It’s an early spring day; the ground is damp and soft from rain. The sun is high in the sky, providing extra warmth to a day where the temperatures are hovering in the mid 50s. The dirt on the diamond is moist, but doesn’t cling to your cleats…but every move of the players is clearly recorded in the earth.
As the pitcher rocks and tosses the ball towards the batter, 2 figures on the bench fall silent and focus on the ball. From the back we see only “Harrisking 7” and “Brown 20” in white letters on red jerseys.
Dan: Is it bad that we're sitting here, in the middle of a softball game, and all I want to do is talk football?
Josh: No Dan, it's just par for the course with you.
Dan: Oh yeah. I'm awake, I want to talk football... it all fits.
Josh: Come on man, smell that fresh spring air...what does that make you want to do?
Dan: Smack my head about the Redskins signing a bunch of has-been free agents... but wait. They didn't do that.
Josh: We're sitting here...in our softball unis...the game is in its final innings...and all you can do is worry about the Redskins
Dan: Well... yes.
Josh: God, I don't get you man. [Screams toward the field] Nice hit MAC!!!
Dan: Good signing, Snyder! Wait, I can't believe I just said that.
Josh: Focus Dan, focus....we're playing softball....quick....what's the name of our big guy?
Dan: Chris Samuels?
Josh: Damn it man. Back to the Skins again...it's our first baseman...Who's on first?
Josh: No, they sang "I've Seen All Good People". You know the guy that plays first base?
Josh: What's his name?
Josh: The guy at first, what is his name?
Dan: Well, Mac is on first now after his hit.
Josh: Mac is the runner on 1st...Who plays first?
Dan: I don't know his name, but from the look of it, we shouldn't throw him anything over the plate...and the Skins should sign him to shore up their O-line
Josh: Abbott and Costello just rolled over in their grave, thanks to you.
Dan: Do they play for the Bears?
Josh: Okay, it appears the only way we can get through this is to talk about whatever it is that's on your mind...
Dan: Well, seems kind of odd to talk about trying to figure out Kate Winslet’s private phone number from random internet clues....
Josh: Don't make me hurt you...the last 10 minutes you've been chatting my ear off about NFL free agency crap...now you're bringing Kate into this?
Dan: Yes, the real question is, why aren't you? Okay, let's talk NFL. It'll feel good. You have to be happy about Briggs coming back, right?
Dan: Oh, come on, that wasn't heartfelt. You love linebackers. Briggs, Urlacher, Hillenmeyer - back to do it again...
Josh: Mmm....linebackers......only thing that could make me happier? Sweetness coming back to life in his prime, and solving our running game....and yes, I love living in the past.
Dan: There you go! Now he's back. Now, if I may be permitted to egg you on a bit, dare I suggest that Lance Briggs was only the second-most important re-signing that any team made?
Josh: Yeah, can, but remember I'm holding an aluminum bat in my hands right now....
Dan: This is America, pal, I can say whatever I want.
Josh: Yes you can...but I can also choose to pummel you with my bat if I want.
Dan: Look, I just think that the Browns' re-signing Jamal Lewis was even more important.
[Josh draws the bat back, Dan winces in anticipation, and Josh stands up]
Josh: Relax Dan, I'm on deck.
[Josh walks out to the on Deck circle; Dan leans against the fence in front of him]
Dan: You have to give an argument if this is doing to be a debate.
Josh: [Swinging the bat] Dan, I'm trying to time the pitches so I can play some softball.
Dan: Oh, come on, where's your heart?
Josh: Fine Dan, how is signing an almost 30 year old RB to a 3 year deal more important than locking up the top WLB in the game??
Dan: He is not 30! He’s like 27…
Josh: But he’s not even top 10 at his position! Wait sorry…I’m up…get out here you’re on deck.
[Josh walks up to the plate, and settles into the batters box. Mac is now standing at 3rd, BS is on 2nd and Lilwound is standing on 1st]
Dan: Lance Briggs isn’t even the most important player on his own team!
[Josh takes a swing at the first pitch, and rockets a foul ball right at Dan…he jumps out of the way]
Dan: Hey Jerk, that was close.
Josh: Sorry about that. Urlacher might be the brains and the face of that team but…
[Josh swings again, this time he sends a moon shot towards the fence in straight away center…he sprints towards first, only to pull up halfway as he watches the ball clear the fence in center]
Dan: Wow…nice shot…
[Josh rounds the bases, and Dan is there to meet him at the plate]
Dan: [holding up his hand for a high five] You got a hold of that one.
