Special Report - English
Photo: Voyager photo of Earth and Moon from Saturn.
What would the Voyager spacecraft think if it could?
“I'm floating in space and drifting away from the place where I was built and sent. I look back at my former home and see a pale speck of light in the dark blue expanse of space.”
“Seven billion points of human light are still crawling all over that speck of pale blue light. Like ants on a giant ant hill. Except this hill is a water covered sphere slowly spinning in the vastness of nothing. And it's not a giant anymore.”
“Each of those seven billion specks of light writhing with thoughts of their own. Wondering from where they came...wondering where they'll go afterwards...wondering how they fit with everyone else. And that's just the very tippy tip of the needle.”
“Many of them think this existence they have is their only chance. This one blip of eternity as a pin-point speck of light on an obscure planet is all they get to impress their creator. What a chintzy guy!”
“Wouldn't it be nice if we could hop around the galaxy from planet to planet, in and out of various bodies, to experience the ride(s) offered at each stop? Maybe even staying at the same planet for a few times to experience the myriad facets of it's character. That would be nice, wouldn't it?”
“All I can do is drift aimlessly onward.”
Steven and the Animals
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Steven. He lived in the country. There were lots of animals. Steven liked animals.
There were dogs and birds. Horses and mice. Chipmunks and beavers. Cats and raccoons. Skunks and squirrels.
Steven tried to play with all of them!
He patted the dog hard.
He yanked the cats tail hard.
He pulled the horses mane hard.
This hurt the animals. Whenever they saw Steven, they hid behind the trees and rocks and bushes.
At first, Steven thought they were playing hide and seek with him. He chased all of the animals until there were no more to play with. He was puzzled. “Why don’t the animals want to play with me?”
The next day, Steven went to see the animals again. They saw him coming and rushed away. “Why don’t the animals want to play with me?” He was very sad.
He sat under a tree and wondered why he had lost his friends, Steven began to cry.
Just as the first tear dropped, his mother walked up. “Steven,” she said, “why so sad?”
“The animals don’t want to play with me” he sniffed.
She held his hand. “Come with me. I’ll show you how to be with the animals.”
She brought him to the dog who was standing nearby watching. She placed Steven’s hand lightly on the dog’s back and began to stroke not hard but gently.
Steven held out his other hand and the dog kissed it.
He began to pet the dog not hard, but kind and gentle. Steven’s tears stopped.
The other animals saw how loving Steven was to the dog, and came out to join them. They began playing with Steven too!
Steven and the animals hiked in the forest, and ran through the meadow.
They swam in the river, and climbed up the hill
They played tag in the front yard, and hide and seek in the back yard. They giggled and laughed for days and days.
The dog quickly became Steven’s best friend. He was very loyal and protective. He would warn Steven of any danger. Once there was a rattlesnake in the bushes!
The horse took Steven to see nearby hills and valleys. He showed him new places to explore. One day he took Steven to a cave at the bottom of the mountain.
The mouse built his nest in a hollow log, a twig here and a rock there. He placed them with care to make sure his house was just right.
Steven built his playhouse the same way!
Two chipmunks popped their heads out from an old tree trunk, ran around a bush, stopped behind a rock, and peeped over the top. “Are you laughing at me?” giggled Steven.
Every day as the sun rose, the birds would sing. “You sure have strong voices!” he said. “You sound very happy! I like to sing too!”
The beaver was gnawing on a tree by the river. As the tree fell, he pushed it onto his dam. Then he put branches around the tree. “Don’t you ever stop to rest?” asked Steven. The beaver didn’t have time to answer, because he was busy building a good strong home.
Every morning, Steven awoke to a spunky cat licking his face and batting his hair.
Their favorite toy was a ball of yarn.
After breakfast, the cat went off on his own. He was a very spunky cat.
One day Steven heard an odd noise. He found the back gate open. A raccoon was in the shed, poking his nose in a sack full of apples! “You have very nimble fingers to unlatch that gate and open that sack, raccoon.”
The next day, Steven went to pet a furry skunk, but when he got too close, the skunk turned around and sprayed him. “Pee-yew!” shouted Steven, holding his nose. From then on, he had respect for the skunk. Steven saw a squirrel racing from here to there and from there to here. He was bringing nuts and berries to his home in the tree. “Squirrel, you sure will be ready for a long winter.”
One day Steven had to say good-bye to his pals. His family was moving to the city. “Good-bye my friends. I won’t forget the things you taught me.”
As the animals watched Steven drift further and further away, all of them began to cry.
In the city, Steven saw very big buildings. “How could there be animals here with all these buildings?”, he thought.
Just then he saw a dog prancing proudly with his master. As he passed a pond he saw ducks. Then he saw pigeons. “There are animals here!” Steven was delighted. It wasn’t long before Steven met new pals.
He was kind to all of his new pals. He never forgot what he had learned.
Baxter & Jaco
Baxter and Jaco were best friends who grew up next door to each other in one of the older neighborhoods of Kansas City. They were born just days apart. When they were ready to go out on their own, they decided to become roommates.
