The following is a transcript from a conversation deep in the offices of the FOX television network. The first speaker is a stodgy corporate type, the sort of guy who gets field boxes seats at Fenway Park and then complains about the poor view and food selection, and who is proud of having met Elisha Cuthbert. The second speaker is a baseball fan.
“Oh, this is the end of the world as we know it! We had a chance at that Man-Ram fellow taking on the defending world champs. And now we’ve got, what is this? Tampa? Are there any demographic groups worth advertising to in Tampa? And Philadelphia? Didn’t those people boo, I don’t know, who did they boo?”
“Who boos Santa Claus?”
“They are a very, uh, determined fanbase, sir.”
“Will there be enough of them to not send our ratings the way of the stock market?”
“Sir, I think that this World Series will be highly entertaining and will appeal to people who love baseball for the sanctity of the sport. People who root for the underdog, and who want to participate in history.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s an incredible matchup, sir. Two teams who have completely different approaches, two completely different fanbases. A great story no matter who wins.”
“A great story?”
“Well, the Rays are the worst team in baseball history. Now they are in the World Series. And, don’t interrupt, sir. And don’t bite that highball glass. As I was saying, the Phillies have won one World Championship in 126 years, so this is an event.”
“What the heck is a Phillie? And get me a drink so that I can drown the vanishing account income.”
“Sir, the Phillies are a really entertaining team, with what are called high character players. Ryan Howard, their gigantic, almost huggable first baseman, is the game's foremost home run hitter, capable of bashing balls into the stratosphere, and also capable of looking completely foolish striking out. Shane Victorino, the guy at the center of the brawl—“
“A good fight would get people’s attention.”
“If you say so, sir. Well, Victorino is a battler, a pest, a fill-in-the-blank-expletive whatever you want to call him. But he is also highly watchable. He gives everything he has in the field, and he hits screaming line drives and runs the bases with complete fearlessness. And he makes for great lip-reading theatre on television.
"And then there is Chase Utley. He is the definitive Baseball Player in the entire major leagues right now. He is quiet off the field, and completely tenacious on it. He is an above-average fielder with good instincts and a terrific motor (see his diving play into the second base bag, paying little regard for his own body, against the Dodgers), and an outstanding hitter, especially as a power hitter, unusual for second basemen.
"Utley plays the game the way it is meant to be played, with vigor and selflessness, in this oh so self-indulgent game.”
“Like the Oscars, sir. The game lends itself to the magnification of the individual personality, but, in the end, the best team that plays together and gets along wins.”
“Son, if you could get us the Oscars, I’d set you up with a supermodel for an entire weekend on the French Riviera.”
“Um. Thank you, sir?”
“You say that these ‘Phillies’ are entertaining. What about the, uh, what are they called?”
“The Rays, sir. Last year they were the Devil Rays.”
“Well, thank goodness they changed their name. Listen, this drink isn’t strong enough. This Philadelphia-Tampa thing is a disaster. Are there any superstars, like that A-Rod, in this series? Or a team with a hopeless nationwide following, like those Cubs?”
“Well, sir. I think that B.J. Upton and David Price will be superstars in a short time. And, sir, they are both homegrown African-American ballplayers, which are in serious short supply in baseball right now.”
“You aren’t doing something stupid like making a socio-political statement, are you?”
“No, sir. I wouldn’t dare. But, sir, there is so much to like about the Rays, as well. Their manager, Joe Maddon, is a legitimate intellectual and an eccentric personality.”
“Oh, come off it. There’s no such thing as intellect in baseball.”
“You are wrong, sir, this Maddon is both well-read and well-spoken. Besides, sir, there are other great stories on the Rays. Their heart-and-soul, outfielder Rocco Baldelli, is just coming back into the game after injuries and a mysterious, career-threatening illness.”
“Like steroids? See, I do pay attention.”
“No sir, it was an unknown illness that attacked his immune system and caused great fatigue and—“
“Enough, if I want to learn about medicine and mysteries, I’ll watch House. Which, by the way, I will not be able to watch next week because of this Philadelphia-Tampa nonsense. It would have been okay if we’d gotten that Man-Ram..."
“Sir, I think you just like saying Man-Ram.”
“Can you come up with some good names for Utley or, let me remember, Baldelli?”
“They don’t need nicknames, sir, they are incredible athletes who are complete ballplayers, unlike a certain you-know-who. And they are playing for the World Championship.”
“Okay, okay, you’ve got me listening. Now tell me about these two teams.”
“The Rays had one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball this year, and the Phillies might have the most dangerous lineup in the game.
"And, well, the Phillies have the best bullpen in the playoffs. Their closer, Brad Lidge, has saved every chance he’s had this season. And he is also getting some redemption, because his career was on the rocks last year.
"Both of these teams hit home runs like the entire concept of a home run might get exported. The Phillies led the National League in home runs and the Rays have hit 22 of them in the 11 postseason games they’ve played.”
“That’s a lot of home runs. And do chicks still dig the long ball, son?”
“Sure, sir. But they also dig dirty uniforms, handsome chiseled faces, and charisma. And these teams have plenty of all of that.”
“Yes, sir, but I won’t elaborate. It’d upset my wife. And sir, both of these teams can pitch. The Rays have an ace who can dial up nearly 100 MPH, and two young guys named Shields and Garza who pitch with complete icy confidence. And the Phillies’ best pitcher, Cole Hamels has filthy stuff. He’s been nearly unhittable this postseason.”
“All right, all right, I’m intrigued. But I was intrigued last year when those guys from Colorado pulled off a miracle. And that Series was a dud.”
“It was sir, but the magic of Colorado’s run made the run up to that Series exciting. Here we have two evenly matched teams that have never been remotely near this place before.
"They both play incredibly hard and with style, and they will both absolutely leave it all on the field. It’s history, sir. It’s legends being made. It’s baseball at its absolute best.”
“Let’s turn that into a promo, son. I’ll see you first thing in the morning.”
“Thank you, sir.”