How Much You'd Like to Bet

October 27, 2017

It just sort of dawned on me during the All-Star break how easily the World Series could be thrown, and how I might be in the perfect position to throw it, all by myself. I was back home in Brooklyn while the All-Star game was going on in Phoenix. It would have been my fifth appearance as the AL’s starting shortstop, but the fans and the AL team’s manager felt I was having an off-year, so they picked newer faces for the game, which was fine by me. I was having my usual year, more or less, except the tweeners always seemed to find someone’s glove. My teammates were playing terrific ball: two perennial All-Star outfielders were having career seasons while our rookie second- and third-basemen were each off to a hot start, shoving me off the top of the lineup and out of the All-Star game, so instead I got to swill a couple of Corona Lights with some of my old schoolies, the whole muggy evening and most of the muggier night before the pre-game Home Run Derby on a boat a mile-and-a-half off Sheepshead Bay.

One of them I hadn’t seen in years, Schnooky Silverstein, was also visiting family in Brooklyn that week.  Both our dads were widowers, and neither was healthy, so he and I made frequent trips back home, though rarely at the same time. We used to be tight, Schnooky and I. The summer after high school, he moved out to Las Vegas, where they called him Edward "Snooky" Silverstone.  The closest I get to Vegas is flying 30,000 feet over it. The last few hours I spent schmoozing with the Schnookster, we were cutting Chem class and smoking weed in an auto-wreck yard near the Bay, fantasizing like we did back then, about how we would make a load of money and retire young, living in some mountain paradise with a pair of beautiful brunettes with long straight hair. With the right weed, we could yak about that kind of thing for hours on end, back in the day, elaborating on our hazy dreams of the perfect life.

Eddie, as he asked us to call him, no longer caring for "The Schnookster," was telling us about his promotion to executive veep for one of the newer, gaudier, more upscale casinos. Trained at UNLV in accountancy, he was a clever, ambitious guy, as good with numbers and charm as I was with my hands and eyes, who described his new duties to us: "I run the Money Room," he told us, in his deliberate, hoarse voice. "Guys have to account for every last poker chip, while other guys have to make the pari-mutuel receipts equal the cash, and other guys see that all the One-Armed Bandits’ revenue adds up just right, and guys who oversee the sports betting—well, my job is to make sure all this stuff, and more, adds up perfectly, down to the last penny. If not, everyone’s gotta do all their arithmetic again. If I sign off, these guys go home. If not, some of ‘em are going home—permanently."

Eddie handled millions every day before lunch, supervising guys whose special area of expertise was in making sure that there was zero skimming, no results out of whack with what the odds predict what’s going to happen, and no mysterious shortfalls. "Sure, every now and then you get a night with some weird anomaly," he said, pulling a fresh beer-bottle from the Bay, "but you damned well don’t see too many of them. That’s how heads roll in Vegas, and I don’t mean cabbage. The Money Room keeps balance sheets that balance." He didn’t need to add "Or else."

He went on a bit, describing the glamour of what seemed to me a fairly boring job: if his employers had sold sailing ships or money clips instead of gambling chips, Eddie’s job would just be bookkeeping minus the tuxedo, but we all felt good that he was so jazzed about his career. His sideburns were cut very high and at an acute angle, unlike Bernie, whose fishing boat we were lounging in the padded deckchairs of. Bernie wore his sideburns even longer than we all did in high school, almost as long as if he were considering turning Hasid, and he told us some funny stories about the weekend fishermen he guided out to catch blues and flukes, while Vlad, who had just finished his residency at Mount Sinai Eye and Ear, mostly listened and guzzled beers. We were doing pretty good, for a bunch of guys ten years out of high school, finally finished with our training, taking on responsibilities at work, making good money, me most of all, and we called it a night about two in the A.M.

While Eddie was boasting about his job, and while I was taking a break from telling my pals the latest installment of my locker-room dirt, that they understood to be a mixture of hyperbole, exaggeration, rumors, and lies, I had been wondering if anyone in MLB knew that Eddie knew me or that I knew him. Did anyone in Vegas know that we had sat next to each other in 12th grade chemistry and trig, or that Eddie had gone out with my cousin when he was a senior and she was a sophomore? I couldn’t imagine how.  Next morning, at a very reasonable 11 AM, I called his dad’s house and asked Eddie if we could meet for lunch at the Roll’n’Roaster.

