Next Wednesday, the Phillies will play the Brewers in the final game of what we’ll naturally assume will be a three game sweep. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by GRASP, a robot that is made up of a small body from which sprouts a single arm.
When not taking door knob lessons, GRASP is training to throw a fastball, and wondering why the toaster oven isn’t sentient enough to have a conversation. It must be a lonely existence for GRASP, hanging out in the labs of Penn.
“Does anyone want to play scrabble,” he asks in his monotone delivery that all robots speak in; but the last scientist leaves for the evening, the lights shut off, and he is left alone in the darkness, a downtrodden example of mankind’s further achievements. His parts may be complicated, but his existence is simple. Even his name is based off his primary function.
Who knows what affect the glorious sunshine of a day game will have when it touches GRASP’s exterior for the first time. Perhaps he will absorb the organic heat and thunderous cheers that will undoubtedly accompany “Science Day at the Ballpark” on April 20. Perhaps he’ll realize what life is like outside the walls of an underground compound. He’ll throw out the ceremonial first pitch as planned, and maybe even “roll” the bases, his single robotic arm fist pumping in a bizarre tribute to Kirk Gibson as a wildly confused audience looks on in silence.
The scientists manning the remote will be pushing buttons, panicked, as they slowly realize their creation has taken to baseball quite amicably; so amicably, in fact, that he is refusing to adhere to their commands.
“What do we do? What the hell do we do now?” one of them will ask nerdily.
“It won’t be too much longer before people realize this isn’t part of the act!” the other will respond, because as we all know, nerd scientists only travel in pairs.
Their worst fears will be realized when GRASP rips second base out of the dirt and holds it over his “head” like a barbarian tasting his first blood lust. Concerned security guards, already on high alert from the multitude of crowds that “Science Day at the Ballpark” draws, begin nodding quietly to each other and casually meander toward the scene, forming a loose perimeter.
But GRASP is no fool.
He sees what is going on immediately, and without a second’s hesitation, flames burst from his torso, sending yellow-jacketed security officers fleeing for their lives. Those who survive the encounter will one day describe it as “… flamethrowers for armpits” before being ushered back into their containment cells at the mental hospital.
“For god’s sake, why did we equip it with flame cannons?!” on the nerds demands of the other, the shrill whimper of nerd-panic in his voice. The other will turn to him, his face grim with the slow realization of terror.
“We didn’t, Steve. We fucking didn’t.”
Mass panic will begin as fans stampede for the exits. GRASP will tear through the infield a speeds previously unseen by his creators, grass and dirt flying skyward as if it, too, were attempting to flee. Players make hasty retreats for the locker room, except for Kyle Kendrick, who reaches out a hand of compassion toward the robot, only to quite jarringly feel the cold metallic clamp of GRASP’s singular purpose close around his neck and choke slam him into the wall.
“Now pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, GRASP the Robot!” GRASP’s voice will announce through the PA system, while up in the booth, a confused Dan Baker questions the existence of god.
And so, as the camera installed on GRASP’s body to better locate the strike zone will suddenly be used to track humans in their flight, perhaps scientists will learn that science belongs in the lab, and not on the baseball field, where it can become self-aware for no reason and ruin Kyle Kendrick’s singing voice.