Sunday, June 25, 2006

Top Secret

update, June 25, 2:00 am - well, I didn't get a mention in the results. The guys were looking for a theory, not a skit; therefore you get to see it here. But check out the other theories as well [warning - may contain NSFW language].

The folks at "Fire Joe Morgan" are holding a little contest. Morgan's most recent online chat session went belly-up when he had to take an emergency phone call. The few available details are funny enough, but FJM wants more: they want the readers to totally make up surmise the facts behind the call.

The best way to do that is to lie my ass off recreate the call as if I was really mean actually there:

[SCENE - JM is chatting with Sports Nation, typing a particularly sharp reply to a question about pitchers setting up hitters to chase outside. His cell phone rings and he sees “JAFFE” on the ID.]

JM – Uh-oh. [Quickly he types to the moderator, “Big Man on Line Two. Front for Me.” Then he answers.]
Jaffe – We are not pleased, Joseph.
JM – I don’t understand.
Jaffe – No. You do understand, and that is the problem. We don't want understanding here.
JM – What? I don’t follow you.
Jaffe – Do you know why you are on Baseball Tonight?
JM – I’m a baseball analyst.
Jaffe – That is incorrect, Joseph. You are on Baseball Tonight because you have a famous name.
JM – That doesn’t make any sense.
Jaffe – Precisely. You aren’t supposed to make sense. You’re supposed to act like a dumb jock who doesn’t keep up with baseball; you’re supposed to inspire fans who hate you and websites that want you fired. Those are the types of people who tune in to ESPN. Yet I watch your chats and broadcasts, and you are beginning to show alarming signs of competence.
JM – Oh, not this crap again.
Jaffe – You dare!?
JM – Hell, yes! I DO dare. I’m sick of looking and sounding like a particularly stupid Muppet! Hell, people think I don’t care about OPS? In '76 I put up a 1.020 from second base, dammit! I even made it the last four digits of my phone number. Now I’m supposed to blather all day long about “heart” and “grit”?
Jaffe – You MUST, Joseph. Those are statements that cannot be quantified, and thus cannot be disproved, only argued about – and that keeps ratings high.
JM – Do you have any idea how much work I put in to keep up with the game? I’m on Baseball Prospectus four hours a day; when I’m on the West Coast I fact-check with Schwab until it’s three in the !#$^*!& morning back in Bristol. I have to replace my laser printer twice a year ‘cause the rollers strip smooth from all the use.
Jaffe – You have gone far wrong, Joseph. We are here to ENTERTAIN, not EDUCATE. If fans learn from you, they will no longer need to watch sixteen hours a week of our programming. Do you really think Berman is that dumb? The man wrote a doctoral thesis on the mental state of injured athletes whose teams improve while they are sidelined – it spawned the whole sports psychology industry. Harvard offered him a humanities fellowship in ’83. But we convinced him to stick with the Boomer shtick for the greater good.
JM – This is ridiculous. You don’t want me to be good at my job?
Jaffe – Of course not. Look at your coworkers. Phillips couldn’t qualify as a FedEx driver at this point, how is he going to keep up with an intelligent discussion? We’d be forced to lay off dozens, and the drops in ratings would cost even more jobs. Probably lose the Deuce entirely, come to think of it. Do you want to go back to sets that look like “The Price is Right,” and “Wide World of Sports” reruns in prime time for all of August? Do you want to cost a hundred jobs and millions of dollars just to look good at what you love to do?
JM – But…
Jaffe – Kenny Mayne doesn't give me this crap. Don't make me do you like I did Charlie Steiner.
JM – I’ll… I’ll go to another network!
Jaffe – Heh. Heheheheh. HUAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Fool! Olbermann and Eisen once thought as you do. Even Kruk – but the medication solved that problem very nicely, indeed... You WILL do my bidding, Joseph.
JM [tired…. So tired…] – As you wish…
Jaffe – Good! Now go out there and tell them you’ve only seen the highlights!
JM [weeping softly] – Yes, my master.


* "Jaffe" is Al Jaffe, ESPN's VP of Talent.
* OPS - on-base + slugging, a good rough indicator of a player's hitting ability.

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