STUDIO 60 ON ROOSEVELT AVENUE
WRITTEN COMPLETELY BY AARON SORKIN TOTALLY ALONE AND UNDER GREAT DURESS
RELIVE THE EXCITING INAUGURAL SEASON!
PILOT | EPISODE 2 | EPISODE 3 | EPISODE 4 | EPISODE 5
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?
Press conference. SANDY ALDERSON stands at a podium, fielding questions from a clamoring throng of reporters as flashbulbs go off in his face.
ALDERSON: My answer to that question would be no, I have no philosophical opposition to a dog playing for a major league baseball team. As to the question of whether or not a dog has a soul, I think that’s more of a query for the church. Yes, you over there?
WORMWOOD: Tommy Wormwood, New York Herald-Gazette. What do you say to the charge that the team has struggled lately because it relies far too much on statistics, to the point of fetishizing them and relying on them above all else, eliminating Americans’ childlike love of the game in favor of a cold, calculating, robotic approach?
ALDERSON: Has someone actually charged us with that?
WORMWOOD: I will, in my scathing column to be published tomorrow!
ALDERSON: This is old news, gentlemen. I’ve been called a “stat-head” and a “numbers-freak” and a “brain-lover” ever since I became the first GM to calculate batting average in the late 1970s. If wanting data to build a better team makes me a “computer-humper,” then call me a computer-humper.
WORMWOOD: But the thing is you haven’t built a better team. This team is barely batting over .200, has no frontline starting pitching, and their bullpen is a cruel, twisted joke devised by a blind idiot god. Maybe your computer-humping has blinded you to the intangibles that make a winning team.
ALDERSON: First of all, I’m sorry I ever used the phrase “computer-humping.” Secondly, how could I possibly target intangibles when I’m building a team? An intangible is, by definition, indefinable. If something is indefinable, it can’t be truly identified or located. How can I be blind to something no one can see?
WORMWOOD: [long pause] Because stats…the problem with them, you see…Derek Jeter’s spin move…
ALDERSON leaves the podium as the reporter continues talking.
Cut to: Stadium tunnel. ALDERSON stalks toward his office trailed by J.P. RICCIARDI and PAUL DEPODESTA.
RICCIARDI: Are they giving out press credentials in Cracker Jack boxes these days? What was wrong with that guy?
ALDERSON: I’ve had much worse. You remember the press conference where someone accused me of being a Satan worshiper because I signed Jeremy Giambi?
DEPODESTA: Speaking of Satan, our most hated rivals are coming into town for the Mass Transit Series…
ALDERSON: Come now, Paul. That’s no way to talk about another team. It’s alright for fans to get fired up and angry and hit each other with rock-filled whiskey bottles, but as executives we need to be a bit more dispassionate.
DEPODESTA: You didn’t let me finish. I was going to say, “and Cashman’s already here.” He called from his limo to let us know he expected an appropriate reception.
ALDERSON: Christ, already? Alright, we better go see what Ol’ Scratch wants.
Outside stadium. An enormous limo pulls up the curb. The limo driver exits to roll a huge red carpet away from the door. Out of the limo emerges BRIAN CASHMAN, a huge-gutted bald man in a pinstripe suit, smoking an enormous cigar, a platinum blonde bimbo under each arm.
CASHMAN: [handing ALDERSON a wad of cash] Hey sport, park it near the front and keep an eye on it, huh? Nah, I’m just kidding. I love this guy! We’re always kidding, me and you!
ALDERSON: You’re a little early. The games don’t start until tomorrow.
CASHMAN: I needed to scope out this Little League field. Last time I was here, your so-called luxury boxes didn’t have any humidors or stripper poles. Just need to see what amenities I need to need to bring with me from the Bronx tomorrow. Plus, I have a matter of urgent business to discuss.
ALDERSON: Of course, anything you want. Shift the stadium a bit to the left? Alter the rotation of the earth’s axis?
