Star Wars Night returns to Busch Stadium this evening and, for the second straight year, I am unable to attend. However, as one of the most known Star Wars/Cardinal fans out there, it’s incumbent on me not to let such things pass unmarked. You can see some of my other mashup work over here. As always, I’m very sorry.
THE OFFENSIVE PLAGUE
It is a time of trial for the St. Louis Cardinals. One year after an historic offensive output, the Cardinal bats have gone completely dormant.
Balls that used to fall for doubles now settle in outfielders’ gloves. Good pitches are pounded into the ground, never eluding infielders but instead resulting in outs. Rallies are killed by double plays both traditional and unique.
This is no ordinary slump. The Cardinal Jedi Masters are coming to believe that there is something more sinister to this production malady than can be explained by the natural order of things. Something–or someone–is keeping them from their rightful place atop Major League Baseball.
The time has come to act upon these suspicions………
(To see this in its full crawl glory, follow this link. We pan down from our starry sky through Earth’s atmosphere to BUSCH STADIUM. It’s early afternoon and few are around, but one person walks the corridors of the stadium. We see his cleats clicking on the concrete as he enters the clubhouse of the ST. LOUIS CARDINALS. Still seeing just the white pants of the Cardinal uniform, our mystery man walks over to the locker of Darryl Kile. After pausing a moment in memory of the fallen, he shifts Kile’s uniform an inch. The locker then swings out, revealing a secret passageway.
We follow him through the passageway into a wide open room, dominated by a circle of elegant recliners. This is the main chambers of the CARDINAL JEDI COUNCIL, made up of past legends and current Jedi. Not every Cardinal is a member, only those that have shown themselves strong in the Force. The camera pans up to show the back of the man we’ve been following. The number 4 fills his back and we realize we have been shadowing Master YADIER MOLINA.
The rest of the CARDINAL JEDI COUNCIL is already there, either reclining around a center rug with the Cardinal logo or appearing via hologram from distant outposts. GRAND MASTER OZZIE SMITH welcomes MOLINA to the meeting.)
SMITH: Welcome, Master Molina. I appreciate you coming on such short notice.
MOLINA: I live to serve, Master Smith. Besides, your message said this had to do with our puzzling offensive issues. If you have a solution to that, I am quite ready to hear it.
SMITH: I believe that I do. However, ready to hear it, you may not be. Please take your seat.
MOLINA settles into his chair between Masters MATT HOLLIDAY and the holographic representation of LOU BROCK. Both nod to acknowledge his arrival.
SMITH: Let us get right to it. As you all know, and some are in the midst of experiencing first hand, there has been a shortage of offensive production out of this year’s Cardinal team that goes beyond puzzling. This should not be happening, but in my meditations, I believe I have come to a terrible conclusion. The Sith have returned and are impeding our ability to use the Force.
MASTER BOB GIBSON: The Sith? I thought we took care of them back in my day. Baseball had to cover it up by doing that lower the mound nonsense, but our battles with them were epic. How could they have returned? I was sure we had wiped them all out back then.
MASTER ADAM WAINWRIGHT: And why just the offense? I am having no problem with my use of the Force while I’m on the mound. Just the opposite, in fact. I don’t believe I’ve ever felt it flow through me quite as strong as it has during this season. Are you sure about this, Master Smith?
SMITH: I am. Your increased connection with the Force is one of the reasons I believe this way, in fact. The Sith do not seem to be strong enough yet to sever our complete connection to the Force. Instead, they can just divert it, direct it. Given that you have to score to win, they have focused on impeding the offensive side of the ball, pushing the Force into a more defensive state for us. You have seen that the defense has improved significantly this year, haven’t you? Jhonny Peralta is not that swift by himself, I think. If the Sith get stronger, even that connection could be severed, however. We could eventually be blind to our talents.
MASTER JIM EDMONDS: So what are we to do, Master Smith? We can’t allow that to happen!
SMITH: My plan is two-fold. One, we must root out the Sith and defeat them, of that, there can be no debate. I have felt that there is a shadow over Milwaukee, so our players must be on guard this weekend. Perhaps clues we will find during the series there. All of our current Masters and Knights will need to use all of their skill to determine where the evil lies.
There is another way to help, however. Cardinal Jedi legend states that somewhere in the galaxy there lies a talisman of true offensive power. This artifact can help us break through the Sith shadow and regain at least a portion of the offensive talents that our team currently holds. We must find the Bat of Stan Musial.
