2/7/2018 – New York City, NY – a meeting at MLB Headquarters
Commissioner Emeritus BUD SELIG slowly takes off his glasses. Hands shaking, he places them onto the glass-top desk in front of him. He tries to compose himself by smoothing over his side part, but the shakiness only makes his hair messier. He places his elbows on the desk and sinks his face into his hands.
BUD: I think this is it, Rob. I think Major League Baseball has run its course. We’ve had a good run since 1869, but there’s nowhere left for us to go.
Loosening his shockingly bright tie, actual Commissioner ROB MANFRED, that guy everyone forgets about, tries to comfort BUD.
ROB: Don’t say that, Bud. It’s just a slow news week. Soon it will be Pitchers and Catchers and then we’ll have something to talk about again.
BUD: This is supposed to be our week. Do you understand that? The Super Bowl is over, the Winter Olympics haven’t started, the NBA Trade Deadline is always a snooze, I mean what’s going to happen, Cleveland will trade Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers and receive a shockingly bad rate of return on their investment? That they’ll just up and fire everyone to somehow appease Lebron James who’s probably leaving next year? [He looks straight into the camera.] But no, instead we’re just twiddling our thumbs waiting for the start of Training Camp. Awful. Just awful. [He places his head back in his hands]
ROB: Look, I just got off the phone with all 30 teams, and there’s some really good stuff coming through the pipeline. I have word out of Boston that David Price feels good. They’re gonna put out a release about how they expect that he will be dominant again. That’ll give people something to talk about, right?
BUD lets out an agonized wail.
ROB: I know, I know, it’s not perfect. This manufactured collusion story didn’t work out like we wanted either. Most people realized that it’s a load of bunk.
BUD: Horseshit. You can call it what it is. Horseshit. We need a win here. We need someone to come through for us. We need to shift the focus back where it belongs. To BASEBALL.
As he says this, everything in the room shakes noticeably. ROB MANFRED gulps, visibly nervous.
ROB: Well what if we get Chris in here? He’s good at this kind of stuff.
BUD: Right. Good idea. PARK! WHERE ARE YOU PARK?!
CHRIS PARK has appeared on the couch. Calm. Cool. Relaxed. It’s unclear if he’s actually been here the whole time. He picks at a fingernail with his legs crossed nonchalantly.
CHRIS: Loooose something?
CHRIS: Cheshire cat? Alice in Wonderland?
BUD: How can you make jokes and be so relaxed at a time like this? This is a full-blown crisis!
CHRIS: God, what do you want from me? I got you the J.D. Martinez story, how he’s “fed up” with the Red Sox? The Mets have been celebrating the signing of Todd Frazier. Hell, I even got the Cleveland Indians to put out a worthless piece of PR claiming a moral victory for delaying doing what they’d already agreed to do with their racist mascot. I’d say I’m doing my job manipulating the media just fine.
BUD: I want something of substance. Something sexy. Something that says to Baseball fans, “we are relevant.”
CHRIS PARK sighs, slowly uncrossing his legs and leaning forward, from somewhere, a nail file has appeared and he continues going to town on the fingernail.
CHRIS: Alright. Then I think it’s time to call the Rangers.
ROB: The Rangers, why?
CHRIS PARK jumps, nail file falling out of his hand.
CHRIS: AH! Oh, sorry Rob. I honestly forgot you were still here. Yes, the Rangers. I’ve been waiting to make this call until it was desperately needed. I hoped this wouldn’t be necessary until we found ourselves embroiled in another steroid controversy. But if you feel the time is now, then the time is now.
BUD SELIG has lost his nerve.
BUD: I…I don’t know. We need a win…but this? We can’t unring this bell if it doesn’t work.
CHRIS: It’ll work. Alexa, Get me Jon Daniels on the phone.
ALEXA: I’m sorry, I don’t see anyone by that name in your contacts.
CHRIS: Right, my fault. Alexa, call Babyface Daniels.
The phone barely gets through its first ring.
JON: Parkie my boy! To what do I owe the pleasure? I’m surprised you got me, I’m in the middle of a marathon. I definitely was not sitting here at my phone waiting for someone anyone to call because I am so f**king bored.
There is no sound. The silence fills a pregnant pause.
JON: Hello? Chris?
CHRIS: Jon. It’s time.
JON: Time for wh– Oh God, no. Chris, no. Don’t do this.
CHRIS: It’s time, Jon.
JON: Please, Chris. This is all we have left. They predicted us at 77 wins this season, and I don’t think we’ll even make it to 70.
CHRIS: We need a win, Jon. It’s for the good of BASEBALL.
The room shakes.
ROB: Okay, what the f–
JON: Have you talked to Bud yet? He’ll agree with me.
BUD: I’m here, Jon. This is what needs to happen.
JON: Jesus, you too? Next you’ll tell me Rob’s in on it.
ROB: I’m here too but I have NO god damn idea what anyone is talking about.
CHRIS: AH! Jesus, Rob. Sorry. I forgot you were here. Good to see you.
ROB: Can someone fill me in?
JON: They want us to trade Russell Wilson to the Yankees.
