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 front office. PAUL DEPODESTA and J.P. RICCIARDI sit in cubicles, their backs to one another, hunched over computers.
DEPODESTA: Have you seen this video…
DEPODESTA: I didn’t even describe it to you.
RICCIARDI: Whatever it is, I’ve seen it.
DEPODESTA: What does it feel like to know everything?
RICCIARDI: Surprisingly good.
MACKENZIE CARLIN rushes over to their cubes, looking perturbed.
CARLIN: Do you guys know what’s up with Sandy? He seems out of sorts, not himself.
RICCIARDI: Maybe it’s because our second baseman publicly declared he’s a Wiccan?
DEPODESTA: Please. He handled that without a sweat, just like when our closer converted to Druidism. This about Billy.
RICCIARDI: Of course!
CARLIN: Who’s Billy?
DEPODESTA: Billy Beane. Used to be Sandy’s most trusted protégé. They were as thick as thieves. Then he took the Oakland front office out right from under him. Billy won’t admit it and neither will Sandy, but it’s the worst kept secret in baseball. To make matters worse, there’s this new movie coming out, all about Billy. Word is, this film takes all the innovations Sandy came up with and tries to pitch them as Billy’s. Now the A’s are coming here tomorrow and even Sandy can’t pretend this isn’t a big deal.
CARLIN: Oh, I thought he was upset because someone told Einhorn about him meeting with Grant Linwood.
RICCIARDI: Yeah, I heard someone did that. I figured it was someone kind of close to Einhorn. Like, someone who Einhorn just hired two weeks ago.
CARLIN: Funny, I figured it was someone who knew where Sandy was at the time, someone who’s worked with him for years, someone who was standing right next to him when he said where he planned to go.
RICCIARDI: Funny how someone who wasn’t there when it happened knows exactly what everyone else was doing.
DEPODESTA: Can you guys provide me a map so I can follow along with all these pronouns?
ALDERSON wanders over, scowling.
ALDERSON: Any reason you three are standing around gabbing when we start the biggest series of the year tomorrow?
DEPODESTA: Since when is Oakland the biggest series of the year?
ALDERSON: Since it’s the next one we play.
CARLIN: These two think you’re on edge because Billy Beane is coming to town.
ALDERSON: Nonsense. It’ll be great to see Billy. Like getting the old band back together.
RICCIARDI: Really? I always thought he got on your nerves.
ALDERSON: Only when he tells that damn story about finding an all-star shortstop at a Panera Bread for the 8 millionth time. Even I have my limits. Hey, why are we worrying about someone from another team? How about you guys worry about your own jobs for a minute?
ALDERSON storms off, leaving his assistants to stare quizzically at one another. Camera follows ALDERSON into his dimly lit office, where he pulls a large decanter of scotch and a tumbler from an oaken liquor cabinet. He pours himself a belt, drinks it in one gulp, pours another, and collapses into his desk chair, grasping his aching head.
Press conference, flash bulbs going off, microphones everywhere. BILLY BEANE, dressed in full Ambercrombie & Fitch uniform, grins wildly and grasps ALDERSON around the shoulders as the cameras flash. ALDERSON grits his teeth and attempts an uneasy smile of his own.
REPORTER: Billy, do you have any predictions for the series?
BEANE: I’ll just say, let the best man win. But if the baseball gods are feeling generous, they can let Sandy win, too. [collective laugh from the press corps] No, seriously, I learned everything I know about baseball from this man. You look at what he did when he first became a GM, it was amazingly ahead of his time. He really laid the groundwork for true pioneers like me.
More press corps laughter. BEANE grins while ALDERSON grimaces.
Cut to: The seats behind home plate. The lights are on but the stadium is completely empty, save for BEANE and ALDERSON, who sit in adjoining seats. A half moon glows brightly in the sky.
BEANE: Hope you didn’t take too much of that too seriously, Sandy. It’s all for show, you know. It’s what they expect.
ALDERSON: We put together groups of men who swing clubs at balls. Probably best not to take too much of it seriously.
BEANE: I knew you’d understand. I really meant it when I said I learned everything I know about baseball from you. What kind of man can put together a pennant-winning roster and successfully integrate an inner city school at the same time?
ALDERSON: I was just following a simple Supreme Court decision…
BEANE: You must think there’s something up for me to make the trip to New York, right? You know I can’t stand coming to this coast. Too much rain, too crowded, not a decent taco for a thousand miles…
ALDERSON: We try to make do with every other cuisine on earth.
BEANE: I’ll cut to the chase, Sandy. I don’t like to mince words and I don’t like to beat around the bush. I level with people, anybody will tell you that. There’s no point in being coy when you want something, I always say.
ALDERSON: Are you asking me for a favor or my hand in marriage?
BEANE: Sorry, I just…Look, Sandy. This movie that’s coming out, everyone’s got it wrong. I had full creative control of this thing. Script, direction, lighting, catering, you name it. And I want you to know that I make it fully clear how much of influence you had on me.
ALDERSON: You don’t have to apologize to me, Billy. You’re a grown man. I’ve always admired the job you do in Oakland. Turning a post-op female-to-male transexual into a LOOGY was a stroke of genius.
BEANE: Gender reassignment surgery is the new market inefficiency. But I don’t want to talk shop. I want you to see this thing.
ALDERSON: If I want to see it, I’ll buy my popcorn and Jujubees just like everyone else.
