The third nominee for Best Post is Ensign Maximilian Stauffenberg of the USS Bismarck for "The Greatest Game of Them All". If you believe this post is the best, cast your vote by emailing Commodore Brett Gann at brett.gann (at) sixth-fleet.com and include your character name and simulation. Other nominees to follow in additional articles.


The text of the post follows:

SL # 8 - The Greatest Game of Them All
ON:

Mission: Shore Leave

Location: Holodeck 1


Timeline: 1022 hours

Ensign Maximilian Stauffenberg, Assistant Chief Science Officer of the USS Bismarck, sweated profusely under the hot July sun.

Granted, the sun was holographic, but Max felt the heat just the same. Some of the sweat had nothing to do with the temprature at all, but rather the situation he was in.

Max wore what to most of his friends would seem like a silly costume. He had on white pants that stopped at his knees, long blue socks, black athletic shoes, a white jersey with blue trim tucked into his white pants, and topped off with a blue buckled belt, blue cap, and a oversized glove of brown leather on his left hand. Behind his back in his right hand he held a small white orb of stitched leather.

Max stood on a mound of dirt approximately 14 inches high inside a diamond formed by four white plates approximately 12 inches wide and long. Exactly sixty feet and six inches from Max stood a man in a red uniform much like his own with a stick that was about thrity-four inches long and was thicker at the end of the barrel than at the handle. The man with the stick had his left side turned towards Max, and was waving the stick above his head in a provoctive manner, while his foot tapped a gentle rythym on the ground, all then while standing within a box warked with white chalk.

Behind Max stood eight other men in clothing identical to his own. They stood scattered throughout the large field, which was about 350 feet from where the man with the stick stood, although the field was irregular and extended or contracted in places.

Around Max on all sides in both boxes and stands cheered, shouted, hissed, booed, and cajoled all in simultaneous harmony, many untold thousands of people.

Max grinned widely as he took it in; he was playing the greatest game ever made as far as he was concerned: Baseball.

The Teutonic young man was pitching today. His team in blue were ahead of the team in red by 2 runs, and it was the sixth inning. The game was theoretically half over, but, it wasn't over until the other guy had had his turn at bat to end the inning.

That was one of the reasons why Max so loved baseball: it was one of the fairest contests of skill Max could think of. There was no clock to run down, no set amount of points to reach to attain victory. The game was over when it was over, and if the other team scored more than you, they won and you lost.

Max right now was concerned about that last part; he had allowed the last two batters to reach base, one on a walk and the other on a single. Max had managed to strike out the first batter he had faced thanks in large part to his curveball. Max was quite proud of the fact that he could serve up a very heavily breaking curveball. Max needed it too, as his fastball wasn't much higher than 92 MPH on his best day on the mound.

The German scientist stared at the batter for a few seconds, trying to assess his weakness. But the batter gave no indication that he would tell Max anything relevant; every twitch of his muscle, the bounce of his left foot, the way his bat danced in the air, all spoke of the batter's intense desire top wallop any ball Max threw his way.

Stauffenberg decided that he'd have to experiment, but carefully, as he had already throw over 80 pitches, and didn't have many more left in his arm before he'd be pulled for a reliever.

Max looked at his catcher for the signal. The crouched man behind the plate gave Ensign Stauffenberg the hand signal for a fastball high inside. Max thought that was a bad idea and shook his head. Next the catcher selected a curveball on the outside, away from the batter. Max liked that one, and nodded.

After carefully checking the runners to ensure they didn't steal the next base, Max tightened his fingers griping the ball, now hidden in his gloved left hand in the proper grip to throw a curveball. The German put his left leg up in a wind up, let it come down in front of him, and used the momentum to push his body forward, while his right arm and hand shot forward, Max pronating his wrist in order to get the most break on the ball's arc to home plate. The force of his throw made Max throw his right leg up, where it flailed seemingly wildly as it was used to halt his forward momentum, lest he fall flat on his face. Max watched as the ball, travelling roughly 73 MPH, raced toward the plate in a neat arc from top to bottom. It went where Max had intended, but he did not get the result he wanted.

The batter did not swing. He knew it was going to be a ball, and was a patient batsman. Max frowned as the catcher returned the ball to the young German pitcher.

So he won't chase or expand his strike zone huh?" Max thought to himself.

Stauffenberg needed a pitch to get him over, that is, he needed to throw a strike in order to even the count to one ball, one strike. Max wound up and threw a fastball near the inside downward corner. The batter didn't swing at that one either, but Max heard the umpire behind the catcher call the strike.

Max decided that his next throw should be something to test the batter's reflexes. Stauffenberg shook off signals from his catcher until he got a changeup. Max nodded, wound up, and let it fly from his hands.

Now, a changeup needs to do at least one of two things: it needs to both look like it changes speed or break downward away from the batter should the speed change fail, either through improper grip, improper hand action, or any multitude of things. Max used a circle changeup, so-called due to the grip placed on the ball. It didn't change speeds as much as a normal changeup would, but it did break down and away from right-handed hitters, such as the opponent Max faced today.

The issue with this pitch, was that it did neither of the things Max wanted it to; it neither broke down, nor away, nor did it drastically change speeds.

Max watched it slowly, from his perspective, go towards home plate, and saw that it was going to high. He also saw the batter contract his muscles and start to swing.

Scheisse. The German said in his head.

The German pitcher heard the sound of a solid piece of birchwood meeting the leather ball solidly, and watched as it soared into the air, leaving the fielders far behind as it went over the left field wall 330 feet away. It was a home run, and now the red team had 3 runs.

Max chewed on his glove in frustration as he saw the manager come out of the dugout near third base. Max assumned it wasn't for a pep talk, and this was confirmed when the manager was follwed by a left-handed relief pitcher. After a few words of sympathy, the skipper held out his hand, and Max solemnly dropped the ball into the manager's hand and began his walk back to the dugout to ice his arm.

As he left, the holographic crowd applauded him, and Max tipped his cap to them in acknowledgement. Max didn't think it vanity; he had programmed the audience to be realistic, and so their cheers were "real" in a sense. He had pitched six and one-third innings, struck out six, and only walked two. All in all, a decent performance. However, Max would not be credited with the win even if his team ended up winning. Max shrugged his shoulders as he went down the steps to high fives from his team.

Next time Max...next time. He said to himself.

OFF:

Ensign Maximilian Stauffenberg
Assistant Chief Science Officer
USS Bismarck