Wednesday, November 24, 2010


An October Ghost Story, The Sox V. Yanks, 2004
by Michael Dennis Mooney

DAN: Hey, Dan Patrick here. Tonight's shortened edition of SPORTSCENTER comes to you from historic Fenway. In about twenty minutes the Red Sox are about to contend against the Yankees they love to hate-- but a half-hour ago, about 7:30, a most unusual sight arose out of the gloaming and hung in the air above the big green left field wall, above the banks of lights, above the billboard ads, above the scoreboard filled with zeroes. There it is! [Camera pans.] An apparition of Bart Giamatti. He says he wants to address everyone before the game, the media, the fans here at the park, the players, the TV audience. He wants to discuss, quote, "a matter of much concern to baseball." We're going to bring in my broadcast parter Kenny Mayne. Kenny, what do you make of this?

KENNY: Hi, everyone. Yeah, Dan, this is creating quite a buzz in the stands. The game'll start at exactly 8:19, and Old Bart's just hanging there in the sky. He's not ready to speak to the crowd yet. That's what we're hearing. He's waiting for the seats to fill up. Now,,...Dan?

DAN: Shoot, Kenny.

KENNY: This might be stating the obvious--

DAN: That's what you do.

KENNY: -- But, correct me if I'm wrong, Bart Giamatti is no longer the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

DAN: No longer, right.

KENNY: He's, kind of like, ...well, dead, no longer in the loop, really--

DAN: He's dead.

KENNY: -- And baseball already has a commissioner, I forget who--

DAN: Selig. Bud Selig.

KENNY: --Yeah, that's the guy! So, where does Giamatti get off holding a surprise news conference? I heard he requested to be on SPORTSCENTER.

DAN: We're going to interview him on tonight's show. You should pay more attention at the meetings.

KENNY: Now, this is really out of his jurisdiction. He's a dead dude. He has no juice anymore. No say in baseball.

DAN: You could argue that, but a revered former commissioner has arisen from the dead. Then people tend to sit up and take note. Thus Mr. Giamatti has himself some press coverage, and a public forum.

KENNY: But no real say, no authority.

DAN: To use an overused phrase, he has moral authority.

KENNY: Okay, Dan. What do you think the old man's so worked up about?

DAN: He said, "a matter of much concern to baseball."

KENNY: I think it's going to be players' salaries. Bart's concerns aren't likely to be real up to date. He's been, like, dead for years. Out of the game, really.

DAN: Could be. A star player like Sammy Sosa gets fined for showing up late to a meaningless late-season game, and he gets docked more money than a working couple with "good jobs" and a mortgage can earn in a year. He doesn't even notice, it's only one day's pay.

KENNY: Hey, I got it! The commissioner has thought it over and he wants to reinstate Pete Rose.

DAN: No way. Not On ESPN. Not after we just aired The Pete Rose Story.

KENNY: Dan, what do you think Ol' Bartholomew's concerns are?

DAN: My guess is it's steroids in the game, but that's just me, the BALCO story is really breaking right now?

KENNY: Yeah. That interview in Sports Illustrated with "The Iron Sheff." Did you see that?

DAN: The Yanks' Gary Sheffield. He indicated the BALCO company could get you a "supplement" that would ostensibly be a vitamin--

KENNY: -- But it'd be Vitamin S!

DAN: [laughs]

KENNY: Big Red "S." Stands for Superman.

DAN: No, for steroids, you doofus.

KENNY: I say Bart's going to ban "Shef" from b'ball. Fact or Fiction?

DAN: Let's not get ahead of ourselves. No advanced word yet on Giamatti's plans.

KENNY: You know, if he did ban "the Sheff" it could really hurt the Yankees' lineup. "Sheff" has been banging the ball off the wall like he's on a squash court or somethin'.

DAN: He's been lifting.

KENNY: He is AMPED! Now if he get's banned the Sox will have a much bigger chance of winning. An announcement like that would send a lightning bolt through Fenway. They'll be dancing in the stands all week.

