Straight from the heart of the mysterious land of New Jersey comes one of the PBE’s newest prospects, starting pitcher Damien Walec. Walec is a name that has cropped up before, not only in the hockey circles of the VHL, but even in previous semi-professional baseball leagues such as the EPL and BTH. With Walec resurfacing as an inexplicable 17-year-old, there have been many rumors bandied about regarding the Season 6 draft fifth overall pick. Some say he’s lying about his age. Some say he’s a cyborg. Some have even gone so far as to say he was the originator of the Ouya home gaming failure console. Hopefully this retrospective can shed some light on the man, the myth, the Walec.Chapter 1: A Legend
Unfortunately, in the wild wild west days of 2006, record keeping was not quite so extensive, and thus any record of Walec’s previous sports experience has been lost to the sands of time. It was said that when Walec joined the EPL, along with brother Ryan Brawn, the two were regarded as high end prospects. Walec made a name for himself by running his mouth, but unfortunately saw little major league action before the league had to close its doors.
Eventually many of the EPL players decided they needed a way to keep feeding themselves, with a large contingent of the league coming together to form the BTH. It was in this league that Walec made good on his potential, establishing himself as one of the league’s premier pitchers opposite King Koz.
Again, the statistics here are unable to be found. This is unfortunate as it doesn’t give us a frame for exactly how dominant Walec was. However, he competed with the aforementioned Koz, a league veteran, for two consecutive seasons as the unquestioned best pitchers in the league. Despite how little is known about Damien’s dominance, it is rumored he was among the best strikeout pitchers in the league, and generally established himself as an all-around force.Chapter 2: Lost
Obviously there has been a lot of downtime between Walec’s first run as a pitcher and his current go at it. There’s also his brief run as a hockey player in the VHL, where Calgary Wranglers GM Matt Bentz went from declaring Walec the ‘biggest steal in VHL history’ to waiving his rights half a season later, but that’s not notable in any way otherwise. When you build a reputation as a cyborg, there is a lot of mythos that gets attached to your name whether it’s plausable or not. We’re here to tell you that 95% of what you’ve heard is in fact true, but here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth. Well, not really because I’m writing this in the third person, but this stuff all really happened to me. Well, this version of me. Word count.
After the BTH closed its doors, Walec felt metaphorically lost. All that he knew was sucking at hockey and being pretty good at baseball. Once he decided to act upon the more sensible career choice, he found the first signs that things weren’t as they should be. He attempted to sign with the San Diego Padres, taking multiple tryouts with the team and building a rapport with some of the coaches. It quickly became clear that Damien had the talent to stick in the big leagues, and behind closed doors the coaches were saying he was more talented than any player that piece of shit franchise had. Thus, it was under curious circumstances that the team elected to pass on signing Walec.
The process had gotten as far as Walec agreeing to a 3 year, $39 million contract with San Diego. However, when it came time for the physical, Walec tested very well. A little too well, in fact. Not only was every coach on the team convinced at this point that Walec was on every steroid and performance enhancing drug known to animalkind, but the team doctors discovered a strange quirk to Walec’s body: it was hollow. Rather than having bones and skin like the majority of people, Damien’s cold excuse for skin surrounded an alloy exoskeleton, tough enough to break diamond yet malleable as a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. Unsure what to make of this, the team elected not to prod the bear that was Bud Selig, and opted to pass on signing the fireballer Walec.
A month later, the Tampa Bay Rays caught wind of Walec’s excellent Padres tryout, and decided they wanted a lil some some of this guy. Their doctors found Walec’s body to be perfectly human, shining a bad light on the Padres, before Bud Selig did the crazy old dude thing and decided he didn’t want Walec in his league, no way, no how. He hit Walec with a 50 game PED suspension as the ink was drying on the modest contract he signed with the Rays, once again stonewalling Damien from finding a professional baseball home.
Word eventually got out to all of the independent and semi-professional leagues out there: sign this guy and the MLB will crush you. As a result, teams were giving Walec the cold shoulder left and right, resulting in his complete inability to find gainful employment. Although Walec fell further and further down the rabbit hole of lack-of-purpose, he chose to hold back despite very well having the ability to do serious harm to Selig. After all, when you’re a cyborg that can do things no man can, you realize how petty and insignificant man really is.Chapter 3: Loster
Now without a thing to use his talents for, Damien Walec was chillin with millions of dollars in his pocket and a growing hankering to do something. Anything. He tried coaching baseball for a bit before the ole Selig threat came back around, then tried playing slow pitch softball in a beer league before Bud got in the way of that, too. I have to do something that Bud can’t stop me from doing, Walec thought to himself at this point. For whatever reason, this resulted in his career switch-up to Best Buy salesman.
And sell the shit out of some TVs and iPods he did. Walec quickly established himself as the top salesman in the store, breaking the store’s monthly sales record in his first four days on the floor. After being named employee of the month for an unprecedented 14 consecutive months, he got bored and began to challenge himself. He would show up for less and less days while maintaining his top spot on the sales charts. Things came to a head when he came in for a single day in a month, and still tripled the next salesperson in the store. This was the sign of a man who was not being challenged.
