Hello, BCB. I am intrepid reporter Ray Renfield, and I’ll be a fly on the wall, reporting the goings-on behind the scenes, as it were, with the simulated Chicago Cubs 2020 squad and their skipper, the erudite and quite odd Brandon Palmer.
RR — Brandon, fill the readers in our your background...
BP — Hi Ray. Good to meetcha. I was born and raised in Bahston and knew the Epsteins. My great-uncle Artie was Theo’s dad’s mechanic. My grand-uncle, Artie’s dad, was named Ray, and he lived in Ivy Town. You would know his small feats. He was a real hero, Professor Ray Palmer, was. My pop teaches at Ivy University. He a professor of advanced mathematics.
My mom is a Finch, related on her father’s side to Sidd but not Jenny. I probably got my baseball talent from her. She’s a college professor, specializing in European literature.
She insisted that I go to college. So when Colorado State sent me an acceptance letter, I went. I was a catcher, though I was pretty bad at it, but I was there on an academic scholarship, studying sports medicine.
Eventually I gave up playing baseball and got into training and coaching. That was more suitable, and I met Dr. Duke when I transferred to CSU-at-Snowmass, and he recommended me to UNLV’s doctoral program. A real gentleman, Raoul Duke, and generous with his time and his pharmacopeia. I know he helped me over some rough spots.
RR — Wow, well that’s quite a story, Brandon. How did you come to be managing the Cubs? Whatever happened to David Ross?
BP — Well, Ross, he didn’t survive the transfer to digital and so I was brought in to manage this incarnation. I had been under consideration for a post for some time, not that I knew anything about it, but when San Diego Studios came calling, what was I gonna do? I’ve had experience managing several other digital squads, and it just seemed like a natural fit for me to follow David and Joe Maddon into the Cub Tracks Continuum.
RR — Why so?
BP — Well, my philosophies intersect frequently with Joe’s, and I was a catcher. Also, I’m digital. Plus the literature connection. I’m into story.
RR — I see. So tell me, how do you feel about your team?
BP — Oh how could you not love these guys? They come to play every day, and they’re such a sweet bunch of knuckleheads. There’s always so much going on in a major-league franchise, and these people have a good sense of humor and the right perspective to deal with all of that distraction and keep on truckin’.
I mean, look, we’re 22-10 and we’ve looked bad doing it. Nobody’s happy. Nobody’s overjoyed about that — this is a marathon and we’re just hitting the first curve. But nobody’s taking themselves too seriously — nobody’s down. They’re just all grinding, working at-bats, doing the little things, having fun with it.
Palmer stops talking and runs a scene back on his tablet.
BP — This is great stuff. I love Criterion collection selections. I should get my walls painted that color.
RR — What? I thought you were watching game film?
BP — Sometimes I have to decompress a little before I go through it. The coaches are tearing into the film right now, and I don’t have to meet with them til tomorrow. I thought I’d have me a glass of something good and watch some Simenon.
RR — You really aren’t the typical manager, are you? I couldn’t see Earl Weaver watching The Blue Room in his office. Or at all...
BP — Well, we are all of us individuals. I developed a taste for Maigret when I managed a Belgian soccer team, and also a taste for Gouden Carolus, a Belgian single-malt whiskey.
Palmer selects a couple of small glasses and pours.
BP — Ice?
RR — No, thank you.
BP — To your health. Good stuff. All right. We’ve made a couple of trades that should help us down the road and immediately. I understand that the trade winds might still be blowing. At least there’s some exploration, phones calls being made. There was an offer for Alec Mills today but Theo started laughing and hung up.
The players know. If they’re real hot people will be calling, and if they’re real cold they’ll be calling trying to steal guys. I’m sure Souza and Almora are looking over their shoulders these days. Q too. He’s pitching Friday, and he knows he has to be good. Four innings and out isn’t going to work.
RR — You have the quickest hook I’ve seen in a while.
BP — True. I hate losing. Sometimes moves don’t work out, but I’ll make what I think are the best ones. That’s as good a place as any to stop this segment. I’ll see you again next week. Same bat time, Ray, same bat channel.