Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, and Domonic Brown are sitting in a dark room playing poker in complete silence. J.C. Romero stumbles in, confused.
Romero: Wha… what is this? Where am I?
Chase shoves all of his chips into the middle of the table.
Chase: All in.
Brad shakes his head.
Brad: Why do you make us do this?
Chase stares at him without blinking for a full 30 seconds. Brad sighs and throws his cards on the table. Chase turns to Dom.
Dom: I don’t understand what’s happening.
Wordlessly, Chase takes all of the chips and begins shuffling the cards.
Romero: Seriously, where am I?
Brad: Oh, hey, J.C.! Welcome! You’re in the weird dark room that injured Phillies hang out in. Chase has been making us play poker for 36 straight hours. Please, pull up a chair.
Romero: I… huh. How did I get–ooof
He is cut off when Chase kicks the last remaining chair out from under the table and it hits him in the gut. He decides to stop speaking and quietly sits down at the table. Chase deals him in. Dom takes a deep, concerned breath. Brad keeps smiling at J.C.
Brad: So what happened to you?!
Romero: I took a step off the mound and crumbled to the ground, shrieking in pain. It turns out I have a strained right calf.
Brad: Wow! That’s really interesting, J.C.
Romero: Th… thanks.
Brad: Did you get to the grounder, at least?
Romero: Oh, god no. I was in terrible pain.
Dom and Brad both swiftly turn to look for Chase’s reaction. There isn’t one. He just continues to deal.
Brad: How’d we do?
Romero: Kyle Kendrick came in to pitch the bottom of the 9th and walked two hitters and committed a throwing error. He also threw a wild pitch and hit a guy and–
Chase Utley’s fist hits the table like a sledge hammer. Splinters fly into the air.
Brad: Let’s talk about something else.
Dom: Dude, maybe we shouldn’t talk at all.
Brad: Oh come on, a little conversation never “hurt” anybody. Ha, ha right? Because we’re all hurt?
Dom: My hand does hurt.
Brad: So, J.C… What’s happening in the world?
J.C. looks around, perplexed.
Romero: What do you mean? Like, with the team?
Brad: Sure; the team, the news. What day it is. Whatever.
Romero: I don’t understand. You guys aren’t dead or anything, right? None of us are dead. Why aren’t you, like… aware of things?
All three turn and look at him. A noiseless moment of understanding happens between them. Increasingly panicked, J.C. looks from one of them to the other.
Romero: Someone please explain this. Hurry.
Brad leans forward.
Brad: J.C., remember a few months ago when everybody thought everything was fine?
J.C. scratches his head, suddenly realizing that with every second he is in this place, his memories disappear a little more. The world seems distant now, like he has awoken from reality into a nightmare.
Romero: I… I think so.
Brad: Think hard. I know it hurts to remember. But do you recall Chase had some “general soreness” that wouldn’t go away? And then suddenly, he was on the DL forever?
Chase flips the table over, cards and chips go flying. Only J.C. reacts in surprise; Brad merely ducks out of the way and Dom releases an exasperated sigh.
Brad: The truth is, we’ve been swallowed by time. You are in a place where timetables no longer exist and rehabbing is merely a folk tale whispered by hungry media hounds. When Ruben speaks of us here, his words are layered with code and mystery; because even he knows not where we are, how we arrived here, or when we will return.
J.C. sits back in shock. As Brad has been speaking, Chase has reassembled the card table and everything is back in order. The four of them sit in silence for several minutes as J.C. begins to play with them. Dom looks up casually.
Dom: Do you think we won tonight?
Romero: Sure, I mean… we’re pretty good. We haven’t lost two games in a row yet. The offense hasn’t completely slipped away yet.
Chase snorts in contempt of the team playing without him, and goes to collect his winnings. He happens to glance at Brad’s cards and sees Brad has a straight flush but didn’t notice. Chase leans back in his chair, furious, and shoves the chips in Brad’s direction. Brad finally figures out that he won the hand and begins haphazardly scooping the chips toward himself.
Brad: You know something? I bet we did just fine.