Drinking With Joe Maddon

I've been having bizarre dreams over the past few months. Nothing nightmarish or anything. Just weird.

Case in point.

Last night I dreamed that I was a utility player for the Chicago Cubs -- much like the recently-designated-for-assignment Matt Szczur. We were mid-way through a road game in St. Louis when I got the nod to start warming up. I would soon be needed as a pinch hitter. Unfortunately, it was in that moment that I realized I was still in my street clothes -- shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops. Worse yet, I had forgotten to bring my uniform to the game.

I had to get to the clubhouse in a hurry.

Sneaking my way past the showers and into the locker room, I found that it was packed with fans and groupies waiting for the defending champs to return from the field. The lights were down and the music was loud. People filled the crowded room from those standing on the floor to others seated on top of the lockers. Scanning the room in a hurry, I couldn't locate my locker. My confusion and panic was noticed by a family of Cubs fans who approached me.
"Everything okay?" 
"I can't find my locker." 
"Do you work for the Cubs?" 
"I'm a player." 
"Who are your favorite players?" 
"My current favorites?" 
"I like watching Bryant and Rizzo, of course. Schwarber, too." 
"Good luck finding your locker." 
This was bad. I would be batting any minute and I couldn't find a uniform. It was time to face the music.

I found my way back to the dugout which could only be entered by way of a very steep concrete slide. I slid in and found Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, seated alone near the end of the bench.
"Joe, I've got a problem." 
"What's that?" 
"I can't find my locker and I left my uniform at home." 
"You don't get a new, clean uniform at every game?" 
"No. I bring mine." 
"You've worn the same uniform every day this season and take it home to wash?" 
"I'll get you a locker."
It was about this time that I realized that my phone and car keys were not in my pockets. I'd left them in the bullpen. I also realized that the game had stopped.
"What's going on out there, Joe?" 
"A play has been under review for almost fifteen minutes." 
"There really should be a time limit to these reviews." 
The game resumed and promptly ended. I don't remember who won. I never got a chance to bat because, well, I was wearing shorts and flip-flops.

Leaving the stadium, I was invited along with two other arbitrary teammates to join Joe for a drink at a local bar. We all accepted the invitation -- but he'd have to drive. My keys were still in the bullpen.

We buckled into Joe's topless Jeep and headed out into the back streets of St. Louis. A few times we drove through flooded streets and laughed as water sprayed from both sides of our ride. Pretty quickly, we arrived at a small dive bar.

Inside, Joe immediately went to self-serve tap and filled a pint glass with a pale beer. He also ordered a $500 bottle of red wine.

I was torn. I've been on this no-drinking kick for over three months. Do I have a beer with Joe Maddon or continue my streak?

I ordered tea.

We were shown to our table by a hostess who promptly sat down next to Joe. Very close. Awkwardly close.

Joe was clearly amused.

I made small talk with my teammates as Joe sat in silence drinking his beer -- clearly thinking about something important. He seemed deep in thought. Almost a zen-like state. Finally, I decided to break the conversational ice and direct a question Joe's way.
"Hey, Joe. Who do you think is the biggest challenge we'll be facing this year?" 
"Boston. Maybe the Mets."
Our discussion was then interrupted by a Cardinals fan who approached our table and humorously told our server that she should not have seated us in a St. Louis bar. Cub fans were not welcome there.

Joe thought this was funny. The server and Cardinals fan did, too.

I drank my glass of tea. Joe finished his beer. The server brought our check.

Five dollars. Including the wine.

End. Of. Dream.

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