Pop quiz, hotshot!
A man with omnipotent powers appears in your living room, puts his hands on you and you are immediately teleported to a postcard-perfect baseball diamond in the middle of a clearing in a magical meadow. You almost cry due to sensory overload. “Is this heaven?” you ask to no one in particular.
The moment those words escape your lips, the man who teleported you morphs into a villainous archetype chosen by your subconscious and particularized to your own memory, experience and, perhaps, your fears. Maybe it’s Dracula. Maybe it’s Jason from the “Friday the 13th Movies.” In my case it is, of course, Tomax and Xamot, the twin commanders of the Crimson Guard and the co-CEOs of the international conglomerate Extensive Enterprises which bankrolls Cobra Command.
“You have one chance,” Tomax begins, “to save your life,” Xamot says, completing the sentence. “Chose your challenge,” they say in unison. Before you, a man appears out of thin air.
“I will throw ten pitches,” the man, a 1999 version of Pedro Martinez says. “You must make contact with at least one of them. Foul balls are OK, but no mere foul tips. The ball has to travel at least 20 feet.”
Then another man appears.
“I will let you throw pitches to me until ten have passed at least within a foot of the strike zone,” the man, a 1994 version of Tony Gwynn says. “If I get what would be seven clean base hits . . . you die.”
Finally, a third man appears.
“Rickey will hit ten fungoes to you, who will be positioned at shortstop,” a 1980 version of Rickey Henderson says. “And then Rickey will run. You must throw Rickey out at first base on at least one of them or you’re dead, man.” As Rickey says this, a 1979 version of Keith Hernandez appears with a glove at first base and a 1974 version of umpire Doug Harvey appears in foul territory just beyond first base.
“Choose your challenge,” Tomax says. “If you fail, you die,” Xamot says.
And you choose?