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April 21 , 2008

The Bawl Game


As he watches his team lose yet another game, Cincinnati Soapsuds owner Geoffrey W. Furst is fed up. Fed up with being a professional baseball franchise in a small market and being unable to compete with the richer kids in New York and Los Angeles, and fed up with multi-millionaire athletes who are compensated regardless of how they perform on the field. But Furst, falsely claiming to the media that he had been inspired by a perspiring hot dog vendor, has a plan to change all that. And not just change the game of baseball but change the very nature of professional sports. It’s a plan that comes down to three revolutionary words: “Pay-for-play.”

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Furst’s plan is to sign a team made up of players who are paid for how they play, with contracts that compensate according to on-base percentage, fielding percentage, ERA, WHIP, and other modern-day metrics the owner doesn’t really understand. Instead, he gives an ultimatum to his reluctant General Manager to make pay-for-play a reality, and the GM succeeds in assembling a 25-man roster, 24 of whom have pay-for-play contracts even after their agents strongly recommended against signing any such deal. It’s a roster of egomaniacs who can’t imagine anything less than an All Star season, and guys who can’t imagine not taking the deal, as their only other option was a recreational softball league.

The pay-for-play season begins gloriously—and then the 25 players on the roster suddenly realize only 9 can play at any one time. All it takes is a few losses to turn cracks into chasms and in no time there is backstabbing, an attack using the Jugs pitching machine, all-bunt games, pitchers who refuse to come out of games, fake injuries, real injuries from attempting to be hit by pitches, on-field chaos, and one dead nun.

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