Archive for the 'Woo and the Warrior' Category

Woo and Warrior Finally Complete

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Myworld has rewritten Woo and the Warrior four times. It is a story that has lived in my head for a number of years. Nowadays, you don’t put the words on paper but type them in the ether world and hope the drive you save it to does not get corrupted or become obsolete (myworld still has files saved on floppy disks). So myworld has finally put the words on the Ethernet.

It is a story of Jason Woo, born in China who creates a stir in major league baseball with his 100 plus mile an hour fastball. He comes from an adoption agency and is discovered at a pitching machine at Camden Yards in Baltimore. No one can find any history on his youth. There are no hospital records for his birth and no records of him ever attending school in Beijing. His baseball history is a blank. How did he learn to throw a baseball 100 plus miles per hour with no formal coaching? And why does it thunder after each game he pitches?

Kevin Beamer is signed to be his catcher. He speaks Mandarin only because he met a girl from China who was a stewardess on a flight he took when he was a last minute substitute for an international tournament. They marry and have a child. Kevin has been a career minor leaguer who does not make enough to support the mortgage on his home. He has borrowed heavily trying to keep up with his expenses but failing to make ends meet. He is considering other career options outside of baseball. Larvell makes him an offer he can’t refuse to be the personnel catcher for Jason Woo to help him assimilate to life in the United States. As a result of his catching for Woo and his appearance on a poster he gets the nickname Warrior.

Larvell Blanks is the general manager of the Orioles. He is the man hired to resurrect the Orioles from their 20 year plus losing streak. He has an owner that only sees dollar signs with the promotion of Jason Woo to the major leagues. The Orioles are financially strapped because of sagging attendance and lack of interest in the Orioles losing ways. Larvell also has to deal with national security issue that revolves around the Jason Woo promotion to the major leagues.

There is also the Korean girl friend, the female Chinese reporter, the Chinese minority owner, a statistical guru from India, an international scout from the Dominican Republic and a domestic scout from the United States given the nick name Moose who are interspersed into the story. There is also a girl from the adoption center who Jason Woo still thinks about who works for a Congressman in the United States. Will their paths cross again?

If you want to check it out go to the link below. We already have a part two stewing in our head but trying to find the motivation to write it is not easy. Putting a into words is challenging. It is much easier to just keep it floating inside my head. It took me three years to complete Woo and the Warrior. It may take longer to finish the sequel. The link for the Woo and the Warrior story is below.

Woo and the Warrior

Flash and Thunder

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Chapter 38

Flash and Thunder

September 12 – Reports out of Iran indicate lightening has struck and injured the President of Iran as well as the Ayatollah, sending the country deep into chaos. Both were standing at a dais speaking to a large crowd of supporters when the pair were hit from a flash of light streaking from the sky. Some witnesses to the event have accused the United States of initiating a laser guided drone attack in an attempt to kill the President of Iran and the Ayatollah. The United States has denied having any responsibility in the events that have led to the injury of the two leaders. Both are in the hospital where they are listed in critical condition with first and third degree burns over 50 percent of their body. Reports from the hospital state the biggest issue impacting their health is a weakened immune system because of their burns. Doctors are attempting to treat them for an unknown virus that has invaded their blood stream as a result of this weakened immune system. Since both seem to be fighting this same type of virus they are speculating the flash of light that struck them may have carried the virus. After the lightning strike a number of key high level military personnel have fled Iran, seeking asylum in Iraq. A crowd of protestors have descended upon the parliament, accompanied by a number of representatives from the military to declare the formation of a new government. It is unclear what kind of power they have to initiate change. They have declared the new leader will be elected by a vote of the people. The news out of Iran is still being filtered by what can be captured through social media since the international press is still not allowed into Iran.

In another piece of odd news a worker in Beijing, China appears to have been injured by a lightning strike. The China government had ordered the tree stump in back of the adoption center where Jason Woo was raised to be removed after over hundred people gathered there to listen to him pitch in a game against the New York Yankees the previous day. The government spokesman commented officials were concerned with the clutter being left by people visiting the tree stump, littering the area with flowers, wreaths and trash. When a worker threw a chain over the tree stump and hopped on his tractor to pull the stump out of the ground, lightning struck him just as he was about to start the tractor. The other workers fled in fear. It is unknown if the Chinese government will ask the employees to make a second attempt to remove the tree stump that is now reaching deity status in a country known to discourage religious activity..

“Have you heard anything about the dinner last night?” Larvell was searching the internet on his desk top computer for any news on the dinner with the President. The fact there was really no news was good news, indicating nothing too embarrassing had happened.

“Haven’t heard anything.” Rigo was sitting on the couch reading a hard copy tabloid. An automated tablet lay next to him powered off. This seemed backward to Larvell. Rigo never read hard copy material. Everything had to be on line or it did not exist. “Seems there was a kid who claims to have seen an angel descend from the sky just before the collision between Victor Murray and Kevin Beamer. He claims the flash that occurred at the game was an angel. The angel lifted Kevin up and threw him backward before any collision.”

Larvell did not want to tell Rigo about his conversation with John and their discussion of Moogie believing Jason was the son of an angel. He still had a hard time digesting that disclosure. “Kids have vivid imaginations. I only saw a flash of lightening and then heard the thunder. I didn’t see any angel. Did you?”

“I only saw a flash. There did not appear to be any bolts. But according to this kid, the flash was an angel coming down from the sky. Doesn’t it seem pretty weird when you watch the replays there is no flash or signs of a lightning strike when we all know it happened.”

