Wednesday, October 25, 2006

If Aaron Sorkin wrote a show about baseball

This is how I imagine a typical scene would go.

EXT. KAUFFMAN STADIUM -- NIGHT

THE MANAGER, LEO, TROTS OUT TO THE MOUND TO TALK TO BELEAGURED PITCHER, DANNY (THERE’S ALWAYS A DANNY). THE BASES ARE LOADED. THE CROWD IS GOING NUTS. IT’S GAME SEVEN OF THE WORLD SERIES.

LEO
You can’t get a good lobster in this town.

DANNY
Last I checked we were in Kansas City.

LEO
4.6 billion pork ribs sold every year and 18.9 tons of beef consumed annually since 1997 –

DANNY
They like their beef, what can I tell ya?

LEO
But you’d think just for variety’s sake.

DANNY
I can still throw my curve.

LEO
For strikes?

DANNY
I’m not throwing enough?

LEO
I’ve seen more lobsters.

DANNY WALKS TO THE ROSIN SACK, GIVES IT A SQUEEZE, DECIDES TO KEEP WALKING. HE AND LEO NOW WALK OUT INTO CENTER FIELD.

DANNY
It’s just that…

LEO
What? Kathy?

DANNY
No. Cabs. There’s no cohesiveness on this team. After road games, 25 cabs for 25 players. There used to be a thing called “the greater good”, forgoing your needs for the betterment of the team and community who looks to us for their identity and self worth. When I’m trying to save a game I’m really trying to save a factory. If baseball is a metaphor for life, then responsibility is its first cousin simile. And Kathy.

LEO
That’s a “1” on your back and not a “2”.

DANNY
I can’t help it. She knocks my sanitary socks off.

THEY CROSS THE CENTER FIELDER, HECTOR.

HECTOR
(in thick accent) Hey, Skip. You know where we could get a lobster around here?

LEO
Order a steak with butter sauce.

THEY REACH THE WALL AND BEGIN WALKING AROUND THE WARNING TRACK.

DANNY
I only became a pitcher because of her.

LEO
Does she know that?

DANNY
She knows that a human arm is not supposed to throw a baseball 100 miles per hour. And she knows that Jesus Christ could strike out Babe Ruth every at bat for ten years without so much as a rotator tear. But to answer your question – what was your question again?

LEO
Can you still throw your curve ball for strikes?

DANNY
No. The other one.

LEO
Does Kathy know you became a pitcher for her?

THEY REACH THE RIGHT FIELDER, AN AFRO-AMERICAN NAMED CHET.

CHET
Look up in the stands, guys. Not four black faces. Would Jackie Robinson even want to break into this game now? If this sport speaks to minorities now it speaks in Spanish. Afro-Americans make up less than 5% of the major leagues. Compare that to basketball, football, or even golf. Satchel Paige said, “don’t look back, something might be gaining on ya.” I just did. It’s now hockey.

LEO
Play a little closer to the line.

THEY CONTINUE WALKING AROUND THE WARNING TRACK.

DANNY
I think she knows.

LEO
But do you really know if she knows?

DANNY
No.

LEO
Then you know what you’ve got to do.

DANNY
Yeah.

LEO
Throw strikes.

DANNY
Right. Thanks.

LEO
And when you get home –

DANNY
Yeah?

LEO
Tell her.

DANNY
I’ll take her out for a lobster.

LEO
What do you mean, 25 cabs for 25 players?

AS THEY START AROUND THE WARNING TRACK FOR ANOTHER LAP, WE:

FADE OUT.

76 comments:

Malachy Walsh said...

Nice. Though, it's a little too funny. And then, too, you're missing a reference to any 19th century European literary work. Like Balzac or something.

Frank Abe said...

Ken, yup, you've captured Sorkin's tone all right. Thanks for another good read.

David Schwartz said...

Excellent! You certainly captured his style. Great parody/homage/satire/literary exercise/whatever!

David J. Loehr said...

