LOGLINE: Once the nation’s best and most respected baseball GM, Sandy Alderson has been reduced to trying to revive a moribund franchise is the depths of deepest, darkest Queens. Along with his sharp-witted and adoring protégés, he fights off the seemingly endless series of controversies and crises that beset him while trying to run a sports team in the country’s most bustling metropolis, and still look fantastic while doing it. Can the pressures of such an important job crush this singularly talented and gifted individual genius?
Long tracking shot. We transition from ballplayers talking in front of their lockers to earnest reporters, through a long utility tunnel, and into the team’s lush executive offices. Audio: intermingled bits of in-game sound, post-game interviews, and the typical hustle and bustle of office life. Shot should last at least 7 minutes.
Suits scramble back and forth across a hallway lined with framed covers of old yearbooks, blown up photos of World Series celebrations, etc. SANDY ALDERSON emerges from his office and stalks down the carpet, trailed shortly thereafter by PAUL DEPODESTA.
ALDERSON: This is my happy face, you can’t tell?
DEPODESTA: The team came down from 12 runs down in the bottom of the ninth to win.
ALDERSON: There is no “winning” in this game, Paul.
DEPODESTA: I think there is actually winning in baseball, Sandy.
ALDERSON: We don’t play baseball, we play feeding frenzy. Win or lose, you have to face the reporters who want to know why this guy bunted in the third, or when you’re gonna trade for an ace to bolster the pitching staff. Win or lose, they’re back again the next night, hungry for more. If Sisyphus was alive today, he’d be a GM.
DEPODESTA: If it’s all so pointless, just quit.
ALDERSON: Everything’s pointless, Paul. Might as well do hardest pointless thing there is.
DEPODESTA: Is that what you learned in the Marines, Sandy?
ALDERSON: [shoots a withering look]
DEPODESTA: Sorry, Sandy. I forgot you don’t talk about, well…
J.P. RICCIARDI intercepts them.
RICCIARDI: We have a crisis.
ALDERSON: It’s my job to swim in crisis. You have to be more specific. Our closer was diagnosed with epilepsy crisis or manager speaks out for immigration rights crisis?
RICCIARDI: Multiply those together and cube it.
ALDERSON: I majored in poli-sci, J.P., not algebra. Cut to the chase.
RICCIARDI: Wilpon went nuclear. Blasted all our best players in the New Yorker. Now everyone thinks there’s gonna be a fire sale. The reporters are screaming for him to make an appearance. At the very least, they’re gonna need to talk to somebody who knows what the hell is going on.
ALDERSON: I guess I fit that description as well as anyone. First, I have to see Wilpon. Isn’t that just like him, to pick the classiest magazine in town in which to say the worst thing possible.
RICCIARDI: Would you be so calm in the face of another crisis?
DEPODESTA: No, but then again I’m not single most important baseball genius of this era, or perhaps any era.
RICCIARDI: Sometimes I feel like I should pay him to work here.
Wilpon’s office. FRED WILPON sits slumped in a simple office chair, slowly sipping Scotch from a tumbler, a half-empty bottle of Macallan nearby. A single, dark-shaded lamp is the only illumination. ALDERSON sits at the corner of a desk, one leg crooked up. Yo-Yo Ma plays softly in the background.
ALDERSON: I’d prefer an explanation as to why every beat writer in town will be breathing down my neck for the next 3 weeks. This isn’t gonna go away any time soon, Fred. Not like the time our first baseman decided to get gender reassignment surgery.
WILPON: I built this team up from nothing, you know.
ALDERSON: You brought it back there, too.
WILPON: Every other owner in this league, his father was a titan of industry and his mother was the Queen of Siam. You know what my old man did? He was funeral director. I grew up with death.
ALDERSON: Don’t lecture me about death, Fred. I know it better than anyone. [looks pensively off into the middle distance]
WILPON: I’m sorry, Sandy. I’d forgotten all about…Never mind all that. I’m tired of pretending. I had to vent or I’d explode. This team is garbage. The stands are empty. We’re the laughing stock of the league. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. You promised me you could turn this thing around.
ALDERSON: I also promised you it would take several seasons. I planned to do business with some of the players you just threw under the bus. Now I have to go play nursemaid to a whole locker room full of bruised egos. And don’t complain to me about your debt when you’re still running ridiculous, unnecessary expenses left and right. Like hiring Yo-Yo Ma to play in your office.
YO-YO MA: I’d gladly leave but I’m chained to a filing cabinet.
ALDERSON: What am I going to feed the sharks, Fred?
WILPON: A big fat bucket of chum. You tell them I’m out. You tell them I’ve got a minority partner lined up who’s gonna make me like Shirley goddamn Temple.
ALDERSON: They might be sports reporters, but they’re not that dumb. The press would see right through a lie like that.
WILPON: Good thing it’s not a lie, then.
ALDERSON: When were you planning on telling me this?
WILPON: About two seconds ago.
ALDERSON: As crises go, I prefer the time my second baseman was deployed to Iraq.
YO-YO MA: So, is someone gonna unchain me, or…
Press conference room. DAVID EINHORN sits at the dais, a phalanx of microphones in his face. He clutches one in his hand like a rapper. He is flanked by an attentive ALDERSON and a barely aware WILPON. Flashbulbs go off constantly.
REPORTER: What interested you in buying into this team?
EINHORN: Well, as I’m sure you all know, I was able to spot the weaknesses in Allied Capital and Lehman Brothers before anyone else did. So I know a train wreck when I see one.
A few nervous chuckles from the reporters. ALDERSON bites his lip.
EINHORN: This isn’t going to be easy. If it was, I wouldn’t be interested. New York demands a winner. I demand a winner. I will not accept anything less.
REPORTER: What makes you think you can run a baseball team?
EINHORN: I don’t think I can run a baseball team. I know I can. Trying is for failures. Doing is for winners. You know why I dressed up as Dave Kingman for Halloween when I was a kid? Because I’ve been a home run hitter my whole life. That’s the difference between me and you. You ask questions. I answer them. This press conference is over.
EINHORN drops his microphone with a loud thud. ALDERSON follows him out into a long utility tunnel.
ALDERSON: That went about as well the press conference where my center fielder had to apologize for defending Al Qaeda.
EINHORN: Don’t get caught up in the smoke and mirrors. It’s theater, Sandy. It’s exactly what those ink-stained wretches want.
ALDERSON: We don’t give reporters what they want. They’re masochists. They enjoy suffering. That little exit of yours might have gone over well in a Jay-Z lookalike contest, but you just bought yourself three years of headlines.
EINHORN: No press is bad press.
ALDERSON: As someone who saw his catcher go to jail for arson, I can assure you that’s not true. Every time your name appears in print, it will be prefaced by the words “millionaire bad boy” or “world class dink.”
EINHORN: Don’t play holier than thou with me, Sandy. Once upon a time, you were the bad boy. You were the one rustling feathers, kicking ass and taking names. And you seem so scared to fail, you’re afraid to take risks. I know the old Sandy Alderson. I worshiped you. I had a poster of you on my wall in high school.
ALDERSON: I never liked that poster. They took my bad side.
EINHORN: The old Sandy Alderson never would’ve defended a reporter. Whose side are you on?
ALDERSON: I’m on the side that needs the reporters’ ears to pick up rumors for me. You ever hear the saying, “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel-full”?
EINHORN: Who buys ink by the barrel-full? Do they even print newspapers anymore? And why are we fighting with each other? We just met.
ALDERSON: Because we’re extremely competitive and too much like each other and if we don’t fight then this show is completely without conflict and is just about oversized personalities doing amazing jobs ordinary schmoes can only dream of. Can you imagine how unwatchable that show would be?
EINHORN: Yuck. I don’t wanna even think about such an awful show.
ALDERSON: So here’s what we’re gonna do. You’re gonna imply that you know some deep dark secret about me that could bury me, something loosely connected to what everyone else has alluded to during this episode but can’t bring themselves to say because they respect me and my impressive leadership so god damn much. Then I’m going to vaguely dare you to reveal it even though I’m terrified it could get out. After that, I’m gonna march to my office, and you’re gonna march to your office, and we’re going to silently brood about our respective positions while Queen’s “Under Pressure” plays. Got it?
Nighttime in the stadium. One bank of lights shines down on the field, and a full moon glares in a cloudless sky. ALDERSON stands at home plate, taking BP, as RICCIARDI and DEPODESTA take turns throwing him fat pitches.
RICCIARDI: Remember when we had to bail our lefty specialist out of jail for impersonating Alexander Haig?
ALDERSON: Simpler times.
DEPODESTA: Why do you keep doing this?
ALDERSON: Because you keep throwing the ball to me. Seems impolite to not swing.
DEPODESTA: No, this job. You’ve accomplished so much in your amazing life. If I were you, I’d be on beach somewhere. What else do you have to prove?
ALDERSON: Listen: I might have the hardest job in the known universe, with millions of adoring fans hanging on my every move and their fates literally lying in the palm of my hand…
ALDERSON: And nothing. I just felt like saying that out loud.
DEPODESTA: C’mon, seriously.
ALDERSON: I don’t know, maybe it’s this field. So many memories. So many heroics. Victory pulled from the waiting, hungry jaws of defeat. Maybe I still hope that one day I’ll be good enough to set foot on this field.
RICCIARDI: But you’re on this field right now.
ALDERSON: Am I really, though?
RICCIARDI: [long pause] Yes, you are.
Closing montage: Every cast member doing something alone in a dimly lit apartment, to the most expensive song to license imaginable. Let song run for as long as possible. Loop if necessary.