MASTER HOLLIDAY: A Stan Musial bat? But there are a number of them across the street in the Hall of Fame museum. This doesn’t sound like much of an obstacle, Grand Master.
SMITH: Not just any bat, my young friend. This is the Musial bat that hit the legendary “rained out” home run from Musial’s 1948 season. A home run that would have given Musial leadership in all major categories in the National League that year. Legend has it Master Musial sent it out among the stars, afraid that its power was too great for the game.
Our retired Masters and Knights will begin the preparations for the search immediately. We will use the upcoming All-Star Game as cover for our search. Masters Wainwright and Molina and Jedi Knight Matt Carpenter will be unable to help, of course, but the rest of us will scour the galaxy looking for this artifact. Are there any questions?
Then may the Force be with you.
SMITH dismisses the Council so they can set about their duties. MOLINA, WAINWRIGHT and HOLLIDAY return to the clubhouse via the secret entrance. They find they are not alone, as DANIEL DESCALSO has come in earlier than expected and is now at his locker.
DESCALSO: Hang on, where did you guys come from? I was sure I was the only one in here and you didn’t come in through the main door. What’s going on?
WAINWRIGHT (waving hand): You don’t need to know what’s going on.
DESCALSO: I don’t need to know what’s going on.
WAINWRIGHT (waving hand): We were always right here.
DESCALSO: You were always right here.
WAINWRIGHT (waving hand): You will forget you there was every anything curious.
DESCALSO: There was nothing curious here.
WAINWRIGHT (waving hand): You will go talk to Mike Matheny about more playing time.
DESCALSO: I’m going to talk to Skip about playing some more.
DESCALSO exits. MOLINA and HOLLIDAY look quizzically at WAINWRIGHT.
WAINWRIGHT: What? It got him out of our way.
HOLLIDAY: Yeah, but Mike might think it’s a good idea.
WAINWRIGHT: Oh. Right.
Screen wipe. We shift to the bowels of MILLER PARK, where two Milwaukee Brewers are talking in a secluded corner before their teammates arrive. KYLE LOHSE, a former Cardinal Jedi who has fallen to the dark side, consults with his master, who remains covered in darkness.
SITH LORD: Your knowledge of the Jedi has been quite helpful, young apprentice. While I was able to do much damage to them before your arrival, adding your powers to my own has created the effect we hoped for.
LOHSE: Thank you, my master. However, the Jedi will be coming here soon. Can we hope to fool them when we are right under their noses?
SITH LORD: Patience, my friend. The Force is very clouded for them. They are still not sure if this is a natural phenomenon or something more sinister. While they may have their suspicions, they will have no proof. If we act natural, they will have no reason to suspect that their demise stands right in front of them.
LOHSE: Should we lighten the fog this weekend? Get them looking in the wrong direction?
SITH LORD (snarling): Never. We never ease up on those do-gooders. We will prevail whether they find out about us or not. However, they will not know anything this weekend. I have foreseen it. Soon we will be able to remove them from the Force for good. Milwaukee is the new power now in the Central. You would be wise to remember that!
Screen wipe. After finishing the series with the Pirates, the entire Cardinal team–both Jedi and oblivious mortals–have arrived at MILLER PARK for the last series before the All-Star Break. Understandably, the Jedi are getting anxious, both to be off on their mission to find the BAT OF STAN MUSIAL and because of the ominous flavor of the Force in Milwaukee.
JEDI KNIGHT MATT ADAMS: I have a bad feeling about this.
HOLLIDAY: Be mindful of your feelings. Focus on the now, but open your awareness around you. You are right, something is amiss here and it is not just the fact that the Brewers are ahead of us in the standings. We must be careful.
ADAMS: Do you think the Sith are actually here right now?
HOLLIDAY: They would have to be ridiculously bold and arrogant to be where we could find them. However, Sith are usually bold and arrogant, so it’s possible.
The two Jedi head toward the field, where they see their former compatriot LOHSE watching them in the home dugout.
HOLLIDAY: Kyle! How are you, man? Life treating you OK?
LOHSE (nervously): Of course. Doesn’t get much better than being on a winning team, does it? Surprised y’all are having as much trouble as you are. Any ideas on why that is?