They bought the morning paper and began circling the rooms for rent in the area that looked suitable for two young cats beginning life on their own. After a lunch of tuna fish with roasted almonds and chopped scallions, they went searching for just the right place.
“This one’s too dark” said Baxter at the first flat on the list. “We’ll be too cold if we don’t have the sun beaming in to keep us warm.”
“I quite agree” said Jaco as he crossed out the ad.
“This one is all windows” Baxter said at their next visit. “We’ll have to be too careful as we romp and play.”
“I quite agree” said Jaco as he made another X in the classifieds.
They continued on throughout the rest of the listings. They crossed out one that was near a busy street. Too noisy. One was near too many dogs. Dogs can be mean to cats sometimes. At one there were no birds to chase.
At the very last listing they found a nice place with lots of tall windows to let the sun shine in, but not too many windows that they have to be too careful. The living room carpet ended where the bare wood dining room floor began. “We can build up some good speed and slide all the way to the back of the wall!” Baxter said with glee.
“I quite agree” said an equally joyful Jaco. “Let’s try it.”
Pidlump Pidlump Pidlump - “WHEEEEEEEEEEEE! - Umph!”
Pidlump Pidlump Pidlump - “WHEEEEEEEEEEEE! - Umph!”
“This is a great place” Baxter said as he panted and righted himself.
“I quite agree” wheezed Jaco. He had a slight case of asthma. “I think we should go get a bed now so we’ll have a place to sleep tonight.”
“I quite agree” said Baxter. “Let’s check out that place around the corner. I saw lots of good beds in the window as we were looking for our apartment.”
“I quite agree” said Jaco.
They went into the store and saw lots of shelves stacked with baskets, lining the front window, and hanging from the ceiling.
“This one’s too small” said Jaco shaking his head. “I can’t even fit in it myself.”
“I quite agree” said Baxter as he moved the search along. “This one’s too big. We need one that’s cozy. This one is not cozy.”
“I quite agree” said Jaco as he turned away to the next shelf. “This one looks very sturdy. And it has a canopy.”
“I quite agree” said Baxter. “ I think it will do just fine.”
So the two best buddies carried their first piece of furniture back to their new apartment and set it up on the sill next to the window. They lined the bottom with a blanket so their fur wouldn’t look like waffles the next morning.
Jaco studied the bed for a moment stroking his chin in deep thought. “It’s not level” he said.
“I’ll prop it up with this copy of Cat Fancy” said Baxter. He slid the magazine under the lower end of the basket, and lowered his head to the sill. “It still isn’t level. What else can we use?”
“I have a stack of tuna fish recipe cards from the recipe of the week club” Jaco said as he scampered over to the kitchen.
He lifted the bed up, placed some of the cards on top of the magazine, and set the bed down. “How’s that?”
Baxter lowered his head down to the sill. He closed one eye and studied the bed closely. “I think one more card should do the trick.”
Jaco slipped in one more card.
“That’s good” said Baxter as he gave Jaco the feline ‘OK’ sign. “The next thing we’ll need is a scratching post.”
“I quite agree” said Jaco. But let’s find one tomorrow. We’ve done enough for today.
“I quite agree” said Baxter.
With that they both roared a lion’s yawn and nestled into each other under the canopy and fell fast asleep. It was quite an active day for a cat.
A SHORT STROLL THROUGH THE BALLPARK
(The player names and stats were written arbitrarily in 1997.
These guys are fictitious.)
INT. BROADCAST BOOTH
Stadium crowd noise simmers in the background.
BOB and TOM are broadcasting the first game of the world series. Bob is the play-by-play announcer and Tom is the color commentator. We begin with the first pitch after the last commercial.
Welcome back! - to the first game of this years’ World Series! The umpire has declared ‘Play ball’, and we’re ready to do just that. The first batter up for the Mariners is shortstop Paulo Rodriguez. His batting average during the regular season was .338. Not bad for a lead off batter this year. Only Smith of Cleveland and Henderson of Oakland had higher averages with .340 and .342 respectively.
I spoke to Paulo before the game and asked him how he felt to be in his first World Series. He said he’d never played a Major league game on his birthday. Today’s his birthday! he’s 26!
Greg Seaver on the mound for the Diamondbacks finishing his warm-ups. Randy Johnson is loosening up in the bullpen. He’ll start for the Mariners. Both have the best era’s in their respective leagues, and both like to pitch on Tuesday nights, oddly enough.
That’s why the managers are going with these two tonight, Bob. This is only the fifth time in World Series history that the first game was played on a Tuesday. The others were 1912, 1935, 1955, and ‘56. The ‘home’ and ‘away’ teams split those first four games, so we have a tiebreaker of sorts here tonight, this Tuesday. It’s also a first for a Tuesday night. Tuesday is the least played day of the week for the first game of the World Series.
Rodriguez steps into the batter’s box and begins to take aim. Here’s the wind up - the pitch - low and outside - ball one.