A silence falls over the room. BUD and CHRIS look serious, their faces grim.
ROB: I’m sorry…what?
BUD: It’s for the good of the league, Rob.
ROB: No, sorry. I mean…what do you mean trade Russell Wilson to the Yankees?
JON: Exactly! He should stay with the team that drafted him.
BUD: The Orioles?
JON: No the–
CHRIS: The Rockies.
JON: No, the Rangers.
BUD: A Rule 5 draft is not a real draft.
JON: Of course it is, it’s literally in the name.
CHRIS: Rule 6.
CHRIS: Rule 6 clearly states that Rule 5 is not a draft.
JON: That is NOT what Rule 6 says!
BUD: SYKE! There is no Rule 6!
JON: YES THERE IS!
BUD: Jonny boy, no one knows what the rules are. [he grows wistful] Their meanings have been lost to time.
JON: Me. I know the rules. As a General Manager my job is literally to know what the rules are.
CHRIS: Then you know the rules say you have to trade Russell Wilson to the Yankees.
JON: What rule says that?
BUD: Rule number go f**k yourself
CHRIS: Bud, come on.
ROB: You all realize that Russell Wilson is the Quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, and that he DOESN’T PLAY BASEBALL?! That he’s an NFL MVP and Super Bowl winning Quarterback, and that he has no effect on Major League Baseball?
The room breaks into uproarious laughter.
BUD: Oh you sweet, sweet, sweet man.
CHRIS: Thank you for that, I needed that.
ROB: What is happening right now?
CHRIS: Let me explain it like this. Everyone loves Russell Wilson. Despite a contentious contract negotiation not so long ago, all he does is flash those pearly whites and the world just melts. He saved himself ’til marriage, appeasing the “moral” crowd. The biggest controversy he’s ever been in was that Richard Sherman once told him he sucks. So when he shows up at Rangers training camp, it’s worth its weight in wholesome baseball press gold.
JON: Yeah. Our gold. And you want us to give it to the god damn Yankees.
CHRIS: HE WANTS TO BE A YANKEE, JON. He doesn’t give a shit about your bullcrap team led by your Hall of Famer CEO, Nolan “Thank God it never came out that he took steroids” Ryan.
A pall falls over the room.
BUD: I’m sorry. Everyone’s just a little on edge, what Chris mean to say was–
CHRIS: I said what I said. The Rangers are mediocre, and their team never generates headlines. Russell Wilson on the Yankees will make every headline go like 30% farther because their marketing team is full of god damn geniuses. Rafael Palmeiro handed the Rangers a gold mine on a silver platter, and they turned it down. All you had to do was let him play in one game, Jon. ONE. Instead you lose the rights to Russell Wilson.
BUD: I’m sorry?
JON: I said no, Bud. You heard me. You can’t make me do it, I won’t.
BUD: LISTEN UP YOU LITTLE SH—
CHRIS: Bud. Don’t. Don’t stoop to his level. Now Jon. Listen up, you little shit.
CHRIS: AH! JESUS STOP DOING THAT YOU GOD DAMN GREMLIN!
ROB: I’m literally your boss. Do not talk to me like that.
The room breaks into uproarious laughter
CHRIS: Oh you sweet, sweet, sweet man.
BUD: Thank you for that.
ROB: Didn’t we just do th–
CHRIS: Jon. What do you want?
JON: I want CB Bucknor as the umpire for at least half of our games.
CHRIS, BUD, and ROB share a look.
ROB: Guys, we can’t allow Bucknor to be an umpire anymore, let alone the personal ump to a whole team.
Weirdly, crickets are heard in the office.
ROB: …Can we?
BUD: Done. You’ll get your foul tip calls, Jon. You son of a bitch.
CHRIS: Alright. Then it’s settled. Russell Wilson gets traded to the Yankees tonight.
2/8/2018 – The next afternoon – MLB Headquarters
ROB, CHRIS, and BUD are sitting in the office, cheerfully enjoying coffee.
CHRIS: –and then Russell Wilson said, “Also, there’s nothing better than the smell of some fresh-cut, green grass on a baseball field.” I mean it’s perfect. Just perfect. You couldn’t ask for someone better to be the face of baseball.
ROB: I have to admit. I had my doubts, but he got an ESPN interview, and the front page of almost every major news outlet. Not even the Winter Olympics can touch this.
CHRIS: Please. With the NHL players not even taking part? No one is gonna pay attention to them.
BUD: And what could possibly happen in the NBA? Cleveland will joyfully give their fans the finger while riding their dumpster fire of a team directly into the lake? [He looks straight into the camera.]
ROB: For the last time, this is a Stageplay, there are no cameras for you to give takes to.
CHRIS: And even though Josh McDaniels just made Chris Ballard look like an absolute idiot and torpedoed their team for at least two seasons, by grabbing Russell Wilson, we’re protected from not just the NFL, but the volatile NFC West as a whole. There’s no way they can scoop us now–
The door slams open, and in runs that guy who looks like everyone’s dad, TONY PETITTI.
TONY: The San Francisco 49ers just signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a 5 year, 137.5 million dollar contract despite him never having started an entire season for any team ever.