It was the worst of times, and it was definitely not the best of times. It was, however, about to be one of the most west of times! The year is 2021, and in a post baseball hellworld, many ballplayers are feeling completely lost without balls to bat, bats to swing, and bases to run. Tired of throwing fastballs to cardboard catchers made out of pizza boxes and toilet paper tubes, our team decides to head west through the shattered and disparate former-United States to form a 5-man barnstorming team. The destination? The newly formed Republic of the 7 People Who Actually Live in Oregon (RotPWALiO.) As one does, they will be traveling by ox-pulled covered wagon.
Leading our fateful team or intrepid baseballers is Joseph Patrick Mauer himself. Mentor, hero, savior. He is leaving his old life as a rap battle instructor behind to help his friends make their way to Oregon. With him is his second in command, Nelson Cruz. Pitchers used to be very intimidated facing down Cruz, so he’s along for security reason. Can he intimidate wolves and bears or whatever? Can he intimidate gold rush era diseases? We’ll find out!
Then we have the plucky trio of Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Max Kepler. They’re young and they are sometimes healthy, and they are ready to sit in a wagon until their butts get all sore. If that’s all that happens to their butts, I think we’ll be pretty lucky.
(I haven’t played this game in many many years, so I imagine this will be short, due to Joe dying of Bilateral Dysentery Weakness or Buxton running full bore into a cow and breaking his leg like the human animorphed into a gazelle for too long he is. Bear with me.)
On a quiet and peaceful day in late March that should have been filled with the roar of crowds and the wonderful sound of bat hitting ball, the team gathers in the sleepy ruins of the Twin Cities. Having spent their pro-rated contracts of the 2020 season of 400 entire dollars, the Twins are starting with 9 Oxen, 10 Sets of clothing, 2 of each wagon part, and 120 lbs of food. ”I have no idea if that is enough food. That’s roughly one me’s worth of food so that should last a while, probably? I hope so?” Said some weird girl with green hair at Matt’s General Store. The team decided to take her advice for some reason.”
They are also taking along 15 bullets to shoot at swamp monsters and scary noises in the night.
Uh oh, here we go! Reaching the first river crossing like 4 days later, our big boys have managed to eat half of their rations. Not a good start!
“We shouldn’t have trusted that strange girl!” Max Kepler yelled.
“Shucks, that river looks to be 653 feet across and 9.1 feet deep!” Joe chuckled to himself, bringing everyone else to side-eye him, each doing the mental-calculus if they should fear his wholesome liquid-measuring powers borne of years of milk-drinking.
Unable to afford the 5 dollars for the ferry, the team had no choice but to caulk up the ol’ Bomba Wagon and float across the river like the Viking adjacent team they were. Luck or skill, our heroes managed to make it across without tipping over.
“Who somehow managed to eat 15lbs of food while we floated across a river?!” Yelled Berrios, nestled comfortably between two oxen. Cruz shrugged, a massive pile of fruit snack wrappers at his feet.
The team continued on their pilgrimage, floating the next river like seasoned pros, but being forced to fast as their rations ran out still a week away from the first settlement along their path.
“Max Kepler Has Dysentery.” proclaimed a giant pop-up window in the sky.
“Crap.” Max yelled, weakly shaking his fist in the sky.
“Heh.” Buxton giggled. “Yeah.” Max glared at him, his stomach churning.
“You hit 5 straight bombas off of Trevor Bauer, you can hit 5 straight bombas off of Dysentery.” Nelson Cruz said, eyes closed while nodding sagely.
“Not sure that makes sense, but I appreciate your confidence.” Max replied.
Arriving in Fort Kearny, all the Twins could manage to obtain in trade was 50lbs of food for 1 of their wagon wheels. With worry in their hearts, and ideas for oxen based meals in their heads, they kept calm and ox-drawn wagON.
Fearing for his team, one morning Joe left to hunt and replenish their rations. Unfortunately he could not bring himself to kill Bambi’s mother, and Cruz had to take over. 200lbs of dead stuff later, the wagon was filled to the brim with meat.
Things began to look up, Kepler stopped pooping everywhere, their bellies were full, and blizzards stopped being a thing. April was going to be a good month!
“Byron Buxton has a fever.”
Thanks to a helpful dude from Cleveland showing them a tipped over truck full of cup ramen, which Mauer initially argued against as it needed to be cooked and “Mother told me not to play with fire,” the Twins gained some more rations just in time to get lost in the fog for 3 days straight and then bumble on to Independence Rock where they traded their last wagon wheel for more food.
May however, was another beast entirely. Max Kepler immediately developed Cholera, a disease that is way less funny than dysentery, and also very very bad. Berrios wasn’t far behind him.
Their team both starving to death and dying of sickness, Cruz and Mauer grew desperate, deciding to take a risky shortcut and forgo the next town, instead deciding to slaughter an ox if they ran out of game to hunt. The next morning would be a devastating one.
Cruz stepped down from the wagon and walk beside it, Joe at the reigns as always.
“Max is dead. The Typhoid got him.”
“Wait I thought he had Cholera?”
“I guess he had secret typhoid too?”
Buxton died a few days later, of Cholera, which no one knew he had because the big sky pop-up god was apparently being lazy. Cruz and Berrios swapped positions on the Typhoid-having train just in time for the 3rd river crossing, which the team somehow managed to handle perfectly.
In June the team crossed a desert, running out of food and water as oxen began dropping like fly balls in no-man’s land. The cholera finally took Cruz, and Berrios. Alone, Mauer rode silently, morale at an all time low.
“One man can not be a baseball team.” Joe said staring across the 4th river crossing, remembering the good times he had with his friends years ago at Target field losing all the baseball games. “The logistics just don’t work out!”
Joe flicked the reigns and the oxen hesitantly began to trot into the river, their heads soon barely above water.
“I’ll see you in heaven my friends.” Joe said to the blue skies. “I’ll bring the milkshakes.”
Years later a lone woman came across a ragged journal at a lone grave-site. She opened the journal and began to read the troublesome tale of the Twins.