Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
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An Open Letter to Baseball’s Bill Madlock.
BY ERIC SILVER
Dear Mr. Madlock,
Can I call you Bill? Or Mad Dog? I didn’t know that was your nickname until just recently. Actually, I don’t follow baseball that much, but I’m a big fan, thanks to Nintendo’s RBI Baseball. I wasn’t even a big fan of RBI Baseball, actually, until I lived with a few roommates in college who worshipped the game. We played all the time, even created a league with our own stats, and at some point we stumbled upon you, sitting on Detroit’s bench, just waiting for your shot.
We used to use substitutes a lot, and it really surprised us that some of the best batters were benched. Take Tony Armas, for instance. In 1987, when RBI Baseball takes place, he had forty-three home runs! For anyone playing Boston, he was the difference between mere novices and true aficionados of the game. Then one day I saw you bat for the first time. My roommate Chris was playing with Detroit, a team with amazing stats, but they hadn’t been delivering for quite some time. Out of frustration he started randomly replacing players with the bench, until he brought you in. You only had fourteen home runs but your average was above .300, so it looked like you were as good as the next guy. Suddenly, on the first pitch, you ripped into the ball, sending it flying for a home run. In all of your next at-bats you continued to rack up the runs like a man driven. It was soon after that your cult was established in our apartment. We were obsessed with your greatness, and though my roommates were probably a lot more knowledgeable about you than I was, I felt like I knew firsthand the legend of Bill Madlock. At one point our admiration reached such a fevered pitch that we tried to buy your uniform pants on eBay, only to find ourselves outbid.
When I went to the Baseball Archives to check out what you are really like, I discovered that you only played one year on Detroit as a designated hitter, but you did receive two batting crowns with two different teams. Also, you’re black! Here I have to fault Nintendo, because I thought you were pink-tinted with a mostly stout and rounded build. The archives also said that you were a moody player, given to sitting down against tough pitchers. I must say that from what I’ve seen, I can’t agree. We called you the Iron Man, always in there after Matt Nokes, the clean-up man who couldn’t hit past the infield, ready to bring everyone home or at least try your damnedest to put a dent in the pitcher’s ERA.
Well, I just wanted to write to let you know that someone out there appreciates you. I wonder, did you ever play RBI Baseball in 1987? I like to think you did, and that you brought in the old Iron Man from near-retirement to play one hell of a game.
Your admiring fan,
Nintendo-manager of the St. Louis Cardinals
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