“That same tabloid you’re reading also tried to convince us our President was an alien from another planet. I don’t know if I would believe anything that tabloid reported.”

“What they report they don’t always expect you to accept. The claims are from everyday people who have become exposed to strange stuff. These claims could have some validity if our minds were not always closed to logic we have been taught not to accept. How do you explain the tattoos from the arms of Victor Murray melting into one giant black ink spot and third degree burns on both his arms?”

“Lightening can create third degree burns.”

“But to obliterate all his tattoos? Lightening doesn’t do that. And why did Kevin not receive any burns. He came out of that collision pretty healthy. The Yankees are certainly suspicious something strange went on in the game yesterday. They have asked the Commissioner to investigate the events of yesterday and have requested Jason Woo not pitch anymore this season until an investigation is completed to explain the thunder that occurs after each game he pitches.”

“So the Yankees believe Jason Woo is responsible for the burns on the arms of Victor Murray. You know how preposterous that sounds? Do they really expect the Commissioner to conduct an investigation into Jason controlling the sounds of thunder of lightening strikes?”

“You have to admit, what happened yesterday was pretty weird.”

“The fact the Orioles won the game was pretty weird. Anything else is just conjecture. I’d be surprised if anything is done about the Yankee complaint.”

Larvell opened his top desk drawer. There were two envelopes sitting inside. A larger envelope was given to him by his father. It supposedly contained all the information a prosecutor would need to indict Mr. Hwa. The informer had given his father copies of emails, names of companies and social security numbers used by Mr. Hwa to siphon off millions of dollars from the United States government. His father had now passed this information to Larvell. If they chose not to indict Mr. Hwa when they received the envelope the information inside would still be damaging enough to thwart any attempt by Mr. Hwa and his group to get approval by major league baseball to own the Oriole franchise. Larvell had also included in this envelope the organizational tree Rigo put together, highlighting the common names from the pharmaceutical company and the company owned by Mr. Hwa to show that these two companies are one and the same.

A smaller envelope contained a one way ticket to Mauritius, a small, little island country off the eastern coast of Africa. It was a place Larvell always wanted to travel, a good place to disappear for a while. He had read it was a popular vacation spot for Europeans. Not many from the United States travelled there because it took almost a full day to get there. It was a perfect place for him to get lost, until things got peaceful again. Larvell did not want to be here if some sex video came out with him as the star after this damaging information about Mr. Hwa and his company is disclosed.

He closed the drawer. “I got a call from Gus Corona yesterday. He is the agent for the Cuban pitcher Pablo wanted to sign. He is also the agent for Troy Harper.”

“He’s asking for a raise already? Troy hasn’t done anything yet.”

“No. He’s asking for a deal. He’ll give me a discount on the bonus for signing this Cuban pitcher if I can guarantee Kevin Beamer will catch him in the minors just like he caught Jason Woo this year.”

“Can you guarantee something like that? Kevin is going to be a six year minor league free agent, unless you plan on keeping him on the 40 man roster. We don’t know if he wants to spend his time mentoring another pitcher in the minor leagues. Have you talked to him?”

“Not about this but we have talked about his future in the organization. But I hope to have you raise the subject with him.”

Rigo’s voice rose an octave. “Me. Why do I have to talk to Kevin? You’re his contact.”

“Because I’m leaving today for a vacation and will be away for a couple weeks. You have my email. If anything comes up about the team you can email me. Until then, you are in charge of the Orioles in my temporary absence.”

“Me!!!” The pitch in Rigo’s voice went to whine level. It did not sound pretty. “Where are you going? The season isn’t even over yet. This isn’t like you. How can you go…” Rigo rambled on, his voice becoming white noise as Larvell thought of Mauritius. He didn’t know when he would be back. It would all depend on any release of videos and the reaction from those videos. The ticket for his one way flight was for tonight. The large envelope would be mailed to Trevor Wilson, the Oriole beat reporter, as he was on his way to the airport.

Larvell needed to get away from life for a little bit. Let the world go on without him for a while. Mauritius seemed to be a good spot for that. He only hoped no angels would find him there and strike him down over some trysts with prostitutes.

Camden Debut (cont - 21) - end

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The celebration in the locker room continued. They had beaten the Yankees. After fifteen attempts the struggle had ended. It was Woo and the Warrior who had given them this victory. If there was champagne in the locker room it would be spraying against the walls and the naked bodies of the players in the locker room. As it was, they only had beer and Gatorade and they were pouring it over each other.

The booming voice of Moose could be heard as he entered the locker room. He got his bald chrome doused in beer. His stern look showed he wasn’t pleased with the action as the beer dripped onto his shirt. “Where’s Woo and the Warrior. They need to be in the press room in five minutes.” He spotted them surrounded by half naked celebratory teammates. “Woo. Warrior. Press room. Five minutes.” He grabbed a towel and tried to sponge the beer off his wet shirt.

Kevin and Jason rushed to put on some clothes. They were already half out of their uniforms. No reason to be putting them back on now. The fabric from their uniforms both reeked of beer. Kevin borrowed some of Jason’s cologne to splash over him.

Shu was waiting for Kevin as he entered the room. She gave him a stern look. When he approached he noticed the fury in her eyes. “What I tell you about getting out of way?” she growled at him.

