Baseball and bailouts, as American as apple pie. Weaving today’s economic malaise with the powerful magic of a Cinderella baseball team, Take Me Out to the Ballgame is a political baseball novel for our times. The Buffalo Matadors haven’t won a world championship in 37 years, a dying franchise. Until flamboyant Harry Witowsky, a 21st Century George Steinbrenner, buys them, vowing to do whatever is necessary to change the fortunes of the “Door Mats.” Victories and attendance climb as Witowsky creates an Us versus Them mentality at the Stadium. The rally cry of “Where’s My Bailout” replaces “Let’s Go Mats.” Buffalo’s surprising surge resonates with a nation afraid of losing jobs and homes, shaken by terrorist threats, frightened for the future. The Matadors become America’s Team.
“Single and we win, that so much to ask?” Cal Fleisher pleaded, half-rising off the bar stool at Kellogg’s Bar in East Lackawanna.
“We’ve loaded the bases, none out in the last of the ninth, trailing Philly by one run,” Buffalo Matadors announcer Hal McCoy said somberly. “The Phillies have brought in the lefty Lerch to face the lefty Nate Jackson, a percentage move. Cy Trattora is going to leave the youngster in, oh brother, the wheels are spinning here in War Memorial Stadium against the defending world champions and we’re only in the season opener.”
“Come on Nate, get a piece of it.” Cal shoved his legs under his flabby rear, elevating himself sphinx-like.
“And so this broad comes in, biggest pair you’ve ever seen, and she says…” At a table several feet away beneath a Willie Nelson poster, stocky Mickey O’Brien paused theatrically, spreading his hands a little wider. “Nothin.’ Nothin’ at all.” His two friends laughted. Cal tossed them a shy glare.
“…popped up in foul territory. Perez moving over, looking for a play, near the stands, reaches in and…makes the catch,” McCoy groaned. “One down, big big out of Lerch. He jammed Jackson with a fastball on the…”
“Get outta here, Mickey.” The olive-skinned Nino jokingly pushed Mickey on the shoulder.
“like I’d ever lie?” That drew skeptical chuckles. “She kind of sauntered a little here and there.” Mickey swayed in his seat.
Tossing another brief scowl at the noise, Cal leaned forward. “Please turn it up, Tim.”
The bartender grinned sympathetically, upping the sound on the small color set above the bar. “Stop torturing yourself, Cal. Why should this year be any different than any other?