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?
The owner’s booth. We hear the roar of the crowd, the unintelligible warble of the PA system, organ riffs. MACKENZIE CARLIN stands near the front, by the floor to ceiling windows, taking it all in. SANDY ALDERSON sidles up her and offers a small flute of champagne .
CARLIN: [waving it away] No thank you.
ALDERSON: You’re not going to celebrate your first win in the front office? Not even when the new shortstop you helped pick out just hit six home runs and 15 RBIs?
CARLIN: I don’t drink on the job.
ALDERSON: But the game’s over.
CARLIN: When the game’s over, the job begins.
ALDERSON: That sounds familiar.
CARLIN: It should–you wrote it, in your third autobiography. I wrote in all my Trapper Keepers in high school.
ALDERSON: So tonight you have succeeded in steering us to victory and making me feel horribly old. A raincheck on the champagne, then.
CARLIN politlely puts her champagne down on a coffee table and quickly exits the booth. She slips through the door just as J.P. RICCIARDI and PAUL DEPODESTA enter.
ALDERSON: If she has, I blinked and missed it.
DEPODESTA: I guess she has to keep moving forward in order to survive. Kind of like a shark.
ALDERSON: She’s a woman in a man’s world, Paul. She has to work twice as hard to get just as far, you know that.
RICCIARDI: She’s also Einhorn’s tin can phoneline to this front office. Don’t get too chummy with her.
ALDERSON: If I ever get “chummy” with anyone, you have my permission to shoot me. Is there any other reason you two came in here, other than to tell me things I already know?
DEPODESTA: Yes, as a matter of fact. As you know, the next team coming in has star first baseman Grant Linwood, who…
ALDERSON: …Who is the conservative firebrand constantly making waves with loud pronouncements of his political viewpoints and upsetting people with his erratic, transgressive behavior. I’m very familiar with Linwood. I drafted him years ago. Broke my heart when we lost him to the Rule 7 draft. So we beef up security for a few games. By our standards, this barely qualifies as a crisis.
RICCIARDI: I take it you haven’t heard today’s news? Linwood’s done a 360 on a few issues. For one, he just declared he’s for gay marriage and says the government “should stay out of our bedrooms”. But he’s also reaffirmed his fierce anti-gun-control stance and says he plans on carrying a concealed weapon into the stadium because it’s his constitutional right. All while being the leading MVP candidate in the league.
ALDERSON: So what’s the outlook?
DEPODESTA: We’ve already received notice from no fewer than 15 organizations who plan on protesting. Eight Christian groups angry at him for the gay marriage thing, six police organizations mad about the gun thing, and one more group that says it’s not sure what to think but it’s definitely mad and plans on breaking stuff. We also got one fax that looks kind of weird. Something about time shares.
ALDERSON: Wow. We’re just one pregnant nun away from a crisis Yahtzee.
Outside the stadium, angry mobs, separated by police saw horses, brandish signs and yell at each other. As ALDERSON strides to the front entrance in the aisle between them, he is pelted with epithets and a few soft projectiles. He barely flinches, until he reaches the front gate and is nailed in the back of the head by a large vegetable. [PERHAPS A CABBAGE–DO THEY STILL MAKE THOSE? WILL HAVE TO CHECK.] ALDERSON wheels around in anger, only to find out that the projectile was hurled by a young child. He addresses the crowd, which almost immediately falls silent.
ALDERSON: Look at this child. This is what you have made. All your protests and hurled cabbages have only succeeded in planting hatred in the heart of a small child. This is the harvest you have sown! Imagine what good all this energy could do–build schools and hospitals, heal the sick, clothe the poor. Instead, you’ve poured it all into warping the soul of a young boy. I hope you’re proud of yourselves.
ALDERSON leaves amid stunned silence.
ANGRY GUY #1: I am moved to tears by his eloquent words.
ANGRY GUY #2: Such an erudite genius shouldn’t be running a baseball team. He should be running…the world!
Crowd erupts in cheers and chants of SAN-DY! SAN-DY!
Inside the stadium, field level. RICCIARDI and DEPODESTA watch the opposition take BP. ALDERSON sidles up to them.
RICCIARDI: You came through the main entrance? I snuck in through the bullpen.
ALDERSON: This is still my stadium. If I ever come in the back way, it’ll be in a pine box. Where’s Linwood? Shouldn’t he be taking batting practice.
DEPODESTA: He’s still in the visiting locker room, won’t come out.
ALDERSON: I should talk to him.
RICCIARDI: Sandy, you know you can’t do that. That’s fraternization and tampering. You could lose your GM’s license.
ALDERSON: Well, maybe I’ll just happen to run into him, as far as anyone knows.
RICCIARDI: He’s risking it all. For what?
DEPODESTA: I have no idea, but I think he’s earned the benefit of my doubt. And the world’s.
Cut to visiting locker room. It is half dark and empty, save for GRANT LINWOOD, who sits alone on a long locker room bench, resting his head on the knob of a bat clenched between his legs. ALDERSON enters quietly.
ALDERSON: The family lounge would probably be a better place to rest.
LINWOOD: I’m not resting, I’m thinking.
LINWOOD: Take your pick. I’m sorry to put you through this, Sandy. You wanna know the truth? I don’t know why I do half the stuff I do, or say a third of the stuff I say.