Kevin did not want to tell her that Victor never touched him. He saw this flash of light and just before Victor made contact a pair of hands seemed to push Kevin away. At least, that is what it felt like. It was not like the other collision where he missed a week with a concussion. “Sorry. It is just an instinct. I’ll do better next time.” It was not the right time to tell Shu. He was also a bit confused. If someone really did push him who would it have been. He remembered Jason telling him the voices would protect him the next time before he got hit. Did that mean the thunder and flash of light just after he caught the ball was the voices making their appearance to push Kevin away before Victor leveled him? And what about the smoke coming from the arms of Victor? It reminded Kevin of the mound after Wreckit tried to attack Jason and a flash coincided with his tackle, leaving the grass around the mound smoldering with smoke.

Before Shu could respond and Kevin could piece together an explanation a voice from behind Shu called out her name. Kevin recognized the Asian face addressing Shu as the man who threw out the first pitch at the game today. He had a large contingent of men surrounding him. “Shu Chi. It is an honor to finally meet you.”

Shu turned around to see who was addressing her. Kevin could almost see her jaw drop to the floor. Standing before her was the Premier of China Li Jiabao. Behind Li Jiabao was the President of the United States. Next to the President was Kathy Li. Both Kathy and the President seemed very engaged in conversation with each other. They seemed lost in the eyes of each other, oblivious to the large group surrounding them. “It is good to see you again Warrior?” The China Premier went over and shook the hand of Kevin. “Sorry I bounced it to you at the plate. Still need to work on my fastball. I hope you two plan to be at the dinner tonight.”

Kevin was waiting for Shu to speak. It took a while for the words to escape from her mouth. “It will be an honor for us to attend.” Her voice cracked in Mandarin as she looked at Kevin for some support. She was obviously a bit flustered. Going from anger to awe in the snap of a finger was a bit difficult for her. Kevin was also in awe. He never thought he would be standing before the President of the United States even though the President’s interest was more in Kathy Li than it was in him.

He looked over at Kathy Li who was laughing with the President. Her eyes made contact with Kevin. She gave him a knowing wink. Kevin wondered if he should tell someone at the Secret Service of her reputation. Any viable background check should have revealed that. He would hate to see his President in a sex video tape. The President appeared to be caught in her trap, the Secret Service oblivious to their flirtations.

At that point President O’Shea left Kathy’s company to come up to Kevin. “How are you doing Mr. Beamer? Ms. Beamer.” He formally shook both their hands as the photographers took massive amounts of photos. A plastic smile captured his face as he stared into the flashing cameras. The room was lighting up with a hundred flashing bulbs. Shu straightened her posture, took her hand to her hair to put it in place. Half the photos were with their eyes closed as they blinked with the flashing bulbs.

“Mr. Woo. You had your A game on today.” Li Jiabao went over to Jason to shake his hand. Just as he had done so a young lady in pig tails walked into the room. She was with an older, white, haired bowling ball of a man. Kevin noticed Jason shaking the Premier’s hand but his eyes were not focused on him. They were focused on this young Asian girl with the pig tails who had just walked into the room. More pictures with the Premier and the President standing with Jason Woo, but Jason was in a trance, staring at this Asian girl with the pig tails and not at the cameras. The two most powerful men in the world were standing next to him and he was oblivious to their presence.

When the Premier left his side Jason cried out, “Xeng Xeng?”

She turned her head and looked at Jason. There was a large smile on her face. “Xiang,” she cried out.

She rushed over to him and they hugged. It was a hard, long embrace as they tried to capture more than 15 years of memories their absence had created. Kevin smiled. He noticed Kathy Li was smiling as well. It was not because the President was at her side again, but she had noticed the embrace as well. Jason had found his Xeng Xeng, just like she had promised in the interview.

As Kevin smiled he thought he heard a voice coming from inside his head. He turned to look behind him to see if someone behind him had spoken. There was no one behind him who was addressing him. The voice inside his head seemed to say, “Hello Warrior. My name is Raimel. Some refer to me as the angel of hope, though I claim no ownership to that title. It is time for us to get acquainted. The hour is near. I’ll be speaking to you soon with instructions.”

End of Chapter 37

Camden Debut (cont - 20)

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Larvell had not seen Mr. Hwa since before the game started. He was probably in the same room as the Chinese premier and the United States President. He and Kathy Li. Why be here when you have a yellow pass and can be seen with two of the most powerful men in the world.

The no hitter had been broken. There had been a huge groan from the crowd as the ball split the gap. Now it was a matter of winning the game. Everyone in the owner’s box was still standing by the window, a sense of doom on their faces. After all, these were the Orioles. The Chinese fans down in the seats were still waving the red flag with the five stars. They didn’t know any better. The history of the Orioles had not yet been taught to them.

It was a quieter crowd. A tense crowd full of nervous energy. The no hitter may have been lost but the game could still be won. All that was in the way of that was one of the hottest hitters in the game - Armando Santiago. Victor Murray was dancing around like a loaded firecracker at second base trying to distract Jason.

Jason Woo had run the count to Armando Santiago to 3-2. At this point it would probably be best to walk him, but after Armando was Bill Boehringer, who was probably the best clutch hitter in the Yankees lineup. He also hit left-handed. It could all come down to this one pitch.

