With Major League Baseball action on pause for the All-Star break, it's a good time to scour the country for stories of a different sort.
Far away from the controversies and scandals of professional athletics, we delve into the more innocent side of sports. Everywhere you go in this vast land you can find stories of human interest—everyday people playing everyday games.
Many of us have played for a company softball team. I thought it would be interesting to explore the thought processes that go into running such a team. To help me, I engaged a newcomer in the challenge—Michael Scott, Regional Manager of the Scranton Branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
Ken Rosenblatt: So, Michael, why did you start a company softball team at Dunder Mifflin?
Michael Scott: Here at Dunder Mifflin we believe in teamwork. You can only go as far as the next man can throw you. And I'm a big believer in team-building exercises. Company softball builds teamwork and camaraderie. You know why fraternity brothers are always so close? Because they play intramural sports.
KR: But you yourself were not in a fraternity? In fact, you did not go to college, correct?
MS: That's correct. But I've heard some great stories. I'd like to be in one of them someday.
KR: The name of your team, the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch Card Stox, is both a mouthful and a very clever play on words.
MS: Thank you. I came up with that all by myself. All the great teams are named after stockings.
KR: But your team is actually named after paper—card stock to be exact.
MS: Yeah, I suppose you can see it that way, too. Whatever. Either way, we'll be wearing stockings.
KR: Okay, why don't we get right down to the roster. You've named yourself manager of the team. Why you?
MS: Well, I'm the boss. I don't take orders from anyone. Except Jan.
KR: Jan is?
MS: My ex-girlfriend. I don't want to talk about it.
KR: And I see you have an Assistant Manager.
MS: That's Assistant to the Manager. And it's...ugh...it's Dwight...[annoyed]...so who cares. It's not important. He's an idiot.
KR: All right, then. Let's take a look at your players and maybe you can tell me why you've chosen these particular people for your squad.
MS: Okay, now we're talking. At first base we have Kevin Malone. He's big, a little slow, and maybe a little dumb. But he's also a closet athlete. You should have seen the shots he was making after our basketball game against the warehouse guys.
So I'm expecting he may have nimble feet around the bag, and he should provide us with the kind of power you look for from the corner infield positions.
KR: Wow, it sounds like you know your stuff when it comes to constructing a team.
MS proudly holds up a copy of Company Softball for Dummies.
KR: How about your second baseman?
MS: At second we have Pam Beesly. I'm not expecting much there. She's a terrible athlete. And she's also a girl. So yeah, I'd rather not even play her. But apparently this league requires us to have two girls in the lineup at all times. I figure the least I can do is put her next to Jim, who's my best friend—and her boyfriend.
KR: That's all you have to say about Pam?
MS: She'll fill out the uniform nicely. Ask Jim.
KR: Moving on, then. Of course, as we just learned, Jim Halpert is your shortstop. What can you tell us about Jim?
MS: Jim is the wheelhouse that keeps our ship together, if I may use some baseball lingo, and an all-around great guy. And, as I said, we're also best friends. I told him so.
KR: Continuing around the infield...now this guy sounds like a player. Tell me about your third baseman, Andy Bernard.
MS: Well, Andy claims that he has played shortstop—and only shortstop—wherever he's been. For his frat at Cornell, and even when he worked at the Stamford branch for Josh. I don't believe him.
Irregardless, I told him we already have a go-to guy at short, so he reluctantly agreed to move over to third. Frankly, we just hope he doesn't flip out and kill someone.
KR: Why would he kill someone?
MS: Anger management issues. Can't talk about it. Too much liability.
KR: Has he assaulted anyone?
MS: Uh...can't talk about it. [pause] Only the wall. That's why he's not in the outfield.
KR: I understand your left fielder, Creed Bratton, is an interesting character.
MS: There's nothing interesting about Creed except he smells a little.
KR: What makes him the right choice for left field?
MS: Everything Creed does or says comes out of left field. He's weird. Next, please.
KR: Your left-center fielder is Oscar Martinez?
MS: Yes, Oscar.
KR: Now, I saw him earlier and it looked like he had more the build of a middle infielder.
MS: That's racist and you, sir, disgust me.
KR: How is that racist?
MS: [whispering out of the side of his mouth] Oscar is Mexican. And gay.
KR: What does that have to do with him having the build of a middle infielder?
MS: Oh, God, they're gonna send that darn diversity training guy again.
KR: I wouldn't be surprised. Perhaps we should move on. Right-center field—Angela Martin. What factors did you consider in selecting Angela to be the second woman in the starting lineup. Why not Meredith, Kelly, or Phyllis?
MS: Dwight said he would do my laundry for another year if I picked Angela.
KR: Will the other women be available off the bench?
MS: I asked Meredith but she claims to have no recollection of the conversation. Kelly refuses to use her spare time for anything but writing letters to Ryan in jail. And Bob Vance says I can't come within 50 feet of Phyllis outside the office.
KR: You're certainly working under some interesting circumstances here. What's Stanley's story? He's in right field. Does he have a cannon?
MS: No, but I'm sure he has a pen. I don't know why Stanley wanted to play. He's just going to stand out there doing his puzzles.
KR: Well, I hate to say it, but with that crew of fielders I hope you have one heck of a battery. Who's your pitcher?
MS: Michael C. Scott, at your service. Pitcher extraordinaire. They call me Dr. K.
KR: Who does?
MS: [quietly] Uh...you know...our fans. Never mind.
KR: Where did you learn how to pitch?
MS proudly holds up a printout from Wikipedia.
KR: Finally, Michael, tell us about your catcher.
MS: That would be me, as well.
KR: You pitch and catch? At the same time?
MS: Yes, I like wearing the catcher's equipment.
KR: You wear it while you're pitching?
MS: Of course. You can never be too safe.
KR: So let me get this straight—you pitch, catcher's gear and all, and then run behind the plate?
MS: It's not that far. And it's slow-pitch.
KR: That's remarkable. How's that working out so far? How many games have you won?
MS: Well, we haven't actually played any games yet.
KR: But it's the middle of July. Hasn't the season been going on for at least a few weeks now?
MS: Six weeks, actually. We've had to forfeit all our games.
KR: Why is that?
MS: We just can't seem to get the full team together on the same night. You know, people are busy.
KR: Do any of your players ever show up?
MS: Jim and Pam came once. Creed sleeps under the bleachers some nights, so he's usually there. And even though she denies it, I'm pretty sure I saw Meredith sleeping in her car in the parking lot once.
KR: I'm sorry this doesn't seem to be working out the way you planned. But thanks for talking with us today.
MS: Oh, don't you worry. We're starting to gain momentum. I can feel it.
KR: That's what she said.
MS: Hey, nice! But, really, we're gonna make it big.
KR: That's what she said.
MS: Okay, don't get carried away. That's my job.