He followed that pitch all the way Bob. He’s a smart player. he knows that no matter how many post season games a pitcher has thrown in, seventy-two percent of his first pitches are going to be balls. And most of those pitches, being mostly from right handed pitchers throwing to right handed batters, are low and outside.
Seaver takes the signal from future hall of fame catcher Johnny Bench. Bench is catching in his sixth world series. Here’s the wind up - the pitch - swung on and missed - strike one. One-one the count. that was right down the pike Tom.
You’re absolutely right Bob. Fifty-nine percent of second World Series pitches are going to be strikes, straight down the middle. Seaver got his first pitch out of the way, took a deep breath, and settled in quickly. Given Seaver’s experience, Paulo had to know that pitch was coming. I guess he was having first swing jitters. Not that uncommon in World Series play.
Seaver shakes off the signal from Bench. - Now they agree. - Here’s the wind up, the pitch...Paulo grounds the ball over to second, Martinez there with the scoop, and plenty of time for the out at first. One away.
That’s the seventh time, that the third pitch, of the first game of the World Series, was a ground out to second, and the tenth time that the first batter, of the first game, grounded to second, and the thirty-eighth time that the first batter grounded out.
Steve Powell up next. Terence Jones is on deck. Powell has a .307 batting average against Seaver lifetime. Though they’re in different leagues now, Powell spent most of his career with the Pirates. With Seaver in Cincinnati at the same time, and in the same division as Pittsburgh, they faced each other quite a bit, during those ten years.
They squared off 181 times, Bob. One hundred and eighty one. Fourteen more times than than any other duel in the history of baseball. Four more matched tonight and it will be an even 185. they should reach 200 during the first half of next season.
They don’t play in the same league anymore Tom.
Here’s the first pitch to Powell - swung on and missed strike one. He wanted to knock the cover off that one Tom! A lot of power went into that swing!
Right on the nail head Bob! He’d be batting clean up on any other team in the league, with his power hitting percentage of .643. That’s up from .612 since the beginning of the season. But with Brian Stokes, and his red hot bat....
Here’s the second pitch - taken inside ball one. One-one the count to Powell.
.....this season, Powell is relegated to the second position in the rotation. Only once in the history of the World Series has the second best power hitter in the league, on the same team as the best power hitter in the league, batting second in the line up, hit a home run on his first at bat, on the third pitch, with the count one - one, in the first game of the World Series.
Bob has an uneasy pause.
Seaver’s next pitch - strike two - caught Steve watching the outside corner.
Cornelius Webber of the Cleveland Indians, in the 1906 World Series, is still the only player with that distinction.
(looks at Tom quizically)
Where do you get this stuff?
(genuinely doesn’t understand the question)
What stuff, Bob?
BOB is affixed on TOM for a brief moment, then turns back to the mike.
Seaver winds up for the one-two pitch - in the dirt - ball two. Bench did a good job stopping that one. Seaver just didn’t release it fast enough!
The only other time that the seventh pitch of the first game of the World Series was thrown in the dirt, was in 1967, when Sandy Koufax was pitching for the Dodgers against the Orioles. He won that game four to one, going on a solid seven innings. the Orioles’ only run in that game , came in the fourth inning with a solo home run by.....
Seaver with the two-two pitch to Powell - he swings, and hits a line drive over the head of third baseman George Brett. An easy grab by Samuel Louis backing him up in left field, he throws the ball into second, holding Powell at first.
.....Louis Rukeyser, a power hitter brought up from the minors for the last month of the ’67 season. back then, they only had what is now called triple ‘A’ and double ‘A’. Only two levels of minor leagues. He was leading the double A minors in power hitting, thirty-two percentage points above his next competitor.
Tom waits for the next pitch.
Tom - Powell’s on first.
Now that would be the eighth time that the second batter of the first game of the World Series hit a single. The only one over the head of the third baseman.
Tom, did you take your medicine today?
TOM looks at BOB, looks at his finger and is surprised.
OOhhh! That’s what this string is for! I tied a string on my finger so I wouldn’t forget to take my medicine, and I forgot what I tied the string on my finger for!
How many times have you done that, Tom?
How should I know?
Gomez comes up to bat facing one out in the first, and a man on first. Brian Stokes is on deck. We mentioned him earlier. Seaver and Gomez have never faced each other until tonight. Tom, this is their first duel.
The batting average for third batters in the first game of the World Series who face a ‘virgin pitcher’ so to speak, is .217.
Righties or lefties?
Combined Bob. Righties - .223, lefties - .215, infielders - .213, outfielders - .216.
(with a look of wonder)
Here’s the pitch to Gomez - he swings - foul over the Diamondbacks dugout! O and one the count.
That’s the fifth earliest foul ball hit in the first game of the World Series. The others came on the first pitch in 1977, the third pitch in 1939, the fourth in both ’23 and ’57, and the seventh pitch in 1918. This one was the ninth pitch.
What was the longest time before a foul ball was hit?
That would be the 46th pitch in the ’59 World Series between the Cubs an Yankees.