See the PEBA on $25 a Day by Ron Collins - Read Online
See the PEBA on $25 a Day
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Summary

Everyone remembers how the face of baseball changed back in 2006. The doping scandal, the egos, the excessive money. It all just collapsed. But, of course, baseball itself would not die. How could it? And after a season or two of discontent, up sprang the Planetary Extreme Baseball Alliance, or PEBA for short.

Today Casey Neal and his buddy Don-o are fresh-faced college graduates unencumbered by commitments like summer jobs or girl friends. On a lark they tour every big-league park in the PEBA, and find themselves caught up in a web of intrigue and scandal that threatens once again the very heart of professional baseball itself. Against all that Casey, well, he's trying to find out who he's going to be in this world. And Don-o?

Well, Don-o is something different all together now, isn't he?

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See the PEBA on $25 a Day - Ron Collins

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At heart, it's a coming-of-age story, but it's also a celebration of the timeless qualities that draw us all to the game of baseball. If you love the game, you're going to love See the PEBA on $25 a Day.

John Rodriguez, PEBA Commissioner

Copright Information

See the PEBA for $25 a Day

© 2011 Ron Collins

All rights reserved.

This work was written with the express, written approval of the Commissioner of the Planetary Extreme Baseball Association. It is a work of fiction based on an environment created by a group of baseball fans located around the globe. Yes, the PEBA and LRS actually exist, albeit in the form of a computer simulation using Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) as its foundation.

Follow the PEBA at www.pebabaseball.com.

OOTP is developed by Out of the Park Developments.

Other Work by Ron Collins:

Chasing the Setting Sun

Picasso’s Cat and Other Stories

Five Magics

Four Days in May

Links to these and more of Ron's work

Find more about Ron at www.typosphere.com.

Subscribe to Ron's Ramblings (*)

(*) We promise not to spam you with anything beyond information regarding Ron's work!

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All incidents, dialog, and characters (with the exception of general managers in the PEBA) are products of the authors’ imagination. Where real-life, public figures appear, the situations, incidents, and dialogues concerning those persons are entirely fictional and are not intended to depict actual events or change the entirely fictional nature of the work. In all other respects, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

For the guys who've spent so much of their passion building the PEBA. You know who you are.

Table of Contents

Prologue

See the PEBA on $25 a Day

Riding the Not-So-Slow Boat

My Old Kentucky Home far Away

London Fog

An Afternoon in New Orleans

Flying With Annie

The Good News Bears

The Off-day

Double Down in Reno

Tempe, Tempe, Tempe

A Deal. Imminent.

Mojave to the Mountain

Grand Junction and Suplizio

Desperately Seeking Pennant

Desperately Seeking Pennant-Day 2

Desperately Seeking Pennant-Day 3

You Believed Him?

Don-o and the Wall

The Slow Hook

Game Two

A Rude Awakening

A Sense of Vertigo

It Happens

The Drop-off

May Daze

May Daze: Part Two

May Daze: Part Three

The Hitmen Need to Start Hittin'

Going Somewhere?

Baseball, Physics and Other Fancy Stuff

We've Got to Do Something

Season Tickets

Home Field Advantage

Only One Problem

Moving the Runner Along

Into the Owner's Box

The Last Game

Extra Innings

A Game a Lot Like Life

Epilogue: Jet Lag, Bagels and Starbucks

Appendix

Acknowledgements

About Ron Collins

How You Can Help

Introduction

I'm Casey Neal.

You might already know my story. Or, you might at least know the particulars that are visible to the standard net search, or run on the mind-numbing television churn. There's more to it than that, though, and what follows is my attempt to tell the whole thing, my attempt to be true to the game. Okay, that sounds too hoity-toity. Seriously, what follows is really just a daily log of a fresh-faced college graduate who's trying to figure out something that may be even bigger than baseball. Some of it I posted before, other parts are new. So, yeah, it's deeper than you've probably heard on the freakin' tube. But that's how it is, you know? At the end of the day, it's just me being me, and Don-o being ... well ... it's Don-o being whatever the hell he is.

And I mean that in the best way possible.

Casey Neal, December 18, 2013

Prologue

It was in 2006 when Major League baseball finally stepped in their own freaking excrement one too many times.

I’m sure everyone remembers the debacle before Congress a year earlier, the rows upon rows of ballplayers, team owners, and union reps parading around like juicing wasn’t an issue, and I’m also sure everyone remembers the senatorial grandstanding that clearly wasn’t going to result in anything useful. Personally, I remember it because I was still pretty much a kid and it was my introduction to the way the government works–kinda like Sesame Street on ... uh ... steroids. And I remember the fallout, how the fans revolted as story after story leaked regarding accidental dosing and failed testing. I remember the embarrassment of mea culpas and bickering and finger-pointing.

I remember feeling ashamed in some personal, deep way.

