All things Star Wars need a trilogy and the third annual Star Wars Night at the Ballpark is tonight at Busch Stadium. For the first time, this noted fan of both franchises will be in attendance, hoping that we avoid the casualties that we saw in the first two. Last year, we used the struggles of the hitters as a basis for a mashup episode. Same situation this year, so we’ve got ourselves a sequel.
SURRENDER OF THE BATS
A year after believing themselves rid of the Sith influence on their batting woes, the ST. LOUIS CARDINALS again find themselves woefully unable to produce much offensive firepower, even with the legendary artifact, the BAT OF STAN MUSIAL, within their possession. While this has not kept the team from some successes, it has created a war for the Central division crown, a war that would be unnecessary without this offensive struggle.
Puzzled by the return of these issues, the Masters meet regularly, hoping to find the answers they seek. However, their ability to sense the Force has been hampered and they are unsure what to do about it.
After another disturbing outing, they call on an outside source to help them in their quest…..
(We pan down from the stars to the blue-green jewel known as Earth. A quick cut has us at BUSCH STADIUM during a hot July afternoon. We see the scoreboard, which is lined with zeroes for both the visiting NEW YORK METS and our heroes, the ST. LOUIS CARDINALS. Zero after zero are posted as the game goes well into extra innings. Finally, we see runs go up for the visitors and the game ends in defeat.
We cut to inside the stadium as we follow a pair of khaki-clad pants into the clubhouse as we see many players filing out, shoulders slumped. With the clubhouse now empty, JOHN MOZELIAK shifts Darryl Kile’s uniform in the locker reserved for him, revealing a familiar secret passageway. MOZELIAK follows the tunnel to the council chambers of the CARDINAL JEDI MASTERS, who have asked for an audience.
Seated around the table are MASTERS MATT HOLLIDAY, MATT CARPENTER, ADAM WAINWRIGHT, YADIER MOLINA, JIM EDMONDS, CHRIS CARPENTER and GRAND MASTER OZZIE SMITH. Dotted between them are holographic representations of MASTERS LOU BROCK, RED SCHOENDIENST, and WILLIE MCGEE.)
GRAND MASTER SMITH: Welcome, old friend. Appreciate you coming, we do.
MOZELIAK: I’m always glad to be of service to this august body and it is good to be in the presence of friendly faces. I hope that I am able to assist you in some way.
SMITH: We hope so as well. Have you noticed anything that might be construed as dark side activity recently?
MOZELIAK: I don’t think so. The Sith were wiped out, weren’t they? When you look at the seasons Kyle Lohse and Aramis Ramirez are having in Milwaukee, it surely seems like your method of stripping them from the Force was effective. Other potential Sith Lords, like Bud Norris, seem to be suffering the same fate. While I’m sure Clayton Kershaw would like to learn those unnatural ways to have a chance against you Jedi, there’s no indication that he has pursued them, according to my sources. All in all, there’s no one or nothing that seems very Sithy, if you will.
MCGEE: Tell me, in your travels and in your discussions with other teams, have you heard of any unusual artifacts, any strange phenomenon, really anything out of the ordinary at all?
MOZELIAK: Well, as you know, I’m always talking to people, especially at this time of year. I’m trying to think, but I don’t believe…..
[MOZELIAK pauses in thought, then continues.]
MOZELIAK: Actually, there is something that didn’t make much sense at the time, but might be what you are looking for. I had an e-mail from an anonymous sender recently. That is a rare thing, of course. Not many folks have my email, so I read it anyway. It said, “I know what you were looking for, but it’s not in Houston.” I assumed it was some joke about the hacking incident and deleted it, but perhaps it wasn’t.
EDMONDS: What do you mean, Mo?
MOZELIAK: It’s possible, however unlikely, that a Sith artifact might still be in existence, even if it’s not being used by someone who can fully harness its power. In fact, I would guess that they might not know what it was at all, just seeing it as historical or a “lucky charm” but causing major issues in the Force.
MATT CARPENTER (stroking his beard): That would explain much about this season. Wainwright’s Achilles suddenly popping, the groin pulls and tears by Master Holliday and Jedi Knight Matt Adams, my inability to hit like I can, Pete Kozma still being on the roster….
MOZELIAK (embarrassed): That, that business with Kozma doesn’t count. He saw me entering these chambers one time and I had to promise continual employment to keep him quiet. Sorry.
MATT CARPENTER: But where would we find such an artifact?
MOZELIAK: That I can’t help you with. The ways of the Force are mysterious to me. I need to get back and see about getting a first baseman, so I will take my leave. If you need any help, though, you know how to reach me.
(Screen wipes to batting practice the next day. HOLLIDAY, MATT CARPENTER and MOLINA are in the dugout, watching the rest of their teammates.)