I hoped to learn what an exec VP in Vegas could and couldn’t do, just looking for an edge, but the idea was already cooking in my system as I parked on Emmons Avenue. In fact, since I arrived early, I stopped off in my bank for a healthy withdrawal, and strolled along the bayside for a while. I knew Eddie was no more allowed to bet on sports than I was, probably even less.  But who did he know, if he knew anyone, who could work around that, given a big-enough payoff?

You have to understand my position at the time: technically, of course, it was shortstop, on a team leading our division by five games at the Break. We’d been healthy, losing only two starters so far, both veteran infielders who played to my right and to my left, but their replacements were those two hot rookies, both of whom could play shortstop if need be, so the injuries had actually made our club stronger, and would make us stronger still when the veterans got off the DL. 

Worse, for me, there was also a 19-year-old shortstop at Triple-A who, according to the scouts, was fully qualified to move me to another position, maybe by next spring, certainly by the spring after that. I didn’t want to budge, either from the top of the order or to a new defensive position, left field or possibly first base, but that wasn’t my call. I’d probably lose some playing time next year, or even become a backup infielder if I couldn’t hit a few more line drives landing on the grass soon. Since I’d signed the big-bucks contract at the end of spring training, there was even a chance that I’d get dealt off to some hellhole playing for a hopelessly bad team, quite possibly for the rest of my career. So I did not like my position at the time, not one tiny bit.

I told Eddie the opposite, of course, at the Roll’n’Roaster.  "Doing fabulous," I told him, over a plate of rare RB sliced so thin you could read a cel-phone warranty through it. "Basically, my contract is heavily front-loaded, with a huge signing bonus.  I’m collecting the bulk of it this season, and if the Jays ever get unhappy with me, wherever they deal me, I still get paid. And when this contract’s done, so am I, walking away from the game a young man with more money than I could ever spend."

The truth was that I had another big contract in mind, or an extension of this one, signed through my late thirties or early forties, even. By then, I’d be a very happy utility infielder, or infielder-outfielder, or pinch-hitter, or wherever some last-place team in Bumfuck City wanted me to play—but anytime in the next decade, I was far from happy being disrespected like that. I smiled modestly at Eddie.

"I heard you got married," I said to him. "Barbara Micelli?" Barb was a neighborhood girl, a smart, tough, feisty beauty who gave as good as she got, which Eddie went for. So did I, and that’s almost a perfect description of the woman I’d been married to. Maybe that’s what made us such tight friends growing up, our shared taste for women who busted our chops, who fought back verbally and sometimes physically, a taste I had since outgrown.

"Three years ago," he said. "That’s just about over. No kids, thank God. Well, you know what that’s like."

My divorce had been in all the papers, specifically the part where my ex- won several truckloads of alimony, half my gross pay for life, which is pretty good considering we’d been married less than two years, and she’d managed to spend most of what I’d earned in that time, including the brownstone in Brooklyn Heights I’d bought for her. I was living in a rental in Parksdale, but I didn’t want to complain to Eddie about my bad luck drawing a feminista judge who’d decided the past few centuries of women getting a raw deal in divorce court should come out of my hide.

"Divorce is expensive," I told him, "but like they say, it’s worth it. Tell you one thing for sure, married, I’d never get away with all the dating I’ve been doing this past year."

"Be a while before you give up being single again, huh?" Eddie grinned at me.

"Actually, I’ve been seeing one girl in particular lately," I told him, passing him my phone, open to the photo gallery. "This part of Toronto I live in now, it’s a kind of Tibetan neighborhood—"

"For real?"

I shrugged. "I don’t really understand why so many Tibetans migrated to Parksdale—economics, mostly, has to be. My girlfriend’s parents moved there to open a take-out joint. Have you ever eaten Tibetan food? Those people can make noodles and tofu taste like Lobster Thermidor. Anyway, I hooked up with this Tibetan girl, twenty-three years old, who’s simply—well, look at her."