Baseball is my game, you see. Hearing those comments hurt me as much as Zhan Timmons did when he said Pamela Tilly wasn’t hot. I mean, I don’t care if Zhan did own the far corner of the lunchroom, or if Pamela wouldn’t give me the time of day because she was too tied up with Bobby Fells to notice me and my pimply face–she was a true looker, and hearing someone run her down brought my hormonally imbalanced hackles to their full and upright positions.

Sigh.

Regardless of all that, Baseball–the owners and the players–could have made it through the Juice Wars. Baseball is baseball, after all, and the fans have proven time and again to be nothing if not forgiving. But then came the whole 2006 collective bargaining process–that monstrosity of botched PR that caused the entire baseball machine to sputter to a halt and then discombobulate before the world’s eyes. After surviving the steroid mess, the players and the owners went right back to calling each other numb-foot ninnies and arguing over who got the finest cuts of the fatted calf, and then they had the freakin’ audacity to seem genuinely surprised that the fans actually cared about the soul of the game, and that they had finally–thank the almighty powers–heard enough.

As always, the small market teams were the canaries in the mineshaft. The Kansas Cities and Oaklands and Milwaukees of the league reported runs on cancelled season tickets. A car dealership in San Diego actually pulled advertising that featured a big-league player prominently because we were getting email asking how much of the price of our automobiles was going to pay the wise-acre we had shilling for us, and asking for discounts in that amount.

Once the dominos started to fall, total collapse occurred with breath-taking speed. The league’s credit was as shot as its credibility, and publicly funded ballpark loans suddenly couldn’t be repaid–which made the television networks shy about coming to the rescue. Then three owners were exposed for tax code infringements, and the Dominican baseball factories were suddenly being decried for the sweat-shops they really were.

The fecal matter, as my uncle is wont to say, had hit the rotating device.

Through it all the commissioner’s office was as tone-deaf as usual, and focused all their efforts on getting a bargaining agreement in place when it was obvious to anyone within eyeshot that the foundation of the game–the fans themselves–were abandoning ship. It was inconceivable–freaking unfathomable–to the powers-that-be that the game of baseball would go away, you see? And they were right, of course. Baseball is the American pastime. It will never go away. But Major League Baseball’s power structure made the outlandishly egregious error of telling themselves that They Were Baseball.

And that was where they were wrong.

By the time the Yankees and the Red Sox and the Mets were feeling pain, it was flat-out too late. The image of the ashen-faced commissioner addressing the media in a late-night attempt to gloss it all over–an action that one late-night comic said was like trying to stop a machete wound from bleeding by applying a tidy-wipe–will be forever etched in my mind. By that time it was obvious to almost everyone else that the MLB was a cooked goose–Opening Day 2006 saw games played to half-full houses, the money was gone, and by the All-Star break you couldn’t give away a ticket.

But baseball perseveres.

That year, you see, baseball lived in the high schools and the colleges and a collection of private leagues that grew up in patches that historians declared was just like the days of old, the days of barnstorming and of free minor leagues. Some communities developed travelling teams, and neighborhood championships were held. The MLB players gave it a go for a couple years, creating a league on the fly and playing in dingy little parks around the country, but no one was buying what they were selling and the whole thing collapsed two years later.

Into this mix came a new group–the Planetary Extreme Baseball Association, the PEBA–a mix of new baseball blood who promised open competition and stringent standards, a group who opened the gates of opportunity, who questioned the very American-ness of the sport by suggesting franchises could exist not only in other countries, but on other continents as well. This group realized the public was disgusted with the $45 game ticket, the $20 pennant, and the $8 beer. They promised fair rates and pure baseball. So, yeah, there’s still money in the game, but you don’t see the twenty-five million dollar a year deals you saw in the old days. They promised teams in new venues, and mostly they promised that not a single element of the old MLB would permeate the ranks of their existence: not a player, or an owner, or an executive. No umpire. No primary advertiser. No proprietary data. No bull.

They promised independence–which is, after all, the American Dream–the humanitarian dream, really–that baseball itself is founded upon.

And the fans?

Well.

Baseball fans are a resilient bunch, used to accepting today’s pains for tomorrow’s rewards. They waited through the MLB mess, and come PEBA’s opening day 2007 they came out in droves.

All across the world.

1. See the PEBA on $25 a Day

April 1, 2013

Yeah, so I finish my finals and graduate early with a degree in Russian history and a minor in hallucinogenics, but where the hell does it get me? I mean, who woulda thought the job market would be so freakin' skinny for someone with obvious credentials like me?

It's absolutely ridiculous.

On the bright side, at least the parents were buffaloed enough to foot the whole college bill, so while I might be effectively homeless I'm also gloriously free of debt–assuming you ignore the little tequila tab I ran up in Harry's Chocolate Shop the night the Rodents drubbed the Astronauts up in Lafayette, which–since six months have passed–is probably a pretty fair assumption to make. What this means is that I'm young, and I'm free, and I gots a lot of nothin’ to do.

