Shutout Streak

Chapter 36

Shutout Streak

September 5 – It is estimated over 100,000 people protested in the streets of Iran yesterday. Since Iran has prohibited reporters from entering the area it is difficult to corroborate the facts, but numerous videos have been posted on the social web sites showing massive demonstrations inside the city of Teheran. These protests have happened before in Iran but failed to achieve results in changing leadership. The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has blamed the United States and European powers for fomenting these protests. If the protests are not ended soon the government will have to begin making arrests to restore order.

The 55 inning shutout streak was filling the sports pages. Besides Oriole fans, general baseball fans and those fans from China, a new interest in Jason was being generated from others who didn’t follow baseball but who wanted to know who Jason Woo was based on the reporting of his 55 inning shutout streak and the thunder following each appearance. People from all the media centers that had nothing to do with sports did their best to try to get an interview with him to complete their story. Jason could spend a life time talking in front of microphones allowing September 6 to pass right on by without him starting the game and completing the shutout streak if he honored all the requests. So he honored none, which is what Larvell wanted anyway.

Linda Murphy was there with the national telecast. She tried to greet Kevin as if they had been friends for life. The one interview at the Future’s Game was the last time he had seen her. It was the last interview Jason had done. Linda wanted another interview with Jason. Kevin hated to turn her down, but Jason had no interest and Kevin had his marching orders from Larvell. No distractions for Jason. No distractions for Kevin. Larvell did not allow it. There would be no interviews.

He hated seeing the sad frown on her pixie face when he told her they couldn’t do an interview without her first getting permission from Larvell Blanks. Both knew that this not going to happen. It was probably best. Jason needed to focus on the game. Not talk about the game.

Rolling Stone magazine, People, talk shows of all walks of life wanted an interview. Reality television shows wanted to film the life of Jason Woo up until he completed his major league pitching assignment. They drooled of the ratings he would bring, especially from television sets in China. They were all declined their opportunity.

Shu was also putting pressure on Kevin. She was anxious for him to return. She couldn’t buy her dress for the dinner with the President until he went with her to see her in it. She had narrowed her choices to three dresses, but he had to choose which one he liked best before she bought it. For Kevin the three choices would be worse than deciding what pitch to throw. It was easier choosing between a fastball, curveball or change than the red, black or purple dress. “Wear the purple one.” That was her favorite color.

“You not even see it.”

“You’d look good in anything. Purple is your favorite color.”

“I not choose until you see dress.”

He also had to be fitted for a tuxedo. Jason too. The invitation said black tie. Kevin hated those invitations, not that he got a lot of them. There would be no rest when their minor league season ended and they returned to Maryland. Fortunately, they did not have to report to the Orioles until September 11 so there would be five days to take care of all this stuff Shu needed them to complete in preparation for the Presidential dinner.

Shu also told him the betting line in China for whether Jason would surpass the shutout streak. Not that Shu liked to gamble. Her father did. He had bet his money Jason would surpass the streak. Kevin learned Asians liked to gamble. Or maybe he was being too critical. It was Shu’s father who told her over a billion dollars had been wagered in China alone on whether Jason would break the consecutive shutout innings streak.

“Are the odds in Jason’s favor?”

“I not know that stuff. I think father say it three to one Jason break record. I not know what that mean.” Kevin did not see a need to explain.

Shortly after his talk with Shu, Kevin received an email message from a Chengdu Sports Pub with many square boxes associated with it telling him his software could not translate the Chinese characters. This sports pub was offering Kevin one million dollars if he ensured Jason gave up a run before he broke the consecutive inning shutout record. “This is serious offer. It is not like we are asking you to lose game. Just give up one run. If you have any interest respond back and we can agree on meeting place. We have representatives in United States who can meet you at moment’s notice. Must receive your response soonest. We are willing to give you one hundred thousand cash prior to game to show our sincerity with offer.”

This was not the sort of email Kevin was used to seeing. He had read once where in Taiwan a couple pitchers were suspended from baseball for life for agreeing with bookies to purposefully walk a hitter in the first inning. They did not have to win or lose the game. Just create an outcome. In Taiwan there are odds on a number of outcomes people can bet will or will not occur in a game and what inning, not just who wins or who loses.

Kevin wondered if he should report this email to Moose. This would just complicate his life even further. Someone would want to set up a sting operation to identify the individuals involved. He would have to be involved in this sting operation. He pictured all the police shows he watched on cable. They would wire him using Kevin as the guinea pig in order to listen in on the deal. Once all the details were agreed upon the police would swoop in, guns drawn and arrest the suspects. That didn’t sound like a safe outcome for Kevin.

There was no certainty if there was an arrest it would be the right person. This could further complicate his life, perhaps even create a danger to Shu and Jasmine if the leader of this organization wanted to seek revenge against Kevin for his failure to cooperate. Kevin felt the best course of action was to treat it like all the Nigerian emails he got promising him millions of dollars after the death of an individual he never met but had all this money abandoned in a bank account with no heirs to claim it and somehow he been selected to help them get these unclaimed riches out of Nigeria. He deleted the email.

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