"Wow," he said. "Wo-ow."  His guttural voice turned his utterances into a kind of a wolfish growl, which is the effect that Yetsun’s face tends to have on men in general.

"And she’s sweeter than she is gorgeous. In the three months we’ve been going out, she hasn’t so much as raised her voice to me, and you know how big an asshole I can be," I laughed. "The Tibetan people are incredible—calm, good-natured, patient, forgiving. Tibet must be a Bizarro-world Brooklyn. And good-looking? Tell you the truth, I haven’t seen a Tibetan woman who couldn’t model swimsuits, so yeah, I’m pretty happy with Yetsun."

"Yet-soon," he repeated. "You have fell into a barrel of horseshit and come out smelling like strawberries. So what can I do for you? You didn’t wake me up to repeat what you told the guys last night, am I right? And you sure don’t think I need to be treated to a roast beef buffet."

"This isn’t food," I said, pushing my plate to the center of the table, next to the What’s-this-here sauce and ketchup tray. The Roll’n’Roaster was quieter than I remember it being, even in the middle of the afternoon. "It’s nostalgia. This used to be the culinary high point of our lives. Remember stealing a ten from your mama’s purse so we could dine out here?"

"Tough and stringy, man. I haven’t eaten meat I needed to chew so much in quite some time. When you visit," Eddie offered, "I’ll take you out some places you can cut the beef with the side of your fork. Love to have you."

"Not gonna happen," I told him. "Bad enough that I even know you—I could get investigated for that. ‘Big-league star pals with Vegas hotshot’ is not the news coverage I want."

"Unless those two mopes over yonder," he nodded towards a pair of gavones in wife-beaters four tables away, "are undercover dicks, how would MLB find out?"

"Over ‘yonder’?" I snorted at his word that hadn’t been uttered by a native Brooklyner since before the Canarsie Indians got here. "What do you think? Does your casino have you followed routinely, without any cause? Does the commissioner dig into my past? Shit, they’d have to interview a few hundred people before either of our names came up on anybody’s radar, and even then what would they have? Trig and chem and study hall, ten years ago?"

"So what do you have in mind?" Eddie asked. "Tell me your evil thoughts."

"How would I place a bet," I asked, "a series of bets, big bets, on the World Series? Without it ever, and I mean ever, coming back on me?"

Eddie pushed his bottom lip out in appreciation of the topic I had raised, and shook his head slowly up and down. "Weighty question," he stalled. "Heavy. Serious. World-Serious." Then he asked me the question that would change my life: "Do you have any idea how much you’d like to bet?"

I held up my throwing hand and wiggled all five fingers, stretching them as far back as they would go, and held them there like that for a moment.  I was averaging almost ten million per year, much of which I’d already collected, a well publicized figure, so he understood I was talking half of a year’s gross.

"You can’t have that much cash," he said, not for my benefit but merely musing out loud, "and you can’t liquidate without raising the Commissioner’s eyebrows, so you’d have to build up to that amount by first doing some preliminary betting. Which," he assured me, "is possible."  If I started with a smaller, non-eyebrow-raising, low six-figure sum and bet it discreetly for the rest of the regular season on games I had some inside information on, I wouldn’t need to win each of the games I bet on, just most of them, to parlay my low six-figures into a high six-. If I got lucky, maybe a bit more. But if I got unlucky?

"I realize," I informed him, "the risk. If my information turns out bad, or if some beat-up team plays crazy-over-their-head, I’m prepared to lose everything. Maybe start up again, if there’s time, or just call it a total loss, nobody’s feelings hurt, just walk away, a good idea gone bad."

"But say you build up your roll," Eddie added. "Or if your intermediaries do, and you have a million to bet on some, not all, World Series games. A million in Vegas, during the World Series? Spit in the bathtub. Even five million wouldn’t be noticeable, especially if you could spread it out enough."

"If I could?" I laughed. "That’s YOUR deal. This conversation here, deuce, is the last time you and I are going to talk, for a long, long time."