HOLLIDAY looks away from LOHSE
HOLLIDAY: Oh, I’m sure we’ll come around. Law of averages and all that. Can’t keep us down forever, huh? (slightly chuckles) Matt, let’s take some swings. Good seeing you, Kyle. You pitching in this series?
LOHSE: Naw, I went Wednesday. Good talking with you. Best of luck!
HOLLIDAY: You too!
LOHSE leaves quickly, scurrying to his clubhouse.
HOLLIDAY: That was a bit odd, don’t you think, my Padawan?
ADAMS: First off, I’ve already passed the trials. I’m not your Padawan anymore and you know it. Secondly, I didn’t know Lohse when he was here, so I can’t say for sure, but I did sense a lot of worry and other dark traits with him.
Screen wipe. After an uneventful series in Milwaukee, the All-Stars contingent (including non-Jedi PAT NESHEK) have left for the game in Minnesota. They put NESHEK into a Jedi-induced sleep so they could holographically attend the Council meeting being held back in St. Louis.
SMITH: For those that were in Milwaukee, have anything to report, do you?
WAINWRIGHT: There’s something there, that’s for sure, but I wasn’t able to localize it. However, I’m more certain than ever that you are right, that we are dealing with the Sith.
MOLINA: I agree. The Force was very dark this weekend.
HOLLIDAY: Jedi Knight Adams and I had a strange encounter with Lohse while we were up there. I know that he left the Jedi Order, but do you think he’s gone so far as to join in the dark side?
SMITH: A possibility, this is. However, Lohse would not be able to be a Sith Master, especially not in such a short time. He must be working with someone. But whom?
MASTER RED SCHOENDIENST: I’ve seen the Sith a few times over my tenure as a Jedi. The leader always seems to be a offensive force, a player that does much damage, especially to the Cardinals. It’s like the conflict between light and dark brings out the best in them.
EDMONDS: Could it be Ryan Braun? We know he has many of the traits of the Sith.
MASTER WILLIE MCGEE: Braun would seem too obvious, I believe. The Sith are much more subtle than that.
SMITH: Yes, Master Wainwright?
WAINWRIGHT: I believe I know who the Sith might be. And if I’m right, we’ll be sharing a clubhouse with him this week.
Screen wipe. We see the Jedi filing out of the Council chambers and heading to their ships. MASTER CHRIS CARPENTER and JEDI KNIGHT LANCE LYNN search the Utapau System. MASTER BROCK and JEDI KNIGHT VINCE COLEMAN check out the Kessel Run area. Other pairings scour the galaxy. We follow MASTER EDMONDS and PADAWAN OSCAR TAVERAS as they touch down on Dagobah.
EDMONDS: This would have been an excellent place for Musial to have hid the bat. No one comes here. It’s like going to a Rays game.
TAVERAS: But where should we look, Master? This whole place is an overgrown swamp. You can’t even scan for wood with all the various trees around. You ask the impossible!
EDMONDS: Ah, you’ve never been here. There’s really only one place that the bat could be. However, strong enough to face the cave you must be. Strong in the dark side it is. Test you, it will.
TAVERAS: Any reason you are flipping your sentence structure?
EDMONDS: Sorry. This place does it to you.
EDMONDS and TAVERAS travel to the dark side cave. They enter and are immediately assailed with visions. EDMONDS sees himself diving for the ball in the 2004 NLCS, only to come up short. TAVERAS sees his name continually not listed in the lineup. After fighting through these visions, the mists clear and a golden glow comes from the back of the cave.
EDMONDS: The bat! We’ve found it!
TAVERAS: Awesome. Now let’s get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.
While EDMONDS and TAVERAS head back to Earth, WAINWRIGHT, MOLINA and MATT CARPENTER get settled in the All-Star clubhouse.
WAINWRIGHT: Listen, if I’m right, this guy is the Sith Lord. He’s going to be very difficult to defeat, so we need to all work together to try to take him out, preferably as soon as possible.
MOLINA: But how? We can’t kill him without showing ourselves to the rest of the world. I’m pretty sure we’re not ready for that.
WAINWRIGHT: Not at all. But if the Sith can divert the Force, I don’t see why we can’t as well. Though we are going to need a little help…..
WAINWRIGHT begins to lay out his plan. At the All-Star banquet that night, they put it into motion.
WAINWRIGHT (tapping a player on the shoulder): Hey, Aramis, I was wondering if you could help me with something back at the stadium. I could use a different set of eyes on a problem I’m having.
