Through April 26th, 2010
Mike Pelfrey: 4-0, 26 innings, 18 hits, 2 earned runs, 13 walks, 19 strikeouts, 1.19 WHIP, 0.69 ERA, 1 save
John Maine: 0-1, 16.2 innings, 25 hits, 16 earned runs, 10 walks, 14 strikeouts, 2.10 WHIP, 8.64 ERA
"Let me show you irony," said Mike Pelfrey as he pushed open the door to the Lemongrass Grill on Court Street.
"Where?" asked John Maine.
"Just keep sipping that coconut, and it will come to you," said Pelfrey slyly.
"I'm sorry," said the hostess, "We do not allow drinks from outside in accordance with the health code."
"And we are not ones to be discordant," Pelfrey stated.
"I think that was George Clooney," whispered one waitress to another as the two pitchers stepped outside.
"I think the waitress thought you were George Clooney."
"Clooney ain't got my fastball. But you saw the irony? Why is Thailand on the map? Coconuts! Why'd they kick us out? Coconuts!"
"Thailand's got a lot-"
"I know, I know, I'm oversimplifying things. It's a valid point, thought right? I'm asking you for real now John, was that a truly ironic moment?"
"For sure it was Mike."
They watched the Court Street traffic go by. A steady drizzle made everything feel busier. A homeless man approached them.
"Department of redundancy department. Hello hello!" he said in a gravelly voice. Maine gave him a nod. Pelfrey, for reasons not entirely clear, said "Goddamn!" and threw his arms up. It wasn't about the homeless man. He had barely noticed him.
"Spare some change?"
"I'm all out," said Maine. He was. "But I'll give you the meat of this coconut. It'll fill you right up!" The man accepted. Maine asked him to wait there while he went into the restaurant to ask if they could open it for him. It was taken to the kitchen where banging was heard and the coconut emerged dented but intact. Back outside, the homeless man pointed out the irony of the situation- a Thai restaurant unable to open a coconut when so much of their cuisine involves coconuts- while Pelfrey shook his head and said "You're damn right," and Maine was able to break open the coconut by spiking it on a fence.
"Let me buy you lunch," said Pelfrey. "I've got some stuff on my mind."
"This places looks good," said Maine, indicating the Lemongrass Grill with his nose. "And the staff seems nice."
"I'm not in the mood for Thai. Let's hit that deli on Court and Warren."
The first half of the lunch was silent. Maine was perpetually drawn to the motions, orders and conversations of the others in the small space, and Pelfrey was brooding, searching through thoughts, looking for the right words.
"Last year I threw three-quarters fastballs," he said finally. After everything else and those heaps of silence, Maine was expecting something deeper and less factual.
"You've got a good one," he said.
"Yeah, I'm like a bulldozer. Artless. You know what's coming. I need to pitch with more irony."
John Maine started several sentences, but none of them had middles, let alone endings, so instead he picked at the various offerings he'd picked up at the deli bar and waited for Mike to put some sense behind those words.
"We're paid like kings to hit a target. But the thing is, the target is guarded. Best guards in the world just waiting, and you don't even get to sneak up on them. So you learn to be too fast. You wheel that ball so fast you can't see it. Ah, but the guards, they're good, and they have more time than you. They catch up to your pitches. The only way past is irony. Throw it too slow. Throw it where you don't want it. Be a king and they'll knock you down, but act like a pauper and they let you pass."
At the same moment, both pitchers realized that Pelfrey was the only one talking in the deli, and he was talking loudly.
"You haven't lost a game this season," said Maine.
"I will soon if I'm all stuff. To win, you need stuff and nonsense."
John Maine only partly understood what Pelfrey was saying, but he understood well enough- well enough to be a friend and see him through to the end of the conversation. He felt a tingle in his left arm, the one he doesn't throw with, and that told him that there was truth in Pelfrey's words, and he hoped that Mike recognized this.
After the meal, they went back to the Met building, turning the doorknob with "Believe" inscribed on it, and greeted the doorman who awoke from his slumber to record their return in his notebook. They elected to take the stairs all the way up, Maine stopping on the 33rd floor, Pelfrey the next one up.
Maine looked out his window, alone now, absorbing, and then got in the elevator. He hit the button for 52, nervously imagining a conversation in which he explained that he had left some batting gloves on Razor's floor, but no one else entered the elevator and the conversation never happened.
Moving past the crimson curtains and into his candlelit den, John saw Razor Shines emerging from a trance. There was a large symbol like a spiderweb painted on one wall and a pungent incense wafting up from the floor.
"Back spasms, eh?" said Razor, donning a robe after he'd emerged from his trance and his room and they'd exchanged pleasantries. "You'll pitch on Wednesday."
"Will I be better by then?"
"That's too much future."
"You said the spasms, like everything else, they're just symptoms."
"We'll find it."
"Peace, baby. There is no when. And when it happens, you'll be an explosion."
John wanted more, but that's all Razor had- for now anyway. He was a busy man.
"Oh and John?" Maine was just about to leave. "I can't solve all your problems before your next start. But wear these batting gloves, will ya? They might just work for you."
"Yes," he said. "Thank you Razor."