18 Holes of Darkness

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18 Holes of Darkness
On Sunday, Mrs. Joan Delaney celebrated the one year anniversary of her majority ownership of the team and regional sports network, NYS. I think her purchase price was in the $800 million range, of which she accounted for about 60% on her own. She comes from political stock; my dad says he would have voted for Mrs. Delaney's father's Massachusetts senate campaign back in the 1960s, but he wasn't the type to vote back then. Not sure if he is today, for that matter.

The group of investors she put together to fund the remaining 40% ranged from the Hip Hop star KC9 (we see him the most during the season) to her husband, Anthony DiMaeo, a Queens-based real estate developer. Mr. DiMaeo is a fixture here this spring, constantly bringing clients around the various practice fields to meet with various players, take a hack in the cage, or just absorb the scene around our Fort Pierce complex. A couple of the guys have complained about the quality of Mr. DiMaeo's clientele, like how things wind up missing from the locker room after one of his "backstage" tours. But he's an owner. What's ours is kind of his, to a degree, so there's not a lot we can do without causing a major uproar.

On Sunday, Mrs. Delaney took the team for a golf outing. While it sounds nice, another minor uproar flared up since the outing took place after a noon game in which we were clobbered 16 to 2. (We're 1 and 5 right now, if you're keeping track, even though the games don't count.) Most of the guys wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon with their families, or away from each other. But, as I said before, she's an owner. The majority owner. There was a little pressure on us to go.

There are 60 players in camp this spring. Because some can't walk or move, 47 of us went on the outing. It was at a place called the Brystal Springs Golf Club in St. Lucie, about half an hour away. We weren't able to tee off until 4:30. The name of the game was Rush. From when a team teed off, they had one hour to play all 18 holes. Not the way most of our resident golfers liked to play, but it was the only way to finish before dark. A couple guys grumbled that we should have played next Sunday, after daylight savings time starts. But I assume Mrs. Delaney had to be somewhere else then.

My team consisted of Mrs. Delaney, GM Alvin Kirby, manager Rick Churches, and me. I'm a horrible golfer and even worse around authority figures. And since I've had nothing but trouble with two of these three authority figures since November, I found the composition of our team somewhat interesting.

Mrs. Delaney is a great golfer. She told us how she was one of the top female amateur golfers in the country while growing up. Her hole-in-one on the fifth hole reminded us of this fact.

I am a terrible golfer. Like bowling, the game of golf fools around negatively with some of the muscles I use for baseball, so I rarely play and, when I do, don't take it seriously.

Before our group teed off - we were the last of 15 groups to go (Mr. DiMaeo brought 2 groups of his own to our "team" outing and KC9 had a group) - I told my team that I stink. I specifically asked them, "Are you going to take this seriously?" They shook their heads. No, was the consensus. There were just out to have a good time.

By the second hole, I could tell they were lying. Rick was swearing up and down the green. Alvin did the opposite and wouldn't speak at all. Mrs. Delaney was doing well, so she agreed to be the designated driver of the cart. I fell into an early hole (pun intended) and was 17 strokes behind Mrs. Delaney by the fifth.

It was around the eighth hole that things bubbled over a bit. Rick missed a birdie and threw his club at the ball, sitting about half an inch from the cup. I laughed. Because I suck, didn't care that I sucked, and didn't care about the score, I had that ability. "Shut the f**k up, Jimmy," Rick said. Mrs. Delaney told him to hush. She's got a pretty salty mouth of her own, but she could tell the acid in Rick's stomach was reaching his tongue.

Alvin, who as a general manager needs to keep his emotions in check at all times, fell apart at the tenth hole. A simple three-inch put veered a hair to the left. Alvin took his putter and snapped it in two over his knee after that.

A second hole-in-one by Mrs. Delaney on the thirteenth cemented her victory, with 5 holes to go. The sun was setting and I'd more than given up twelve holes before. By now, I was more spectator than player, swinging wildly, missing balls, and cheating when possible. Rick went berserk at one point, running after a ball I'd thrown about 25 yards and bringing it back to me. He said I either play by the rules or get off his team. There was a double-meaning there that I chose to ignore. I swung my club like a baseball bat and hit the ball into a sand trap. If it wasn't almost night, I would have made a castle or two, but we were now battling the fading light as well as each other. There wasn't time to play in the sand.

On the 18th hole, I sent Rick and Alvin into a tantrum and muted frenzy, respectively, by coming closest to the hole with a hole in one of my own. Mrs. Delaney told me of a "kinship" she felt with me, the way I'd come back from adversity to succeed. There was a double-meaning there that I chose to embrace. "Thank you," I said. "You inspire me." The whites of Rick's eyes literally turned red and the top of his skull blew off from a cranial steam explosion, just like a cartoon. If it wasn't so dark, I'd have taken a picture.

We had a team dinner to follow. Like with the golf game, significant others weren't invited, so there was quite a bit of quiet discontent. Our Sunday had become a complete washout, what with workouts, the baseball game, and this team outing. But many of us are millionaires; we'll be able to afford plenty of time with our families once we're done with our baseball careers. Mrs. Delaney, who's close to a billionaire, mentioned to me during our game that some people in life need to remember where they came from, while others need to know where they are. As I stood next to Rick, who was playing a game of Rush with a shot of something strong at the bar, I repeated Mrs. Delaney's words. He looked at me and told me to go to hell.

There was no double meaning there. I chose to ignore him anyway.

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