|Story by:||Ronald D. Moore|
|Directed by:||Chip Chalmers|
An old rival challenges Sisko and his crew to a game of baseball.
When the USS T'Kumbra docks at Deep Space 9 for repairs, her Captain -- a Vulcan named Solok visits Sisko in his office to discuss the maintenance schedule, and apparently to taunt humans to some extent. Solok has recently received the Christopher Pike Medal of Honor and makes a point of reminding Sisko it is his second. The T'Kumbra has been in combat in the Dominion War for six months, and Solok makes a point of reminding Sisko that DS9 is well behind Federation lines. He even makes a point of disparaging the maintenance schedule as "inefficient."
Then he brings up a final matter that prompts Sisko to call for an immediate assembly of his senior staff in the wardroom the instant the turbolift carries Solok out of ops. It seems that Solok and his all-Vulcan crew have challenged Sisko and the crew of DS9 to a "contest of teamwork, courage and sacrifice" that Sisko couldn't turn down -- a game of baseball!
Deep Space Nine's senior staff is skeptical, especially since none of them has played the game before, but they accept and promptly start learning all they can about the game. As they learn the basics and quite a lot of terminology (Bashir is convinced "Fancy Dan" is a phrase Dax invented until he reads it for himself), the excitement spreads to others aboard the station. Leeta and Rom are both interested in trying out for the team as a way to get closer to Nog. Even Quark begrudgingly agrees to try out after some harsh "encouragement" from Leeta.
So an unlikely collection of baseball players gathers in one of Quark's holosuites -- Benjamin and Jake Sisko (the only two who actually know how to play), Worf, Kira, Ezri, Bashir, O'Brien, Quark, Nog, Rom and Leeta. After an inspirational speech from Coach Benjamin Sisko, the players pair off for some easy throw-and-catch to get started. Nog, Worf, O'Brien, and Bashir get off to a good start, but everyone else clearly need more than a little practice. Quite a few balls go sailing past the target catcher, while others seem to be aimed right for someone's head. Rom has more trouble than anyone, missing balls even as they fly right past him.
By the end of the first practice most of the team is in the infirmary with various injuries. Quark's had some bones in the back of his skull repaired (after an incident involving Rom and an errant bat). Ezri's just generally in pain (after thinking she could do all the things Emony Dax once did as an Olympic gymnast). O'Brien, worst of all, has torn his rotator cuff once again and won't be able to play. Disappointed, Benjamin recruits him as the batting, pitching, and first base coach. He also recruits Odo as the umpire -- the only person he trusts to be impartial.
Unfortunately that still leaves a hole to fill, so Benjamin "pulls a few strings" and brings in Kasidy Yates. With her next few cargo runs mysteriously reassigned, she has just enough free time to join the team as third base coach. With the addition of Kasidy and plenty of practice the team improves a little, though Rom still hasn't actually hit a ball, and isn't especially good at catching either. Nog and Leeta keep encouraging him, but Benjamin eventually gets so discouraged he kicks Rom off the team completely.
The other players insist they'll quit the team if Benjamin won't let Rom play, but he won't hear of it. He'll watch from the stands and give his encouragement, but he won't be playing. With Rom off the team it seems like they're improving quite a lot. Baseball has even permeated their normal activities. Quark, for instance, has his waiters throw glasses down to him from his second level so he can practice catching, and Kira is delighted to see Odo practicing umpire moves in the security office.
Meanwhile, Kasidy makes Benjamin explain the real reason he's so vehement about winning the game. Solok was in Starfleet Academy with him, and he met Solok in a bar called The Launching Pad where he made disparaging remarks about how humans were "emotionally handicapped." They got into a fight, which Benjamin naturally lost (and ended up in the infirmary). What's more, Solak continued writing about the incident in a host of papers even after they'd graduated. Still, Benjamin doesn't want the Niners to know why he's so concerned about the game, and makes Kasidy promise not to tell anyone either. Despite her promise, Kasidy does tell the team, who just take it as further motivation to win the game -- for their Captain.