That's so much more entertaining than the current version of the real thing. I almost want to hear the next lap...

David J. Loehr said...

Or should I have said pitch perfect?

VP19 said...

"Bull Durham" meets "I (Heart) Huckabees." But...in Kansas City? (Nice pic of Kauffman Stadium, though.)

Chicago Joe said...

Outstanding...a perfect parody...but you already knew that.

Simon said...

That made me incredibly happy.

Toby said...

How come nobody said "Okay." in the excerpt? Somebody is always saying "Okay" with great weight.

But that was a great pastiche, Ken. Wanted to do a bit of casting in my mind, ultimate fantasy league.

And I think you nailed the title for Sorkin's autobiography: "There's Always A Danny".....

dave williams said...

LOL!
I love this blog.
And to prove it, I'll butt out for a couple of days.

BrianScully said...

Brilliant. You captured Sorkin's style perfectly. The only thing I would add is something to highlight his complete lack of reality in the worlds he writes about, so I would suggest the last line of your opening stage directions read: "It's Game NINE of the World Series".

This Girl said...

spot on!

thethirdcoast said...

Hilarious! Thanks for getting my day off to a good start. Of course, it's all downhill from here.

Jim said...

BrianScully: The script already has a World Series game taking place at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City (and presumably, the show is taking place in the present day) -- how much more unreality do you need?

Anonymous said...

Sorkinfreude. Gotta love it.

Banana Martin said...

dear god Ken, you are BRILLIANT. So far no one has really been able to explain why Studio 60 stinks. But in your one little scene, you did it.

Kudos.

Joshua James said...

Ken, that was smart, funny and a dead-on satire of the show. I loved it. You rock.

But regardless, I also still love Studio 60 for many of the same reasons.

I know it's not exactly how it works behind the scenes on a TV show. But ER isn't how a real ER works, either. I just enjoy smart, interesting people trying to accomplish something together.

It doesn't always have to be about saving the world. I liked SPORTS NIGHT more than WEST WING, though I know I'm in a minority there. I just did.

But I liked your post, too.

Anonymous said...

You'd think there would be ONE umpire...

Ted said...

Just one problem. Too many people know what a baseball field looks like. It would have to be set in the trainer's room to give it an "insider's" feel.

Daniel S. said...

Nice!

Kerri said...

Kauffman Stadium has 2 F's in it.

If Aaron Sorkin can do enough research to give us a history lesson on black listing, he could certainly visit the Royals' website. :-)

I'm from KC with a strong connection to the Royals, so even if this is bizarro world, it's still nice to think about them in the World Series.

MBFH said...

INT. LOCKER ROOM -- NIGHT

DANNY AND HIS PARENTS ARE IN MID ARGUMENT.

DANNY - You just don't get it. You never will.

DANNY'S DAD - All I want to know is when are you going to make something of yourself.

DANNY - This is the World Series, dad. This is the Paris Opera House of the sports world. And what I do here is seen by billions of people.

DANNY'S DAD - And meanwhile your older brother is putting his life on the line for his country in Afghanistan! When are you going to get some perspective?

COACH LEO ENTERS

LEO - Listen, uh...I can come back.

Christopher Harmon said...

Just brilliant. And they make two more laps around the field and then the game is called on account of malaise.

Mike Barer said...

Speaking of Kaufman stadium, Major League baseball is reducing Revenue sharing--we may wind up with the New York Royals and the Los Angeles Brewers.

Steve Bittenbender said...

Ken,

You're missing a Gilbert and Sullivan reference.

Please revise and republish.

Thanks! ;)

Anonymous said...

Who is Adam Sorkin?

David Dyte said...

I'd like to see the episode when Danny made the bigs and was given a ball, with the quote, "This baseball was given to my great great grandfather by a Brooklyn journalist named Henry Chadwick."

your toxic and homophobic daughter... said...

Starring Kevin Costner as the washed up baseball player...

Anonymous said...