Larvell listened to the announcer through the television set speak with nervous anticipation. “Jason Woo winds. The pitch.” There was a solid crack of barrel of bat on ball. “And there’s a line drive to right field.” Larvell could see from the trajectory the ball was not going to be caught. He twisted and turned with the other 40,000 plus fans hoping for a diving catch from the right fielder. It wasn’t going to happen. “It falls in for a base hit. Hamilton picks the ball up on one hop. Victor Murray has run right through a red light. He’s rounding third, heading for home. Here comes the throw. It is a weak throw. And-“

Just as the ball reached the plate there was a flash of blinding light streaking from the sky followed by a large crackle of thunder. The flash brought about a momentary blindness and the roar of thunder had everyone in the owner’s box jumping with fright.

Right after the thunder there was an amplified crunch from the collision between Victor and Kevin at home plate. “He dropped the ball. The ball came flying out and….Wait. What is this? The Warrior is flat on his back but he is holding the ball high in the air with his right hand. The umpire has thumbed him out.” The announcer’s voice raised an octave or two. “He has held on to the ball. He has held on to the ball. Unbelievable. What a hit the Warrior took and he has still held on to the ball. The Orioles have beaten the Yankees for the first time this year. The Dragon has slain the Giant. Woo and the Warrior win. Woo and the Warrior win. It sure looked like he dropped the ball from here but the flash and thunder that happened just before the hit blinded my sight line.”

As the replay of the hit was being shown the color announcer commented “It appears the white object you saw flying in the air was not a ball but the mouth piece of Victor Murray. As the two collided the mouth piece came flying out. What a hit Victor put on the catcher. How Kevin was able to keep that ball in his glove is a miracle. The replay does not appear to show what caused the flash of light. There doesn’t appear to have been any lightning strike that you would associate with the sound of thunder. ”

As they showed the replay on the television Victor Murray put his hands to his chest and collided with Kevin as hard as any linebacker in a football game. There was a huge groan from the crowd in the owner’s box as they relived the hit on the giant video board. Larvell eyed Shu as she watched the hit in slow motion. She winced as if it had been her taking the brunt of the blow. Kevin went flying five feet backward. They all turned their gaze back down to the field. Kevin slowly got to his feet. Jason pulled him up by the arm. Victor Murray was still on the ground, rolling around in agony. A trainer was bending down and appeared to be screaming in his ear. As Kevin rose to his feet the crowd began chanting “Warrior. Warrior. Warrior.” Their right arms were raised proudly with three fingers raised to form a “W”. The loudest yell was coming from a kid in the front row whose uncle pitched for the Yankees. He carried a smile larger than the straw from his gigantic coke. This wasn’t a shock to him. He knew the Orioles would win with the Warrior behind the plate. Victor Murray stood no chance.

Kevin held the ball up to the thunderous roar. He flipped it to the ground, where it rolled to a stop, right next to the right hand of a gasping Victor Murray still struggling to find his breath. Kevin noticed a plume of smoke rising from the arms of where Victor lay cringing, curled up and writhing in pain.

He didn’t have long to determine the origin of the smoke. The whole Oriole team soon surrounded Kevin, blinding his sight line. Jason lifted him on his shoulder. Another grabbed his legs. It wasn’t long before Kevin was surfing above 50 or so hands passing him along from teammate to teammate.

Larvell hoped Kevin wasn’t hurt. With the big smile on his face he didn’t look like he was in pain. He glanced over at Shu. She was again wiping tears from her eyes as she watched her husband being carried by the team back to the dugout. A smile was on her face. A smile also blessed her two older guests, who Larvell guessed were her parents. Larvell tried to find John and his guest. They were both hugging each other down by the aisle behind the home plate area, bouncing up and down with excitement. If you are really his mother good for you. You deserve this moment of happiness. Larvell could never imagine the owner’s box of the Orioles would ever be this celebratory. It was as if they had just won the World Series. It felt good.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Camden Debut (cont - 19)

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

If Jason was tiring Kevin didn’t notice it. He was surprised they were leaving him out there with his current pitch count, even if he was throwing a no hitter. It was not Larvell’s style to allow a no hitter to take precedent over the health of a pitcher’s arm. Jason had never thrown over 100 pitches in a ball game yet. The most he had thrown was in the low 90s.

This was the fourth time Victor would be coming to the plate. They had retired him the first two times on strikeouts, but the third time up he stroked a hard line drive that went right to the second baseman. If the second baseman had been playing in a different spot there would be no worry about a no hitter. Jason would also probably not be pitching. Victor was starting to get the feel for the velocity of Jason’s fastball. Kevin could probably get away with throwing a couple fastballs inside to try to jam him. The risk with that is if Victor was expecting the pitch and got his arms extended with the barrel of the bat head on the ball the game would be tied.

Victor didn’t even acknowledge Kevin’s presence as he walked to the plate. He was still upset at Kevin from their first inning altercation. Kevin waited for him to set himself in the box to see where he would stand. Victor took his left foot and raked the batter’s box with it. The white chalk line from the back of the batter’s box had long since disappeared. When Victor dug both feet into the batter’s box he crowded the plate. An inside fastball would be a good startup pitch. Kevin put one finger down and pointed it to his left leg, which indicated the inside part of the plate. He could sense the excitement in the crowd as they were all on their feet yelling in anticipation of the last out to complete the no hitter.

Jason wound up, cocked his knee to the sky and threw the pitch to the inside part of the plate. Victor cocked his bat, saw the ball crowding him and moved back. “Ball,” cried the umpire.

The pitch had its effect. As Victor returned to the box the next time he was farther from the plate. Kevin called for another fastball on the outside part of the plate. Jason nodded his head. Victor waved his bat over the plate, a scowl permanently etched on his face, a glare of anger in his eyes. The pitch was delivered. “Streerike,” yelled the umpire as the ball traveled across the outside black of the plate. Victor glared back at the umpire, stepped back from the batter’s box.

