In which Sisko enacts a simultaneously less- and more-realistic Mighty Ducks scenario.
Captain Solok of the Starship T’Kumbra is here to see Sisko, and neither of them look thrilled to be meeting up. Although Solok is Vulcan, so it’s hard to tell whether they’re deliberately antagonizing each other or just messing the way old friends do. The T’Kumbra has been in combat for six months and Solok has earned two Pike medals to Sisko’s one. Some sort of rivalry situation, which is going to make the week they’ll have to spend in dock getting overhauled fraught with sniping. Also, was that a racist crack Solok just threw? I guess there’s no history of oppression here to give it any real bite.
In addition to the formal requests, Solok needs a holodeck, as his ship holodecks are in maintenance. Solok taunts Sisko with the special program he created based on an Earth game that he thinks Sisko will like. So Sisko assembles the senior staff to get pulled into their little rivalry via a game of baseball. The fact that nobody but him has ever played it before with the possible exception of Ezri via Dax is not considered to be an obstacle. Although Worf’s alter ego used to be a big star. Although the PADDS they’re using to learn have video capability and provide some much-needed clarity to the rules of baseball as written. The whole crew is pop-quizzing each other, and Leeta and Rom are interested in playing, to spend some quality time with Nog. Wuark isn’t interested at all, until Leeta goads him into it.
Here we can see the partitioning abilities of the holosuite on full array. There are a dozen people in the holosuite which, you’ll recall, is the size of a large living-room at most, wandering around in an open simulated space much larger than that. Furthermore, people will be arrayed around the room during play, again in a space that clearly is not baseball-diamond sized. Local Split-screen play has come a long way. Sisko is the coach, of course, and Jake has already been picked as pitcher. Ben’s dragged everyone to the holosuite at one point or another, and they have two weeks to train up a bunch of total beginners to beat the Vulcan team The Logicians, who are physically stronger and faster than all the non-Klingons and Bashir, because that genetic engineering was potent stuff. In order to pep up his team, Ben suggests that the DS9 Crew has more faith, courage, and heart. They’ll need it, because they’re all terrible at catch. It’s gonna be rough, but human pride is on the line.
Sisko has asked Odo to be umpire, because he’s a real person, but also capable of complete impartiality. Meanwhile, Ezri sprained a leg because she remembers having muscle strength and joint flexibility that this body doesn’t have. Quark got his skull fractured by Rom swinging a bat. O’Brien pulled his rotator cuff, and this injury, unlike skull surgery, requires time for the ligaments to heal. Thus, O’Brien is out. Instead, he’ll help coach. Oh jeez, and Worf got some bones unaligned, again by Rom. In order to replace O’Brien, Sisko’s going to have to ‘pull some strings.’
These strings involve a visit from Kassidy, who Sisko his happy to see. Turns out they’ve gotten over their squabble about the Defiant. Also, she’s had her next three cargo runs reassigned by mysterious forces, so since Sisko just happens to need someone who knows baseball and Kassidy just happens to have a bunch of free time…
Rom is basically no good. Also, Solok is in the holosuite, watching, judging, and scouting for weaknesses. That weakness is clearly Rom, who is bad enough that even the players who have never played before are embarassed, and Solok almost looks pleased, a definite violation of his Vulcan emotional suppression. Sisko is pissed enough to be meaner than necessary when kicking Rom off the team. So much so that everyone else wants to quit in solidarity and Rom has to convince them to stay on so that Team Deep Space Nine can win. Quick to bounce back, miles has replicated some scotch-flavored chewing gum.
Apparently they’ve all delegated their duties to others, because they’ve been practicing and drilling non-stop. Even Odo’s been practicing his umpire moves. Everybody’s bodies are taking the toll, Sisko’s back is knotted and Kassidy’s trying to help, and points to where he’s messing up his swing. It’s now that we get to find out why Sisko and Solok are so bitter. In the Academy, Solok baited Sisko’s crew via Vulcan Supremacist slurs, and Sisko lost a wrestling match with Solok hard. Solok kept rubbing it in, including writing up psychology papers about the match. In fact, Solok’s spent his whole career writing papers on the subject and using Sisko as a punching bag every time. Kassidy thereafter points out the obviousness of Solok’s trap. She also wants Sisko to explain his obsession to the Niners, so that they’ll actually understand why this is important. Sisko doesn’t believe in sharing, but Kassidy is not bound by this promise.
The Niners, newly motivated, go out the next day to win one for Sisko. The hat-over-heart-for-the-national-anthem is still a proud tradition of sport in the future. Also, I quite like the UFP anthem. It’s very majestic. Just as the game starts, Solok agrees to eliminate the holo-crowd, leading to a confused Odo and Rom. Worf is either terrible or great at smack-talk.
The first Vulcan hit of the game is a home run, and he and his teammates all appreciate the hit in stony silence with curt nods. They end their half of the inning with four runs, and Sisko’s pissed. The Niners end the first four innings with no score, but at least they’ve gotten the Vulcans down to one run per inning. Also, the Vulcans are getting a little physical, motivating the Niners to play harder. One of those ’emotional responses,’ if I had to hazard a guess.
Worf is at-bat with three balls and two strikes and two outs. After taking a few moments to ready himself, and with Kira halfway to third, the Logicians pitcher throws a wide ball, Worf throws his bat down in disgust before it crosses the plate, and Odo calls it a strike. In the ensuing argument, Sisko pokes Odo and in so doing gets himself kicked out of the game. Solok gives him a little tip of the hat on his way out, because Solok’s a monster. This makes O’Brien the coach, and Sisko the second person in the stands.
On the next Vulcan drive, Ezri pulls off a pretty fantastic flip catch, but the score is still a shutout. Then, on a play, a Vulcan runner fails to touch home plate and Odo very pointedly doesn’t call the end of the play at Nog until Miles figures it out. Nog has to go into the bullpen and tag every Vulcan player with the ball while Jake covers home, because all Vulcans look alike to Nog. This play makes Sisko cheerful again, and gets him thinking that Rom can help after all. He tells O’Brien to call time so that Rom can sub in.
With a runner on third, Rom steps up to the plate. Sisko even gives him some announcement to pep him up, and a cheering crowd. Miles gives Rom the sign for a bunt, but while he’s distracted trying to read it instead of them just saying it at him in a normal tone of voice so that his Ferengi hearing can pic it up, the pitch bounces off his bat, allowing Nog to reach home and making Rom the hero of the game. Plus, while the Niners are celebrating what would otherwise be completley erroniously, Solok grabs Odo and is ejected from the game. Call it a moral victory.
Solok doesn’t get why Sisko is celebrating, and his persistent cheer is getting on Solok’s nerves. Definitely a moral victory. Sisko’s even got a new ball for his desk. Quark signed it with ears.