CASHMAN: Ha! I love this guy! No, I’m talking about those overpaid players of yours. Let’s go talk in that sorry excuse for an office of yours. Just you, me, and the owner. This is big boy stuff. Your lap dogs can hang out here with the girls if they like.
CASHMAN abandons his arm candy, grasps ALDERSON by the shoulder, and walks into the stadium. RICCIARDI and DEPODESTA are left behind to shuffle awkwardly near the girls.
DEPODESTA: So, either of you ladies into regression analysis?
The owner’s box. CASHMAN sits in an enormous bejeweled throne, lighting a cigar with a $100 bill. ALDERSON, DAVID EINHORN, and MACKENZIE CARLIN look on.
CARLIN: I can’t believe you let him sit in your throne.
EINHORN: That’s not mine, he brought it with him.
CASHMAN: The all-purpose portable throne, best Sky Mall purchase I ever made. Hey, I said big boys only for this meeting. What’s the skirt doing here?
CARLIN: This “skirt” is Mr. Einhorn’s assistant and a fully vested member of this front office who has over 15 years of executive experience, so if you think you can…
CASHMAN: Relax, sweetheart, I’m just yanking your chain. I got my Master’s degree in women’s studies at Brown. Wrote my thesis on the dichotomies of third-wave feminism.
EINHORN: Alright, professor. Can you give us a dissertation on why you paid us a little visit?
CASHMAN: I’ll cut to the chase. You guys got a lot of high end merchandise, you’re hurting for cash, and you’re going nowhere fast. I can take some of it of your hands. Like Grant Linwood, for instance.
ALDERSON: Oh, only our best player? And pray tell, what can you offer for him?
CASHMAN: I can pay his salary so you guys can stop serving government cheese in the cafeteria. Take it or leave it.
ALDERSON: I can’t just trade away our best player for salary relief. The fans have to have something to cling to. No one comes to the ballpark to watch payroll wiggle room.
CASHMAN: Suit yourself. But if you wanna get rid of any of these guys, you know I represent the only team that can take that money on. Or lend it. [shoots knowing glance to EINHORN, who squirms] C’mon Sandy, let’s go get some steaks.
ALDERSON: I don’t really feel like going out.
CASHMAN: Who’s gotta go out? I got a Mongolian barbecue in my limo!
ALDERSON and CASHMAN leave.
EINHORN: We need to make a deal with Cashman, and fast.
CARLIN: Why? I thought you’d be on Sandy’s side on this one. You threw a fit when he wanted to put Linwood on the DL and gave him PCP.
EINHORN: I did no such thing! I just gave him a dangerous amount of performance enhancing drugs! He took the PCP himself! And I would still be on board with keeping him, if I wasn’t in debt up to my eyeballs with Cashman. He’s been secretly covering our payroll for months.
CARLIN: You put this team’s future in the hands of our most hated rival?
EINHORN: I know, it seems so fool-proof, doesn’t it? I reached out to Cashman in a moment of weakness, and now he’s come to collect. So we need to think fast and get him to take someone other than Linwood. If Linwood leaves, it’ll be box office poison. You go find Cashman, hang out with him, see if he’s willing to make a deal. Put on a little black dress and talk to him about Andrea Dworkin if you have to, just do what you gotta do!
EINHORN nudges CARLIN out the door in a panicked hurry.
Fancy club. Techno music bumps at dangerously high decibels. CASHMAN sits in a plush velvety booth with CARLIN. The table in front of them is cluttered with many empty bottles. CARLIN is wearing a little black dress, while a visibly, wobbly drunk CASHMAN chugs straight from a large bottle.
CASHMAN: Yuck! I told the bar to bring me the most expensive thing they had, but this is horrible!
CARLIN: [eyeing label] This is a 300-year old bottle of balsamic vinegar.
CASHMAN: It pales in comparison to your sweetness, my darling. *burp* Great, now everything tastes like artichokes.