Victor spit in his bare hands, picked up some dirt and rubbed it into his saliva filled hands. Kevin waited for him to return to the batter’s box before giving the sign. The rhythmic clapping of the fans echoed in the background. When he saw Victor plant himself a little closer to the plate he put two fingers down for the curveball. Jason nodded, went to his windup. The ball travelled toward Victor, but Victor didn’t budge. As the ball broke toward the plate Victor swung and made contact with the ball. The ball flew straight back behind Kevin, hitting the backstop with a thud. Kevin sighed. Victor was on that pitch pretty good.

Kevin waited for Victor to return to the box, thinking about what to throw next. He was scared of what Victor would do to the fastball and he seemed to recognize the curve. Kevin put his hand into a fist signaling a change. Jason nodded his head, went into his wind. As the ball went over the plate Victor cocked his bat. Kevin could see the ball was arriving but too much over the middle of the plate. He had the temptation to lurch forward and catch the pitch before it had an opportunity to reach the plate. He couldn’t do that.

Victor wasn’t fooled by the pitch and made contact with the ball. Barrel of the bat contact with the ball. Smack. Kevin could hear the gasp of the crowd as he gasped with them. He sprang up from his crouch and watched the ball travel in a line towards left centerfield. This ball was not going to be caught. It split between the left fielder and center fielder and bounced over the fence for a ground rule double. The crowd moaned. The no hitter was gone. There was no do over or mulligan in baseball.

Kevin’s shoulders slumped, his thoughts questioning whether he had been too predictable in calling for the changeup. That was not Jason’s best pitch. The fastball was. He should have called for the fastball. He looked over at Jason, who had run over to back up third. His expression had not changed. Kevin looked over at Victor on second. Victor had a triumphant smile on his face. He pumped his fist as he looked into the Yankee dugout. The Yankee dugout was getting excited. They were high fiving each other. The momentum had changed.

Now Jason had to face Armando Santiago, who was probably the second best hitter in the game after Victor. When Kevin jogged back to the plate he could hear Frank yell time. Frank took a slow stroll to the pitcher’s mound. Kevin looked at the bullpen area in centerfield and saw two pitchers just getting into their stretch to warm up. He couldn’t change pitchers yet. They wouldn’t be ready. Normally the pitching coach comes out if it is just a discussion. If Frank comes out it is to change the pitcher.

Kevin jogged out to the mound to join Frank and Jason. The other infielders joined the discussion.

“How ya feeling?” Frank looked like a midget standing next to Jason. Jason was at the top of the mound while Frank was standing on the downward slope of the mound. The other players all huddled around, listening intently. Frank was looking directly into Jason’s eyes trying to detect any weakness. Kevin couldn’t see any.

“Good.” Jason wiped the sweat from his brow with the sleeves of his uniform jersey.

“You’ve gone way past your pitch count. I’ll give you one more batter. Who do you want to face? We got first base open but if we walk him you put the go ahead run on base.”

Jason looked at Kevin who translated what the manager had said. “I pitch to this guy,” Jason responded in English

“Okay. Get this batter out and you have the win. You’re the best pitcher I got so I’m putting it all on you.” He patted Jason on the rear and walked down from the mound just as the umpire was making his trek to break the party up.

Kevin jogged back to the plate, watching Armando apply pine tar to his bat. He was the only player on the team they had not struck out. He had ripped a fly ball to the warning track in his first at bat, gotten on base via an error his next at bat and grounded out in his third at bat.

>>>>>>

Camden Debut (cont - 18)

Friday, November 8th, 2013

The appearance of John and Moogie on the video board did not seem to have an impact on Jason. In the top of the sixth another Oriole error put a runner on base, but Jason worked out of it. He retired the side in order in the top of the seventh. Both Jason and Kevin got to hit in the bottom of the seventh and both struck out. Larvell had given Kevin his one at bat in the majors plus two more and he had struck out all three times.

Jason still had a no hitter going. He had also thrown 92 pitches, the most he had thrown to date this year. Larvell already felt bad by contacting Moose to force the manager to put Kevin in the game, resulting in the screw-up at the DH spot. It forced Jason to bat. In hindsight this may have been a brilliant move since Jason was responsible for the only run of the game with a close your eyes homerun swat. Now he wanted Jason to be removed from the game because of his pitch count. “Rigo, take my phone.”

“What should I do if it rings?”

“Don’t answer it.”

“Jason has thrown 92 pitches.”

“I’m aware of that.”

“He also has not given up any hits.”

“I’m aware of that too.”

“Shouldn’t we be taking him out of the game?”

“That’s why you’re taking my phone. That is a manager’s decision. He is best able to look at a pitcher to determine fatigue.” Larvell didn’t really believe that. He wanted to convince himself he believed that but he didn’t. If Jason hurt his arm because of an extended pitch count Larvell would never forgive himself.

Now the networks were focusing on the present of Jason Woo. Who cares about the past when the live version is tossing a no hitter? In his first appearance in a major league game. Against the best team in baseball the New York Yankees. He had also struck out eleven of those Yankees. The television announcers were proclaiming this to be one of the most dominant outings they had ever witnessed by a pitcher this year. Jason was no hitting the best hitting team in baseball and some of those hitters were looking foolish swinging at many of his pitches. No credit or mention was given to Kevin Beamer for calling those pitches. He was a nonfactor in this game with his three strikeouts.

