Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not So Great Baseball Expectations

A couple of days ago Jack mentioned to me that one fun thing about watching the Pirates in spring training is seeing some borderline-major-league-ready players like Anthony Claggett and Chris Jakubauskas. There's no compelling baseball reason to see them (their readiness lies on the Pirates' major-league borderline, remember) -- but one of the ways we can entertain ourselves in lieu of rooting for a competitive team is dashing off little alternative identities for players based on their names. (Exhibit one would be Larry Broadway.)

So here, compiled from email exchanges between Jack and me in September and January, is a short dramatic piece about aspiring Pirates pitcher Anthony Claggett, formerly of the Yankees' minor league system.


Jack: Meanwhile they've signed another triple-A pitcher, Anthony Claggett, who judging by his name is a soot-faced Dickensian orphan boy.


Gravel-voiced bullpen coach: Claggett!

Claggett: Yes coach?

Coach: Go get the next hitter out. And be speedy now! Go! To the mound with you!

Oh yes sir! I will. Oh, I shan't elevate the fastball as I did last week.

(extremely loud baseball-bat crack)

Coach: CLAGGETT!!!

Oh! Oh sorry coach!


Gravel-voiced bullpen coach: Claggett! Doff your greatcoat and toss that ball about a bit. Mr. Lincoln has developed a deathly cough and shall need you to relieve him next inning.

Claggett: (cap in both hands) Sir! I shall make the greatest haste, but would it be too much to trouble you for an extra coal for the stove? The bullpen is dreadful cold!

Coach: Pshaw! You skinny wastrels must always go on about the cold! I tell you, boy, if perchance you appear in an inning without two men reaching base out of five, then talk to me of the cold!

Claggett: Indeed, sir... But might I not at least have a cupful of potted barley to eat, or the rind of your apple there? I grow so faint throwing the fastball on an empty belly, and I ha'n't any food since last evening but a glass of small-beer and a packet of sunflower seeds.

Coach: (screws up eyebrows in apoplectic rage) 'Swounds, Claggett, you shall go to the pitcher's mound now or your supper shall be the back of my hand!

Claggett: Yes, sir.

(extremely loud baseball-bat crack)

Coach: CLAGGETT!!!

Claggett: Oh! Oh, unhappy game!



Gravel-voiced bullpen coach: Claggett!

Claggett: (humbly holding baseball in both hands) I am here, sir.

Coach: Claggett, good. Boy, I am to inform you that you are of no more use to the team. That new Spaniard, Mister Dotel I believe it is, will have your bunk, and I have informed Master Devon in the clubhouse that you are not to take your supper there any longer.

Claggett: Oh... Is that all there is, then, sir?

Coach: It is.


Claggett: Then I understand it's to be the cannery for me again, sir?

Coach: (his face suddenly purple and contorted) Hell's bells, Claggett, must I spell it out for you so plain? You have been cast off, you idle-minded ruffian!

Claggett: I am sorry. It's merely that in the cannery I'm wont to grow so dreadfully tubercular, sir, and I daresay I'll lose many more a finger than I did in your offseason conditioning program.

(barely containing rage) I might only say to you, boy, that your fate would not be half as sorry if you could be troubled to pitch a ball within a Dutch yard of the home-plate once in a fortnight. Now leave this place before I flay the hide from your backside and make it into a baseman's mitt!

Claggett: Yes, sir. I'll only throw this last ball to that gentleman, there, taking his batting exercise...

(sickeningly loud crack of bat on ball)

Coach: CLAGGETT!!!

Claggett: Ah, me! What sorrow there is in baseball, in life!


Jack: Oh, Claggett. I'm gonna miss the poor little scamp.

With that Jack segued immediately into a short riff on Jakubauskas as an "
overweight, middle-aged, ambiguously Latvian man who owns a failing steakhouse", but I think you get the idea. Meanwhile, as noted above, real-life Claggett cleared waivers and is in the Pirates camp right now, so I suppose spring delivers fresh hope even to the very meanest of relief pitchers.


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