You are the Diamondbacks manager, and you find yourself in an intense interleague game against our established rivals, the ... Cleveland Indians. As Daniel Hudson delivers the first pitch, you must navigate a stagnant offense and sporadic bullpen to emerge victorious. Can you use fieryness and a complete disregard of situational stats to guide your team to victory?
What happens next in the story? It all depends on the choices you make. How does the story end? Only you can find out! And the best part is that you can keep reading and rereading until you've had not one but many incredibly daring experiences!
Click the links to "turn" the pages and try to make it through to a Diamondbacks win! It won't be easy...
As you watch from the dugout, your team gets off to a slow start. Even though they are still wearing the same uniforms as before their horrendous slump, they no longer look like the same squad. You've tried to fire up the team with motivational speeches, underhanded tactics and menacing threats. Hell, you even tried to show them the value of hustle by nearing killing yourself running to first on a bunt.
But none of it seems to be working, and now, despite your best efforts and unquestionable managerial mettle, you find yourself slipping in the division standings. It doesn't help that the team you're chasing has somehow managed to overcome a tremendous amount of torture -- how many months has it been since they've won a World Series now? Eight? The poor bastards -- and got to knock around the hapless Cubs for a pair of wins.
It's up to you to right the ship. As captain, first mate and chief scallywag, the responsibility falls on your broad shoulders. That didn't work out too great for Captain Hinch, who went down with the ship, or Captain Melvin, who would've gone down with the ship, but he was too busy figuring out new ways to change around the order of his crewmen.
Time to Gibby Up.
Your starting pitcher today has been one of the best in the game, as documented on this site earlier today. But starting pitching hasn't been the problem. Nay, it's been the offense and its unfortunate vanishing act that has plagued the men lately. In an attempt to correct this, you've somehow managed to break your "conventional wisdom" and keep some of the deadwood on the bench.
Sure, some would question your usage of KKKKKKKelly Johnson in the leadoff spot, or keeping the struggling Ryan Roberts at sixth instead of behind the 8 ball on the lineup card. But you kept some of the peons down in the brig, like Melvin Mora and the rotting, decaying corpse of the long-since-passed Sean Burroughs, so who can complain?
But it doesn't look good. Despite Hudson's greatness, the Indians push the first run across in the third when Brantley scores from third on a double play. And they notch a second run in the fifth on a two-out single to score a runner from second. Coupled with your offense's three hits through the first 4 2/3 innings, well...
If you want to start drinking and pretend none of this is happening, turn to Page 15. If you want to try to let your pitcher be the offensive spark, turn to Page 18. If you want to skip ahead in time and hope for a better result without the anxiety, turn to Page 4.
HA HA HA HA MELVIN MORA. YOU ARE DEAD. Go back to the beginning.
By trying to cheat the flow of time, you accidentally trigger a rift in the space-time continuum. The ensuing black hole is hungry and sucks you inside its gaping mouth. Your last thought is that you at least managed to quell Prince Fielder's hunger for a few minutes. YOU ARE DEAD. Go back to the beginning.
Hudson scoffs at your lack of faith and immediately gets Travis Buck to roll into a double play, then gets a routine flyout to end the inning. Did you really expect any less? Of course not -- he faced the situation like a man.
Of course, in the bottom half you again are faced with a conundrum. Hudson is now at 100 pitches, and his spot is due up second in the eighth inning thanks to your offense's six feeble outs in a row.
If you stay with your young stallion, turn to Page 8. If you try to get the fans to rally behind your team and wake them up somehow, turn to Page 14. If you go to the bullpen and tell Hudson to call it a night, turn to Page 9.
Unfortunately, even though this might have been the correct play before the game started, you rolled the dice and came up snake eyes. You'd think snake eyes would be a good thing for this franchise, but no. In fact, it's not even as clever as you think it is. Good luck watching Melvin Mora strike out on three pitches, though. BAD MOVE, GIBBY. Go back to Page 18.
Hudson puts down a perfect bunt to move Parra over to second, which isn't a surprise because he's DANIEL HUDSON. What is a surprise, however, is that Kelly Johnson steps in and laces a single into right to score the go-ahead run, giving your team the lead and putting Hudson in position for the win. Behind your emotionless face in the dugout lies a plethora of conflicting emotions -- confusion, bafflement, excitedness, indigestion. And to top it all off, Justin Upton adds an RBI single of his own to give the good guys a 4-2 lead. Suddenly you're in a position to snap the losing streak and minimize the damage of San Francisco's two wins.