The eighth inning went off without any difficulties. Unfortunately, the two errors made by the Orioles meant Jason would have to face the best hitter on the Yankee team in Victor Murray to complete the no hitter. That would certainly be a challenge. After the eighth Jason was at 103 pitches.

Zeke Thompson retired the Orioles pretty easily as well. After eight innings the score was 1-0 with the Orioles on top.

For the top of the ninth the Yankees would bring up Antonio Suzuki and then the top of the order with Josh Bravo and Victor Murray. Larvell almost seemed relieved to see Jason Woo run out to the mound. The crowd was excited too. They were all on their feet cheering as the Orioles hustled out to the field. These Orioles had never experienced a game with this much excitement. These Orioles had also never beaten the Yankees this year. They had a chance to do so for the first time with a rookie Jason Woo on the mound.

Larvell couldn’t sit. He stood just like everyone else in the owner’s box and in the stands waiting to witness the ninth inning. Shu had her hands attached to her face. She had little wrinkles on her brow. Rigo had disposed of all electrical devices with his eyes focused on the game. The DEM module was a secondary issue now. Larvell couldn’t remember the last time he saw Rigo without some electrical device in his hands. He wondered where he put his phone, but with the roar of the crowd that thought disappeared quickly. Everyone in the owner’s box was watching the game, standing by the window, worry and stress filling their faces. There was no socializing. No small talk. History was being made. No pitcher had thrown a no hitter in his first appearance in a major league game.

Somebody in the stands started chanting “Let’s go Yankees”. He was drowned out quickly by a chorus of boos. The video board showed the figure of hands clapping. The crowd started clapping with the video board. Everyone needed something to soak up their nervous energy.

Antonio Suzuki made it easy for Jason. He swung at the first pitch and grounded the ball weakly to the second baseman. The crowd roared as the out was recorded. Vernon Bravo needed five pitches before he swung at and missed the fifth pitch to become the 12th strikeout victim for Jason. That brought up Victor Murray with Jason Woo only one out away from a no hitter.

>>>>>

Camden Debut (cont - 17)

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Jason stopped his warm up tosses when the interview appeared on the video board. He turned around to listen. Kevin jogged out to the mound to talk to him. When he reached the mound Jason said “That John. What he doing here? And Moogie.” He turned his head to scan the stadium to see where they might be standing doing the interview. It was as if he was in search of his lost dog, his eyes trying to canvass every inch of the stadium.

“Shu thought she would surprise you by bringing them to the game and popping them out at the end of the game. I guess the surprise has been ruined.”

There were tears drifting from Jason’s eyes. “Surprise very nice.” He took his uniform sleeve to wipe away the tear drops. “He look good.” His eyes spotted where the interview was being conducted, their tiny frames too distant for him to make out details. He smiled as he watched the interview.

Kevin hoped the presence of John would not affect his pitching for the remainder of the game. Why did they have to show the interview on the video board? Kevin did notice the stadium had filtered to a hush while the interview was being done. You could hear two crickets whispering it was so quiet. “You going to be all right?”

The umpire was now at the edge of the mound. “You guys going to finish your warm up?” he barked.

Kevin turned around quickly. “Give us a minute. That’s his father on the video board. He hasn’t seen him in a while.”

The umpire went from belligerent to apologetic. “I’m sorry. Take your time.” He turned to walk slowly back towards the plate.

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Camden Debut (cont - 16)

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Larvell could feel his heart sink into his gut. He wondered who had informed Linda of John’s presence at the game. He quickly searched the large owner’s box. John was nowhere to be found. Neither was the woman he was with. He remembered they had to depart the owner’s box for regular seats before the arrival of the President. Linda had somehow located them in their seats. He should have suspected something was up when they talked about John the last couple innings.

“John, I apologize, but I don’t have your complete name. Would you care to give it to us?”

John looked a bit uncomfortable. He was listening intently to her question. He had an unopened Jason Woo bobble head resting underneath one of his arms. “John fine. Just call me John. No need to know anything else.”

“Okay John.” Her smile was a bit uncomfortable. The interview was a bit awkward for her with his poor English. “I see you have gotten a Jason Woo bobble head. What do you think of it?”

John smiled, his face intense as he tried to understand her English. “I not know. I not open it up yet. You want me to open.” He laughed. That put the moment at ease.

“That’s okay. You can open it later. Tell me - how did Jason become such a good pitcher? Did you coach him at all? Anyone coach him?”

John laughed again, but he was more at ease now stroking the nubs of the white whiskers starting a growth beneath his chin. “English not so good.”

“That’s okay.” Her smile was very calming.

“Jason teach himself. No one coach him. I only help him catch the ball when he throw it. He watch lots of television to learn. I bought many videos on baseball. He watch them all, teaching himself the game.”

“He learned how to pitch from watching videos?”

“Orioles improve him a lot. He better pitcher since I last saw him. But no one coach him until the Orioles.”

“How is your health?”

“My health fine. Jason take me to hospital and they make my cancer go away. So I very healthy now thanks to Jason.”

“Who is the woman with you?”

The camera focused on the plain Chinese woman standing next to John. She turned her head away, lifting up the bobble head in front of her face to try to hide from the camera. Larvell went through an anxiety attack, tiny little needles pricking at his gut. This was the moment Larvell feared. John would announce to the world this was Jason’s mother. It wouldn’t take long for the news media to learn his mother was a massage girl. She would announce Jason was the son of an angel. There would be a need for an explanation and a lot of resources to put a positive spin on the details. Larvell was already working on the positive spin inside his head before John even responded.

