The continuation of this epic tale of sibling rivalry.
Chapters 1-3 are here.
Jeff got to play a lot of games. He was still very bad. He was one of the worst hitters in the advanced league. He was also bad at being a catcher. His arm was very weak and sometimes he threw the ball with no one there to catch it. The other players laughed at him.
People stopped saying that Jeff was going to be a star. They thought he should just stop playing baseball. They thought maybe he could be good at football instead. They said he still had "natural athleticism."
One day, Mikey heard his dad and Mr. Arthur having an argument. It was about Jeff and Little Mike. Mr. Arthur thought that Jeff was bad at baseball. He thought that Little Mike should get to play more often. He hit lots of home runs. He took lots of walks.
But Big Mike kept saying that Jeff was "premium." He said that Little Mike struck out too much. He said he was bad because he didn't "pressure the defense." Mikey always wondered what "pressure the defense" meant.
Mr. Arthur told Big Mike that Jeff struck out even more than Little Mike. He told him that he had the worst batting average in the advanced league. He also told him that Jeff was not any better at being a catcher than Little Mike. Mr. Arthur said Big Mike had to let Little Mike play more often.
Mr. Arthur made Big Mike agree to let Mikey play catcher more often. Sometimes Mikey could hit even on days when it wasn't his turn to be the catcher. Mikey was very happy. He just wanted to make his father happy. He wanted his father to love him as much as he loved Jeff.
"I'm going to make you so proud of me!" Little Mike told his father. "I'm going to be help the team so much."
"Don't be silly," Big Mike said with a frown. "You're not a run producer."
"But daddy, you always put me at the bottom of the lineup. You make me hit after Eric and Howard and they never get on base." It was true. "How am I supposed to produce runs with no one on base?"
"Run producers always find ways to produce runs. That's why they're called run producers. They produce runs."
"Daddy, that doesn't even make sense." Little Mike was very confused. "Don't I hit lots of home runs?"
"Solo home runs."
"But Eric and Howard ground out all the time! There's never anyone on base when I hit."
"That's because you're not a run producer," Big Mike said. "Now go run some laps. I have to help Jeff find his swing."'
"I don't get it," Little Mike said. "Did he lose it somewhere?"
"Don't get smart with me! Now start running."
One day, Kenny broke his leg goofing off. He pretended that home plate was a trampoline. But it wasn't. Unfortunately, Kenny was the best hitter on the team. He played first base. There was no one left on the team who could play first base. Big Mike asked for a volunteer.
"I'll do it!" Mikey shouted with enthusiasm. He was so excited to get to do something to help the team. He wanted his dad to be proud of him. "I can be a good first baseman!"
"You?" Big Mike said. "Don't be silly." But no one else volunteered. "Well, I guess it could give your brother more time behind the plate. His CERA is premium."
"Daddy, what's CERA?"
"It means that he makes pitchers pitch better."
"But daddy, how do you know?" Mikey asked. "Jeff only catches for the good pitchers. You always make me catch for Trevor and Scotty, but everyone says they are bad at pitching." Scotty looked like he was going to cry. "Well, Scotty used to be good."
"That's because Jeff calls a good game. He makes pitchers pitch better."
"So why don't you make Jeff catch for the bad pitchers so he can make them good instead?"
"What did I tell you about talking back to me?" Big Mike was very upset. "Now go find a first baseman's mitt. I have to compliment your brother on his pitch calling ."
"Don't you call all the pitches dad?"
"Don't disobey me!"
Mikey played first base. He had never played first base before, but he was okay. Jeff got to play catcher almost all of the time. He was even worse than before. Jeff was so bad that Mr. Arthur told Big Mike that he had to let Jeff's cousin Bobby play more often. This made Big Mike very upset.
But Big Mike got mad at Mikey instead of Jeff. He told Mikey it was his fault. He said if Mikey wasn't playing first base then Bobby wouldn't have taken Mikey's place at catcher, and then Jeff wouldn't be losing his place to Bobby. Mikey didn't think this made any sense, but he tried hard to understand.
Then one day, Mikey heard his father say that he was going to let Johnny play first base instead of him. He even heard him say lots of good things about Johnny. This made Mikey very mad and very sad. He was trying so hard to make his father happy. He didn't want to cry in front of his father, but he couldn't help it.
"But why?" Mikey cried. "Johnny isn't very good at hitting. He's never played first base!"
"Don't be such a crybaby." Mikey's father was very stern. "You've never played first base either."
"Neither have Howard or that fat kid who was here one weekend. But you let them play instead of me too!"
"Now you're embarrassing me. Don't embarrass your father."
"What about Brandy? She's a girl and you let her play first base sometimes!"
"Grow up. Girls don't have cooties," Big Mike said. "Besides, Brandy hits very well for a girl her age."
"But why?" Mikey cried again. "I try so hard to make you happy. What do I have to do? I'm one of the best hitters on the team. I hit more home runs than anyone." Now Mikey could not stop the tears from flowing. "I just want you to love me, but you only love Jeff!"
"Now that you mention it," Big Mike said. "Your brother is very premium."
"But it's not fair!" Mikey shouted. He didn't wait to see what his father would say. He just ran away. He ran to his hiding spot under the bleachers. He went there to cry after games when he hit home runs. Big Mike never noticed when he hit home runs and it always made him sad and want to cry. But he was much more sad than that. This was the most sad he had ever been in his life. He sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. But it didn't make him feel better at all.