The Darkest Timeline?

In the episode of Community “Remedial Chaos Theory”, they use dice to simulate 6 different outcomes according to who had to go pay the pizza guy. It was a funny play on the multiple timelines idea. What struck me the other day was that in one of their timelines, everything went horribly wrong. People got hurt or died. All from one random roll of the dice. And while I’m fascinated by multiple timelines and parallel worlds and whatnot, that idea of a Darkest Timeline resonates even more.

And then there are sports.

If you follow any sport, you might have a superstition about your favorite team or player (or driver or…) and how you might watch. Maybe you have to sit in the same spot on the couch every game. Maybe you have to wear the same shirt. Maybe you have something more elaborate that involves turning around multiple times when the other team scores.

It’s a crazy idea that one thing that we do while watching things will have any real tangible impact on the contest we’re observing.

Right.

Right?

However, what if it only didn’t work because you were already in the wrong timeline? What if the reason your teams never win is just a simple thing:

You’re living in the Darkest Timeline.

***

1991

It’s game 7 of the World Series. Both the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves have gone Worst to First and find themselves tasked with trying to win a final, winner take all baseball game. John Smoltz is pitching a masterful game and there is a chance within the game where Braves outfielder Lonnie Smith could possibly put himself in scoring position (or perhaps even score). Instead, he inexplicably holds up. Never scores.

The Twins win in extra innings.

1996

After coming back from 3 games to 1 deficit in the NLCS, the Atlanta Braves find themselves up 2 games to 1 over the hated New York Yankees. In Game 4, they lead 6-3 and are ready to put a complete stranglehold on the Series and give the city of Atlanta back to back World Titles.

In steps Jim Lehritz…

The Braves won’t win another World Series Game in this Series or in any since.

1997

Game 5 of the NLCS.

Eric Gregg is behind the plate calling balls and strikes. And honestly, he pretty much calls the worst game anyone has ever seen. And it is all one-sided. Florida Marlin’s pitcher Livan Hernadez has the greatest game of his career when balls are strikes and strikes are strikes. Florida will go on to win the World Series.

1991 to 2005

The Braves will win 14 straight division titles. From 1991 to 1999 they will appear in 5 World Series and only win 1 time (for comparison, the Boston Red Sox have appeared in 4 World Series since 2004 and have won each time.

Since 2001 to Current, the Braves have not won a playoff series.

2011

The Atlanta Braves have an 8.5 game lead over the St Louis Cardinals on September 6. They lose their lead and the playoffs spot on the last day of the season in one of the worst September Collapses by a Baseball team… ever.

2013

Trailing 2 games to 1 in the Divisional Series, the Braves hold a slim 1 one lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 8th inning. They have arguably the best closer in the game. With 5 outs left to get to send the Series back to Atlanta, our Manager decides NOT to bring Kimbrel in so that he can watch with the rest of us as the next batter puts the ball into the stands… and the Braves lose another series.

2019

Game 5 of the Divisional Series, the Cardinals score 1 million runs in the first inning (it was 10, but same difference)… something that almost never happens in the history of baseball.

***

And that’s just my Atlanta Braves (the fun we could have with the Miami Dolphins, I’m sure).

Is it a curse? Curses are sexy. Curses are something “out of your control”. Curses can bring a city together in their misery. When the explanation for something improbable happens, we think that the gods/God/karma/etc must be against us.

But I don’t believe it is a curse. What could be the instigating moment? What spun things out of control? We don’t have a mysterious goat in our past. We don’t have one of the greatest players in the history of the game get traded. So what could it be?

Not, it’s not a curse… we just are in the Darkest Timeline.

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Sometimes I Know… Sometimes I Don’t

Why do I even bother watching sports? That was the question I posed to myself this past Sunday. It is the question I think every person who has ever been a fan of some team activity has asked themselves. Why do I even bother?

Miami_Dolphins_2013

I mean, I’m a nerdy guy, into nerdy things. My Dad isn’t really a kick back and watch football type guy. Somehow I managed to claim that part of “being a guy” (whereas I don’t know anything about a car’s engine or how to build something with my hands or why you need a Phillips Head screwdriver). I gravitated towards it, and now…

Ugh…

It seems like every year MY TEAMS are the ones who cannot quite “get over the hump”. We (because it is always “we” even if “I” only sit on my couch yelling at the TV) scuffle and struggle to gain some small measure of mediocrity and then fall on our faces any way. And all the while those teams whom you hate… well, they are having the season of seasons.

This is where those of you reading it begin to go through the mental Rolodex of your own teams. You haven’t won anything in 20 years, 50 years… over 100 years. And I hear you.

But I’m lamenting me right now. 🙂

Braves

In Poker there is something players try to call on: “One Time”. It is their own personal plea to the “Poker gods” to either help better their own hand or keep their opponent from beating them. However, the key to this, so the superstition goes, is that you only get ONE “one time” during a tournament. So you better pick your spot, as you’ll be swiftly punished for not obeying the rules.