Larvell waited for the words to spill from John’s mouth. It was almost as if they left his mouth in slow motion. “This just friend. Her name Moogie. She like Jason too. She help care for him at adoption center. She was the cleaning woman there.”

Larvell breathed a sigh of relief.

“Welcome Moogie. Do you have anything you want to say about Jason before we let you go?”

She smiled, doing her best to disappear behind John. The bobble head was still placed in front of her face as if it could ward off evil spirits. She shook her head no. John intervened. “She not speak any English so she not understand. She also very shy.”

“That’s fine. Are you enjoying Jason pitch tonight?” Linda said to John.

“Yes. He pitching very well. Yankees a tough team.”

“There you have it. John, Jason’s adopted father is here in Baltimore taking in a game that doctors claim he would not have been able to watch if not for Jason’s intervention at getting him hospital care.”

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Camden Debut (cont - 15)

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Both Zeke Thompson and Jason Woo were dealing. If not for the closed eye homerun hit by Jason this game would still be 0-0. Instead the Orioles were up by one. Zeke gave up only three hits through the first five innings, striking out eight. He had retired the last 8 hitters he faced. The next time Jason came to the plate it was three pitches and Jason was back on the bench without making contact with the ball. Kevin got a second at bat and a second strikeout.

Jason had yet to give up a hit. The shortstop did make an error to put one runner on base. He had struck out nine Yankee hitters in the first five innings he worked, including hitting 106 miles per hour with his fastball measured on the stadium radar gun. All 43,000 plus fans in the stadium stood to recognize the achievement, pounding their cheer sticks. The game was delayed while Jason stepped off the mound to tip his cap and wait for the applause to die down. Larvell hoped it would not be a distraction, but Jason climbed back atop the hill and struck out the next hitter.

Rigo’s fingers were dancing along his lap top. He was punching in the numbers to his Defensive Efficiency Module. “Are you sure they’ve implemented this?”

“Moose communicated the message to the managers last month. For setting up their defenses all managers were to use the DEM.” He could see a coach in the dugout with a small tablet punching a keyboard magnified on the screen. He would set his defense after looking at the screen on the tablet.

“Their defensive positioning is not matching the DEM. Since Jason has struck out more than half their hitters it doesn’t really matter.”

“The Yankees have never faced a pitcher like Jason. It’s still the coach’s discretion where he wants to set the defense.”

“Why did I spend all this time setting up this program if it’s still the coach’s discretion?”

“Because it gives him flexibility. I don’t want to alienate my managers. You have to crawl before you can walk.”

“I think you already alienated your manager by telling Moose to put Kevin in the game.”

That silenced Larvell. With five innings gone Larvell looked at the television screen again. After every inning Linda Murphy would be shown giving another piece of news on the Jason Woo story. He didn’t know how many more angles she could go with this story. There was also Susie Wong reporting from China to give her spin of the reaction in China to the major league debut of Jason Woo. The last inning Linda had spoken of Jason’s return to China to assist in the care of his adopted father John. Susie Wong reported from China quoting hospital sources stating the tumor was treatable, but because of the costs John chose not to treat it. Jason provided the funds to help John pay for the treatment and the tumor was removed. Susie spoke with many of the nurses who came into contact with John and Jason. They said Jason was a gentleman and if it wasn’t for his intervention John would never have survived. After John left the hospital no one had heard from him. He just disappeared. They all hoped he was well but their focus today was on the large television monitor that was set up in the hospital. The hospital staff all thought it was so exciting to be watching Jason pitch in the major leagues, even for many of them this was their first time watching baseball.

Susie also did a piece at the now abandoned adoption center, where a crowd of people had gathered around the stump of a large tree in the back yard of the adoption center. A hundred or so people were watching the game on their phones listening to the play by play description. Flowers and wreaths of all shapes, sizes and color were placed against or on top of the stump. Candles inside glass jars were sitting on the ground, surrounding the stump, their wickets burning bright to provide light to the area. It took on the aura of a religious gathering.

Now before the start of the sixth inning Linda Murphy stood along the first base section of the stadium, directly below the owner’s box. She had a huge smile on her face. “We have with us now a very special guest, Jason’s adopted father John who is here at the ballpark to watch Jason pitch for the first time. He owned and operated the abandoned adoption center Suzie reported on last inning.”

Camden Debut (cont - 14)

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

It became pretty obvious when the President of the United States and the Premier of China arrived in their box seats. The statuesque secret service agents standing frozen at each entrance of every door became more animated, speaking through their microphones snaking along their neck and attached to their ear. They bounced along the hallway, eyes darting left and right, examining each entrance. The crowd in the owner’s box became more aware of the increased activity in the hallway and all heads craned to try to catch a glimpse of their arrival. Larvell saw them approach through the window of the booth. He also saw walking behind the President and the Premiere of China a familiar face. He had to look twice to make sure the face was who he thought it was. It didn’t take long for him to confirm it was the face of Kathy Li. She had her head held high with a proud smile spread across her face going from east to west. The only thought for Larvell as he watched her proud face is how she could pass the background check to walk behind the President of the United States with a yellow badge attached to her blouse.

