Next Stop - The Show (cont - 2)

Would Jason really appreciate the promotion to the major leagues? Did he know the amount of hard work many players went through to get to this point? For Jason it all came so naturally, as it did for many players gifted with the tools to play the game. It seemed so unfair. He had seen so many players who didn’t work as hard as him but still made it because of the physical tools they were born with. At least Jason worked hard. Kevin felt good about that.

Jason finally emerged when Kevin finished lacing up his shoes. There was a large smile spread across his flat Asian face. “Something good must have come out of that meeting to see a smile that big.” Kevin already had an idea what it was, but it was better for Jason to tell him.

“They say I go to major leagues. They want me pitch September 11. That day the leader of China be in town. Maybe he go to game I pitch.”

Kevin expected this because Larvell had told him this would be a possibility. “Congratulations, big fella.” Kevin went over and gave him a hug. He felt bad it was not as sincere as it should have been. His sincerity had been trampled on by envy. “I figured this was going to happen. You earned it.”

Jason must have noticed the disappointment on his face. “What about you?” His smile turned to a frown. “You still be joining me, won’t you?”

Kevin did not allow Jason to look into his eyes to see his disappointment. He sat down on his stool, his eyes fixated on the floor. “I’m afraid my days of catching you are just about over. It was a nice ride. We’ve been through a lot together this year. My fate has always been guiding others to the majors. I live through their thrills. I’m happy where this game has taken me so far. I don’t need to go anywhere else. It’s been fun, but in a week our ride is over. You’ll be going there without me. Just promise me you’ll keep in touch.” He wondered if he really believed that. Playing part time and hitting .222 at Norfolk didn’t help his hope of reaching the major leagues.

“How could I not. If not for you this never would have happened.” He sat down at the stool next to Kevin.

There were thirty seconds of silence as Jason searched aimlessly in his locker. He bent to the floor to untie his cleats. He seemed deep in thought. “What about Woo and Warrior. They not separate us like this. We are team. It not fair. You have took me this far. Without you I not make it to majors.”

“You never really needed me to get you to the major leagues. Besides, it’s not like we’re Batman and Robin or Kato and the Green Hornet. They don’t call players up in twos. You either have it or you don’t. You have it. I don’t.”

The hitting coach who had asked Jason to come in to see the manager reappeared. “Kevin. There is someone who wants to talk to you.” The coach sounded more like a drill sergeant addressing a soldier. This can’t be good. They would not release him before the road trip ended, with six more games left in the season? Jason still had his shutout streak going. He needed to catch one more game to see that he broke that streak.

Kevin whispered to Jason, “This is where they tell me what a great job I’ve done, it was a wonderful season, but they don’t have a need for me anymore. Good luck in your future endeavors. I’ve heard this spiel a couple times already. I’m getting used to it.”

“That not right.”

“It is what it is. Hopefully, you won’t have to wait too long.”

Kevin thought it was odd the coach had made reference to “someone” and not the manager. He still walked in the direction of the manager’s office. “Over there,” the hitting coach said, pointing to another door in the opposite direction of the manager’s office.

Kevin turned to walk to the conference room. It was not used for much. If the manager wanted to have a team meeting he would use the locker room. The conference room was too small to use for team meetings. Even press conferences were held in the locker room. The only use for the conference room was for players seeking privacy from the press or to have their own private conversations on their cell phones, away from the prying ears of others. It could also be used for a player to talk to a reporter for a one on one interview.

When Kevin opened the door Larvell Blanks was seated at the opposite end of a cardboard table that sat in the middle of the room. He was looking at his phone, reading through his email messages. His head bounced up when he saw the door fly open. Kevin closed the door softly and sat down in an aluminum fold up chair across from Larvell. He felt he would be more comfortable sitting in the manager’s office. The manager would be behind his desk, sitting in a leather chair that shifted and rotated back. The player was usually slumped in a beat up but comfortable couch. That is what Kevin was used to. Here he was with Larvell parked in two stiff, aluminum fold up chairs separated by a coffee stained cardboard table as if the two of them needed a deck of cards to play a game of poker.

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