Friday Fast Fiction: The Watering Gambit

DSC_0553Bobby Linzy knew major league baseball’s cadence from the long season to the nuances teams employed to gain an edge. He’d been a mediocre shortstop in his playing days, but as a manager with a fiery temper, he was admired for his ability to rally his players in tough spots.  Reporters guessed he’d be ejected in the pivotal sixth game of the division play offs with his team down one game.

But Forester with AP noticed that Linzy was unusually calm at the start. “Almost looks like Linzy has given up,” said Forester to a sidekick.

The game was locked at 1-1 after six. Linzy’s Grizzlies, the visiting team, was at bat with Martin, the league’s base stealing leader, to hit first. But as the opponents took the field, Linzy watched the grounds crew water down the first base area. He charged the home plate ump, arms flailing.

Forester got it. This was Linzy’s rally moment. If Martin reached first, the wet dirt would stick to his cleats, perhaps, enough to turn a steal into an out.

The red-faced Linzy’ ran to first base and dug his cleats into the ground—that got him ejected.

On the second pitch Martin leaned in—a fast ball grazed his uniform, chest high—he was awarded first. The speedy runner called time to clean his spikes at the bag. The opposing manager charged out, claiming Martin was intentionally stalling to upset his pitcher. Regardless, the next batter blasted one over the fence to give the Grizzlies the final margin of victory, 3-1.

That evening the losing manager asked the maintenance supervisor why he had watered so long.

“You called my cell and told me to do it,” he said.

The manager dropped his head—Linzy must have called from a throw away phone. He could ask commissioner to investigate, but that might backfire, given that there was one game left. He gambled on his team winning in two days.

The Grizzlies prevailed.

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