The game had started and the President and Premier were in their box seats next to the owner’s suite. Mr. Hwa had disappeared. Larvell guessed he was in the other room sitting near the Premier. Larvell took note of the yellow tag worn by Mr. Hwa. It was the only yellow tag in the room he had noticed. If the President of the United States trusted Mr. Hwa to be sitting in the same room as he, why shouldn’t Larvell trust him to be a minority owner of the Orioles? After all, not even Larvell was trusted enough to be in the same room with the President. The owner of the Orioles wasn’t even trusted enough to sit in his own suite.

The game had gotten off to a good start, except for the near fracas with Victor Murray. Larvell wondered what that was all about. Jason had better control than to throw a pitch high and inside like that. It had to be a purpose pitch. Other than that one stray pitch Jason seemed to be in total control of the game, retiring the first six Yankee hitters he faced, striking out four.

Because of a mistake made by the Orioles manager, Jason had to bat for the first time in his career. He was set to lead off the bottom of the second inning after the Orioles were retired in the first. Granted, the mistake in the batting order was initiated by Larvell when he insisted Kevin be put in the game at catcher. However, the manager should have been smart enough to put the other catcher in the game at the DH spot if he still wanted him to play in the game.

Larvell watched as Jason took his practice swings with the bat from the on deck circle, waiting for Zeke Thompson, a Cy Young award winner two years ago, to complete his warm-up tosses. Larvell wondered if Jason had ever picked up a bat before. According to Rigo, he had no official at bats in the minor leagues since Larvell insisted he pitch only in a game when the DH was in play. He didn’t want Jason getting hurt trying to swing at a pitch, especially a curveball or pulling a hamstring running the bases if he should be fortunate enough to reach base. Since they were in the American League there was no reason for the Orioles to focus on hitting with their pitchers.

Jason took a couple of big cuts in the on deck circle. He looked like he had a pretty good swing when he was attacking the air. Just like Larvell could carry a pretty good tune when he was singing in the shower.

“Now batting for the Baltimore Orioles, Jason Wooooooo.” The crowd roared its approval with their chant of “Woooooooo” as he sauntered to the plate, their left arms raised high as they formed the “W” with their three middle fingers. Jason didn’t appear to show any nervousness. He wore batting gloves on both hands. He reminded Larvell of a squirrel finding a new hole, knowing he had to eventually step up to the box, but being very cautious about approaching it.

Jason waved his bat across the plate as he watched Zeke Thompson take the sign. When Zeke nodded his head the bat cocked back to the shoulder to wait for the pitch. The first pitch was a fastball right down the middle of the plate. Jason took it for a strike. Zeke was having some control problems. He had walked one hitter in the first and had gotten behind another hitter before giving up a hit. His next two pitches to Jason were off the plate and the umpire called them balls. A curve ball had Jason look as bad swinging at the pitch as he had made the Yankee hitters look bad swinging at his pitches. His feet were too far apart, he lost his balance and almost fell to the ground as he took a mighty cut, missing the ball by about fifteen feet. The crowd groaned in disappointment. The next pitch Zeke threw was a fastball that was a bit too high to run the count to 3-2.

Larvell wondered whether it was cockiness after watching his last swing, or just trying to get the ball over the plate so he wouldn’t walk him, but Zeke threw a get the ball over the plate fastball with minimum velocity. Jason extended his arms and the bat made contact with the ball. Larvell couldn’t believe what he was watching. The ball just kept flying once it made contact with the bat. It must have hit a wind drift as it soared high in the air. The left fielder, playing Jason shallow, turned around and began sprinting towards the outfield fence. He went back….back until – he realized the ball would not come down until it traveled over the left field fence into the outstretched hands of the fans desperately trying to catch the homerun ball.

The crowd roared, jumping up and down with crazy delight. The cheer sticks went pounding. The kazoos blared. It was bedlam in Camden. Who could believe it? Yankee fans were in shock, their jaws dropping to the ground. Jason Woo looked embarrassed while he trotted towards first watching the ball take its flight. He kept watching the ball as he ran until he got to the first base bag when he tripped over it, crashing to the ground. Slowly he lifted himself up, dusted himself off and finished the trot around the bases when he saw the third base umpire circle his finger in the air. He had to come to a stop before he reached each base to make sure he touched them all. Fortunately, most people were watching the path of the ball and not the path of Jason’s stumble, so most didn’t see his fall. They only saw him trying to right himself up.

There was a big celebration at home plate once Jason stepped on the dish. There were pats on the head and slaps on the rear. When he got to the dugout Terry walked up to him to make sure he was all right after the tumble. He looked at his hands. Jason kept nodding. Smiling and nodding.

The owner’s booth was filled with television screens. Larvell picked one to watch the replay. It showed a close-up slow motion replay of Jason’s face as he swung. It was very clear from the replay Jason closed his eyes during the swing. The fact the bat made contact with the ball was a miracle. The announcers were making light of that. “He had no business hitting that ball, but he’s such a strong kid that when he makes contact with the ball it can go a long way.”

Kevin was the next hitter to walk up to the plate. Zeke appeared to be a little angry on the mound. He picked up the resin bag and threw it against the back of the mound in disgust. He stomped up to the mound, peered in at his catcher and Kevin didn’t have a chance. He took the brunt of Zeke’s rage. Kevin struck out on three pitches, taking the first pitch for a strike and swinging and missing at the next two pitches that kamikazeed toward the dirt. The crowd moaned as Kevin walked back to the dugout. He got his one at bat. It wasn’t one to remember.

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