So I hook up with my buddy Don-o for an afternoon brewski and he says we ought to sink some serious graduation gift cash into a road trip and that he’s got his mother’s credit card in case of emergency so everything should be just freakin’ fine. Sounds outstandingly handsome to me, especially seeing as it was opening day and all–so right then and there we decide to hitch, walk, or bum around the country and do a tour of the PEBA on $25 a day or whatever the hell it costs to make a general nuisance of ourselves while watching as much baseball as is humanly possible.

We’ll call it our Saint-Po-twenty-five, I say as I kill off a Miller High Life.

I get the twenty-five, Don-o says, staring at me with his black-dark eyes that have always felt a little serious to me. But what’s the Saint Po?

See the PEBA on, I say with swank enough to suggest it's freakin' obvious. StPo. I pause. Don-o still has a blank stare. It’s an acronym. S. T. P. O. See the PEBA on.

I borrow a pen from the bartender and write it on a soggy napkin.

StPo-25.

Right, Don-o says.

I deduce you don’t share my enthusiasm for this.

He raises one eyebrow and calls for another beer–which I decide is about the best way possible to express disdain for a friend's ultimate coolness.

The first stop on our StPo-25 is a place near and dear to my heart–good ol' Doyle Buhl Stadium, home to my favorite team, the Duluth Warriors. They’ll take on the Omaha Cyclones. The park has a great, old-style feel to it that almost makes you want to wear a white button-down and a thin black tie–almost being the important term there. Being that it's Opening Day and all, the place is jam-packed despite snow they push to the edge of the foul lines and a thermometer reading that stays above 0° only because us Americans still use the Fahrenheit scale.

Just an aside ... who the hell starts an April game in Minnesota at 7:00 PM? I mean, Jebbus man, it's cold. But Don-o and I and a full house of 35,000 of our closest friends chip the ice off our seats, take a few quick tugs from our not-so-concealed flasks and settle in for what promises to be a great game.

Hope springing as it does, Don-o and I are pretty comfortable looking at the early part of the schedule. We start with the Omaha series–the Cyclones are okay, but are not a squad to make the knees quake–then the Reno Tenpinners come next, and they haven't had a winning season since the MLB went away for good (and I mean that in every form of the word), then we get Yuma, and Yuma ... well ... let's face it, a team with Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell could still take the Bulldozers in a best of seven series and both of those chicks are getting a bit long of tooth. You get the idea, though. On paper, the Warriors should have a pretty easy road through the start of the season.

Unfortunately this game is played on frozen turf rather than on paper, and it doesn't start well for the Warriors as the opening day pitcher–Harumi Yamoto, Yams to Don-o and me–gives up a lead-off walk to Omaha right-fielder Martín Martínez and then a towering blast to second basemen Brett Hurst, a shot mashed so hard and so high that it gets lost in the snow. I’m not dicking with you when I say no one knows Hurst's homer is gone until it beans a kid in the left field seats.

So there’s no one out and the Warriors are already down 2-to-freakin’ zip. I look at Don-o and Don-o looks at me.

It’s going to be a long year, I say.

Don-o nods and scratches his perpetual three-day stubble. You know it's bad when your opening day starter came to the team in trade for an eighth round draft pick.

I look at Yams as he receives a new ball from the umpire.

He's a 30-year-old righty born in Japan who played with the West Virginia Coal Sox for the past four seasons. Like a lot of Japanese pitchers, he's got a ton of junkball pitches—slider, change, splitter, et cetera, et cetera. You name it, he's probably got it. Now, mind you that his fastball tops out at 95 or so, but he's got all these pitches and all I can figure is that he figures that since he's got them all he must use them all. So watching him throw is like watching a weekend mechanic trying to change the oil on his car--first he tries one tool, then the next, some of them work, and others ... well, not so damned much.

He’s lifetime 29-34.

You would think that one of his pitching coaches would sit him down and tell him to just let the heater rip for a while, but what the hell do I know? I’m just a freakin’ unemployed college kid sitting in the frozen stands and sipping Jim Beam.

Anyway, after replay determines the ball is clearly gone, Yams finally gets serious and begins to mow Cyclones down like there’s no tomorrow, and then our 32-year-old rookie, Carlos Colón, takes one out to right-center in the bottom of the third, good for a pair of Warrior runs that tie it up.

Colón is a great story of perseverance if you're into that kind of thing.

He bounced around the Mexican leagues for several seasons, hitting like a fiend everywhere he landed. But no one seemed to trust it could last, and his pudgy body standing out there at first base with his trademarked shirt-untucked fashion statement didn't endear him to the scouts much neither. So he posted OPS+ numbers of better than a grand nearly every season before returning home to pick up shop work until finally he signed a minor league deal and now, at age 32, he makes his first big-league start, and hits his first big-league homer in his first big-league plate appearance.

Watching him waddle around the snow-encrusted bases is enough to make a guy shed a tear.

My Warriors get three more runs in the sixth and another in the seventh to take a 6-2 lead. From this point, the game–and most probably the season–takes a