Finally playing two long-postponed games, the Colorado Springs nine failed to score a single run during 18 innings, playing both LandCo and the USOC at Imaginary Field in downtown Colorado Springs.
While most pundits gave the nod to the powerful USOC team, the Springs had been expected to dispose of LandCo fairly easily. Since the last meeting between the two, LandCo had been riven by internal disputes, and by the off-field problems of star pitcher Ray Marshall.
Long suspected of throwing spitters, Marshall was both feared and despised by both opponents and former teammates. Rumors have swirled around Marshall for months, as anonymous accusers have alleged that he conspired with Colorado Springs manager Lionel Rivera to fix games, and even bet on the results through secret bank accounts. As a result of these allegations, which are reportedly under investigation by Commissioner Dan May, it was though that Marshall’s career had come to a sad and ignominious end.
Neither Marshall nor Rivera have commented on the allegations, although some of their teammates have publicly supported each man. Recent additions Steve Long and John Stinar, both acquired in mid-season to shore up the top of LandCo’s batting order, have been Marshall’s biggest fans and most valuable teammates, coming with game-winning hits and sparkling defensive plays.
Eagerly anticipated by fans of all three teams, the two end-of-season games would decisively affect the standings in both leagues. Two teams would advance to the playoffs-and one would stay home.
LandCo’s Marshall took the mound against a visibly overconfident Colorado Springs team. The leadoff batter, player/manager Rivera, was caught looking at a called third strike, as Marshall threw one of his famous sinkers. Rivera protested bitterly to umpire Mike Moran, but to no avail. Moran pronounced the ball clean, as Marshall smirked at his one-time teammate from the Class D Monument Mudlarks.
Subsequent batters fared no better. Cleanup hitter Mike Anderson seemed to lack bat speed, as he failed to connect on three straight swings. First basewoman Pat Kelly fared no better, hitting a weak grounder back to the mound, which Marshall contemptuously tossed underhanded to first base for the out.
Final score: LandCo two free & clear floors in a downtown building, Colorado Springs zero.
While Marshall, Longand their LandCo teammates celebrated, the Springs had to take the field immediately against the USOC’s fearsome lineup.
Some observers predicted that the USOC’s frequent lineup changes had created a team that, although talented, didn’t have the cunning or guile to defeat the city. That wasn’t the case.
To the surprise of many observers, Rivera had let the trading deadline pass without acquiring any new players. Perhaps, as seasoned sports observer John Whitten claimed, that’s because no one wanted any of the players whom Rivera had repeatedly tried to trade. Fireballing lefty Tom Gallagher has been in the manager’s doghouse for months, and seems certain to leave the team when his contract is up. Kelly, Larry Small, and Randy Purvis are veterans at the end of their careers, and promising youngsters such as Bernie Herpin need a few more years in the league to realize their potential.
Rookie pitcher Stephanie Streeter, in her first appearance in Colorado Springs, utterly overpowered the hometown boys (and girls), throwing a dazzling array of fastballs, tightly-breaking curves, and a particularly devastating splitter to silence Springs batters.
Rivera, who has been criticized for staying with the same lineup throughout the season, stuck to Anderson, Kellyand Scott Hente at the top of the lineup, inserting himself into the cleanup spot.
“That’s an incomprehensible decision” said seasoned baseball observer Freddie W., who proudly wears his own World Series ring, “Rivera can’t hit, he can’t run, and he can’t even see the curveball, let alone hit it. He should leave the game, and get a job at a bank.”
Final score: USOC 53 million, Colorado Springs zero.
It’s about what we expected,” said Streeter, “we came here expecting to score 53 million or so, so we’re happy with the outcome.”
After the game, Rivera and his players dodged the press, scheduling an end-of-season press conference at 4 p.m.