some brief consequence before his vanishing from the world, yet unaware this judge had been judged himself to be without merit and banished from the Hadean landscape upon which he now trod. He arrived. He pulled up the reins and dismounted and knocked on the door. From within he heard low murmurs and scuffling of metal on dirt. Sounds unencumbered by bravery. No answer. He knocked again. Silence. There will not be a third knock, he said. He heard a thump, a creak, and the door swung open. The reckoning was at hand.
  4. Along those lines, the Twins' bullpen W-L record is 11 games under .500, and the next worst record is only two games below .500 (and it's the White Sox at 6-8!).
  5. Thoughtful rankings! I'm with you that they wouldn't unload ALL those guys -- I would think the guys still under contract for next year will stay, especially Garver, since he's more difficult to replace now that he's starting to hit a little, and Jeffers struggled before being sent down. But all the pending free agents you listed as being traded are really likely to be gone if the Twins are still this bad in July.
  6. Yeah, I don't think moving Donaldson is a) very feasible, considering his salary and injury history, or b) very strategic, given that the Twins (presumably) still want to contend in 2022, and he's still a big part of that. It wouldn't be a good look to unload your most prized free agent signing in team history less than halfway through his contract.
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