MOLINA: I believe Mo is right. We’ve seen spurts of good offensive performance, which I don’t believe we’d have observed if it were a Sith Lord fully influencing the Force.
HOLLIDAY: But where could it be? And WHAT could it be? The list is so long. It could be anything from Brandon Phillips’s bat to something from Ramirez to…I don’t know. I mean, we went and found Stan Musial’s bat last year. A Sith artifact could be from that long ago as well, or even farther back. I don’t know what I’m even doing here, we’re wasting our time!
MOLINA: Patience, my friend. The Force is still working through us. We will know in time.
MATT CARPENTER: But do we have enough time, that is the question?
(Rotating wipe back to the council chambers. GRAND MASTER SMITH and MASTER MCGEE are conferencing.)
MCGEE: Do you think it could be?
SMITH: It explains so much. Their current success, our current predicament, that play…..
MCGEE: Speak not of the dark times, my friend. They are past and cannot be changed. The present is a different story. We must act.
SMITH: Planning we must do, yes. Much work we have.
MCGEE: We’ll need a team with specific skills. I think I know just who to ask.
(We see the exterior of BUSCH STADIUM. It is night and the team is in Chicago dealing with the White Sox. A light in the window, though, indicates that not everything is as quiet as it appears. We move into the council chambers, where MASTER MCGEE stands with three Masters in their robes and presents his team to GRAND MASTER SMITH.)
MCGEE: For this mission, Master, I recommend the following. Master Wainwright can head up the mission and be supported by Master Brock, for his speed and Master Edmonds, for his sure hands. I will also go, given my familiarity with….the Violation.
WAINWRIGHT: Violation? What are we talking about here? It’s late and I just had some Pappy’s, so spell it out for me if you don’t mind.
SMITH: During our meditations, Master McGee and I could not clearly see a location or an item that might be affecting the offense, but we did both feel, independently, that the item might be located here.
(A holographic map appears from the floor in front of SMITH, looking like the below)
EDMONDS: Kansas City? Really? That’s not exactly where I’d go hiding an artifact if it was up to me. New York, LA, something like that, sure, but Kansas City?
(SMITH and MCGEE exchange glances)
SMITH: Search your feelings. Stretch out with the Force. Tell me what you feel.
BROCK (eyes closed): There is logic here, I feel that. Their resurgence as a club has coincided almost directly with our offensive woes. (opens eyes) I agree, there’s something in that area. But what? What could be strong enough with Force energy to be affecting us in this way?
MCGEE: We aren’t sure. But we believe, whatever it is, was not hidden in Kansas City. It was created there. Something involved with this:
(The hologram shifts to archived footage)
WAINWRIGHT: You think the Denkinger play is responsible for whatever is going on now? I don’t know, Master Smith. That seems hard to believe.
SMITH: Your doubt, I understand. Master McGee and I have consulted the ancient Holocrons and there is a method by which a Sith artifact can be created if an injustice has been committed. It’s fairly rare, but that was likely the most egregious injustice this organization has ever been through, at least on the field.
WAINWRIGHT: Hmmm. OK, let’s assume you are right. Why now? Why hasn’t this been affecting the Force for the past 30 years?
SMITH: A great question, that is. Something else for you to learn in Kansas City. We may need to know how to locate more of these should this not be the only one around or if others find ways to create artifacts in the future.
EDMONDS: So we don’t know what it is or exactly where to look. Perfect.
MCGEE: I have a friend that might help with that. I’ll go meet with him. You three be ready to go tomorrow night at this time and hopefully I’ll have a focus for our mission.
(Screen wipe. It’s early the next morning and we are out on a lakeshore. An older man sits in a chair, casting his line and waiting on the fish. MASTER MCGEE walks up to him from behind.)
MCGEE: Are the fish biting this morning, Whitey?
(WHITEY HERZOG, unfazed, doesn’t even turn around to address MCGEE)
HERZOG: Willie, my old friend. How ya doin’? Grab some dirt and sit a spell with me.
MCGEE (sitting): I actually won’t disturb your peace long, Skip, but I’ve got a couple of questions that I think you might have some insight on.
HERZOG: This personal or is it more Jedi business?
MCGEE: The latter, but I hope you’ll help me anyway.
HERZOG (sighing): I guess. There’s no doubt having some Jedi on a team has helped me out in the past. Still not real comfortable with the whole idea, though.
MCGEE (hands raised): I know, I know. But what I’ve got to do will help the Cards, so that should be of interest to you.
HERZOG (looking at the water): Yeah, yeah. What do you need to know?
MCGEE: It’s actually about your other town. Have you been back to Kansas City recently?
HERZOG: KC? Well, yeah, I was there when we played the Royals a month or so ago. Think I might have been back there once since, maybe. Can’t quite be sure. What about it?