ARAMIS RAMIREZ: Of course, Adam. I’ll be there in an hour, say?
WAINWRIGHT: Perfect. I’ll see you then.
An hour later, WAINWRIGHT waits on the field of TARGET FIELD. RAMIREZ steps out of the shadows.
RAMIREZ: So what sees to be the trouble, my friend?
WAINWRIGHT: The trouble is, my team is losing its connection to the Force. I’m here to make sure that ends now.
RAMIREZ: Whatever do you mean? What are you talking about, the Force?
WAINWRIGHT: Don’t play coy with me, Sith Lord. I know you are the one behind all of this. I know that you used your Cardinal killing abilities and merged them with Lohse’s knowledge of our ways to divert the Force from us. It won’t last. We are on to you and we will stop your plan to leave us Forceless.
RAMIREZ: It was wise that you faced me instead of your hitters. Not that it will succeed, of course, but you had a better chance.
RAMIREZ unleashes SITH LIGHTNING, knocking Wainwright back onto the mound. Wainwright reaches next to the rosin bag to grab his LIGHTSABER. With a snap-hiss, it ignites just in time to block a second round of lightning from Ramirez.
WAINWRIGHT: It’s not going to be that easy for you, Sith.
RAMIREZ Force-leaps into the dugout and extracts his own LIGHTSABER from the bat rack where it was stored. WAINWRIGHT and RAMIREZ come together in a dazzling battle, full of spins, blocks and close calls. Eventually, RAMIREZ works WAINWRIGHT back toward the bullpen.
From the bullpen, MATT CARPENTER and MOLINA emerge, hands extended as they immobilize RAMIREZ in the Force. While he is caught, WAINWRIGHT deactivates his LIGHTSABER and adds his Force energy to the hold on RAMIREZ.
WAINWRIGHT: We’re ready. Hurry!
Dropping quickly from the stands is GRAND MASTER SMITH, holding the BAT OF STAN MUSIAL.
WAINWRIGHT: Will that work? Will it be able to divest him of the Force?
SMITH: We’ll find out.
SMITH taps RAMIREZ on the shins with the bat, causing RAMIREZ to convulse. SMITH taps him again, then again, before a red light seeps out of RAMIREZ, heading off into space. RAMIREZ goes limp, completely unconscious.
MOLINA: Brandon Phillips never did understand why I didn’t want to be tapped on the shins.
WAINWRIGHT: Is it safe to let him down now? Carpenter is getting pretty worn out over there.
SMITH: I believe so. He should be not be a threat to us any more. Gather up his lightsaber and let’s get him back to the hotel. He should have no memory of this, though I expect Matheny will have to find a third baseman that can make it to Minnesota quickly. Don’t believe he’ll be in any condition to play tomorrow night.
Screen wipe. With the All-Star Game behind them, the current Cardinal Jedi return to BUSCH STADIUM to wrap up loose ends before taking a hard earned rest.
HOLLIDAY: So can we hit now?
SMITH: We will have to wait and see. However, there seems to be no artificial dampening in the Force now. It’s flowing free, it seems, so you should be able to tap into it again.
WAINWRIGHT: What about me? Am I going to struggle now that the Force isn’t completely in my corner?
SMITH: I don’t believe so. The exposure to such a Force-rich environment has forced you to adapt. Your skills have grown and therefore you will be effective even with a lesser amount of the Force running through you. Do not worry about a decline, my friend. You will be fine. The curveball will still curve.
MOLINA: What about Lohse? Do we go after him? I would hate to have to take down a former friend.
SMITH: We’ll watch Lohse, but I believe he’s not very harmful on his own. He brought some specific knowledge to Ramirez, who was able to combine that with his natural abilities. Lohse would have to seek out another Cardinal killer to replicate that situation. I believe there’s still too much good in him for that to happen.
There is a small matter we still need to attend to. Given his recent heroics, plus his past history, I believe it is time to promote Jedi Matt Carpenter to our ranks and bestow on him the title of Master. All those in favor, please raise your hand.
All hands come up. The motion carries.
SMITH: Master Molina, would you please go fetch our new Master?
We follow MOLINA out the door, down the passageway and into the clubhouse. As he taps MATT CARPENTER on the shoulder and begins to talk to him, we pan up, zooming through the sky into the great galaxy beyond…..