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Charlie Knuckle

Charlie Knuckle was not his real name. He could have been easily traced if he had ever appeared. It was the most elaborate scheme ever perpetrated in the MLB. It made doping look like a tiny footnote. Here's how it went down. The year was 2053. The Yankees had gone through a huge crash, one of those cyclical meltdowns where aging incompetents and hapless newcomers could not go the distance. No playoffs. Disconsolate fans. In walks Charlie Knuckle. When the season ended, the very next day, the entire Yankees front office was replaced. Within a week, all the deadwood was on the way out. And the following spring, the team consisted of the most unlikely assortment of players ever assembled. Charlie Knuckle controlled it all from his Manhattan hotel apartment. The new team was made up of retired veteran gold glove winners plus three renowned, but somewhat used up, sluggers. The center of the operation was fifteen pitchers and five catchers. The pitchers were all versed in the knuckle ball. The catchers spent the winter acclimating themselves to double-sized mitts and the zen of spearing tosses that had no rhyme or reason. Tampa went wild when the Yanks arrived for spring training. The papers were filled with speculation. Charlie Knuckle kept a low profile thanks to the services of discreet doormen and elevator operators. To make a long season short, the 2054 Yankees won 100 games by the middle of August and swept the playoffs and World Series handily. What was the actual MO Charlie insisted on to bring about such a remarkable result. First, he instructed the sluggers not to go yard, but to swing gently, creating pin point bloopers that might yield up singles while causing mayhem as opposing outfielders and infielders tried to snag them. He instructed his all-knuckle-ballers to be alert to the provisions of their contracts. Pay-per-pitch. A cool $1000 for every pitch that resulted in a called strike. Three-passed-balls-you're out of the game. As many as ten pitchers might be employed in a single outing. Catchers were similarly rewarded. The result was a great show. The methodology yielded up so many substitutions that crowds went wild. Rarely would there be a meltdown. Someone of the fifteen hurlers would be on. The team era was 2.1. The sluggers managed over 100 rbis each. In the dugout, the manager and his assistants could be seen talking on a red phone. It was a direct line to Charlie Knuckle. It is said that every move that was made was suggested by this strange individual. It was surmised, accurately, that whoever was behind this had unlimited resources and a somewhat jaundiced mind.

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