So the Niners face the Vulcans on the holosuite field, though without spectators (per Sisko's wishes) and start the game with Odo in his umpire's uniform overseeing everything. A Vulcan batter hits the first pitch completely out of the park, and it doesn't take long for the runs to rack up against the Niners. By the end of the first inning the Logicians already have four runs, while the first three Niners up to bat strike out. They manage to keep the Logicians down to just one run per inning the next three innings, but that's still a score of 7 - 0 to the Vulcans.The Logicians don't score at all in the fifth inning, and Kira actually makes her way to second. With two outs, Worf steps up to bat. Strike. Ball. Ball. Strike. Ball. He prepares himself for the last pitch and when the ball flies by on the outside he steps back, then tosses the bat aside and starts to jog to first even as odo calls, "Strike three!" Benjamin and Worf are both incensed and scream at Odo while he calmly asserts that the ball "caught the outside corner." Benjamin gets furious at that, and when he jabs at Odo's chest as he's shouting Odo calmly throws him out of the game.
Benjamin stalks off to the stands muttering to himself that it was a ball, not a strike, and throws himself into a seat near where Rom has been sitting the whole time. The Niners manage two outs against the Logicians at the top of the ninth inning, and Worf throws the ball to Nog at home plate just as the Vulcan batter steps across. Nog doesn't manage to tag him out, but the runner didn't actually step on the plate. Odo watches silently, and O'Brien realizes what must have happened, but Nog doesn't know which player it was! Failing any better idea, he starts tagging every player, but the last one on the bench runs toward home at the last second. Nog throws to Jake, who taggs the Vulcan out as he slides in. They get the third out!
Even Benjamin, up in the stands, is overjoyed. "That's what I love about this game -- every situation is different, you never know what's going to happen next." With a gleam in his eye, he looks over at Rom. The Niners still haven't scored a single run in the bottom of the ninth, but Nog is on third when Benjamin sends Rom to bat in full Niners regalia. He fills the stadium the holographic spectators and even calls upon an announcer to introduce Jake Sisko's pinch hitter, but Rom completely misses the first two pitches. Bashir and O'Brien try to signal that he should bunt the ball down the baseline as the third pitch sails toward the plate. Rom leans forward to try to decipher their signal, bringing his bat right into the ball's path. It glances off and rolls down the first base line. The crowd cheers and Nog takes off, sliding into home just in time. They've scored!
The Niners rush onto the field and lift Rom in the air. Solak is confused and angry, and grabs Odo by the shoulder to protest, but Odo just grins and throws him out. The Niners have decided to end the game before even a single out in the ninth inning, and Solok can't understand it. Even as the team celebrates in Quark's Solok protests that they're only attempting to "manufacture triumph where none exists," but every one of the Niners is willing to accept that. When Solok protests further, they just accuse him of being emotional -- irritated, defensive, angry, jealous, and quite bitter. To top it all off, Kira tosses Benjamin a new baseball for his desk -- signed by every player on the team.
"They just... chewed it?"
"No, they infused the gum with flavor."
"What flavor did you infuse it with?"
"How are my casualties doing?"
"If you believe Julian. Personally, I'm not sure I'm going to make it."
"Let's hear some chatter!"
"Death to the opposition!"
"You can't tell me that ball was over the plate. What were you doing, regenerating?"
"'No player shall at any time make contact with the umpire in any manner.' The prescribed penalty for the violation is immediate ejection from the game. Rule number four point zero six, subsection (a), paragraph four — look it up, but do it in the stands. You're gone!"
"What do I do?"
"Find him and kill him!"
- The working title of this episode was Untitled Baseball
- Captain Sisko was wearing a San Francisco Giants baseball cap during practice, while Jake was wearing an Atlanta Braves cap.
Links and References
- Max Grodénchik as Rom
- Aron Eisenberg as Ensign Nog
- Gregory Wagrowski as Captain Solok
- Chase Masterson as Leeta
- Penny Johnson as Kasidy Yates
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