You have some sort of Aaron Sorkin issues going there, Ken. He's a talented story teller who may or may not have success with his latest effort. At least he's offering an intelligent alternative to the dreck being touted as entertainment on television today. If only for the fact that Aaron Sorkin asks the viewer to pay attention and think, I think you should get off his back.

Anonymous said...

Wait.. you mean Aaron is doing a series on baseball. What channel is it on?! My guess is ABC, right? They're putting it on after Grey's Anatomy to keep the women. Is this from the pilot? I didn't see any mention of it in Variety. Did the Reporter scoop Variety?.....

David said...

This makes me glad I don't watch Aaron Sorkin shows.

dianagram said...

Great stuff .... makes me wanna go home and crack open my SportsNight DVDs again ....

(sigh) .... SportsNight ... the best show nobody watched ...

Dan Fiorella said...

>Malachy Walsh said...
>Nice...you're missing a reference
>to any 19th century European
>literary work. Like Balzac or something.


That would be the title, "Base on Balzac."

Lonnie said...

You must have Sorkin's style down because half these people think this is a tribute to Sorkin and the other half think you are ripping on him.

BTW - One of them, Danny or Leo, needs to turn the conversation in a new direction or sum up by using the word "anyway."

Patrick Walsh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick Walsh said...

Great stuff as always. I particularly hated this week's "Studio 60." Blech. It made me feel like I was being bullied.

If you guys like this sort of thing, I've got a "Grey's Anatomy" mini-spec/spoof up over at my site today:

www.patrickwalsh.blog-city.com

John Foley said...

You wrote Volunteers? I loved that flick!
Money is money, don't you know...

Anyway, this was some brilliant satire. I don't mind saying.

johnstodderinexile said...

The sad thing? I bet Aaron Sorkin already thinks of "Studio 60" as some brave kind of self-parody.

Anonymous said...

I think Sorkin just loves the sound of his own voice.

Good writing should be invisible, just like good acting, cinematography, special effects, camera movement, etc.

By the way, great Sorkinesque writing. First time I've read your Blog.

Anonymous said...

At 12:12 PM, Patrick Walsh said...
Great stuff as always. I particularly hated this week's "Studio 60." Blech. It made me feel like I was being bullied. [emphasis added]


Are you kidding me? You know that button on your television set marked "on/off"? Give it a try sometime.

Why would you watch a show you claim to dislike repeatedly?

Why are you all [and I'm includng Levine and Rogers so obsessed with Sorkin? You sound like a clique of teenage girls. Change the channel. Get a life. But please, Stop Hating. It makes you look petty.

Mustang Bobby said...

Casting: John Mahoney and Dylan Bruno? Nah...

jim treacher said...

Not enough "yeah's."

SteveCockey said...

Great work Ken. I'm a huge baseball (Orioles) and Sorkin fan, so I've always thought about this as a natural fit. But, how about a Sorkin "dramedy" about a Major League front office? I've always thought that this would be perfect. I can just see the GM, assistant GM and owner walking down the office hallway (of the warehouse)bantering. Your thoughts?

Richard Dun and Mario Dun said...

Chet: I'm worried.
Danny: Yeah, I'm gaining weight.
Chet: There's too many black ppl on the team.
Danny: See, if i pitch near his spine i can take out their best batter...
Chet: I'm serious, when are you getting more white ppl.
Danny: Jesus Christ, we're in the middle of a game--wait a minute, arent you black?
Chet: Hey look, a blimp.

John Eje Thelin said...

"At least he's offering an intelligent alternative to the dreck being touted as entertainment on television today."

You've bought into Sorkin's faux tale of TV:s modern-day lack of quality. It's just not true. While network lineups may be cluttered with game shows and "reality" shows because they are cheap to make, the truth is that there is probably more quality television being made than ever before, if you look at the whole picture.

As for Sorkin writing a baseball show, he would have to get a whole lot more wrong than just "game nine of the World Series" in order to match his litany of mistakes, bad calls and failure sof tone and substance in trying to capture the process of creating humor and the outcome thereof.