We sat a while in the empty restaurant, discussing ways to communicate that would be difficult to trace, involving apps, burner phones, coded messages. Some of it was pretty silly stuff—oddball things I’d say, or wouldn’t say, in interviews to particular reporters on particular days.  I left Eddie with my backpack that contained a neat packet of good-faith cash, amounting to a few days’ pay for me, and the gross receipts of the Roll’n’Roaster for a month. He’d be fronting the rest of the upfront money, his investment in our plan, and he’d find some reliably uncurious surrogate bettors to place my bets for a flat fee, while I figured out which upcoming games I knew things about that the public didn’t know, or thought they knew but knew wrong. The key thing was that only Eddie and I could ever know what we were up to. If we were lucky, no one on his end or mine would ever know that we were anything more than two guys who had graduated from Lincoln High ten years ago, hundreds of miles away from Toronto and a thousand miles further from Las Vegas.  The Jays might screw me out of my career, but I could screw them worse, and I looked forward to it.

The real risk to our bankroll, assuming I could find enough regular-season games to build one up, was that the Jays might not make the Series. We could walk away with whatever profits we’d made, but that was pocket change compared to what we’d make gambling on the World Series. The smaller risk was that I’d lose my job altogether by October, but the same solution applied: any unexpected setbacks, we just shut down and walk away.

I was confident the Jays would cruise into the Series, or at least be severely upset at some late point in the playoffs—we were a strong team, looking to get stronger when our DL thinned out. I hated the thought of screwing my teammates out of a World’s Championship, but I rationalized that I might not need to go that far. The Jays could win the Series, even with me throwing a game or two.

I had an ideal plan in mind, a middle, if you will: I’d play to win every single game, like I always did, busting my ass for the Jays, up until the point that I had a bad feeling about a particular Series game. Say the Jays were facing the Dodgers in the Series, and the Dodgers pitched one of their ace lefties against us at home in game three, right? The Dodgers would be favored in that game, of course, playing at home and us not particularly strong against lefties, but you could still place a bet on that game, and I could virtually assure you that the Jays would lose it. If we bet three-quarters of our bankroll then and there, we’d nearly double it, and it would be as close to a sure thing as you could ask for.

Let me explain a bit what I mean. Since I’m playing shortstop, I’m involved primarily in a half-dozen plays, and marginally in another dozen, all on the defensive side. And every game, there’s one moment that turns on something as imperceptible as my making a backhand stop and turning it into a double play. No one in the world could ever tell, or even suspect, that instead of giving that play 100% effort and hustling my heinie off to turn that crucial double play, I merely looked like I was hustling my heinie but let the ball bounce a quarter-inch under my glove into left field for a hit.

The only way anyone would ever suspect that I was deliberately withholding that 1% of effort would be if I had a reputation as a jaker or a louse or a gambler, but my reputation was entirely the other way. But what if that one play didn’t turn the game around? What if my pitcher just struck out the side to end that inning? Well, there would always be another play in the next inning, and the next, where my 100% effort is required, and I’d just see to it that I put in only 99%. If we got into the late middle innings, maybe I’d reduce that to 98% or 97%--one way or another, I would fail to make some crucial play that my team needed me to make, that would be impossible to detect.

And of course that’s only one side of the ball. In every game, I get up once or twice with men on base, and I drive them in once in a while. You can be very sure that in this game, in that situation, I’ll be finding ways to hit into as many double plays as possible. My point being, that it’s hard enough to win if all your players are trying their damnedest—you’re lucky if you can win half your World Series games with maximum effort from everyone.  If you have one guy, in the middle of the field, batting maybe sixth or seventh in the order, who’s trying to lose? I’m going to call that near-impossible.

The idea is to pick my spots, to really try my damnedest to win games other than the ones I’m trying to blow. It takes a lot of discipline to select those games to turn off my full effort, but once I’ve picked out a game, no teammate can overcome my lack of effort. My hope was that, in the game I picked for us to lose, we actually would give up runs in the early innings so I could even try to get a few late hits when the game was out of reach. Hell, in the 9th inning of a blowout loss, I’d be swinging for the fences, just to deflect suspicions that I hadn’t given it my all. The master plan, unlikely but possible, was to target games to lose, no more than three, probably only two, but win four other games, winning the series while collecting on our losses, collecting big.

