ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 1: Colby Rasmus #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals mis plays a fly ball against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on June 1, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
CLAUDE ROMEO ARRIVES
A VIVA EL BIRDOS PLAY IN ONE ACT
CLAUDE ROMEO, an elegant stranger
JOHN MOZELIAK, too perceptive for his own good here
J.D. DREW, an apathetic spirit
JIM EDMONDS, a bitchin' spirit
WOODY WILLIAMS, who wasn't even supposed to be here in spirit
RYAN FRANKLIN, gainfully employed
[CLAUDE ROMEO's sunglasses were formed around his face by some kind of sunglasses-tailor earlier this morning and will fall harmlessly and biodegradably to the ground when the sun sets. His shirt can only be buttoned from the inside. His skinny-tie people survived the original skinny-tie purge of 1985. He cuts a suspiciously smooth figure outside JOHN MOZELIAK's office, a kind of French Ichiro by way of antebellum Alabama. MOZELIAK is worried as a matter of course when someone he doesn't know charms his secretary and lets himself in.]
MOZELIAK: Ah, sit down, please—quickly, even. I have the Sportservice people at one, they're trying to short us on pretzels—no one cares but me. Sit down, Mr. Romeo. It says here in your letter of introduction that you were discovered by—
ROMEO [in a deep, knowing voice, full of foreign money]: It loses some power in the retelling. Allow me: "I, your scout, whom you know, discovered Mr. Romeo playing baseball in the elegant fields of"—it's smudged, here—"and have never seen such a brooding, pensive force at the center of baseball's far grassy colonies."
MOZELIAK [...]: ...
ROMEO: I know—I'd never thought of the outfield that way, either, but it's so—how you say—natural, with hindsight's benefit. "Romeo has a—how you say—cold, impartial arm; patient, wise speed; a benevolent dictator's calming power; and an adequate contact tool, a 45 maybe. He comes highly recommended from scouts as far east as the Far East and further west even than where I am,"—smudged again—"and I think he should immediately replace whoever you have in the center of baseball's far grassy colonies now, barring any sudden change of heart or—"
MOZELIAK: Colby, what do you want?
ROMEO: I've heard of this Colby—layabout though he is he possesses a certain—
MOZELIAK: I have like ten minutes to finish this PowerPoint presentation on pretzels, and then I have to practice saying that. Please just tell me who did this to you.
FRANKLIN [mustachioed, emerging from behind a potted plant]: Gotcha!
MOZELIAK: You know what? We just won't have pretzels anymore.
[Earlier that morning, in a locker room emptied out by the All-Star Break, COLBY RASMUS, wearing his normal clothes, ponders a drastic proposal.]
FRANKLIN: Then, after that dunderhead prepares to ink our suave "Claude Romeo" to a multi-year deal I emerge from behind a potted plant, wearing these mustachios!
RASMUS: ... I'm not quite fitting those two parts of the plan together, in my mind's eye. But I'm proud of our work on the letters of introduction, so I'll do it.
FRANKLIN: Claude Romeo isn't like a normal player, now, keep that up front. You've got to kind of saunter in, and say, "Look here, you."
DREW: I suppose it's worth a try, inasmuch as anything's better than waiting for the sweet, dispassionate embrace of the spirit world.
EDMONDS [wearing a half-shirt of chains]: Colby! It's me, your charming mentor, the spirit of Jim Edmonds!
DREW: Oh, yeah—the spirit of J.D. Drew. Is who I am. I'm the spirit of—
EDMONDS: Don't listen to this sad-clown-spirit! Down his way lies being traded ahead of free agency because everybody's tired of watching you be really good! Down my way lies a restaurant with your name on it, and a really facinating set of Google Image Search results!
WILLIAMS: Could you guys just start over from the—spirit of Woody Williams here—could you guys start from the beginning? I don't know what I'm even doing here, but maybe if we run the lines like they're there on the cards I could pick it up.
EDMONDS: Colby! What I'm saying is that you have to change your image! When I was your age lots of people hated me, too, but it was because I was so cool that people thought that was all I cared about. People dislike you because you're not anything at all! You just kind of exist, in a really-awkward-for-a-lifetime-of-baseball kind of way, so there's nothing but your stats to push against the popular conception of you as a ten-cent head! Pick a gimmick!
EDMONDS: Not talking isn't a gimmick! Maybe carry a belt around, and call it, "The Million Dollar Belt!"
FRANKLIN: Claude Romeo never wears the same belt twice, because he's never the same size on any two days, depending on which fashionable restaurant he helped prepare the main course at the night before.
EDMONDS: Yeah, go with that one.
RASMUS: ... He's an international man-about-town with a surprisingly adequate contact tool.
DREW: I don't know. I feel like it's pretty much just too late. You're Colby Rasmus now. If you put together a really awesome season or two people will stop bugging you about it, but even then it'll be in the back of their minds. If you're lucky people will figure out right before you lose it that you've just accumulated like 50 WAR.
WILLIAMS: So you're telling him to change his image—
EDMONDS: Right! Give people anything else at all to fixate on and they'll fixate on it.
WILLIAMS: And you're telling him his image is already fixed in St. Louis—which is where I am, right?
DREW: Yeah. Like, it's the way he plays, it's the way he'll always play, and it's not like I can play any other way, right? Like, you can just play how you always played, and your brothers can just play how they've always played, and—
RASMUS: This is a conundrum.
WILLIAMS: Oh! And you could end up being traded for me. I get it!
LANKFORD: Guys, did I miss anything?
FRANKLIN: All right, Claude, are you ready? Or should I say—well, yes, Claude.
HOLLIDAY [at his locker, looking halfway between jet-lagged and exasperated]: You know he's got that meeting with the pretzel guys, right?
LOHSE: I mean, if we were really hungry we could sneak into the green seats, though, right?
LOHSE: Claude Romeo has green seats in his car.