As he watches his team lose yet another game, Cincinnati Soapsuds owner Geoffrey W. Furst is fed up. Fed up with being a professional baseball franchise in a small market and being unable to compete with the richer kids in New York and Los Angeles, and fed up with multi-millionaire athletes who are compensated regardless of how they perform on the field. But Furst, falsely claiming to the media that he had been inspired by a perspiring hot dog vendor, has a plan to change all that. And not just change the game of baseball but change the very nature of professional sports. It’s a plan that comes down to three revolutionary words: “Pay-for-play.”
Furst’s plan is to sign a team made up of players who are paid for how they play, with contracts that compensate according to on-base percentage, fielding percentage, ERA, WHIP, and other modern-day metrics the owner doesn’t really understand. Instead, he gives an ultimatum to his reluctant General Manager to make pay-for-play a reality, and the GM succeeds in assembling a 25-man roster, 24 of whom have pay-for-play contracts even after their agents strongly recommended against signing any such deal. It’s a roster of egomaniacs who can’t imagine anything less than an All Star season, and guys who can’t imagine not taking the deal, as their only other option was a recreational softball league.
The pay-for-play season begins gloriously—and then the 25 players on the roster suddenly realize only 9 can play at any one time. All it takes is a few losses to turn cracks into chasms and in no time there is backstabbing, an attack using the Jugs pitching machine, all-bunt games, pitchers who refuse to come out of games, fake injuries, real injuries from attempting to be hit by pitches, on-field chaos, and one dead nun.
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About the Author
Frank J. Diekmann is a 25-year veteran of newspaper reporting and editing, having covered sports, travel and financial services. Along the way this included, sadly, many, many nights in hotels, where a TV was usually on in the background, and many years in vehicles and airplanes listening to classici rock and pop music. Diekmann has reported from more than 500 industry conferences and has leaned on a strong sense of humor to get through them all, building a significant following for both is fiction and non-fiction.