Well that thought colors my watching baseball, basketball, and football. And time and time again I’m considering calling for my team’s “one time” to dig deep and find a way to pull it out. But the small bit of magic you wished for your own team was wasted in week 2. Yet, those other guys (your rivals, i.e. the “bad guys”), they rely on their skills until the absolute last second. Never wasting the magic until ever other option has been extinguished.

So instead I suffer defeat after defeat while other fans continue to find ways to celebrate their team’s successes. I hold onto the one Championship I can claim (1995 Atlanta Braves), but also lament that may be the one season I watched the least amount of the team. The one year I did not live and die with every pitch. In my defense I was still figuring out this whole college/co-op thing, but a true fan would have made time. We won and I was happy, but didn’t get that… well, what I have to believe is an all-consuming, unrelenting joy from the victory. I’m pretty sure I still don’t know what feeling I should have gotten, but it doesn’t taste the same… of that I’m sure.

At the end of every season there is one fan base ecstatic and 31 others who think “well, maybe next year”. But as we’re fond of saying in my house:

When do I get to see the god-damn sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

I complain and bitch and threaten to break things and wonder if someone is cheating and can’t understand how the ref missed another call and of course they want the other team to win and why is my team always being picked to lose in the big games and do we need a new coach and do we need a new quarterback (the answer to those is almost always YES unless you cheer for about one of 5 teams – across all sports).

When? Just let me know… when?

Maybe next year…

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Huey Lewis and the News Know All About This Subject

Yes, we’ve all seen it now. It’s 2015, the year that Miami will beat Chicago in the World Series. The year that we’ll have fax machines everywhere once again to randomly drop their messages on the floor… I mean, rather than using email or something crazy, right?

Oh, and it is the year that we’ll finally get a flying car… so that’s something to look forward to.

Back to the Future 2 sees our old pal Marty McFly use this:

Almanacfront

to try and get ahead of the game (literally). He figures it could turn into some walking cash if he knows all the outcomes to the games. And really, its not a horrible idea. I mean, it wasn’t his fault Old Biff stole the DeLoren and took the book back in time and created an alternate timeline.

But we’ve all had that thought about if only we knew the outcome of some game then maybe, just maybe we’d bet on it and clean up.

But I actually have a different use for my time machine. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go back and change it so your grandparents never meet and you cease to exist… that’s not on my agenda. Instead I want to use it for a more nefarious plan:

I want to change the outcomes of a couple of baseball games so that my team wins them instead of loses them.

A little aside. If you aren’t from Atlanta or live in Atlanta you may not be aware of the amount of crap that our city takes from people in other towns. Whether it is the amount of opposing fans in a stadium or not selling out playoff games or how they can’t understand why it is college football which reigns down here. From the various blogs and radio shows and just talking to people… they don’t get it.

Braves

However, one of the biggest knocks on the city from a sports stand point is that in the 1990s when the Atlanta Braves seemed to go to the World Series every year… well, they only won 1.

I aim to fix that. I want to go back to game 4 of the 1996 World Series and convince Bobby Cox not to put Mark Wohlers in the game (at least not to face Jim Leyritz). If he isn’t there, then maybe, just maybe the Braves hold off the late inning charge from the Yankees. Leyritz doesn’t hit that home run and suddenly the Braves have a 3 to 1 game lead (which I would assume would be enough to get a win in the next 3 games).

That would be enough, I think. Enough to ensure that when people speak of the Braves they’d say, “Hey they won 2 World Series in a row… that was a good enough outcome for their run.”

But somehow I think there would still be naysayers. Those who think that making the playoffs doesn’t mean much. Those that don’t understand that nothing is a given in those situations. They would never let it rest. It would be more of the “well, yeah, but they ONLY won 2.”

Sigh…

So I guess I have to find them 1 more. And I think the series in 1991 might be it. They lost in 7 games to the Twins, but maybe if I can find Ron Gant and let him know that he shouldn’t round first because on his way back to the base he’ll be LIFTED OFF THE BASE by Ken Hrbek! Or maybe I could go to Game 7 and tell Lonnie Smith to run as hard as he can and not pay attention to Chuck Knoblauch as he rounds second base. That would have been a game winner there.

I mentioned this to my wife at dinner this past weekend and she laughed at my use of the time machine. And then paused before asking if I would help any other teams? Those who had been seemingly cursed over the years? And I smiled at her and told her… NO.

Let those guys build their own time machine to fix their teams. I mean, I can’t go running around breaking John Elway’s leg so that he doesn’t have THE DRIVE against Cleveland. I can’t slap the Refs in the “Tuck Rule Game”, can I?

time-travel-evidence

I mean, I’m only one person with a time machine. And there is the thought that I’d mess up the time stream too much. No, I have to focus this power and use it for my own purposes instead of others. So I can’t help those other teams, I’m sorry.