Probably wouldn’t happen that way, I understood all along, but it might. It certainly made it easy for me to rationalize what I was doing.

Besides the teammates I wished well for, there were of course some teammates I disliked, but most of my animosity was aimed at the front office. I didn’t like the manager, either, or most of the coaching staff, but like Buddy Hackett used to say, I hated them just regular. The GM and especially one cocksucker assistant GM, I hated like poison. I had never been on a team as political as the Jays’ organization, with so many cliques encouraged by the gossip often planted by management, about players lying about their injuries, about players critical of others’ efforts, about players complaining about  various team policies or managerial decisions or personnel choices—the more dissent there was, odd as it sounds, the better the team played on the field, but a feel-good clubhouse, we were not.

My hostility for the GM’s office went back deep and far. They were an unnecessarily cheap organization that took advantage of very young players’ restrictions on salaries their first few years, a policy that other organizations rejected in the hope of buying better relations with the players over the long term. The Jays said, "Screw that long-term noise. It’s all business, and we’re keeping our payroll as low as humanly and legally possible."  My agent explained, and I understood perfectly, that after my rookie year, I simply would get paid only up to a fairly low ceiling, eventually reaching a point where I would be contractually entitled to arbitration. Up to that point, I’d get paid pretty much whatever the club wanted to pay me, even though my stats justified a much bigger salary.

I’d been the Rookie-of-the-Year, and an All-Star, and I’d even got a couple of stray MVP votes in my first year in the league, but because I wasn’t eligible for arbitration,  I only got a tiny bump in pay. And the next year, when I’d put up even better numbers, I still wasn’t arbitration-eligible. Those were maybe my two best back-to-back seasons, and those were the seasons where the club held all the clout.

"They don’t have to pay you more than this," my agent told me, holding my second contract with two fingers, as if it stunk, which it did. "Right now. But we’ll get it back, with dividends, as soon as arbitration kicks in."

But, as luck had it, the first year I got to take them to arbitration, that was the year I got a hamstring strain in June, limiting my game and murdering my numbers. I played hurt, because they didn’t have another shortstop, but they didn’t care about that, just the lousy stats. I was so pissed, though, I took them to arbitration just because I could (though my agent begged me "Not this year, please!"), where they won. I wanted too much, given my recent stats, so the arbiter was choosing between one figure that was stupid-low and one that was even stupider-high. The result was that I resented them more and more until I almost became eligible to declare free agency.

That was the year my mom had gotten very sick, and I felt helpless that my salary couldn’t save her from suffering the way she did. I was making enough to afford the best hospitals and specialists and the least painful chemo, of course, but I really wanted to buy her and my dad houses and cars and clothes and first-class flights to Vatican City, none of which they wanted anyway. My salary just couldn’t stretch as far as my guilt. I hated even thinking about what I couldn’t quite afford to do for her.

A few months after she died, that was when the Jays began negotiating my current contract, a very sweet deal in the end but it took a series of bitter, nasty arguments to reach that point. That whole winter and spring, that goddamned assistant sissy GM refused to budge, but in the end, about five months before I would be free to sign with any other club, he wound up agreeing to my terms. Still wasn’t enough to pay for all the money he’d screwed me out of early on, but it felt good that I’d stayed healthy and productive enough to extract every possible cent, money up front, out of the cheap motherfuckers. By this time, of course, they resented me almost as much as I resented them—I knew that their other potential shortstops weren’t quite ready, and they had a strong contending club with no other free-agent shortstops available, so they had to meet my terms. But they didn’t have to like it, and they sure didn’t.

So throwing the Series would be icing on the cake, my chance to get back my money for those first two seasons I got shafted on, and it would be especially sweet icing if I could sidestep losing the Series.

It was actually kind of fun, as the regular season wore on, figuring out which games I wanted to lose, just building up my post-season bankroll. Almost immediately after leaving the Roll’n’Roaster, my hits started falling in again. I figured I’d go with the flow for a while—my average and my OPS began the long, slow climb to where they ought to be, and I actually won two straight ballgames in late July that we were losing in the bottom of the ninth, both seeing-eye hits with the winning runs on base. Since I wasn’t betting on the Jays to lose, not yet, I was just reinforcing my reputation in the clutch, which should come in handy when I would later fail in the same spot.

