Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Tragedy of Alfonso

This is my entry in Round 0 of Nachos Grande's Blogger Bracket Contest!

Hey kids!!

Come one in and gather round, and I'll tell you a baseball story.  The story is the story of Alfonso Soriano, and of this card:

Much like the movie Princess Bride, it has "Fencing (actually, no), Fighting (sort of?), Torture (definitely!), Revenge (not yet), Giants (sort of, but no San Fransisco Giants), Monsters (sure, if you count Chicago Cubs) Chases (nope) Escapes (nope) True love (depends on your philosophical bent) and Miracles (yes!)"

In reality, it is a story of sorrow and woe, pretty danged near a Greek tragedy.  So here we go...

Once upon a time, Alfonso Soriano was a promising young ballplayer, maybe even Hall of Fame bound!  He had a rare combination of power and speed.  He joined the 40/40 club in 2006.  But the baseball gods were jealous of young Alfonso.  He had too much, too soon.  The gods felt the need to take Alfonso down a peg or two.  Or three.  And so the gods conspired with that great and powerful entity, Topps, in order to rob the young star of all that made him great.  This is how they did it...

They conceived of a baseball card set which they named Topps Attax.  The idea was simple, but the execution would be devilish.  They sold the idea to young Soriano.  In order to make the graphics as realistic as possible, they took him to a desolate place where the sky was low and dim and the horizon seemed too close.  They dressed him in a generic uniform and handed him his favorite bat, Bomber.  Then they started up the flame thrower!  "For graphical effect", they said with forked tongues.  "Now swing", they commanded "as hard as you can!"

For what seemed like days, they did take after take, tiring Alfonso's arms more with each violent swing.  The flame thrower never stopped.  The temperature always rose.  Smoke billowed.

The Topps executives watched with narrowed eyes.  They had plenty of wonderful shots for the card, but Soriano was not yet destroyed.  "Turn up the heat" muttered one junior exec.  "Move the flames closer", whispered another.  All eyes turned to the VP of Player Destruction.  His eyes focused on the distance and his head was cocked to the side as if listening to something that the rest couldn't hear.  Finally, he turned his back so nobody could claim to have seen him speak.  The words "Put him in a Cubs uniform" floated on the air, apparently from no earthly mouth.

The junior execs recoiled visibly!  Murmured phrases like "too far", "so mean" and "cruel and unusual punishment" were heard.  The VP of Player Destruction turned around and the mumbling stopped.  An ambitious associate, not even to the level of a junior executive, stepped forward.  All others hushed.  "I swear, it will be done", he stated flatly.

And so it was done, Soriano was dressed in Cubs garb and placed back into the fiery batters box.  The executives surrounded him chanting "Swing, swing, swing, SWING, swing, swing, swing, SWING".

Alfonso bowed his head, gathering his strength, and said softly, "As you wish".

He tensed his body in a perfect batting stance prepared for one last effort...

Since the invention of the swing, there have only been five swings that were rated the most smooth, the most pure.  This one left them all behind.

Alfonso gave all, and the gods (and Topps folks) got their way.  Alfonso's mighty swing took a double toll.  His right forearm ripped as though lightning tore through it.

And almost as bad, his favorite bat, Bomber, cracked and split.

His career, his hall of fame future, went up in the smoke from the flame thrower.  In his next 4 years for the Cubs, he never hit over .262 and was considered a bust.

But as in many great stories, Alfonso got a curtain call.  Traded to the Yankees mid season, he hit 17 HR and drove in 50 in only 58 games down the stretch.  A miracle?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not in time to save his legacy, but when you look a the career of Alfonso Soriano, consider the role that the gods and Topps had in his downfall.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

You can vote for me here!!!

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