Chapter 19

Phoenix Skyline

If you look hard enough, you can find baseball being played somewhere in the United States most of the year; and yet it’s still a seasonal sport in some ways. To be sure, the seasons have become stretched out with the passage of time, but there are still a lot of familiar landmarks throughout the year.

Except for those that make the playoffs, for example, most minor league teams finish up their seasons around Labor Day (near the beginning of September here in the United States). However, play continues throughout September for major league teams and the rules allow them to expand their rosters from 25 to 40 players.

This provides an opportunity for major league teams to call up some of their very best minor league prospects. The players get a taste for how the game is played at the very highest level of professional baseball while the teams get to evaluate whether their prospects are ready to play the major league game the following season. As mentioned, still other minor league players continue their seasons in the minor league playoffs as they compete to win a league championship.

Most major league teams finish their seasons by the end of September, but the major league playoffs continue into October. Having played 162 regular season games and a number of playoff games as well (the exact number of which can vary), the professional baseball season culminates in the Fall Classic, a series of seven games between the two best teams known as the World Series. The first team to win four of those games is then crowned champion of professional baseball for the year.

Chapter 19 covers parts of October and November. As we already know, Ethan’s team, the Delmarva Heat, came in last in the Middle Atlantic League and didn’t make it into the minor league playoffs. Nor did Ethan get called up to the major league level as part of the September expansion of rosters. It would have been highly unusual for any Class A player to be called up. Similarly, as Grady has already told Ethan, it’s highly unusual for a Class A player to be assigned to the Arizona Invitational, a mythical league loosely modeled on a real world counterpart.

But now, partly due to a series of fortuitous circumstances, Ethan’s going to get a chance to compete against the very best minor league players. Far from home and alone in Phoenix, Arizona (seen in the picture above), he’s going to have to deal with a lot of pressure to perform at a much higher level without any support from family and friends. What happens next is the subject of Chapter 19, which I’ve now posted.

Have fun reading and be sure to let me know what you think by posting a comment or sending me an e-mail.

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