MCGEE: Is there anything new going on in that stadium? Anything that might be tied to….the Violation?
HERZOG (irritated): Don’t call it that. Call it what it was, a missed call. I know Don Denkinger felt bad about it and I felt for him, but man, that was terrible. To your question, though, yeah, now that you mention it, I think there is a display in the Royal Hall of Fame that’s got some stuff from that Series. Don’t know if it has anything from that specific night or not, but it might.
MCGEE: That’s where we’ll start looking then. (Stands up, brushes himself off) I appreciate it, Skip. You’ve been pretty helpful.
HERZOG: And you’ve been scaring my fish. Now get outta here. And Willie? (pause) May the Force be with you.
(Night falls and MCGEE meets the other Masters in the clubhouse of BUSCH STADIUM.)
WAINWRIGHT (as MCGEE enters): Master McGee, did you find out any more about what we will be looking for?
MCGEE: Not per se, though I know the first place to check. Tie these headphones to your comlink and I’ll tell you on the way.
EDMONDS (as they walk out of the clubhouse and the stadium): I’m curious, Master McGee. Who did you need to see? And why do we need the headphones?
MCGEE: Well, it’s kinda hard to talk while riding these.
(The four turn the corner of the stadium to see speeder bikes waiting for them.)
MCGEE: What, did you think we were going to drive? Have you seen all the construction between here and there?
(Three of the Masters immediately jump on their bikes. MASTER WAINWRIGHT takes a moment to stow some gear before doing the same. The Masters then kick-start the speeder bikes and race out of downtown St. Louis. We follow them as the countryside flies by, then see them zip around Kansas City until they reach 1 Royal Way. It’s dark and they hide the bikes before taking a look at the stadium.)
EDMONDS: So the Hall of Fame is in there, huh? It’d be much easier to do this if they had a separate one across the street like we do.
BROCK: Oh, this won’t be too bad. I’ll use my Jedi speed, run in, grab the artifact and we’ll be on our way.
WAINWRIGHT: Unfortunately, you can’t.
WAINWRIGHT: If that artifact is strong enough from a distance to affect all of the bats in our lineup, what do you think it will do to a Force-user at close range?
BROCK: This mission just got a lot tougher. So now what do we do?
MCGEE: Buy some tickets to a ball game, it seems.
(Screen wipe to the next day. It’s late afternoon and fans are filing into Kauffman Stadium. Our Jedi, trying to be discreet, have purchased tickets in different areas of the park and are entering by different gates. They are using minimal disguises, expecting that even with the Force compromised, there should be enough to help them fool any curious onlookers. WAINWRIGHT is carrying a backpack and is hunched over to try to disguise his height. However, given their proximity to whatever is causing the disturbance, their efforts at disguise aren’t as complete as they would have hoped.)
FAN: Hey, aren’t you Adam Wainwright? What are you doing here?
WAINWRIGHT: That bum? Man, why are you slinging insults around like that. Calling me a Cardinal. I oughtta slug you right here.
FAN: Easy now, it wasn’t supposed to be insulting. Sorry about that.
WAINWRIGHT: No problem. Go Royals!
FAN: Go Royals!
(In a different part of the park, MCGEE has a Panama hat and Hawaiian shirt on, trying to draw attention away from his face, with limited success)
FAN 2: You know, you look a lot like Willie McGee.
MCGEE: I get that a lot. Not quite sure how to take it.
FAN 2: I remember old Willie from back in that ’85 Series. He was a player, I’ll tell you that. Wonder what he’s doing now.
MCGEE: I don’t know, but probably not hanging around this ballpark!
(Another part of the park)
FAN 3: Are you Jim Edmonds?
EDMONDS: Yep. Want an autograph?
(Moments later BROCK comes around the corner to see a line for autographs and EDMONDS signing away. He walks away, shaking his head.)
(We then focus on the Hall of Fame doors inside the stadium. Fans mill around, going in and out as the game progresses. We see MCGEE walk in. Moments later, with another group of people, WAINWRIGHT arrives. We follow him into the museum and watch as he slips into the back, finding an unused janitor’s closet. MCGEE is already there.)
WAINWRIGHT: So we wait?
MCGEE: We wait.
(Moments later Brock enters the closet.)
BROCK: I don’t believe anyone saw me. That was the easy part, however.
WAINWRIGHT: Where’s Edmonds? Shouldn’t he be here by now?
BROCK: Signing autographs.
WAINWRIGHT: Oh, I have a bad feeling about this.
MCGEE: Won’t this be a problem? If the Royals know we are here, they’ll likely know why we are here.
