Thursday, April 23, 2009

The New Adventures of JR and the Bucs from Pittsburgh, Vol. 1

At Rise: The Pirates clubhouse. John Russell enters from his office.

JOHN RUSSELL: Guys, news just came down from the top...

ANDY LAROCHE: /cleans out locker

SEAN BURNETT: /packs bags

BRANDON MOSS: /weeps gently

CRAIG HANSEN: /walks opposing pitcher

NYJER MORGAN: /performs excerpt from "Swimming To Cambodia"

: Due to the current political happenings on the high seas, et cetera, et cetera, they want us to change the name of the team so as not to seem like we represent certain parties, et cetera, et cetera.

TYLER YATES: Wait, so you mean, we're not all cut?

NEAL HUNTINGTON: /observes all this from his Batcave-like supercomputer
Soon, Tyler. Soon.
(Tyler Yates’ seven-year attrition graph can be seen on one of the smaller screens adjacent to the central monitor. It is not a favorable forecast.)

PAUL MAHOLM: /chomps on some Big League Chew—‘cause he’s earned it!
So what are they callin' us, Skip?

: /blows bubble

: /throws quality start, primes fans for heartbreak

: What’s the new name?

JOHN RUSSELL: I’m supposed to let you guys vote on it.

NATE MCLOUTH: /raises hand like an eager first-grader


FREDDY SANCHEZ: How 'bout the Sleeves? You know. Now that we have sleeves on our uniforms again, it's kind of our look.

: /silence, avoidance of eye contact, indiscriminate shame

: I'll be in my office. Try and have something together by tonight's first pitch.

(Phone rings)

: Yell-o?

SOMALI PIRATE: Our patience runs out with you American!

: Now calm down, dang’it — I'm working on this!

: Working is taking too slow!

: Just tell me, is my son safe?

: Your… son?

: Have you hurt him!? My son! Give me back my son!

: Say it do not spray it we do not have your son American!

: You said you had my boy in the fax! Well?! Do you or don’t you?

(Pause — the kind of pause that makes you seriously question the competence of the customer service representative handling your account.)

: One moment! I put you on hold!

(Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock’n Roll Part 2’ plays over the phone.)

THE PIRATE PARROT: /enters John Russell’s office, begins dancing

: /dances

:/pretends to eat John Russell's head

: Alright, alright — get outta here! Can’t ya see I’m on the phone?

: /shrugs, exits in rhythm to the music

(Then… the music comes to a halt—)

: I am returned American!

: Come to any consensus on your hostage?

: He’s boy.

: My boy?!

: He says!

: /pauses, swallows. Let me speak to him.


: …Duke?!

: What’s up, Skip?

: Darn it, Duke…

: Uh oh…Oh shoot. I’m sorry, JR. I hope I’m not being a distraction to the clubhouse.

: /slumps back in his chair, terminally depressed

: I mean, I’m okay… It’s really not so bad, in fact, I’m kind of having fun.

: /face-plants into desk, wishing there was a God, and that He’d end it all, quickly, painlessly.

: Yeah, in fact, I’m making new friends.

(A whole crowd of Somali pirates can be heard in the background, casting lots in Arabic over who gets to keep Zach Duke’s Nike cleats after he’s thrown overboard.)

: I’m teaching them how to throw a big-league slider!

: You don’t even throw a slider, Zach, let alone a big-league one.

: Uh...Shhh! — They don’t seem to know that! Heh, it’s great! It’s like I’ve finally made it!

: Enough talking dog! Hello!? American? Are you there?

: I’m here.

: Well? You have spoken to your boy. Now you honor demands! You do it now!

: We’re honoring your frickin’ demands! I have my staff working on it right as we speak.

: No more will you bring shame to us!

: No more will we bring shame to you — yeah, yeah…Listen: Zach’s a special kid. He’s a good kid with big-league upside. The kind of guy we like to give the ball to every five days, and expect that when he takes the hill, we’ve got a shot at winning a ball game. Good motion on his breaking balls, good idea of what he’s doing; and he’s a lefty, which is a plus in this league, obviously.

