We take you now to a tape room in the Twins' Fort Myers training compound, some March day in the not-so-distant future. A crew of young prospects, chatter anxiously awaiting the appearance of the franchise legend who will address them today. A hush falls as he enters the room, but the nerves are set at ease when he flashes his trademark mega-watt smile:
"Hey guys! What's happenin'"
"Good morning, Mr. Hunter," they squeak in unison.
Unphased, Hunter sits backwards on a chair, "listen y'all, you can relax. This isn't a big talking too. I'm not gonna lecture you, we just want to go over some of the finer points of your game.
"You've been coming along nicely for a little while now. I know one of you led the Midwest league in homers, and I saw another one hit 97 on the gun yesterday. Real good, man, real good. But to make it to the bigs you've got to know how to lose your cool properly....
"I mean, I've seen the tapes of you guys when you're upset, groanin' and shakin' your heads. That doesn't do anything man! You gotta get wild! You gotta make a point! So let's look at the tape here.
"First, ya gotta start with the little things, light weight stuff, elbow guards, wrist guards, you know, easy stuff. Warm yourself up! You there, McGillacuddy, you're a big fella, but if you start chuckin' the bat and the helmet and everything right away you could strain a forearm, a muscle, how's the manager gonna feel if you have to rest a day because you couldn't be bothered to warm up first?"
"Uhh...not very good..."
"Your damn right not very good!
"Now secondly, don't lose track of your point in this, everything you throw you have to punctuate with another yell, turn back to the ump, the crew chief especially, because that's the umps boss, let him know that it's a protest, it's not a performance, it's a political statement. Yes Diaz?"
"What should we say to them? Should we reemphasize the rule with references to the section and subsect--"
"Nah, they can't think logically about it at that point, just say what's in your heart...let the coaches and the lawyers talk specifics, you do you man, you do you.
"Alright, finally gentlemen, the climax: the jersey toss. Now some might say it's over the top, some might say it's foolish, but this is a special move. It's the point of no return, and think about it, if you want to continue to emphasize your protest what else could you throw?"
"No, Moskowitz, that's a protest common to Iraq and the Arab Peninsula. Do we play on the Arab Peninsula?"
"That's right, the Bagdad expansion franchise isn't coming in for another three years. Who else?"
"Your belt? Stop for a second a think there, Henderson, how exactly is a little ol' Minnesotan lady in the stands gonna feel if you start strippin' down out there?"
"What about equipment from the dug out?"
"Not a bad idea, Van Nostren! But that's a little played out, and remember you've got teammates and fellow pros out there, don't want to risk anybody's safety. That's why I recommend the shirt toss, it's soft, it's light, it flutters down beautifully after a long throw, its arc and trajectory gives you more time to shout at the umps, it's perfect."
A tentative hand rises from the front row, "But Mr. Hunter--"
"Sir, I was just wondering, wouldn't it be safer not to say anything at all and just file an appeal after the game..."
Torii blinks, and stares back at the player. "What's your name, son?"
"Uh-huh, Middlecamp....well you're not on my sheet here, son, I think you might be looking for Joe Mauer's Seminar on Increasing your Midwestern-ness, that's room 203 not 302..."
"Oh, I'm sorry, sir," says Middlecamp, gathering his belongings and heading for the door.
"Its okay, man, its okay, it may be helpful some day. Now the rest of you, let's talk about how much to tip the batboy after he picks up the stuff..."