My 90s What If Nightmare Involving Brian Austin Green and Frank Thomas

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My 90s What If Nightmare Involving Brian Austin Green and Frank Thomas
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

I don’t know why I am about to do what I am about to do.

There are lots of interesting, Midwest sports specific posts I could be writing right now.

Cliff Lee may get traded to Philly and be out of the White Sox hair for the foreseeable future.

SportsbyBrooks has a great story about what Mark Buehrle is doing for Dewayne Wise to thank him for saving his perfect game.

For crying out loud, this story at least deserves some mention on a site that has previously proclaimed its pride in this, doesn’t it?

But no, rather than expound upon those compelling stories I am about to indulge in what I can only describe as a self-masochistic flight of nightmarish fancy.  

Why?  

I guess the best explanation I can give is that sometimes as bloggers we don’t write the stories…they just kind of write themselves. (At least that is the excuse I will use to rationalize what you are about to read.)

It all started about a half hour ago when, after eating lunch here at the office, I decided to shirk a few of the day job responsibilities to write a post here at MSF.  And I didn’t feel like simply taking a hot story and adding my own personal second-hand commentary about it.  I wanted to do something stupid, unnecessary, and lame different, original, and unique. And I wanted it to somehow revolve around White Sox savior rookie Gordon Beckham.
Gordon Beckham looking like Zack Morris
I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to want to write about Beckham, although I’m sure it had something to do with the short debate I got into earlier with a few of the Texas Rangers fans who also inhabit our offices.

Basically, they said that they wouldn’t trade Elvis Andrus straight up for Beckham. I said they were fools and would, but just wouldn’t admit it, and then uttered a few of my usual derogatory statements about them just being desperate Rangers fans who are drunk with giddiness at finally being able to watch July baseball games that have some meaning.

Of course, I was right on all fronts.

Anyway, I wanted to write about Gordon Beckham, and I remembered seeing a picture of him a few days ago after which a thought flashed into my head that his tightly coiffed blonde hair made him somewhat resemble my childhood hero Zack Morris. So I thought that perhaps doing a tale of the tape between the 1990s badass and the future 2010s badass could make for a compelling blog post. 

And in the initial research for said post is when I stumbled upon one of the most horrific, terrifying, and downright dumbfounding facts that I never knew I didn’t know. Fellow former Saved By The Bell fans, prepare to have your heart stop momentarily and for oxygen to be cut off from your brain for a brief instant when I share with you this frightening thought:

Brian Austin Green was originally cast as the lead character in the pilot for Good Morning Miss Bliss, the original incarnation of Saved By The Bell.  Here is the proof:

In the pilot, the main “student” character was played by Brian Austin Green (of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame), but his character’s name wasn’t Zack Morris. Instead, Green played a super-serious student who always wore business suits. Another student character was played by Jaleel White (of Family Matters fame).

Ostensibly, from the way the above referenced page is written, this fact was contained in the E! True Hollywood story about Saved By The Bell. I don’t watch E!, however, so I was never made aware of this information. 

Brian Austin Green in original Saved By the Bell Cast (Good Morning, Miss Bliss)

While it appears as if the original main student character played by Green was nothing close to the Zack Morris character that we all came to know and love, the idea of this guy playing the lead role of the most seminal show about growing up in the 1990s is mind-boggling. I mean, back then Brian Austin Green was a hell of a lot closer to being Screech than he was to being Zack.

And there is always this. That clown couldn’t have even sung backup vocals for the Zack Attack:

[Editor's Note: Couldn't find video of the actual episode where Casey Casem introduces the Zack Attack and you see the actual band playing. However, during his recent appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show, Mark-Paul Gosselaar did an updated version of the song with the roots. Watch it below.]