He would pretty much have to show a soccer game and call it baseball; that's how off-base his view of a sketch show and of network TV is.

a2zmom said...

Came here from somewhere else and I have to say, massively funny, right on target and captured exactly why I gave up on Studio 60 after one episode.

I loved "Sports Nights" but part of it was the characters knew they were being faintly ridiculous. That's all long gone and the air of smug self satisfaction is a complete turn off.

And to the person who thinks there's only dreck on the air - watch "Battlestar Galatica" for a show that isn't afraid to ask hard, uncomfortable questions about religion, war, terrorism and a host of other issues.

This_Years_Girl said...

LOL! That was great--Very Sorkin (which, coming from me, is actually a compliment)

Anonymous said...

Wow this is awesome. I know it's a spoof but this show would probably be doing better than S60.

Not Cliff Geertz said...

Catty. The green-eyed monster unsheaths the claws. Rahr.

But, you're right. Must watch more two-and-a-half men.

Anonymous said...

so dead on. It's a crime that his crap gets greenlit with no problem but good shows like Scrubs have to fight just to get on the air (or great shows like Action get axed).

decal1028 said...

This show is getting hammered, I don't get it. Yes, it preachy and elitist blah blah blah, but give me this over Two And a Half Men any day. (I never actually saw 2 1/2, just assume it's bad) Is Studio 60 really the worst thing to ever air? I liked Sports Night too, guess I'm a wanker. 60 wont be around much longer to torture you guys.

Bad Becks said...

This would probably be more realistic if Charlie Sheen got to play "Danny" with perhaps Dennis Miller or Bob Golic to play the manager.

Oz said...

Agree with the need for a momentous "Okay" and a couple knowingly resigned "Yeah"s but what we CANNOT live without is the quintessential Sorkinese "repeated line" -- he's playing for space and needs a filler - one character stares momentarily and then the "huh?" when everyone heard the line - but now it is said again and then we have used up 20 more seconds of filler. and then usually a knowingly resigned "yeah". There is usuallly one in every episode of WW, and sometimes it could be a drinking game.

Gahrie said...

Surprisingly enough (I was sure surprised) Two and a Half Men is actually very funny. It's well written and Sheen and Cryer play well off each other.

Anonymous said...

Laughed all the way through. But if you're in a baseball stadium, what're you gonna use to break a window?

Anonymous said...

Laughed all the way through. But if you're in a baseball stadium, what're you gonna use to break a window?

Andrew said...

Ken-
How long did it take you to write this? Dead on.

Andrew

in-co-gnito said...

Mustang Bobby suggested casting John Mahoney for leo...BRILLIANT! My husband sent this to me at work and I couldn't stop laughing! Especially when I got down to MBFH's hilarious added scene with Danny's parents! OMG!

We loved 60 up until THAT episode! THE WORST!!!! We thought, up until then, that it was smart and funny - if a little preachy and sanctimonious. This our first tast of Sorkin, but we knew what we were getting into. However, we fell for Bradley Whitford HARD! He needs WAY more screen time! And if it isn't cancelled, can we please have some more Christine Lahti?!

Levine, we loved Almost Perfect - while it lasted and before the retooling. Nancy was adorable and deserved her own show and a fair shake in Hollywood!

trapdoc said...

Captured perfectly. Personally, however, I'm not convinced the reason Studio 60 is doing badly is because of Sorkin's writing style. It's elitist and contrived, sure, but West Wing didn't lack for viewers (and I admit I found it amusing, if completely unrealistic).

The reason Studio 60 sucks is that the show it is about sucks. Could anyone watch an episode of Studio 60 and honestly say they would want to watch the comedy show these characters are producing? The snippets they show are like a parody of the bad years at SNL. I have yet to see a single sketch that looked likely to generate a laugh.