Only I couldn’t find a clutch spot to fail in.

I waited to find a game where we were heavily favored, where we’d be pitching our ace at home against some bum team’s spot starter, so I could lay a bet on us to lose, but instead we faced consistently good pitching for the next few weeks, and hot clubs, one pick’em game after another. The quality of the opposing pitching didn’t present problems for me as a hitter, though, because I was seeing pitches with unusual clarity, and smashing the hell out of them. We’d lose a game, of course, from time to time, but they were never games I had a clear sense of. Usually, when we lost, I was the most surprised of all, and when we won, it was usually a struggle that we pulled out in late innings, often with me coming up with a key hit or a crucial defensive play.

It wasn’t until August when I finally saw a game we were favored in that I thought we could lose, with a little extra help from me. On a winning streak of six straight games, we had a doubleheader against the Yankees in New York, with the top of our rotation facing the bottom of theirs. I sent a signal to Eddie, the Friday before this doubleheader, with code that translated into the numbers "1-1-9" which meant the 119th scheduled game of the season, the nightcap game of the doubleheader. Eddie sent me back his confirmation, which was a text saying "Congratulations" only spelled with a "d" in the middle.

In game #118, we started out the day with our seventh straight win, and we had Fred Ackley going in the second game—Freddie relied on his two-seam fastball, the sinkerball, which sunk with peculiar effectiveness the tireder he was. Freddie’s tongue had been hanging out his mouth between innings for the last couple of weeks--he had been exhausted, totally worn-out by the summer’s heat, had probably lost 8 or 10 pounds since spring training, so I knew that grounders would be hit in my direction all night long. Freddie throws from the left side, so the Yankees would start all their righty batters, and I could count on plenty of chances for muffing a groundball in a crucial spot. I had a little over a quarter of a million bet on us to lose the nightcap.

What I didn’t count on was my idiot manager deciding to rest me. We’d built up a vigorous 12-game lead, I’d started the last 34 games straight, it was hot as hell, and muggy as only the Bronx in August can be, so it made sense, but I went apeshit on him, and then I went bananas. (And if you don’t think there’s any difference between apeshit and bananas, then I don’t want you preparing my breakfast.)  I told him that No, damn it, I was playing, but he just shook his head from side to side, so I screamed at him that I would let him know when I needed a fucking rest, and I was in charge of when I played and when I didn’t, and what kind of goddamned moron screws around with my hot streak-- I basically lost it in the locker-room with him, but he just shut his office door on me. My teammates loved my out-of-character temper tantrum, and kept agitating me to scream at him some more. During the game, the manager sat on the home-plate end of the bench, and warned me to stay far away from him til I calmed down.

So with a quarter-million riding on the game, I was one miserable spectator sitting on the first-base end of the dugout. Naturally, Freddie threw a beautiful game, a low-pitchcount one-hitter through five while the Yankees’ zhlub threw a surprisingly effective high-strikeout and high-walk shutout, matching Freddie inning for inning. The kid shortstop, who got called up just to replace me for this one game (and to strut his stuff, hanging around afterwards, waiting until the roster went to 40 men), gobbled up groundball after groundball perfectly. We took a 1-0 lead into the seventh when the zhlub finally threw a pitch, his 110th, right down the middle of the plate, which was promptly belted over every monument in the Stadium. I tried my best to cheer, but I was unconvincing as I saw 250,000 green pieces of paper flying over the center-field fence as well.

Miraculously, though, in the next half-inning Freddie’s control suddenly left him. He couldn’t put the sinker where he wanted it, so he had to go to his four-seam fastball, which was straight as a string. By the time we could get a reliever hot, Freddie had surrendered the lead, and then a series of hastily warmed-up relievers proceeded to get lit up. My quarter-mil was yanked out of the fire, and I hadn’t had to play a single inning of the streak-stopping loss.

