Casey McQuiston’s voice/themes X PITCH (TV)
Gene’s season goals:
1. stay under the radar despite being the first openly trans player in professional baseball;
2. help his minor league team make the playoffs;
3. get the new shortstop—his former rival/current anxious wreck Luis—out of his hair;
4. don’t fall for Luis in the process.
Gene Ionescu has always loved every detail of baseball, but none quite so much as its near-complete indifference to the body. In few other sports can a five-foot, two-inch sprinter appear on the same roster as a six-foot, five-inch hurler. Bigness—muscle, height, maybe a few extra inches of reach, or lithe running legs—helps. But baseball also rewards the patient, the crafty, and, perhaps most of all, the optimistic.
This, more than anything else, is what makes Gene a good baseball player—he plays baseball because he is an optimist, and he is an optimist because he has to be.
Four days before a new season starts, in the most optimistic moment of the most optimistic sport, when every last thing feels possible, Gene sits on the floor of his apartment, wrestling with an Allen wrench.
“Did you see we’re playing your favorite person next week?”
Vince stands in the doorway, noticeably devoid of the snacks Gene asked him to bring.
Gene brandishes his Allen wrench in as threatening a manner as he can manage, limited severely by the half-built bookshelf on his lap and the listless growl of his stomach. He meant to eat hours ago. Just like he meant to set up his apartment as soon as Beaverton’s last season ended, before a new strength training regimen and his ADHD conspired against his best intentions.
“Don’t remind me,” Gene says.
Vince’s grin grows shit-eating. “You’re not looking forward to seeing him?”