Anyway, while Green has obviously redeemed himself in recent years by dating Megan Fox, he wouldn’t have had a shot in hell back then with Kelly Kapowski. No way. Furthermore, while Green gets some bonus points for the Fox relationship, he doesn’t exactly have that on lockdown, if you know what I mean. From The New York Daily News:

OK! claims that Megan Fox and on-again, off-again boyfriend Brian Austin Green have worked out a deal. “They’ve agreed to an open relationship where Megan can see other men but Brian can’t date anyone else,” says the mag, and she has six months to decide if she wants to marry him.

What?

Look, she’s attractive, and as dudes sometimes you gotta do what you have to do, and then do a little extra for the really hot ones, but you better believe that Mark-Paul Gosselaar would either have those loose ends sewn up…or be done with it. (Plus, no level of hotness can compensate for significant levels of crazy…and the more I read about Megan Fox, the more she qualifies for crazy.)

Anyway, I think Steve Stifler put it best when he said:

BlankAnd if someone can direct that quite at you legitimately, then you are not and never were worthy of the lead role in Saved By The Bell.

I shudder to think about what kinds of lessons the impressionable youths of the 90s would have learned from a Brian Austin Green-led Saved By The Bell.

Would he have taught us about the importance of environmental conservation and the evils of unbridled greed?

Would he have been able to save the Max?

And damnit, would Brian Austin F’ing Green have been man enough after being fleeced by the ultra-cool facade of Rod Belding to swallow his pride and admit he was wrong, and that Mr. Belding was definitely the better Belding?

I don’t think so. And a generation of 90s kids would be worse off because of it.

So all I have to say is Halelujah that the original pilot fell flat on its face and was retooled before being rolled out again. I’m not sure I’d want to live in a world in which Zack Morris never existed, and his only incarnation was some business-suit-wearing, white-boy-gangsta-rapping, girlfriend-has-his-bits-in-a-jar hack.

But…somehow…that’s not even the most harrowing What If thought I had today. Quite the contrary actually.  After reading about the original cast of Good Morning Miss Bliss, I wondered to myself if there was anything else that could possibly have made the 1990s more drastically different.

My first thought: Frank Thomas not being on the Chicago White Sox.

So I decided to go back to the 1989 draft and see what other players the White Sox could have taken with their first round selection that year, the seventh overall, and then where The Big Hurt might have ended up had the White Sox passed on him.

And the likely outcome is so much worse than Brian Austin Green starring in Saved By The Bell that I’d rather do this in my office right now than even think about it:

Here are picks 7-15 from the 1989 MLB draft:

  • 7 – Frank Thomas, 1B, White Sox
  • 8 – Earl Cunningham, OF, Cubs
  • 9 – Kyle Abbott, LHP, Angels
  • 10 – Charles Johnson, C, Expos
  • 11 – Calvin Murray, 3B, Indians
  • 12 – Jeff Juden, RHP, Astros
  • 13 – Brent Mayne, C, Royals
  • 14 – Steve Hosey, OF, Giants
  • 15 – Kiki Jones, RHP, Dodgers

I would have to assume that had the White Sox passed on Thomas, they likely would have picked one of the next 10 or so guys. Other than Charles Johnson, who was an All Star as an above-average defensive catcher, there was not another good player picked until 23rd when the Red Sox took Mo Vaughn. 

Now, if I’m being optimistic and said that the White Sox were committed to taking a 1B in 1989, Vaughn was the next 1B selected after Thomas. So perhaps the White Sox would have simply swapped one gargantuan, power-hitting first baseman for another.

But still, Vaughn had a relatively short peak and then fell victim to the sharp decline that so many huge power hitters face. He may have been comparable for a few years, but he’s no Frank Thomas.

Even worse, look at what moribund, pathetic franchise was slotted right behind the White Sox in the 1989 draft: the Cubs.

Even though the Cubs drafted Mark Grace in 1985, and he made his MLB debut in May of 1988, isn’t it conceivable that they could have plucked The Big Hurt at No. 8 anyway?

Grace was a high school basketball player, so you would think he had decent athletic ability back then. Maybe they move him to third or to a corner outfield spot, paving the way for Frank Thomas and Ryne Sandberg to own the city of Chicago and all of baseball in the early 90s as one of the greatest 1B-2B combos in MLB history.

