A PLAY IN ONE ACT
In the late fall there is a strange calm to Busch Stadium. With the players gone, and the immediacy of the Winter Meetings not yet at hand, TONY LA RUSSA holds court over a small group of coaches and executives who enjoy the strange atmosphere. Look at the stadium from your perch in the Hilton on this night and you would see an eerie light emanating from a distant conference room. In this light strange things are happening—strange, inscrutable things.
JOHN MOZELIAK: Hey guys, I was just wondering if—
TONY LA RUSSA: I got a rock.
JOHN: If you could—and I don't think it's too much to ask—if you could—
TONY: I got a rock.
JOHN: If you could just chip in on the black light. I—I had to buy it, you can't rent one on Halloween night.
TONY: I got a... Hey, John-boy: 'I got a rock' or 'I got a rock'? I've gotta get this right before we have the costume contest. Linus hasn't even seen it before. Fat lot of help he's been.
TONY is wearing a sweater in the unmistakable Charlie Brown pattern. He's been running his lines for some time now, and next to him his line partner (and Linus) seems to be losing his edge.
FELIPE LOPEZ: The second—please, the second.
TONY: Can it, Linus, Mozy-On is talking.
JOHN: I—it's been a while, but I think it's the second.
TONY: Good. Good. I'm going to spring this on DeWitt when he judges the contest. It's gonna be hilarious. Come on, Linus, let's find you a pumpkin.
FELIPE: Yes, boss.
They walk off, and JOHN is left alone with a man dressed up as Thurston Howell III.
THURSTON: How much did you say it was, my dear? I'll get it.
JOHN: Thanks, Kyle. Nice costume.
THURSTON: Wait, is it Halloween?
JOHN has spent the better part of a day decorating the conference room. There are cotton cobwebs draped along every corner; there's a skeleton hanging on the door; in a stroke of genius the chairs have all been wrapped in black-light paper. But no one has commented on dear John's work, or his C.C. Sabathia costume. In another corner of the room DAVE DUNCAN, a vampire, and MARK MULDER, an FBI agent, are discussing something.
DAVE: So the last scenario didn't do anything for you?
MARK: No, it's—you really don't have to worry about it. My agent has some leads.
DAVE: Okay, try this on—right-handed, sinkerball, one-out specialist, and, wait for it, platoon outfielder.
MARK: It's really not a big deal.
DAVE: Okay okay—Both hands, long relief, you don't pitch on Presidents' birthdays, sinkerball.
MARK: I've really gotta... it's late, and all. It was nice talking to you.
DAVE: Left hand, running start, submarine, sinkerba—[yelling] I'll let you know!
Some time passes; the Halloween Novelty Hits CD has to be restarted from "Monster Mash"; everyone seems to be having a good time. But where is JOHN? If you were to look behind that skeleton door, now, inside TONY's office. . .
JOHN marches out into the party to confront CardzFan10. TONY is on KYLE LOHSE's iPhone.
JOHN: Look, Mr. La Russa, it's one thing to try it out on me in person, but did you really have to do it in my chat?
TONY: What do you mean?
JOHN: I got a rock.
TONY: John John, that wasn't me. That was just a fan. They're always saying that. Remember the trade deadline?
JOHN: Really? Oh, that's—it's just nice to know you're not like that.
TONY: Really, Johnny! Ask the other guys in Bernie's Pressbox, I've always been Felippers on the PD site.
JOHN: Oh, thank good—wait, what?
TONY: Shh—it's about to start!
At the front of the conference room BILL DEWITT is examining his costumed employees. One by one they come under the gaze of his monocled eyes, until, finally:
BILL: The winner is...
TONY: I got a
BILL: Mark "Fox" Mulder!
A confused applause rings out. MARK, on the phone with his agent, gives a nervous thumbs-up. BILL presents him with a Best Buy gift card. TONY, crushed but resilient, waits for BILL to talk to him.
BILL: I always loved The X-Files, Mark. Anything to say about your costume? That's a great wig.
TONY: Speech! Speech! Speech!
DAVE: Yeah, speech!
MARK: I have to comb my hair with my right hand now.
[NOTE: While you're in the Halloween spirit C70 at the Bat has a post that combines two of my favorite things: Novelty entries and Star Wars. If you can imagine a world in which Colby Rasmus yells "I killed them! I killed them like animals!" you should check it out.]