When all direction felt aimless, Walec found his true north in the form of a woman named Felicia. Felicia had walked into the Best Buy store looking for a Blu Ray of the classic film Battle Earth. She was appalled to see that the store hadn’t had the film on display anywhere, but once Walec told her he would search in the back for it, she knew she had stumbled upon to something special. He searched, using his bionic eyesight to locate the film in four seconds flat, then smoked a cigarette and brought the box to her. The whole smoking a cigarette thing has no bearing on the story, but it is being used to illustrate that Walec felt he was at his lowest point in the narrative. Also, this little subplot just gave me like 50 words towards the finish line.
A man incapable of love after being betrayed by his first muse found something he needed much more than he believed he did. Felicia asked Damien out for a cup of coffee, an innocuous request that most people would have no trouble accepting unless they were allergic to coffee or something (fun fact: my previous roommate of four years is allergic to coffee). Of course, Damien was a man who had learned to question everything and trust nothing, lest Bud Selig be right around the corner to tear it down. He declined the invitation, but Felicia was determined to change his mind.
She came in every day to see if Damien was working. See, she had worked right down the street, operating a store where people could bring in their various knickknacks and doodads and she would sell them on eBay. Word has it Jonah Hill even tried to shop there once for some excellent shoes.
After that blatant plagiarism, Felicia eventually caught Damien on a good day. He was watching a Yankees-Red Sox game on the showroom floor, and noticed Bud Selig was in attendance. After wishing with all his little heart that something would happen to embarrass Selig, Walec felt he had willed the cosmos to do his bidding as a Johnny Damon home run was hit straight to the commissioner, if a little short. As Selig attempted to catch the ball over two children and a pregnant woman, he overreached and tipped forward into a fat guy, spilling over the seats and seeing multiple people spill their peanuts and cracker jacks all over him. Everyone laughed, it made the Sportscenter NOT Top 10, everyone at ESPN was fired, it was an all-around good time.
After receiving this small delight in his life, Walec was perky as ever. Felicia had brought in her “accidentally destroyed” Blu Ray disk of Battle Earth in hopes of making use of her lifetime warranty. After replacing the disk, Damien was asked out for coffee for the fourth or fifth time. Walec stopped himself from his pre-defined answer of no, thought about it for a literal minute of very awkward silence, and then offered Felicia to do her one better. He invited her over to his house to screen the movie in his private theater (which, I must emphasize, he pronounced “thee-AY-ter”, rather than “thee-ter”, an odd quirk that had never popped up before).
And so the two bonded over a love of terrible cinema and slightly better wine, laughing in pure ecstasy at the acting and direction of a film that can only be described as a turd. As the two talked the night away Walec rediscovered his humanity, realizing that some people were worth putting faith into. The two set course on a relationship that would change Damien’s life forever.
He quickly quit his Best Buy sales position, opting instead to help keep Felicia’s business above water by opening a Craigslist division. The two didn’t do amazing business, but the concept of the business itself was ridiculous, and it took a backseat to their budding romance anyway. Damien’s trust for Felicia slowly grew, as did his capacity to love, and care about anything. She watered him back from his withered, shell-of-a-flower state, and after a few months that Damien would call the best of his life, he decided to tell Felicia everything.
He told her about his baseball background. He told her about his cyborg body. He told her about his vintage stamp collection, and about how he doesn’t understand why he cares about it so much while simultaneously not allowing her to see it for fear she would mess one up. Still, it was a baby step in the right direction.
One night, indistinguishable from any other night the two spent together, they were Blockbuster-and-hanging on the bed, watching some Lethal Weapon, when Damien felt a wave of emotion wash over him. He had never felt so emotional in his life, although that was also the first time he had felt any sort of intense emotion to begin with. He just began weeping, and the tears flowed hard. Stunned by this display, Felicia probed into the mental state of her beau. Damien continually repeated the line, “I’m a fraud, I’m a fraud,” while crying and rocking forward and backward. After 15 minutes of this, he finally revealed to Felicia what was, for some reason, his darkest truth: he wasn’t a great salesman at all. He would use his millions to buy massive amounts of items from Best Buy to pump up his own sales numbers.
Felicia lay still for a moment, shocked at the revelation. Damien looked to her for comfort, more vulnerable than ever before in his robot life. Then, the ripcord was pulled.
Damien did not get the emotional support that he was hoping he would get. Felicia lifted her hand to her neck, and pulled off what turned out to be a mask. Underneath this façade was, you guessed it, Bud Selig, reveling in Walec’s sensitivity and mocking him for being too weak to face his own inadequacies.Chapter 4: Lostest
After Bud had left Damien’s home, he was frozen. Unable to process any of the emotions that predated the revelation and especially the ones that came after, he spent days in bed, rarely moving, rarely bringing his mind off of what had just happened to him. Eventually, the waves had receded, at least enough for Damien to get up out of bed. He put on pants, grabbed some money from his nightstand, and set out to score the best crank he could find.