Once again, Daniel Hudson has you in a tough spot. Since you didn't pinch hit for him, he could still come back out for the ninth. Then again, he's at 110 pitches now, and you do have one reliever you could maybe trust in J.J. Putz. But he gave up the go-ahead run in last night's game and has appeared in 4 of the last 5.
If you go back to Hudson one last time, turn to Page 10. If you hand the ball to Putz, turn to Page 16. If you make a GIBBY MOVE and send in Yhency Brazoban, turn to Page 13. If you say the hell with it and go out to pitch yourself, turn to Page 17. If you decide to make a move mid-game and trade Esmerling Vasquez for Dan Wheeler, turn to Page 19.
Hudson rewards you once again with a Herculean effort, sneaking through the eighth on just 10 pitches and working around a one-out single by inducing another double play. That guy is almost as awesome as you are.
Now you head to the bottom of the eighth, and Gerardo Parra somehow manages to get a base hit. That brings Hudson to the plate, he of the earlier RBI and the .303 average this season.
Wait, seriously? You want to go to the bullpen? You're going to choose that over the masterful Daniel Hudson, the way they've performed the last couple weeks? YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD. Go back to the beginning.
Daniel Hudson bravely heads back out to the mound to start the ninth, but in trying to throw his first pitch of the inning, his arm falls off and the umpire immediately motions for a balk. Hudson watches sadly as the fingers of his now-severed arm claw at the infield grass, trying to escape the shame of the hundreds in attendance. Eventually, blood loss causes him to pass out, which makes you shake your head. You would have played through it.
Time for a new pitcher. If you hand the ball to Putz, turn to Page 16. If you make a GIBBY MOVE and send in Yhency Brazoban, turn to Page 13. If you say the hell with it and go out to pitch yourself, turn to Page 17.
Defying all reasonable expectations, Kelly Johnson hits a home run! You're a genius, small sample sizes be damned. Take delight in your newfound awesomeness and revel in the fact that this is now a brand-new ballgame with three innings to go.
Hudson comes back out for the seventh inning working on a very strong start, giving up just two runs on five hits and no walks to that point. But he's already thrown 86 pitches -- not exactly in the danger zone yet, but certainly a point of concern going forward. Still, your bullpen has had an ERA of approximately 425.16 in the last few games, so you find yourself at a bit of a crossroad, especially when Hudson gives up a leadoff single to a guy hitting less than .230.
HA HA HA HA YHENCY BRAZOBAN. YOU ARE DEAD. Go back to the beginning.
Depending on the fans to start a rally ends up being an exercise in foolhardiness, because they can't seem to comprehend how to make noise despite the ballpark being decently full for a weeknight. You should have bribed the scoreboard operator to put up more forceful messages during the game. Now they're toying with the idea of doing the wave, which will condemn all of Chase Field and the surrounding three-block radius to hell. But don't worry. You'll enjoy it down there, what with the fire and the muy caliente and the pantelones paracaídas and all. YOU ARE DEAD. Go back to the beginning.
That alcohol is damn tasty, but it doesn't do anything to change the situation -- you haven't had nearly enough to convince yourself that you're in an alternate reality. Instead, now you just feel tipsy and are facing the same predicament: A worthless pitcher at the plate when you could've had a manly DH. At least you're a little bit buzzed now. Turn to Page 18.
You turn to J.J. Putz for the ninth inning, and he has a two-run lead. Of course, he also has a right arm made out of Jell-O. Secretly, you like Jell-O, but it would ruin your reputation to admit it. And how does Putz repay you for rewarding him with his 800th outing of the past week? Well, he coughs up the lead on a two-run blast by Carlos Santana. Ungrateful jerk. You're not surprised, though, because you're Kirk Gibson. Putz is so bad that you're forced to use one of today's call-ups, Alberto Castillo, who promptly uncorks a wild pitch that moves a runner to third before managing to get out of the inning.
Now it's up to the offense to avoid extra innings. Yes, that offense. But you're determined to make that as difficult as possible. Ryan Roberts, who has too many tattoos and needs to get off of your lawn, works a sweet leadoff walk. He steals second. He steals third as Xavier Nady, who is almost as useless as Melvin Mora, strikes out with a runner in scoring position.
Now you have Gerardo Parra -- a guy who can't walk to save his life, so he'll certainly be trying to put the ball in play -- on a 3-for-3 night. He could be the hero.
You don't have time for pesky rules like "you're not on the 40-man roster" or "you're 150 years old." You're Kirk Gibson, damn it, and you'll pitch if you want.
Fourteen batters and fourteen runs later, you begin to wonder if perhaps you made a mistake. The strike zone is about the size of a needle and the sweet spot on their bats is almost as big as Aaron Heilman's ERA. But you're going to push through it, because you are Kirk Gibson, and a huge deficit is not unfamiliar to your team. YOU LOSE. Go back to the beginning.
