Who were all of those people? Who is this girl on his arm? Why was Bronson Arroyo there when he should have been in Arizona by now?
MEANWHILE: Giancarlo Stanton is called into a meeting with Jeffery Loria, Michael Hill, and Mike Redmond.
What have they done? Where has Josh Johnson gone? Or Jose Reyes? Since when has Roger Dean Stadium been such a dump? Sighing, Stanton walks over to the clubhouse...
Stanton slams the door shut. He puts one of his massive hands over his mouth to prevent it from screaming without his permission. Who was that in the owl mask, anyways?
Did Colby come back in that trade he heard so much about. No...he couldn't have...that Parmesan Reggiano guy was penciled in as the center fielder. Exhausted and unnerved, Stanton speeds back to his apartment.
Finally home, Stanton looks over the Marlins' new buzz book. It was full of children and chaff. Surely maybe Eovaldi, Hand, Turner could one day become something. But until then? A lot of Ricky Nolasco, Wade LeBlanc, and Scott Maine. Sure one of those kids may become AJ Burnett, but they're as likely to become Chris Volstad or Ryan Tucker. Finally spent, Stanton falls asleep.
A telephone call wakes him up.
Giancarlo picks it up, but before he can even say "hello" the voice on the other line speaks.
The address is familiar. Stanton plugs it in and drives off.
MEANWHILE: Hitting coach Tino Martinez yes that Tino Martinez takes a glance at his squad. Tino Martinez looks like shit these days. He sighs.
Tino paces back and forth. He steps a bit to close to the door, which wahppppps open on his face, throwing him to the ground. THE MAN IN THE OWL MASK walks in. He glares at Austin Kearns, non-roster invitee after putting up a .245/.366/.367 for the Fish last year. The man glares through the mask. It's difficult to even make out his eyes - it's difficult to even make out that it's a man, not a woman or a monster - but the glare is obvious. The man growls.
[CUE MENACING MUSIC. FADE TO BLACK]
Stanton opens up the console to toss his phone and wallet in when he finally parks. In the console he notices something strange. A silicone mask? What the fuck is that doing here? He unfolds it and a note falls out, telling him to put it on. The note has the odor of an order. Stanton walks up to the front door of the mansion and dons the mask. As he does, a surge of power and autocracy flows through him. No longer the face of the Marlins, Stanton is now anonymous. He thinks of yesterday and chuckles. To nobody - or perhaps to everybody, he confirms. "Yes. Yes I do."
Getting through the flunkies was easy.
Giancarlo Stanton (if you could still call this agent of destruction "Giancarlo Stanton") kicks open the door to the third-floor office, the one with a balcony and views of the Atlantic. He points his bat at Michael Hill, the source of all of his woes, the trader and traitor in charge of the Marlins. Jeffrey Loria's lieutenant. The muscles in the mask declare:
MEANWHILE: The OWL has made short work of the batters and rampaged through the pitchers at the Spring Training complex. Chuckling to himself, he realizes that he won't be the last person to be able to say that about the Marlins this year. THE MAN IN THE OWL MASK is about to walk in to the absolute lion's den when he gets a text message from Michael Hill. Hill sounds panicked. "Come to my house! We have a huge problem." THE MAN IN THE OWL MASK smirks, drunk on gore and high on glory. His response is laconic.
@ken_rosenthal no we don't. I got this.— Justin Ruggiano (@justinruggiano) November 29, 2012
He then opens the door to the owner's suite in the complex and leans in threatening over Jeffrey Loria.
Moments later, Ruggiano takes off his mask and speeds off to Michael Hill's house. He almost spins out into the gate when he sees a giant in a strange horse mask carrying out the last remaining Marlins fan.
"Who sent you here?" Ruggiano demands. The voice from the mask responds with only "the voice."
"Michael Hill is [or was?] a good man." Ruggiano explains. "He was on Black Enterprise's list of top Black executives under 40. He's a Cincinnati man...even named his son Xavier. You think he's your enemy? He's just a lieutenant. Been set up. And who do you think did that?"
Masks don't blink. But Giancarlo Stanton's mask was getting too warm inside and he couldn't remember the last time he took a breath. Stanton dropped the poor girl and ran. Back to his car and then back to his apartm-- no, somewhere else. Anywhere else. Loria played him like a fool. Loria made him angry at the wrong man, Loria used Stanton as an agent of wealth creation and then an agent of asset destruction. Stanton was stuck now. On a shit team. In a shit city. Taking not-enough-money from a shit boss who was also a shit human.
Stanton was still driving and came up near empty by Ocala. But he needed to keep on driving. So he stopped in a BP for gas, an energy drink, and maybe some beef jerky. While paying he saw who [or what?] was Logan Morrison in the corner.
Stanton blinked and shuddered. When he looked back, the creature was gone. Stanton thought he could get through the door, but he instead evacuated his stomach on the welcome mat; a heavy enough spew to send the "greeting" bell into a tizzy, and it kept on ringing and ringing and ringing in his ear as Giancarlo tried to stumble into his car.
What had he done? And for whom? And why? This thing...this baseball in Miami...it wasn't even subhuman, it was unhuman. Violence for a man who wanted the joy of violence but to keep his shirt clean. Ruggiano assured him Loria was dealt with. Whatever he did, under whatever mask, it wouldn't be enough.
Go play Hotline:Miami today because it is the most insane, thrilling, Twin Peaks/Drive game you can get for ~$10.