Wrong Combination This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   No one knew the combination, so they kept turning the lock and trying different numbers. Two, three, three, two. None of the numbers pleased the combination lock. For days they kept trying, finally, they began taking long breaks to consult the people. But the lock was still closed. Two, three. They could not open the lock. They called each other on the telephone suggesting different numbers, but it did not work. They complained to the media about the other side's inability to come up with good numbers. The media grew bored with the long delay in opening the simple combination lock, the fans were disillusioned, and the lock was still locked. Finally, after a month, they came up with the right numbers: both two and three years, $100,000, twenty-five men, $55 million...and the lock opened. So many weeks spent to find a combination to end the baseball lockout, but the worst was not the boredom or the pettiness, but the loss of that warm season, for they locked out spring.

Without baseball, the weather cannot change for the better, for spring training ushers in spring. How could winter end without those sun-filled stories from Florida and those pictures of the players lying lazily on the soft outfield grass? Baseball is an institution of spring. February is supposed to be the time when we read about this player who is planning to have a career year, and that player who is happy to simply get a chance to try out for the team. The good-natured banter of the players preparing to play baseball is reported in the newspaper. The first two weeks of March are supposed to be the time when the pitchers come out from a game with an ERA of nine, and call it a good outing. The little guy hits more home runs than he ever has, and high-scoring games are commonplace... But they locked out spring.

Now that the owners and players finally found the successful combination to an agreement, spring has come, but it is not the same. The timelessness of the Florida preparation is lost. Now the players are under pressure to condition for the season faster than they ever have. But they're in great shape, the owners argue; but they might injure themselves, some say. The exclamations of joy by the players that an agreement was reached are drowned out by the sounds of bats and balls. The batter is taking extra practice to make up for the spring he missed. The pitcher is icing his arm hoping it is not serious. In half the time they are supposed to be ready. And are the fans supposed to enjoy the mad dash into the season? We do not want to read medical news, we want baseball; and we do not want to have ridiculously high scores on opening day when the unprepared pitchers give up too many runs all because they locked out spring. They could not find the numbers that were there all along, so they locked us out of spring.n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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