DAN: No, I don't think it'll be about just one person.

KENNY: I'm betting he smells what "The Sheff" is stirring with his big stick. And he doesn't like it one bit.

DAN: No. A "ban" wouldn't hold up. Selig is commissioner. He would say a Giamatti ruling could never be countenanced. Not one made in 2004.

KENNY: You gotta stay on your toes when you're dealing with dead ex-commissioners.

DAN: Truer words never spoken. Let's swing the lens over to Peter Gammons and Harold Reynolds down on the first base line.

PETE, HAL: Dan. Hey, Dan. [players in warm-up drills behind them, some players pointing up to the sky]

DAN: Pete, you've got sources all around Fenway. What are you hearing?

PETE: Dan, no official advanced word. I am, though, hearing from old friends of the former commissioner--

KENNY: -- Ones who are still alive, right?

PETE: Alright, real "alive" sources are saying that Bart Giamatti is actually concerned with the Red Sox. He has an issue with the Red Sox players, their comportment in public, that kind of thing. That's what I'm hearing.

KENNY: Let me get this straight--

DAN: -- What would be the chances of that?

KENNY: Pete, are you saying Giamatti's been, um, apparitioning, making mysterious appearances all around town? Appearing to your sources? Telling them he's not happy with the Red Sox players', uh, comportment?

PETE: Exactly. I'm not used to reporting on the activities of those who are long deceased. But, yes, there have been seances held around Boston all during last week's playoff series. At one seance (I was there and it was eerie) Giamatti's voice was floating in through air-conditioning vents to the darkened dining room of an Italian Restaurant. He was saying, "This is no way for pro ballplayers to comport themselves in public. This is no way for a biker gang to present themselves. Nor even a horde of pillaging Visigoths." Then the lights and the a/c went off!

KENNY: Sounds like you really got into the house chianti and candlelight, Pete. That apparition! He talks like an old professor.

PETE: He was president of an Ivy League school. Though it was only Yale. [snickers] And he was a Dante scholar. So he knows about the eternal damnation you get when you really screw up.

DAN: Pete, is that Stephen King? Behind you there in the first row? With the old Sox cap on?

PETE: Yes, it is. He's been down here from Maine for every home game this season, he's doing a book from a fan's perspective.

KENNY: The apparitioning of Bart ought to fit in nicely for King. Let's flip it over to Hal Reynolds. "HR," I say Ol' Bart's going to ban those dumb head-first slides into first base. Whattdaya accomplish when you do that?--

HAL: -- Kenny, Kenny! [laughing]--

KENNY: You feel like such an ass. And you end up hurting the first baseman's feelings when he steps on you. He could turn an ankle.

HAL: Kenny! My Mayne Man! Let's keep this in focus. [laughs] Baseball people I know around the league are saying it's about the Sox too. I think Pete's right. If it were about the Yanks Mr. G. would go right to "The House That Ruth Built." He'd confront the team right there. Kind of man he is. [players behind him pointing up again]

DAN: I think Peter and Harold are onto something.

KENNY: We'll find out in a few minutes. The apparition is leaning over the green wall. He's sort of "counting the house," I think, or he's looking for one of those sausage vendors.

DAN: You know what I think the Giamatti announcement will be about? This will sound silly but I'm sure of it. It's about haircuts. [grinning] The Red Sox are a team that needs haircuts.

KENNY: Nah! No freakin way!

DAN: Yep. It's about haircuts. The current Sox roster is not clean cut. That's what the apparition was saying in the restaurant. This is about how they "present themselves." Now, in the old Roger Clemens era the Sox were clean cut. They looked sharp.

KENNY: Yeah. They cleaned up nice. Then they lost and came in second.

DAN: The current Sox are good pitchers and terrific booming hitters. But they have bad hair.

KENNY: Dan, jeez guy, is that all you think about? Hair? Hair care? ....


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