With that house-money, I bet a little more freely—in the next week, I found four games to put money down on, and I won three of them. By the time the Series started, me and Eddie had more cash to play with than we had expected at our most optimistic.

The Dodgers had gotten eliminated in their playoffs, so we were facing the Reds in the Series.  They were a huge underdog, but there were no weak pitchers on their staff, nor especially strong ones, so it was hard for me to tell which games I could choose to blow. The one thing I felt very strongly about, as the Series began, was that the first game would be a stupid one to pick—I wanted to reinforce the impression that we’d beat the Reds, to get the odds even higher against their pulling off an upset, so I’d want to give that first game my very best effort, a strategy that worked out beautifully:  we not only beat the Reds 11-2, but it wasn’t nearly as close as that score makes it seem. We humiliated them, and in the Great American Ballpark, too.  I banked two doubles off the left-field fence, and drove in a run.

Up one game to none, and now even more heavily favored, I decided to bet the whole wad on Game Two. If I waited much longer, I might run out of games to place a bet on, so I gave an exclusive interview to a particular reporter in which I used some special words that would signal Eddie to go all in on the next game.

And again it was the easiest money I ever earned in my life. The Reds were triple-pissed about being embarrassed at home, they came out like rabid wolverines with habaneros inserted up their butts, and they ran all over us without my doing one blessed thing to help them. I got two harmless singles, and I cleared six million bucks for losing the game.

I might have quit then and there, but that pattern kept repeating itself throughout the Series: we won each odd-numbered game, and fairly easily, driving up the odds against the Reds taking the Series, and I kept putting a huge chunk of money on our losing all the even-numbered ones, which we did. I didn’t need to hit deliberately into any doubleplays, nor strike out on purpose, and I only made one error in a game we lost. I can’t promise that I made it on purpose, either. I was thinking that maybe it was time to botch one play, but that ball took a high bounce and ricocheted off my chest. Maybe I was slow in picking it up and throwing it to first base, but maybe the runner would have beaten the throw no matter how quickly I recovered. I don’t know.

Aside from that, I just played my best and we happened to win the four games we won, and lose the three we lost. If I was really sharp, or really greedy, I would have also bet on us to win the even-numbered games but I was content to make a lot of money on the ones we lost.

I met Eddie in Waikiki at Christmas-time, where I introduced him to Yetsun. He’d opened an account for me there, and I told him I needed to cash out.

"I don’t think that’s smart," he said. "Why travel with all that cash across borders?"

"We’re not crossing borders," I explained. "Not the border you’re thinking, anyhow. Yetsun and I are getting married. With her family. In Tibet."

"We are going to live there," Yetsun said to him. "In my land. My entire family has moved back there already."

"And you’re never coming back?" Eddie asked me.

"No reason to," I said. "Sooner or later, someone’s gonna figure out what happened, count on it, and on that day, I want to be as far away as I can be, in a non-extraditable country where I am a citizen. I’d like to see them attaching alimony out of a Tibetan bank. Yetsun tells me that we can live there better than Kings and Queens and Princesses on just a fraction of the money we have, and that it’s unbelievably pretty there, almost beyond our fantasies. She says," I told him, with my arm around her shoulders, "that the city of Lhasa is more than twice as high as Denver, it’s practically in the middle of the sky, and it’s lovelier than heaven could ever be. They call it ‘The Place Where the Gods Live.’ I’m going to be a God."

"That’s great for you. Kind of screws me, though," he frowned. "When you don’t show up for spring training, that gets people wondering. And eventually gets me fingered as your partner."

"Spring training starts eight weeks from now. Plenty of time for you to pack whatever you need, and fly to our wedding ceremony. They don’t really have a ‘best man’ tradition in Tibet, but you can be our honored guest."

"Wow," he said. "I don’t know."

"Yetsun has four unmarried sisters," I told him. "And she’s the ugly one." Then I asked him the question that would change his life: "Do you have any idea how much you’d like Tibet?"

 
 

COMMENTS (2 Comments, most recent shown first)

Rich Dunstan
That shows heroic dedication.

11:54 AM Oct 30th
 
pgaskill
{groan}
12:37 PM Oct 28th
 
 
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