: He’s the kind of guy you send out there knowing he’ll throw some pitches and make the batters hit the baseball where he wants them to hit it. But listen, Long John. I’ve got like three-dozen Zach Duke replicas between Altoona and my 40-man, so frankly, I think it’s a little presumptuous of you to think you’ve got some sort of blue chip to play.

: /pauses, scrambling for a response.

: We also got captured Gorzelanny!

: Oh no. What will we do without his sub-one strikeout-to-walk ratio. I don’t know. O, heaven help us. Listen! Again, it’s another soft-tossing lefty. I really…I don’t care.

: What then you means by this?

: I means… that while I’d love to help you, it’s not exactly like you’ve got a gun to my head, or rather, it’s not like you have a gun to the head of someone who we’re banking on for the long-term, future success of this ball club.

: /yells something in murderous frustration, probably a curse

: /listening intently for, but not hearing, a gunshot; continues…

: Look, I know you’d appreciate it if we — no pun intended — played ball with your requests…

: Demand! Demands not request!

: Of course. If we played ball — again, no puns here, not trying to be funny — with your “demands,” but any compromise on our part is really just coming out of the generosity of our own hearts. Which is a lesson I think you all might care to take notes from. Listen. We all kind of want this to end well.

: Of course!

: And speaking on behalf of the entire ball club, we certainly don’t want to bring shame to anyone, especially not your organization any more—

: No more shame please! Sixteen years too many shame!

: Right. Well, how about we just settle on something like this: we keep going by the Pirates, you guys get full rights over Buccaneers, Bucs, Buccos, Bucco Brigade, Cannonball Crew, Bucco Bleacher Fun Deals, Bucco Giant Eagle Discount Shopper Specials, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ franchise logo and insignia rights, et cetera et cetera.

: We want Pirates!


: /obviously shaken

: Fine…fine! Well…we keep Duke for another two starts then!

: Another two starts?

ROSS OHLENDORF: /enters office

: Hey, Skip?

: /puts hand over phone while the Somali pirate continues screaming

: Hey, Ross. Is this important? I’m kind busy.

: Well, I was just thinking…you know, in the offseason, I was auditing some MBA classes at Wharton, and we were talking about integrating effective cost-cutting policies into original marketing strategies within the context of avoiding potentially violent conflict, and…

: Jesus, son, I said this had to be important!

: All we have to do is unstitch the “P” from the fronts of our jerseys and start masquerading as the “IRATES.” It’ll probably please these real Pirates enough, and it’s a convenient and refreshing nod to the screwed up subculture of a fan base that’s followed us long enough to still be angry about our being historically bad and whatnot.

: That’s…that’s effing genius! And if anyone asks, the “P” on the hats stands for Pittsburgh!

: Actually the “P” on the hat has always stood for Pittsburgh. There’s a common misconception that—

: That’s great! What do we do about the logo?

: /crashes through office ceiling, landing in front of Russell’s desk

: I’m on it, Shemp!

: /stands up, dusts self off

: Take a look at this! /hands Russell photograph

: Who the hell is this?

: Former Israeli freedom fighter and Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan.

: That’s a good one, Nyj. I was going to suggest James Joyce.

: I find Joyce’s work obstrucasive and termiable!

: /rolls eyes

: Swing and a miss.

: Great work, guys. Ross, take this up to Neal’s office and let him know what’s up.

HUNTINGTON’S VOICE: (from nowhere in particular) Excellent work, Gentlemen. Your'e both greatly enhancing your respective trade values.

: God, that’s creepy. I still don’t know how he does that. Alright, let’s have wardrobe start altering the jerseys.

: We can do it ourselves, General! I have 27 individual sewing kits in my locker. Gotta be ready for the fallout, you know?

: /does 12 consecutive cartwheels