Changeup, Chapter 18

2400 people showed up for the open tryouts.

The press showed up in such great numbers that Joe spent much of his time answering reporters' questions.

"Why did you fire Dempsey?"

"Why are you holding open tryouts?"

"Did you know your AAA farm team shortstop, Frank Hampton, is upset he didn't get called up?"

Joe had sat on the roof of the third base dugout to watch the tryouts. He'd been trying to stay out of the coaching staff's way as they weeded out the hopefuls, but his poorly chosen spot was quickly seen. He finally turned to face the reporters.

"These tryouts are open. I don't see Frank Hampton here. Guess he didn't want it that bad. As for Dempsey - he cheated, so he's gone. Every one of our players will be required to sign an addendum to their contract agreeing not to cheat in any way. If they're caught doing so, their contract will be voided. As for the tryouts - I've just been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Why not pass that opportunity along?"

Joe hopped off the dugout into the field and walked away from the reporters. He wandered down the left field line, thinking.

He startled a bit when the left field fence popped open. He looked up and saw an older man, carrying a bucket.

"Sorry", Joe said. He stepped to the side to let the man go through.

"No problem. You must be Joe." The man stuck out a wrinkled hand. "I'm Lou."

Joe shook Lou's hand, which was surprisingly strong.

"Good to meet you, Lou. What do you do here?"

"Little of this, little of that. Right now's I'm raiding the bullpen for some more balls. We're using everything we can find today."

Lou touched the tip of his hat and stepped around Joe as he headed back toward the field. He stopped, and then turned back slightly.

"Gotta hand it to you, Son. Ain't never done it like this before."

Joe nodded. "I've never done it before at all!"


Hit Me With Your Best Tot

Today, we're doing a giveaway!

Tell us your funniest kiddo story. It can be about you as a kid, or about your own progeny.


  • Grocery store meltdown
  • Embarrassing church moment
  • Bathroom mishap

The grand prize is a Kindle copy of The Honest Toddler: A Toddler's Guide to Parenting, by Bunmi Laditan.

Runners-up prizes include lots of laughs.

Update: Congratulations to Bryan and Amie Logan! Check your inbox for your Kindle copy of The Honest Toddler: A Toddler's Guide to Parenting!

Fine print: This giveaway is by me, not Bunmi Laditan. I have not been compensated, bribed or given pizza in order to do this. I just love this book and want to pass it on.

Como se Dice?

I'm trying to learn Spanish.

I've tried before, in school. I took a combined 3 years of Spanish, but don't remember much beyond "hola", "gracias", and "Lo siento, pero no comprendo, por que soy Gringo. Donde esta los banos?" I only passed the high school classes because of my long neck, and I passed the college one because I made the teacher laugh during my conversational final exam (see potty joke above).

If I put in the same effort as I did in school, I'm sure I'll still not know any Spanish when I'm done. This doesn't bother me because I'm listening to a weekly podcast that covers the basics, taught by two people from Scotland. I'll just wait a moment while you have fun imagining the accents.

I tried to learn Irish from a different podcast a couple years ago, but all I learned at the time was the word for 'ditch', which I can't remember any more.

Perhaps I would have remembered the Irish word for 'ditch' if it was taught to me by Spanish people.

If you know a fun word in another language, leave it in the comments and I'll try to guess what it means. I promise I won't Google it - not because I'm that honest, but because I'm that lazy.


Changeup, Chapter 17

"GO, JOE!"

She sat on the uncomfortable bleachers, which were rickety and hardened with time. Though she was swimming in it, Joe's tiny mom wore the team's t-shirt. "Sunrise Little League All-Stars" was printed in large red letters on the front. She hadn't complained the only size left was an extra large. She'd just smiled with pride.

Normally, Joe's mom was shy; quiet and reserved.

Not today.

Though she'd sat at hundreds of games, today was different. Her son had made the all-star team.

Joe could hear her over the crowd after every play he made; every swing he took.

When he stole second, she was on her feet.

And when he dove into home, safe by a hair, he was pretty sure she lost her voice.

His team lost that day, but Joe found it hard to hang his head as he gazed towards the bleachers.

There stood his 5'2" mother, beaming and tall on her 7 foot step stool of pride.



Changeup, Chapter 16

Joe studied the list.

The number of names surprised him. He knew a baseball team was more than the starting nine, but he hadn't thought the number of people who now worked for him would be this high.

Ticket takers. Parking attendants. Cleanup crew.

Human resources. Physical trainers. Stats analysts.

Travel agents. Media relations. Sales and marketing.

He looked up from the list, sat back in his chair and sighed. He glanced at the man sitting across the desk from him.

"And where do you fit into all this, Mr. Finnigan?"

Nathan Finnigan was a tall man. He wore a tailored suit and his shoes shined. Not a hair out of place on his middle-aged head. Joe imagined he'd fit in better on Wall Street than in Kansas City.

"I make sure it all runs smoothly, Joe."

"So everyone reports to you?"

Mr. Finnigan smiled and waved a hand in Joe's direction.

"Not everyone."

"So what do I need to know, Mr. Finnigan?"

"You need a new shortstop, but you need him cheap and temporary."


"Your current one is out for half the season."


"Suspension. Used performance enhancing drugs. But the good news is you don't have to pay him while he's suspended, so you have $9 million freed up to find a temporary replacement."

"We pay our shortstop $9 million a year?!?"

"$18...9 is for half the season."

"If he's a cheater, I don't want him. Cut him."

"Can't do that, Joe."

"Why not?"

"Harold Dempsey is still under contract. Cutting him means paying him, big-time. Besides, he's your star player."

"Then what do you suggest? How do you bring in someone good enough to play shortstop, but expect them to do their best knowing they're not going to stick around?"

"Easy. Find a star on his way out, an old-timer. Offer him $3 million for a one season contract. He'll play half the season, and then go on the injured reserve for the second half, but he won't mind because he's collecting for the entire season."

"You can put someone on the injured list if they're not injured?"

"Someone's injured when I say they're injured, Joe."

Joe stared at Mr. Finnigan for a while, absorbing the facts of life. He decided to switch topics for a moment.

"I want to make tickets more affordable for families, Mr. Finnigan."

"Of course, Joe! We have a family night every other month. Tickets for $5 a person."

Joe stared again.

"Cut Dempsey. And general admission tickets are $5 a person. Every game this season."

It was Finnigan's turn to stare, but he quickly recovered.

"I'll need to know who you want me to replace him with. I'll have a list of eligible players to you by the end of the day."

"Don't need a list, Mr. Finnigan."

"Who do you have in mind?"

"Not who, Mr. Finnigan, what. Put out a press release. Open tryouts for starting shortstop start tomorrow."