by Larry Hodges
During the 2012 Allstar Break five Baltimore Orioles made the long and treacherous journey to the Orange and Black City to meet with the Wonderful Wizard of Os.
Along the way they kidnapped and marooned the munchkin Dustin Pedroia in some North Korean league; shot down the flying monkey Mike Trout (who is not black or this writer would be in big trouble); threw water on the wicked Derek Jeter, which melted his batting average from .400 to .308; and stomped all over a Big Papi field. Finally, after following the yellow brick basepath that somehow nobody had ever noticed before, which led out of the stadium and into Eutaw Street, they arrived at the B&O Warehouse.
"Step forward, orange men!" boomed the Great and Wonderful Os, as orange flames shot about. He was a large disembodied floating head, wearing a cartoon Orioles hat, and looked strikingly similar to Buck Showalter. "Normally I'd demand you bring me the bat of Alex Rodriguez, but he's batting .269 and slugging .436, so he can keep it. So what dare you have the effrontery to ask me for, you billowing bales of Baltimore ballboys?"
"An arm," said Brian Matusz, stepping forward. "An accurate one." He slipped on an oil slick, and landed on the floor, his face in a pile of straw and blond hair.
"A bat," said J.J. Hardy, helping Matusz to his feet. Then he too slipped as straw and hair fluttered about.
"A glove," said Mark Reynolds, offering the actual bat of Alex Rodriguez that he'd stolen - it suddenly seemed so small - to the Great and Wonderful Os. But Reynolds dropped it and they whiffed on the exchange. It fell down a storm drain. Angry orange flames shot out of the wizard's eyes.
"Fellows, I don't think we're in Baltimore anymore," said Kevin Gregg, but everyone ignored him. Few noticed the short leash leading from his neck to the Great and Wonderful Os.
"The Great and Wonderful Os will grant you your wishes," said the Great and Wonderful Os. He turned to Robert Andino. "And how about you?"
"I just want to go home," said Andino. "They keep batting me leadoff, and I've only scored 27 runs. I think they're flaherting with replacing me with Flaherty."
"That's because you have a .293 on base percentage," said the Great and Wonderful Os. "You've always had the power to go home and score - just stop swinging three times at bad pitches every time and maybe you can get on base. And wear some baseball spikes instead of those fancy red slippers."
"Oh thank you, Great and Wonderful Os!" cried the Orioles.
"Hey, isn't 'Wizard of Os' just an anagram for 'Is dwarf zoo'?" asked Hardy. "All those munchkins back there?"
"And one more thing," said the Great and Wonderful Os, slowly shaking his head. "I turned some middle-aged guy named Joe Boyd into Bryce Harper. He was going to be Joe Hardy, but I didn't want people to mix him up with our resident anagrams expert." He glared at J.J. Hardy. "Anyway, I just discovered that Washington changed leagues. So do me a favor. Beat those damn Yankees."
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