BEANE: Not good enough. I’ve got a rough cut on DVD. I want you to watch it with me. You and your whole front office, tomorrow before the game. What do you say?
ALDERSON: I’d say no if I thought it would do me any good.
The two men stare off in silence. The camera pulls back to an unlit owner’s box, where show CARLIN watches them intently.
DAVID EINHORN’s office. ALDERSON paces uneasily while putts a golf ball into a coffee mug.
EINHORN: Sure, we can do it. A Hollywood premier, sounds like a blast. I love this Billy Beane character.
ALDERSON: I had a feeling you might. But there’s so much stuff to do before the game, I don’t think this is a good idea…
EINHORN: What do you have to do before the game, practice strolling the field level with your hands in your khaki pockets? C’mon, it’ll be fun. This is not like you to be such a worrywart.
ALDERSON: Maybe I felt like try on worrying for a while.
EINHORN: It doesn’t go with any of your outfits, so knock it off. Any interest in working with the man?
ALDERSON: I have no plans to leave here any time soon, you know that.
EINHORN: No, I mean what if I could get him here, as a co-GM with you? Best of both worlds. Young and old. Calm and collected plus the whirling dervish.
ALDERSON: Chocolate and peanut butter, I get it. Beane’s gonna be a Hollywood star before long. What makes you think he wants to be co-anything?
EINHORN: Enough cash can change anyone’s perspective.
ALDERSON: You’re gonna overpay for Billy Beane when we already have a jampacked front office, but you won’t turn on the hot water in the clubhouse?
EINHORN: Gotta spend money to make money, Sandy. And cold showers are good for conditioning. I read that in Men’s Health, next to an article about washboard abs. Seems they’ve finally figured out the secret to them.
EINHORN sinks a putt. ALDERSON stops pacing and sighs loudly.
Cut to: Owner’s box. BEANE, EINHORN, ALDERSON, CARLIN, RICCIARDI, and DEPODESTA are gathered on plush couches, a large-screen TV blaring in their faces. “End theme” music swells. BEANE grabs a remote, turns off the TV, then looks hopefully at everyone else in the room.
RICCIARDI: I was confused about the part where the A’s beat the Yankees in the World Series, for several reasons.
BEANE: That was a metaphor.
DEPODESTA: I never new Art Howe was an animatronic puppet engineered by Disney.
BEANE: A slight exaggeration.
CARLIN: I was moved by the part where Scott Hatteberg had to choose between staying on his parents’ emu farm and coming to the big leagues.
BEANE: We got a great performance out of Shia LeBoeuf in that scene. What about you, Sandy? Not a peep out of you yet. Any thoughts?
ALDERSON: You made a 3 hour and 47 minute movie about baseball and you forgot the most important part of the game.
BEANE: Winning ballgames?
ALDERSON: No, solving crises! I didn’t see one frame where a first baseman came out of the closet, or a reliever refused to pitch on the Sabbath, or a catcher whose virulent anti-women’s-suffrage stance enraged a nation. That’s the meat of a GM’s job, Billy, and I didn’t see any of that.
BEANE: I guess I thought people would be more interested in seeing how I put teams together and reformed traditional notions of scouting.
ALDERSON: Nobody would want to buy a book about that, let alone watch a movie about it. I really expected more out of you, Billy. But you’ve turned the humble drama of a front office dealing with an endless series of complicated, politically-charged crises and turned into a glitzy, glamorous circus of scouting and developing ballplayers. I never thought I’d say this, but you’ve turned your back on the game, Billy.
ALDERSON leaves. BEANE looks crestfallen.
Cut to: Stadium exit ramp at sunset. Crowd noise can be heard in the background as BEANE stares out into Flushing Bay. CARLIN sidles up beside him.
CARLIN: Penny for your thoughts?
BEANE: Think I could get that much?
CARLIN: I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say that Sandy was upset by more than the movie.
BEANE: We have some issues. I’m not gonna lie about that. Any people who go back as long as we do are gonna have some issues, and some secrets.
CARLIN: What kind of secrets?
BEANE: The kind that I intend to keep.
BEANE starts to walk away, but CARLIN hooks her arm through his.
CARLIN: Of course. Never trust a man without secrets.
BEANE: That doesn’t even come close to making sense.
CARLIN: Do you want to ponder it some more? Or would you like to come down with me to a private luxury suite? Microbrews on tap and bottomless shrimp.
BEANE: The beer sounds great, but tell the shrimp to put some pants on.
CARLIN manages a forced laugh. As they wander off shot, she eyes BEANE in almost predatory way.
ALDERSON’s dimly lit office, operatic music plays softly in the background He sits at his desk, on his phone, as the decanter of scotch and a half-empty tumbler stand nearby.
ALDERSON: I’m not going to say this again: Our Domincan baseball academies must be allowed to accept political prisoners…Yes, especially seditious cartoonists…If El Presidente has a problem with it, tell him to call me. But don’t send any assassins. My bodyguards prefer not to get their hands dirty.
ALDERSON hangs up the phone. Operatic music gets dramatic and swells. He grasps the tumbler of scotch in one hand. With the other, he opens a desk drawer and pulls a dusty, faded picture in a frame. The picture shows two men–one young, one middle aged–in army fatigues and helmets in a jungle, holding up a small boy. Marker on bottom of pic reads ME, DAD, AND BILLY – DA NANG, 73. He places the photo back in his drawer with a sigh.