After surveying the streets with his barely-functioning bionic eyes, Walec deduced that the best meth he could find was in the possession of one Uncle Benny and the Rowdy Boys. Why their name sounds like that of a mediocre ‘20s Doo-Wop outfit is beyond me, but he met up with them and got his hands on that sweet, sweet crank. Snorting, smoking, injecting into the cartilage in his ear, nothing was off-limits for the increasingly-reckless Walec. Although his body was bionic, it had begun to show signs of rust at the introduction of methamphetamine. Damien responded by getting some more, and began hanging out with Uncle Benny and the Rowdy Boys to pass the time.
As Uncle Benny slowly picked up that this guy buying his meth was, at the very least, a powerful man, he decided on a business proposal: Damien served as the muscle of the group at drug deals, replacing Rowdy Boy tough guy Enoch, in exchange for some free meth. Bored, Damien took Uncle Benny up on that offer.
This arrangement worked well enough for a couple months, as Damien’s bionic functions grew more and more unreliable. Eventually, when Uncle Benny was hoping to make his biggest score yet at the local scrapyard, the Rowdy Boys ran into a hitch. The man they had intended to buy the meth from, Tuca Salamanco, had no intentions of selling them anything. Rather, he had his muscle move on Uncle Benny and the gang, intending to rob the $65,000 they came with. Damien tried to fight back, but when shot at, was actually pierced by the bullets, leaking some sort of brown sludge out of the bullet holes. Amazed that this man just would not die, Tuca put two in Damien’s head. After Walec played dead long enough to get Salamanco to turn his back, he did that thing people do in movies and TV where they unexpectedly grab the person’s leg and sweep their balance out from under them. Hell, it happens in Breaking Bad like 4 times.
A struggle ensued. Damien may have been a half-functioning cyborg, but he was still a half-functioning cyborg. After a brief tussle, Damien got the upper hand, choking Salamanco until the drug dealer fell unconscious. As Walec rose to walk away, he found himself the victim of that same grab leg sweep thing. He hit the ground hard, and Tuca lifted him into the metal compactor. He was amazed when, rather than explode into bits like expected, he saw Damien instead compressed into a small cube like a car would be in that machine. During this process, Uncle Benny and the remaining Rowdy Boys slipped out, never to be heard from again. They retired to Toledo to sell vacuums.Chapter 5: Found
Damien Walec will be the first person to tell you this: spending years compressed into an immovable cube shape will make a man reflect on his priorities. The first couple months were very difficult because of the withdrawal from the meth, but what could Damien do? He was a cube. Have you ever seen a cube snort meth? I’ll wait.
One day, a strapping man found himself in a certain scrapyard looking for a certain vehicle that a certain someone had certainly stolen from him in the past. This man heard the low vibrations of a distant voice, but couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from. He searched far and wide, for seven whole minutes, before giving up. Then he saw the cube laying on the ground and figured it could be a cool toy to give to his nephew. Now, this hasn’t been proven or anything, but that man was definitely Hugh Jackman.
Once Jackman found his stolen car and ventured on his way home, he was driven mad by the continuing voice that would not stop haunting him. As he pulled into his driveway, he realized the voice was, in fact, coming from the cube. Listening very closely, Jackman discovered that the voice was a bionic man that needed someone’s help to revert back to his natural state. Luckily, he was found by a man that not only had the means to get it done, but also had played Wolverine in a movie before, which was cool as hell.
After some time, Damien was rebuilt into human form. Unfortunately, the – scientists? engineers? mechanics? I dunno – that put him back together couldn’t extract all of the materials necessary to bring him back to full size, due to a phenomenon we all know as Cubage. In Walec’s case, Cubage had held him back to the point where his rebuilt self resembled a 14-year-old boy. Damien thanked the… people that rebuilt him, hugged Hugh, and flew back to his hometown of Edison, New Jersey, Astro Boy-style.Chapter 6: A New Beginning
Having caught wind of Bud Selig’s retirement, Walec felt secure to finally play baseball again. Not taking any chances, however, he decided to stop by new commissioner Rob Manfred’s house, and threatened to release Manfred’s pet giraffes should he do anything to stand in Walec’s way of playing baseball again. Manfred quickly agreed, so long as he didn’t play in the MLB. In his coolest cool guy voice, Damien responded, “I never wanted to anyway.”
From there, Walec went through high school again, remaining reserved from his fellow students and focusing his efforts on not dominating high school baseball too much to the point of rousing suspicion. After putting together four strong, but not too strong, years of high school ball at JP Stevens, the mostly forgotten Walec was garnering attention for the MLB draft, before stunningly declaring his name in the Season 6 PBE Draft instead. Now a member of the Death Valley Scorpions via the fifth overall pick, it is on Walec to determine if his second beginning will have a more fruitful ending.