ALDERSON: No apologies necessary. You’ve been through a lot since we last spoke. The divorce. The menacing charges. Punching the president. Stowing away on a space shuttle to the moon….
LINWOOD: In retrospect, I do regret some of those things.
ALDERSON: When I drafted you out of that high school run by a millennial separatist group 10 years ago, do you know why I picked you?
LINWOOD: I hit .450 with 63 home runs?
ALDERSON: No. I mean, of course, but that’s not the only reason. I saw a mature young man who knew who he was, much more so than any 17 year old who’d been partially raised in a cave had any right to be. But today, you seem far more scared than I’ve ever seen you.
LINWOOD: I’m not scared, I’m tired. Everyone wants a piece of me, Sandy. They either wanna be me or beat me. You can’t imagine what it’s like.
ALDERSON: I think I can. You know, when I first led a team, I was the only GM who’d graduated from high school. They called me “poindexter” and “egghead.” Buzzie Bavazie gave me a swirly. But when I got results, the swirlies stopped. You’ve already proven yourself a million times over, Grant. You don’t need to be second guessing yourself. I didn’t fight in ‘Nam so you could stop saying and doing whatever insane thing popped into your skull
LINWOOD: You’re right, Sandy. As always. You know, I owe you everything I have.
ALDERSON: Don’t mention it. And if you do mention it, save it for your MVP award acceptance speech.
The owner’s booth again. ALDERSON stands arms-folded next to DAVID EINHORN, who stares at the field through binoculars.
ALDERSON: Why do you use those binoculars? These are the best seats in the house. You can see everything.
ALDERSON: Twelve doubles so far, not too shabby.
EINHORN: And also finding a microphone patched into the PA system, somehow, to tell the entire crowd to be quiet while he’s batting.
ALDERSON: Any problem with that?
EINHORN: Of course not. It’s theater. I’ll mic the whole team if it puts asses in the seats. And in any case, you can cheer for Linwood all you want after this game, since we traded for him.
ALDERSON: David, if you have an idea for a trade, let’s meet about it, or at least draw up a proposal for me to leaf through. But you know as well as I do that no trade can go through without my seal of approval.
EINHORN: Unless I invoke charter 75.
ALDERSON: Is that a plane or a boat?
EINHORN: It’s charter 75 of my deal with Wilpon, which says I can rubber stamp any deal if the GM is called away on emergency business.
ALDERSON: Which was when, exactly?
EINHORN: When you were deep in the bowels of our stadium, giving your new first baseman a pep talk.
ALDERSON: This deal couldn’t wait until I walked in the god damn office?
EINHORN: He who hesitates is lost, Sandy. I read that in fortune cookie once. And If I had called you away, everyone would’ve known you were fraternizing with the other team. That could ruin you, Sandy. Maybe I saved you. You ever think of that?
ALDERSON: What did we give up for Linwood?
EINHORN: We gave up whatever I damn well felt like giving up because I’m the owner and I cut the checks. I don’t know how it was with Wilpon, but you work for me, and I’m sick of this business with one crisis after another. A second baseman with leukemia, an anorexic catcher, an entire bullpen full of Mormons who left to do mission work. Sometimes I think you bring crises on yourself just so you can solve them!
ALDERSON: C’mon, that’s just ridiculous…
EINHORN: You listen up, Sandy. You’re not the bulletproof man you once were. I hear whispers. Whispers about your time in ‘Nam. Yeah, that’s right, everyone else is afraid to bring it up, but not me. So if you don’t want me to keep digging, maybe you should straighten up and fly right.
ALDERSON: C’mon, David. If you had anything on me, I’d already be pounding the pavement. You’re as bad a bluffer as you are a dealmaker. Send me the Linwood papers so I can take a look at how badly you’ve crippled this organization.
EINHORN: I didn’t hear a “please”. Or a “sir”.
ALDERSON stalks out without saying anything else. He pauses before leaving, his hand on the doorknob, his face briefly gripped by a rare glimpse of doubt and worry. As soon as he leaves, he bumps into CARLIN.
ALDERSON: Thanks for everything.
CARLIN: That was an accident. You shouldn’t open doors so quickly.
ALDERSON: I mean for ratting on me about my meeting with Linwood to Einhorn.
CARLIN: What? I didn’t know anything about this, I swear.
ALDERSON: A likely story. I’m sure Einhorn’s just traded away half our farm system, so kudos to you.
CARLIN: This may shock you, but I don’t follow your every move, Sandy. Maybe it was one of your closest chums, J.P. or Paul. Did you ever think of that?
ALDERSON: Don’t lie, and don’t try to deflect this onto someone. No, wait, on second thought, keep doing all of that. It fits perfectly with everything else you’ve done so far.
ALDERSON brushes past CARLIN, who looks completely crestfallen.
A cemetery. ALDERSON stands in front of large grave. The inscription reads SANFORD “CHIP” ALDERSON SR. 1932-1973. He stands silently, reverently for a moment, then bends over and gently touches the grave. He mouths “I’m sorry”, then begins to walk away. Then he stops for a brief moment, as if he feels he’s being watched, but the feeling passes and he moves on. As he disappears from shot, we see a mysterious, trenchcoated woman in sunglasses sitting on a bench, eyeing him with a pair of binoculars from behind a newspaper. She puts down the binoculars and newspapers and follows ALDERSON at a safe distance.