You are rewarded for your faith in the NL system by the manbeast known as Daniel Hudson crushing a double to right field, cutting the deficit to 2-1. It's a shame pitchers can't hit, or he might've had a home run. You would have had a home run, you think to yourself. You hit a home run with one leg that one time. It was kind of a big deal.
Now Hudson returns to his appropriate spot,
the kitchen the mound, where he mows down the Indians once more. And now you have another decision. Kelly Johnson has been struggling something fierce against right-handed pitchers. You put him in the leadoff spot to magnify those failures, hoping to trick him into manning up. And true to form, he's already struck out twice. Now he's set to lead off the sixth.
I don't care if you're Kirk Gibson or not, that's out of your jurisdiction. YOU ARE NOT THE GM. Go back to Page 7. Although it's worth pointing out that the Vazquez/Wheeler swap was an actual rumor that popped up during the game.
You turn to Baxter for help, and the mascot gives you a confused look. What is this help you speak of? His hollow, soulless eyes stare back at you. You stare back, determined not to lose a staring contest -- or any other contest for that matter, because you're Kirk Gibson. Twenty minutes later, you crack under the pressure and have a slight stroke, forcing you to blink. Only then do you realize that Baxter doesn't have eyelids.
You decide to let bygones be bygones and get the hell out of the stadium before your team loses again. So you link arms with Baxter and sneak out to the parking lot. It doesn't concern you as much as it probably should when he asks why there are three rear-view mirrors, or when he busts out a 12-pack of Natty Ice. As the car speeds up to 140 mph, you begin to wonder if perhaps you've made a mistake. Only the car's flaming remains at the bottom of the Grand Canyon will ever know the answer to that question. YOU ARE DEAD. Go back to the beginning, and don't ever drink and drive.
No, you can't actually make this decision. That would make too much sense. You should pinch-hit with somebody. Think ... rhymes with "soon missed." Go back to Page 16.
Sure, why not! You're Kirk Gibson. Let's see. Runner on third, less than two out, you want somebody who can hit a deep fly ball and end this thing. No, not Wily Mo Pena. That's too obvious. Wait, you've got it! Willie Bloomquist! He's just the man for the job!
Unfortunately, the "job" is a feeble little pop-up into shallow right that can't possibly score the run. But that's okay -- you put him in a position to succeed, and Bloomquist obviously just didn't hold up his end of the bargain. Stats are for nerds.
The pitcher's due up now. It would be crazy to leave a rookie in there for an at-bat, even for you. So you finally bring in Wily Mo Pena. And lo and behold, Pena pulls a Kirk Gibson and crushes a pitch into the stands in left for a two-out, walkoff home run! Winning streak over! Manager smart! Diamondbacks win! Caveman like sentence!
You trudge back up the tunnel into the locker room, ready for the post-game interviews. There, you'll have all the right answers. After all, your team won. All those mistakes you made getting there will fade away into the cascading flow of time. Because you're Kirk Gibson. And on this night, you're a winner. YOU WIN. Jump to the Fangraph and roll call.
Master of his Domain: Wily Mo Pena, +36.7%
Honorable Mention: Kelly Johnson, +32.6%; Daniel Hudson, +29.7; Ryan Roberts, +19.9%; Gerardo Parra, +14.0%, Alberto Castillo, +10.7%.
God-Emperor of Suck: J.J. Putz, -39.5%
Dishonorable Mention: Willie Bloomquist, -20.0%; Xavier Nady, -11.3%; Stephen Drew, -10.9%
Busy Gameday Thread, with more than 1,100 comments. Present and accounted for: IHateSouthBend, Bryan J. Boltik, SongBird, Rockkstarr12, ZonaBacks10, emilylovesthedbacks, asteroid, 4 Corners Fan, BulldogsNotZags, Clefo, xmet, imstillhungry95, blue bulldog, hotclaws, Azreous, Coach Cleats, NASCARbernet, txzona, Brian MacKinney, Zavada's Moustache, iheartdbacks, kishi, porty99, Scottyyy, piratedan7, AZDBACKR, Dallas D'Back Fan, AcucracK, rfffr, Turambar, Husk, jryanwalters, Gibbysdad, Palooka Joe, dbacks25, 7Insomniac, Gravity, dbacksfann, blank_38, Jdub220. imstillhungry led the way with 140+ comments, and IHSB was also in triple digits.
And now, the Comment of the Night. There were two green comments. One of them was mine, about rust in doing recaps, which is way too meta and self-serving. The other was an Avril Lavigne reference. So...I'm going off the board: