STUDIO 60 ON ROOSEVELT AVENUE
WRITTEN COMPLETELY BY AARON SORKIN TOTALLY ALONE AND UNDER GREAT DURESS
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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?
SANDY ALDERSON’s office, looking out over the majestic replica ball field built on a studio backlot at great expense. The grounds crew waters the field, spraypaints the foul lines, and rolls down new sod. ALDERSON sits on one corner of his desk, leaning on a knee, as his star shortstop JOSE REYES sits across from him, slumped in an office chair, his eyes sad and downcast.
ALDERSON: No one ever got anywhere by saying what’s easy. Just spit it out.
REYES: Fine. I’ve decided to reenter the priesthood.
ALDERSON: [wandering toward the window] I had a feeling that’s where this was headed. We always knew this was a possibility when we drafted you out of that Dominican seminary.
REYES: It kills me to let down the team like this, but it would kill me more not to answer the call of The Lord.
ALDERSON: I completely understand. Of course, there are many aspects of your faith that I find absurd, even offensive. However, I fought for my country so people could believe whatever insane notion they wish.
REYES: I appreciate that, although I’m sorry you feel that way about faith.
ALDERSON: I’m afraid I saw too much in the service to cling to faith anymore. I wouldn’t say I’m mad at God, just a little mad at some of his creations.
REYES: You’re a good man, Sandy. I hope one day The Lord can touch your heart again.
ALDERSON: I hope so too.
REYES: What will you tell the press? The fans?
ALDERSON: That’s no longer your concern. Go. And God bless.
As ALDERSON stares off into the middle distance, the camera pans down onto a groundskeeper raking the infield and lingers on him for an entire minute for some reason as a melancholy cello concerto swells.
The team’s press conference room. ALDERSON stands at a podium, flashbulbs going off, microphones darting at his face.
REPORTER: So you just let your best player walk away from the team?
ALDERSON: I have no power over Jose Reyes. He is an adult who felt a higher calling, and I am forced to respect that.
REPORTER: Even though you yourself have had a crisis of faith which has led you to doubt the existence of God and wonder if any human can be truly worthy of redemption?
ALDERSON: My personal struggles with the great philosophical questions of our age are well documented; we don’t need to discuss them here.
REPORTER: What is this team going to do about a shortstop? A leadoff hitter?
ALDERSON: This team will have a shortstop, and a leadoff hitter. I will see to that. I hope my track record will allow you scribes to have more–dare I say–faith in me? Now if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, I have work to do.
RICCIARDI: How do you do it?
ALDERSON: You can’t think about how. As soon as a hitter starts thinking how he does it, the home runs disappear.
DEPODESTA: The papers have their op-ed columns out already. Phil Mushnick says your “condescension to people of faith is typical of those in power in our blasphemous age” while Mike Lupica says your “coddling of those who choose to believe in fairy tales has doomed this team to a last place finish.”
ALDERSON: I like it when no one’s happy. That’s when I know I’m doing something right.
RICCIARDI: Where does this one rank?
ALDERSON: A 6.7 on the Crisis Scale, I’d say. Worse than when our second baseman joined the Earth Liberation Front, but better than when we found those pics of our spot starter with a goat.
DEPODESTA: Let’s see where the latest one lands on your scale. The papers are saying Einhorn is betting against us. That he’s hoping the team completely bottoms out so he can buy controlling interest from Wilpon for a song in three years.
ALDERSON: I can’t stand all of this business talk. If I wanted to worry about dollars and cents, I would’ve gotten into television.
RICCIARDI: You might not like business, but this is something we need to address right now. The papers are starting to call him a Manchurian Candidate. Some even compared him to Tom Glavine.
ALDERSON: They called him Glavine? I’m not sure where I stand with this Einhorn fellow, but that’s just uncalled for.
DEPODESTA: We need to nip this in the bud ASAP.
ALDERSON: Set up a meeting with Einhorn right away. And unsheathe my sharpest pair of bud-nipping equipment.
EINHORN: Not a golfer, Sandy?
ALDERSON: I think Mark Twain said it best when he called golf “a good walk wasted.”
EINHORN: Nice to know you’re less tolerant of golfers than people who abandon our team to chase after goblins.
ALDERSON: I’m in favor of people pursuing whatever pastime suits their fancy, god or golf. I guess I just don’t come from “golf people” is all.
EINHORN: I forgot, you grew up on the “tough streets,” didn’t you? Well, so did I. Only in my world, a man who doesn’t golf doesn’t get things done. I didn’t take to it at first, but I’ve come around. Try it, you might like it.
ALDERSON: In my experience, only cult leaders and bad chefs say “Try it, you might like it.”
EINHORN: You didn’t call this little tete-a-tete just to insult my favorite hobby, did you?
ALDERSON: I called it to discuss some of the rumors trickling through the papers, that you’re hoping the team sinks like a stone so you can snatch controlling interest for next to nothing.
EINHORN: What did I tell you about reading the papers, Sandy? The only thing that sells papers these days is raw, naked fear. These reporters are scared people who’ll write anything if it keeps the printing press running. I come from finance. If we read the papers every day, the stock market would crash and burn every day.
ALDERSON: I thought it did.
EINHORN: I have every reason to want this team to succeed. That’s why I’m adding a member to your team.
ALDERSON: Paul, J.P., and I get by just fine.
EINHORN: Fine is not good enough. I expect great, and this addition will help you achieve that. Her name is Mackenzie Carlin.
CARLIN: [stepping forward, extending hand] It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Alderson.
ALDERSON: Where did you come from?
CARLIN: Three years in the Dodgers organization, two with the Padres, mostly in player development…
ALDERSON: No, I meant where just now. Were you hiding behind a tree or a golf bag or something?
EINHORN: Mackenzie comes with a very impressive resume. She was an essential piece of the rebuilding plan for several organizations. She also has managed to keep her professionalism despite being a woman in a man’s world, and despite the fact that she is stunningly beautiful and instantly attractive to each man she meets.
ALDERSON: I’m familiar with her work and her reputation for driving men mad with desire. But making a roster is just one part of this job. Tell me, Ms. Carlin, what sort of experience do you have handling crises?
CARLIN: Certainly nothing approaching your legendary track record, Mr. Alderson, but while with the Mariners, I did successfully resolve a hostage crisis initiated by one of our relievers.
ALDERSON: And with only three fatalities, as I recall. Very impressive.
CARLIN: There was also the time I was with the Cubs, and Lou Piniella tried to eat an umpire on the field. That got messier than I would have liked. But I don’t want to bore you with the finer details of my career. I thought you’d be more interested in this. [hands over a manila folder] It’s detailed scouting reports on several shortstops who just hit the waiver wire this morning. No Cal Ripkens in here, but a few that might be worth looking at.
ALDERSON: Any of them likely to cause a debilitating crisis that will dominate the back pages?
CARLIN: One of them used to volunteer for Food Not Bombs, but it appears his activist days are over. The rest are drama free.
ALDERSON: [with bemused smile] I look forward to working with you.
CARLIN: I think we already are.
EINHORN: Good. Now, if you two lovebirds are finished, I’d like to start the 15th hole, please.
An inner city street. Kids play around open fire hydrants and sirens blare off in the distance. ALDERSON walks down the block, looking not the least bit afraid, until he ducks into a church. He is greeted by a bespectacled, balding old PRIEST.
PRIEST: Oh Sandy, ’tis a long time since, isnt’ it? It’s so nice to see you!
ALDERSON: It’s nice to be seen. Tell me, are you hearing confession today?
PRIEST: I’m not, but one of our newer priests is. Help yourself.
ALDERSON proceeds into the confessional, sits down, and crosses himself.
ALDERSON: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been…oh my, far too long since my last confession.
Pan over to the priest’s chamber. We see now the priest is JOSE REYES.
REYES: Proceed, my son.
Pull back through the confessional, through the church, and onto the street as operatic music blares.