May 17, 1998
"Do you believe it? I do. I really do. A perfect fuckin game! I ain’t ever seen one before. Last time The Bombers had a perfect game my dad was gettin spanked by some nun in grade school. Yeah. Yeah. Perfect fuckin game. A game like this is a sign! This team is real special, something real special—it’s almost Memorial Day and we haven’t lost ten games yet. Someone that big, that fat, that un-athletic looking throwing a perfect game, is an obvious sign, an obvious indicator of the specialness of this season. This team is gonna go places—Boomer and Coney and Jeet, Tino, Brosious!—fucking Brosious!—and The Straw! This line-up can’t lose. Won’t lose. Second ring in three years; it’s happening! Get ready for it. We’re 28-9. 28-9. Twenty-eight and fucking nine. That’s better than three-fucking-quarters—that’s how good this team is—we’re better than three out of four. And Bernie is really coming into his own, Pettite too. And Mo. Fuckin Mo, man. I mean it’s barely even fair anymore. We get to play an 8-inning game and the rest of the league is stuck playing nine fuckin innings every day. The team. Is too. Fuckin. Good. And we’re gonna ride it all the way to October and the history books. And I know, I know, I can see it on your face—I’m overreacting, it’s May, we’ve had talks like this since the middle Eighties and I’ve been right once, once out of like fuckin fifteen times. But I’m telling you, this year, man, this fuckin year is fuckin different. They look like a real fuckin team, you know? Not twenty-five guys wearin the same clothes, but twenty-five parts of one team, you know? Twenty-five parts of one fuckin whole—this is what wins World Series, teams. Baseball is the kinda game where you’re only the hero for a night—you can’t carry the whole fuckin team the whole fuckin season, and that’s the best part: too many games for one dude to be the hero the whole time; the real cream rises, the glory gets spread around. If you run for 1,500 yards in the NFL you’re the hero for seventeen straight weeks, you hit .300 in the MLB and you’re just another schnook at the top of the order—a well-paid schnook though; probably; you know when you’re a rookie you don’t get paid fuck-all. Even Junior didn’t get much his first two years and look at what he can do. But, yeah, this team, this fuckin team—they’re giving me the jitters, the good kinda jitters. Boomer, the fat fuck. A perfect game. It’s a sign goddammit."
"I think you’re taking it a bit far. It’s May. Teams have fallen apart as late as Labor Day. What about the ‘78 Sox or the ‘69 Cubs? Isn’t it a bit early for this kinda talk with those kinds of precedents?"
"Shut up. Barflee, back me up with this." Barflee shuffles to us and leans forward on his crossed forearms. I can hear his back crackling and settling as he leans in. His hair is prematurely white and patchy in ways that make him look like a negative die when he leaned, which was whenever he had to fix a drink, or take money, or change the channel on the fuzzy antenna TV. He is only thirty-seven.
"I don’t watch baseball," Barflee sighs.
"You don’t watch baseball?" Marty cries. "What self-respecting New Yorker doesn’t watch baseball?" Marty aggressively points at his faded Yankees hat, the number 44 stitched sloppily into the bill.
Barflee shuffles back over to his stool and drags it back to me and Marty. “My dad wouldn’t let us. He didn’t want me or my brothers quote ‘involved in a sport where a black man is still a sideshow attraction.’”
"He’s not far off." I finish my beer with a long guzzle. "Bet you he didn’t predict the latino factor though."
"Japan too!" Marty cries. "By 2015 the league will be half Japanese."
"From one Japanese guy to half the league in seven years? Not happening," I chuckle as I reach over the counter to save Barflee the effort of getting me another beer.