The one silver lining to this nightmarish thought is that Ryne Sandberg had the best year of his career in 1990 (40 HRs, 100 RBI, 116 R, .306 BA), the same year that Frank Thomas broke into the Bigs and played in 60 games. So at least Sandberg’s peak would not have overlapped with Thomas’. The Cubs finished 77-85 in 1990.

However, what might have happened in 1991 and 1992?

The Cubs went 77-83 and 78-84 respectively in those two seasons, with Sandberg still playing very well. Although Thomas had not yet reached his peak (which would come between 1993-1997, five of his top six OPS seasons), he still went .318-32-109-104 in 1991 and .323-24-115-108 in 1992.

Might that have made the Cubs good enough to compete for the NL East pennant and possibly *gasp* a World Series?

And though Sandberg started to decline in 1993, the Cubs actually improved to 84-78. Can you imagine if they had gotten an MVP season from Frank Thomas on top of that? 

I am breaking out into hives just typing this.

Honestly, none of this is even remotely likely, even if the White Sox had passed on Big Frank. Mark Grace was the 1B of the future and we all know that the Cubs suck too much to have ever stumbled onto such fortuitous serendipity. Plus, maybe Frank would have ended up like the Cubs actual selection in 1989, Earl Cunningham, and never made it to the majors. (Okay, now that is what is not even remotely likely.)

Regardless, the thought of Frank Thomas having been a star on the North Side is enough to give any White Sox fan a sleepless night or two. As will the next thought, as I tie together the two seemingly disjointed What If scenarios posited above.

Remember Steve Bartman? Of course you do.  

What Chicago baseball fan could forget him?

Well, according to Wikipedia, the most notorious Chicago baseball fan in history graduated high school in 1995 and was 26 years old at the time of “The Incident.” This means that Bartman was in middle school and his first few years of high school during the heyday of Saved By The Bell. Naturally, we can only assume that Bartman watched Saved By The Bell regularly, because…well…didn’t everyone?

Saved By The Bell What If

But in a bizarro world as described above, in which the essence of cool (Zack Morris) is replaced by Brian Austin Green and in which Frank Thomas is a Chicago Cub, isn’t possible that Steve Bartman might have become a White Sox fan instead?  

Think about it: Bartman obviously reveled in rooting for a losing franchise, and with Frank Thomas on the other side of town it would have been the White Sox, not the Cubs, that were pathetic throughout the 90s.

As Marty McFly once taught us, when you start messing with the Space-Time Continuum, things can get f’d up that you never imagined.

And to take it one terrifying step further, if Steve Bartman were a White Sox fan he probably would have attended Game 2 of the 2005 ALDS between the White Sox and Angels.

And maybe he would have had seats behind home plate instead of down the third base line. And maybe when that infamous third strike bounced, and the ump signaled out with his hand, Steve Bartman — unable to control the level of his voice because he was wearing headphones — would have yelled “OUT!” at the top of his lungs.

And maybe AJ Pierzynski would have heard him, thought it was the ump, and not hustled to first base.

If so, the White Sox would have lost, would have been down 0-2 as they headed out West, and perhaps the South Siders would be the Chicago team still lamenting the fact that they haven’t won a World Series in over a century.

My apologies to any Good Guys who read this post and are unable to remove such a frightening hypothesis from their subconscious. But now do you see why it’s so important why Mark-Paul Gosselaar ending up playing Zack Morris in Saved By The Bell, and — although it’s obvious — why it’s so important that the White Sox drafted Frank Thomas one spot ahead of the Cubs?

So, now that I have outlined my two biggest What If Nightmares from the 1990s — both of which thankfully never happened, but both of which would have fundamentally changed an entire decade of my life had they been a reality — help me determine what would have been worse.

I’m leaning towards Big Frank being a Cub…but the influence of Zack Morris should not be overlooked nor understated.

What do you think?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

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* – Gordon Beckham photo credit: AJRoxMyWhiteSox


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