She opened the door slightly.
"Sir," she said, "the fellows are ready for you in the bullpen."
"Oh damn," David Wharton yelled out, as the crackers tumbled down into a heap on his desk.
"I'm sorry sir," she said, "did I startle you?"
"No, no," Wharton said, "just not good timing, is all."
"Sir," she said, "may I make an observation?"
"Of course, Miss. Ains," Wharton said, "you know we encourage employee input into our management style. What is it?"
"Well, Sir," she said, "if you would use square crackers? Instead of Ritz, you might be able to build your fort better."
"Miss Aines," Wharton bellowed, "observations are one thing, but trying to change strategy? That's uncalled for and not allowed."
"I'm very sorry sir," Miss Ains said, "it won't happen again."
David Wharton gathered up his papers and headed for the door.
"Anybody who calls? Tell them I'm in the bullpen. Oh, and start the process to get World Series ring sizes on all the players. It's now a done deal."
"Sir, what's that?" Miss Ains asked David.
"What's what?" he said
"The World Series," she said, "is that something you want me to do research on?"
"%@##*&^**$##," David exclaimed.
And with that, he slammed the door behind him.
The idea started with an email. David received it from the Boss in New York: "You may have a pitcher with six fingers," the email stated, "but we've got the switch pitcher."
This infuriated David. When he calmed down, the idea hit him like an upper deck rocket off the Bull's bat.
‘Sure,' David thought. ‘That's it, that's it, damn it.'
When he arrived at the bullpen, the fellows were there, along with Ramon Henderson and LA, who likes to keep his hand in pitching in case he has to give up his night job. Like last week when he called a Ryan Howard second inning home run. It was so boring that Scott Franzke fell asleep and didn't wake up until the bottom of the fifth.
"There's a drive to right field," LA said in that slow, deep Texas voice, "looks like it may, well, it may, it's over the fence for number 14 for the big guy....Scott what do you think about that? Scott, Scott? Scott, wake the hell up."
But what drove David Wharton to insanity were the Yankees signing of Pat Venditte out of Creighton University. Venditte, taken by the Yankees in the 45thround, can pitch with either arm. His velocity is is 88 to 91 miles an hour as a right-hander, but slower with the left, relying on a sidearm slider. He pitched with both arms in 30 of the 38 games he appeared in at Creighton.
He went 8-2 overall and set a team record with a 1.88 earned run average and struck out 99 batters in 95 and 2/3 innings.
In games where Venditte is available, the Yankees won't have to change pitchers to pitcher to a left-hander or right-hander. This is what impressed David Wharton.
"Okay, listen up," Wharton said to the bullpen pitchers. Everybody's here? Where the hell is Condrey?"
"I believe sir," LA said, "he's in Ottawa."
"This isn't the time to go moose hunting," Wharton said. "Send Geary up there to get him."
Geary put his head down and walked slowly toward the clubhouse. LA started to think that if David sent all the pitchers to Ottawa to look for Condrey, maybe he could get another chance on the mound.
"I want you fellows to start pitching with both arms," Wharton told the Philly pitchers. "I want you to become switch-pitchers, like that guy the Yankees just signed. He's got..."
"Sir," Jose Mesa piped up, "you ain't thinkin' about that Chinese pitcher-catcher the Yankees signed a while back, the guy who can pitch then run and catch it himself, are you?"
"No dammit," David said. "the only guy who could do that on our staff is Moyer. He's slow enough in ball speed, but too damn old to get there fast enough to catch it.
"No, I'm talking about pitching with either arm.
"Now are there any questions?"
Alfonseca raised his hand.
"Does this mean we can renegotiate our salaries, since we now will be pitching with two arms?"
"Hell no," David hollered. "You have six fingers on one hand, Anti, do we pay you anymore money? Yes?"
was Yoel Hernandez. "Does this mean that some of us might come into the game
earlier, cause you might want a right-hander sooner than later?"
"Hernandez." Wharton said, "if you can throw as fast with your left arm that you do with your right arm, you might be in the game the whole damn game."
Hernandez shook his head yes like he understood.
Young Matt Zagurski stood in the back staring at David Wharton.
"What's the matter, Zagurski," David bellowed, "you got a problem with this?"
He shook his head no.
Then LA offered some philosophy.
"Well I'll tell ya," he said, "if you throw a curve ball with the right arm, does that same pitch thrown with the left arm be a screwball?"
Wharton stood there staring back at the fellows.
"The only screw balls I know about are here in the bullpen.
And they all laughed at that.
"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha..."
And with that, David Wharton went back to his office to plan for the World Series.