My advice to Sorkin would be to stick to writing the off stage dialogue, and hire some comedy central or mad tv writers to handle the on-stage action.

Anonymous said...

This is a complete rip-off of the post on my Blog entitled "If Ken Levine wrote a show called 'Almost Perfect'"... except mine was not hypothetical, but rather unfortunately true.

Dirtylaundry said...

OK, as probably the only die-hard Royals fan suffering around on the face of the earth, I must ask why you chose Kauffman Stadium (even though it will forever remain Royals Stadium to me) for the scene. Only Aaron Sorkin could further piss on Royals fans, and you nailed his style perfectly. I actually liked the pilot episode of Studio 60, declaring it the best pilot episode of any series since The Sopranos pilot, and the show simply went downhill in the worst way ever since. I'll never trust Sorkin again, not even for one pilot.

Anonymous said...

I think one of Sorkin's problems is that from the very beginning he plans for longevity. He knows that eventually something exciting will happen on his show that the viewers will enjoy (reminiscent of the pilot,) but by the time we get to that point in the season, nbc will have already passed on more episodes. And the second season of Sports Night made me too exhausted to suffer that struggle again.

chicating said...

(sighs) OK...
I'm not sure that's weighty enough, but give a rookie a break.(pause) Anyway...
SN is still my favorite.

Justine said...

Loved the parody ("homage," if you must) and have enjoyed Sorkin ever since the late lament SN. (The guy from "Six Feet Under" -- terrific; you gotta work him into this parody...)

Little tidbit about Sorkin's arcane errors: there's a weekly mag called "Federal Executive," read by a lot of senior military and civilian officials. For a year or more, it had a feature called WW Watch, with readers' reports of incorrect WW Federalia (my word -- may need to copyright it). One regarded a Navy officer who inevitably had his "lid" (hat) on or off at the wrong moments (e.g., on indoors, off outside...)

Again, a spot-on great parody!

Anonymous said...

My name is Z.
I thought that this was just like how Aaron would do it.
I'd really like to see the second lap... or maybe "What if Aaron Sorkin wrote a ice hockey drama."

Anonymous said...

Ha...this is really hilarious. You are pretty awesome.

Kevin said...

I can picture Judd Hirsh announcing "Sorry, this game is over. No one wins. Go home NOW!"

Anonymous said...

I understand how you all think this is dead on. I get that his work is sometimes a little precious and picks up on common themes. But he doesn't just write to have words in a certain rhythm, there is an idealism to it that this piece lacks. It's about conveying an idea not giving a history lesson.

Greg said...

Ken--this is brilliant, and I say that as a Sorkin fan (and anonymous, lay off, will ya? It's a *loving* parody. Parody is a form of flattery.)
I was going to suggest that you write for TV until I say your actual bio… apparently you already took my advice, well before I was born. You must be psychic.
Still, if you're not working on one, you should write a Studio 60 spec script, except make it funny. (I tried to like 60, I really did, but it's just not funny enough. It works as a behind-the-scenes *drama* about a show… but I don't think that's the intent.)

Paul said...

Almost perfect. Sorkin characters are more annoying. It needs more answering of questions with questions.

hostile 17 said...

laughing silently in our corporate offices, listening to my boss ream her boss on the telephone (how screwed am I that I'll be out of a job before I ever get decent coverage). Maybe Ken/Aaron can give us something about a wannabe script writer who works crap jobs to support his... oh, bloody hell, suppose there's always the next Whedon parody.

Anonymous said...

Yet another site on baseball???? Naahh! The only site that will give you the complete lowdown on baseball. You need look no further for information and resources.

Toadmonster said...

Aaron Sorkin asks the viewer to pay attention and think

By having characters talk fast?

junk said...

Nice blog, keep it up!

Steve

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Anuali said...

Brilliant. You captured Sorkin's style perfectly. The only thing I would add is something to highlight his complete lack of reality in the worlds he writes about, so I would suggest the last line of your opening stage directions read: "It's Game NINE of the World Series".