Well, except for Steve Bartman. I might find a way to help that poor guy out from every reaching for that foul ball. That same poor guy who has a wiki page devoted to his moment (here). A guy who had to have police protection because of other crazy fans (that’s why they are called fanatics I guess). Whether the Cubs end up going to the World Series and breaking their own curse, I don’t know, but I think in that moment me and Steve are going to be grabbing a hotdog and something to drink.

It is the least I can do given that I have a time machine!

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Atlanta will never be a baseball town

We are only a few weeks away from the worst time to be a sports fan. The Super Bowl will be over and with it another season of futility for my Miami Dolphins. We’ll have the better part of a month to wish it was March and therefore time to fill out our tournament brackets with any number of theories on why this team or that one will end up in the Final Four. You will try to convince yourself that just because you did not watch one minute of college basketball up to that point that your opinions should still be valid.

But really we’re all just biding time until Baseball and Opening Day.

I’ve spent most of my life in Georgia in one form or another (minus about a year or so in Florida when I was 4 and about 2 weeks in Virginia) so there is only one baseball team as far as I am concerned:

The Atlanta Braves.

Braves

Forgive the flash, though it landed right where the tomahawk hit…

This is my favorite picture hanging in my house. I’ve had it since 1991 when my mom got it framed for me. It’s gone with me through a handful of moves, but I always make sure to find a place for it.

While I know the exact point in time that I became a Miami Dolphins fan (January 23, 1983 The Miami Dolphins defeated the NY Jets in the AFC Championship game and that was all it took – I shudder to think what would have happened had the game gone the other way), I have no idea when I became a Braves fan. At some point it became a part of my conscious, surely helped by lots of readily available viewings on TBS.

But it was probably cemented by the trips to Atlanta I spent with my Dad. We would do a week there, and then a week in south Georgia with my relatives. During that Atlanta week we’d see the Braves at least twice (there might have been even one year where we saw them three times). Looking back I can’t say I remember any specific game that we went to, though I remember seeing them play the Padres at some point (possibly more than once). At one point I even knew their record in games I went to (for such a terrible team during most of the 80s, they tended to win more than they lost when I was there), though that knowledge is long since lost from the recesses of my mind.

I remember my Dad telling me stories about the Braves though. “Did you know that Dale Murphy used to play catcher?” “Did you know that Pascual Perez once got lost on I-285?” (It is the perimeter around the center and he never got off… just kept going in a circle).

And I knew I would get a chance to see Dale Murphy play. In person. Number 3. Your starting center fielder for the Atlanta Braves (maybe he’ll hit a home run!).

In Waycross, Georgia (the largest city, in the largest county, in the largest state… east of the Mississippi – look it up) (where I lived) you better believe that Braves cards were gotten at a premium. But a Dale Murphy? That was the end game. You opened pack after pack in hopes of seeing #3.

Dale Murphy Baseball Card

I’m pretty sure I have this one… sadly it is not worth what it once was.

Mercifully much of the 80s Braves, for me, is tied less to their record and more to their baseball cards. And it really remained that way until 1991.

But in 1991 it all changed. I remember how that season made every single person a Braves fan. I went to our High School Homecoming football game and people were doing the tomahawk chop (by the way, yes we stole it from Florida State… who cares, most of those people were Braves fans anyway). People would honk their horns and stick their arms out the window. And every night as the season progressed I’d look in the paper to see if the Dodgers had won the night before.

And when they won the division? And then when they won the NL? It was ridiculous. There is no other words to describe it. And had Ron Gant not been pulled off the bag by Hrbek, well… (no, I’m not still bitter about it 22 plus years later).

Still, they were not the losers anymore.

For the next decade plus we got treated to seeing one of the greatest rotations of all time. I don’t know that I even realized it until it was close to over at the end of the 90s. Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz under Bobby Cox’s managing brought wins to a town starved for them. It is a fine thing to accomplish winning, but when you win as much as they did and make it where people are slightly bored of the winning (not me, but some). That is a true accomplishment. They turned the Atlanta Braves into a model for how to win.

Last week two of those three were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And while I would join my voice in with the people who feel Maddux should have been a unanimous decision (if not for people gaming the system), I’m too excited about the prospect of this years ceremony being so Braves focused.  Though there is a bit of weird timing as this year will be the first without any true tie to those division winning teams (Brian McCann leaving to become a Yankee) is the same year where a huge reason for their being a streak will get their honor by all of the baseball world. I guess it really is the end of an era.

And yeah, maybe we only won the 1 World Series, but being it the thick of it every year, having a chance… I’ll take that all day long.

Braves Pitchers

Smoltz will be in there shortly with you guys.

So thanks Bobby, Greg, and Tom. Get the place ready because we’ve got two more of your teammates (John Smoltz and Chipper Jones) coming to really give the Hall a nice Braves feel

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.