CARLIN: That’s very flattering. Now, about this payroll…
CASHMAN: Look, I have people I gotta answer to, ya know. If I don’t collect on this debt, it’s my ass that’s on the line. When I said I didn’t wanna sign Rafael Soriano, the Steinbrenners hit me over the head with a frying pan. Both of them. They took turns! I know Hank looks like a tubby pile of goo, but that guy’s got a forearm smash like Federer!
CARLIN: Then how about a friendly wager? If our team beats yours by a combined score of 47-3 this weekend, you forgive the debt. If not, Linwood’s yours.
CASHMAN: I can never say no to a pretty face, or to a suspiciously specific bet. You got yourself a deal, missy! Cheers! [takes another belt from the vinegar, then spits it out] Jesus, someone get me some salad to pour this on!
Owner’s booth. EINHORN, ALDERSON, and CARLIN look out on the field, looking smugly pleased, while CASHMAN sulks in his portable thrown, arms folded.
ANNOUNCER: An easy fly ball to right field, this oughta do it, and that’s it! The Mass Transit Series has gone to the good guys, who won each game in commanding fashion by the combined score of 47-3!
CARLIN: No hard feelings, Brian?
CASHMAN: A bet’s a bet, but there was some kinda shenanigans going on here. I’d bet my first edition of copy of The Feminine Mystique on it! Mark my words: You win this round, but you haven’t won additional rounds that have yet to be fought!
CASHMAN hastily folds up his throne and storms out of the box.
EINHORN: Jeez, I figured you just charmed the guy. I didn’t think you’d resort to black magic.
CARLIN: No black magic, just good ol’ fashioned numbers. I ran a sophisticated algorithmic analysis of the outcomes of this series, made a computer play it out a thousand times, and this was the most likely result.
EINHORN: How on earth was 47-3 the most likely result?!
CARLIN: Don’t ask me, ask the computer, or the computer-humper.
EINHORN: [pointing at ALDERSON] You knew about this, didn’t you? And you made me sweat it out, you son of a bitch! How could you risk the future of this franchise on a computer’s calculation?
ALDERSON: Would it have been better to risk it on a hunch? Or the good graces of our crosstown rival’s GM? Maybe you should just be grateful numbers saved your keester.
EINHORN: God, I need a drink. [picks up random bottle from his desk, takes a belt, spits it out] Ugh, this tastes like vinegar!
Press conference. Once again, ALDERSON is faced with many clamoring reporters and glaring flashbulbs.
ALDERSON: No, I never said a ghost can’t play baseball, I just think one probably shouldn’t. There are no doubt better ways to spend the afterlife. Next question.
WORMWOOD steps in front of another reporter’s microphone.
WORMWOOD: Tommy Wormwood, New York Herald-Gazette. Has the team’s latest string of dumb luck blinded you to the fact that relying on pure numbers is a fool’s paradise of data and computer flim-flammery that robs us of our precious gut instincts and other bodily fluids?
ALDERSON: That’s not a question, it’s a pamphlet.
WORMWOOD: Then answer my pamphlet, sir!
ALDERSON: Every season has ups and downs. Knowing the numbers helps us understand this, to weather the low times and not get too excited about the high ones. No one thinks numbers can tell us everything, but they can shed light on certain aspects of the game and inform our decisions. Say I told you there was a 75 percent chance you’d be gored by a bull standing in that exact spot. That number could save your life, couldn’t it?
WORMWOOD: I would only move if I knew it in my gut!
ALDERSON: Well, I just hope your gut has a higher appreciation of statistical analysis than your brain does. Thank you, gentlemen, that will be all.
ALDERSON leaves the podium, trailed by all the reporters, except WORMWOOD, who remains alone, arms folded, looking strangely defiant.
WORMWOOD: I’m gonna stay here forever if I have, just to prove I won’t get gored by a bull. Ha! Who looks stupid now!
Camera lingers on him for a full four minutes. He does not blink.