BROCK: I don’t think so. The more that I’ve circulated and meditated in this space, I don’t sense much deception here. I can’t be sure, of course, given the Force fluctuations, but I believe that the Royals are just displaying this artifact, not knowing its true power. Seeing Edmonds here shouldn’t raise any flags.
MCGEE: I hope you are right.
(Just then EDMONDS comes in the door)
EDMONDS: I think I shook off the last of the followers.
(Everyone just looks at him)
(Our heroes remain sequestered in Jedi meditation as the game winds down. After the Royals finish off the Pirates, the crowd noises dwindle. Cleaning noises are heard until finally silence reigns)
MCGEE: I believe, as they say, the coast is clear.
(Everyone quietly slips out of the closet and ignites their lightsabers to look around. WAINWRIGHT uses the Force to blank out any security cameras that might try to record their activities.)
BROCK: Did anyone notice the ’85 Series display? I was in a hurry when I arrived and didn’t circulate to find it.
MCGEE: I did. It’s right over there on that wall.
(The Jedi stealthily approach the exhibit. They look and see all the things that are on display: Bret Saberhagen’s glove, the fan that John Tudor punched in Game 7, Dane Iorg’s bat, Frank White’s shoes, etc.)
EDMONDS: Man, there’s a lot of stuff here. What could it be?
WAINWRIGHT: Everyone focus. Use the Force to guide you. On the count of three, we each say the item we think it is using the prompting of the Force.
(The Jedi close their eyes. A stillness is in the air. Then WAINWRIGHT counts down and each say)
EVERYONE: The base!
(They open their eyes and look at the base bag that lies in the bottom of the exhibit)
MCGEE: This must be it. This must have been first base the night of the….Violation. We found it!
EDMONDS: That’s great, but what do we do now? I can imagine that we could get into the display, but it’s going to be pretty obvious in the morning that someone’s been in here when there’s a base missing.
WAINWRIGHT: Did you learn nothing as a Padawan, Master Edmonds? Always be prepared.
(Wainwright removes his backpack and sorts through it)
WAINWRIGHT: I didn’t know what we’d be finding so I brought some basic items to replace it. Gloves, bats, and other things from that era. Given the nature of the Violation, the base was within the realm of possibility, so I added one of those into my inventory as well.
(Wainwright reaches in and produces a base)
WAINWRIGHT: We can doctor it up and Kansas City will not the be wiser.
EDMONDS: But who can handle the base? With all that raw Sith power, won’t someone be sorely affected by touching it?
WAINWRIGHT: That’s where you and Master Brock come in. Your hands will be able to hold the display open while Master Brock swipes yet another bag. Master McGee and I will channel our Force energies around this backpack. That should, at least somewhat, make the backpack and the items inside resistant to the Sith influence. Master Brock can then steal the bag, drop it in here, and take off for the speeder bikes. We’ll put the new bag in and follow you out. The backpack will only stay Sith-proof for a limited amount of time, but with the speeder bikes we should be able to get back to the council chambers in St. Louis before it wears off.
BROCK: Sounds like a plan. It’s been too long since I had a steal. Are you ready, Master Edmonds?
EDMONDS: This is where the fun begins.
(EDMONDS holds up the glass while BROCK gets the back. Immediately, he slides it into the backpack. With the Sith energies shielded, he is able to use his Jedi speed to race from the ballpark)
EDMONDS: Wow, this was almost too—
WAINWRIGHT AND MCGEE: DON’T SAY IT!
(We follow BROCK’s bike as it gets closer and closer to St. Louis. The other three bikes are close by but noticeably trail. Suddenly, BROCK’s bike begins to wobble.)
BROCK: The Force protection must be wearing off! We’re close….maybe I can…..
(As we zip down Clark Street, we see BROCK throttle his bike up over the walls of the stadium. The control finally goes, though, and the bike and he come bouncing down on the ground, churning up dust as it comes down the third base line and comes to rest on home plate.)
BROCK: Safe once again!
(Screen wipe. We are back in council chambers with the JEDI COUNCIL in attendance)
SMITH: Well done, Masters. With that base now safely hidden, hopefully we’ll see the bats come back to their normal outings. It’ll be a test this evening against those Royals. Are we sure they weren’t actively trying to destroy us?
WAINWRIGHT: I don’t believe so, Master. It seems like just a coincidence, though we may be able to tell more when we observe them this evening and in the weeks to come.
MATT CARPENTER: I have a question, though. If they were just unwitting pawns, who was the one controlling them? After all, remember that message Mo got. Is there someone out there that knows the ways of the Sith?
(We enter an unfamiliar office, darkened to hide its look and its occupant. A black-hooded figure is seen from the back.)
UNKNOWN PERSON: My lack of discipline has cost me again. Mastering this Sith business is taking a little longer than I thought. I will get there, though. Next year, Cardinals, next year IS coming.