Yankees 2103 part 8 -interlude-
on 6/20/2004 (0)
The Yankees returned to Sky Stadium early the next morning, the orange hemisphered sun gently rising above the calm, shimmering surface of Lake Erie. Joe Torre and bench coach Willie Randolph fitted out the team with their new cybernetic equipment.
The team seemed to revel in the power that the Mustangs and Heidelbergs gave them. Designated hitter Ruben Sierra quickly mastered batting using the Heidelberg compensator, chopping 300 foot practice grounders with a single hand. Fitted with a special pitching Heidelberg, Mike Mussina, hefting the three pound orange ball as if it were crumpled paper, fired a 200 mph fastball, Jorge Posada straining to brace against the impact with his special catcher leggings and oversized, titanium webbed catchers mit. The first throw blew Posada right on his back, prompting a hearty laugh from the dugout.
After Mussina and Posada had developed a rhythm and reasonable measure of control, Jeter stepped into the batters box, flexing his new right hand.
Kessler abruptly stepped out into the playing field.
"Throw it at his head..." Kessler demanded
The team went deathly quiet, Torre rushed out from the dugout, sharply removing his cap
An armed guard stepped forward, brandishing a machine gun
Kessler glanced sharply at Mussina
"I said, throw it at his head...now..."
Torre paused, replaced his cap and nodded at Mussina
"Do what he says, Michael."
Jeter glanced nervously at Torre. Torre gave another reassuring nod.
Jeter gingerly stepped back into the batters box. Mussina wound up and threw a high outside fastball, skipping past Posada and ramming into the metal backstop with an earsplitting clang.
Kessler grabbed the guards machine gun and trained it on Mussina
"Try it again, and this time throw it at...his...head"
Mussina gave a desperate, apologetic glance at Jeter, steeled himself, wound up and threw. A shrill triple alarm eminated from Mussina's Heidelberg, freezing his arm midpitch, the ball sailing high onto the chain-mail backstop. The shift of momemtum tossed Messina into a tumbling cartwheel.
Kessler roared with laughter
"There's a safety protocol built into your compensator. Even if you tried to hit a batter, it wouldn't let you. The computer calculates the angle and velocity of your pitch and kills the throw if it goes dangerously wild. We wouldn't want your little team killed off one by one in the first inning now, would we?"
Kessler laughed again and turned away. Jeter lifted his bat, pointing it at Kesslers back as he walked off field.
The team spent the better part of the day hitting, throwing and catching the enormous ball and getting used to the great speed, power and momentum of their bio-machinery. The distance to center field was extended to nearly 1000 feet, the baselines and distance to pitchers mound doubled. Jeter clanged an 800 foot liner with a jam swing into center, tearing through first and into second at nearly 60 mph before Bernie Williams snagged the rapidly dieing ball, throwing a 600 foot strike into second base, sending Miguel Cairo into a piroutte of dust and screams as he braced against its artillery like impact.
Willie Randolph managed a weak smile
"I think we can win this Joe. I'm starting to experience, well...hope."
Torre's expression remained unchanged
"We don't have to win. We just have to survive the game."
Before Randolph could ask why, Torre pointed to the far edge of the dugout. Their attention riveted on Hideki Matsui.
"What the hell is he doing?"
Torre looked on gravely, his eyes lit with both sorrow and admiration
"He's preparing for his death."
Indeed, Matsui understood where he was, and what the stakes were. He was sitting crosslegged, clad in a ritual white Sam
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