Josh: [Smacking Dan’s hand, and accepting pats on the back from the rest of the team] Briggs is the gasoline that makes that engine run. While Tommie Harris and Urlacher are confusing the middle of the line…Briggs is flowing to the ball, and making every moving thing pay.
Dan: Sort of like he did to that car last offseason…
Josh: Let’s not go there.
[Dan steps into the batter’s box]
Josh: Hey Dan, the Skins just signed Adam Archuleta!
[Dan swings, and pops the ball straight up…the pitcher camps under it, and the inning is over.]
Dan: Josh, that’s totally not cool man…did they sign the human air ball?
Josh: Nah, but I put the fear of god into you for a second, didn’t I?
[Josh tosses Dan his glove, and they head out to the field.]
Dan: I hate you. Hey Josh, next time, can you just hit a single so there’s a strategic reason for me to bunt? It’s really all I do well.
Josh: That’s pathetic.
Dan: Look, I’d play designated infielder if such a thing existed, but it doesn’t.
[Josh gets into position at short; Dan mans third base]
Josh: You’d better be paying attention this time; this guy never gets it out of the infield so there’s no excuse to let him get on base.
Dan: Look, Briggs was a great signing for the Bears, no denying it. But Chicago, like Baltimore and Pittsburgh, just seems to be able to find linebackers anywhere. He could have been replaced.
[pitcher throws a strike]
Josh: Aren’t you the guy who keeps going on about how running backs can be found anywhere?
Dan: Yeah, but Cleveland needs a certain kind of running back. They’re going to play a lot of muddy games in the northeast, and they need a workhorse who keeps his feet under him and plays well on a sloppy field. That is not easy to find.
[pitcher throws another strike]
Josh: No batta no batta no batta! One more baby!
Dan: You weren’t paying attention, were you?
Josh: Yes, I was. Something about a sloppy sawhorse.
Dan: Hey, did you hear? Lovie announced Cade McNown as his starting QB.
[ground ball is hit to short, it goes right between Josh’s legs as he stares dumbfoundedly at Dan]
Dan: Ha! Now we’re even.
Josh: Damn you.
Dan: You should really get your head in the game.
Josh: You should stick YOUR head in—
[ball is hit deep into right center, Josh goes to cover 2nd. The batter is safe at 2nd, but Josh keeps the runner at 3rd with a look]
Dan: Maybe I’m just overcompensating for underestimating Lewis last year, but really, the guy’s not that old. He’s got plenty of mileage left. He’s got fewer career carries than Edgerrin James and LaDainian Tomlinson, among others.
Josh: Okay, but Briggs is awesome. And pay attention.
Dan: But so many rookies lately have come out of college ready to play linebacker at an NFL level. Can you name a first-round bust at linebacker from the past three years?
Josh: David Pollack?
Dan: Not fair, he had a career ending spinal injury.
Base runner: Okay, I don’t believe for a second that you guys have this knowledge in your heads, readily accessible for idle chat during a baseball game.
Dan: Nobody’s talking to you.
[the ball is hit – it’s a line drive to third. Dan stretches to make an improbable catch, keeping his foot on the bag, which the base runner has left. Dan promptly hurls the ball to the second baseman to complete the triple play]
Base runner: Damn.
Dan: Like I said, I should be a designated fielder.
[Dan and Josh trot to the dugout.]
Josh: So what’s your point?
Dan: My point is, almost every team who’s drafted a linebacker with an early pick has ended up with a future Pro Bowler. Shawne Merriman, DeMarcus Ware, DeMeco Ryans, Patrick Willis, Chad Greenway, Kamerion Wimbley, the list goes on. So the Bears could easily do that again.
Josh: Except they need to use that pick to help the offense.
Dan: See, if they actually had a need at linebacker, they could avoid the risk of a bust. Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver – high bust risk. Linebacker – low bust risk.
Josh: Does that qualify as logic where you come from? Shouldn’t they drop all of their linebackers then so they have to fill all those needs?
Dan: Fine, go ahead, draft the next… damn.
Dan: Well, I can’t decide whether I want to say Cedric Benson, Rex Grossman, Curtis Enis, Rashan Salaam, or—
Josh: I get it. Shut up. Nice hit, Spanky!
Josh: Yeah, one day, I couldn’t remember his name, so I pretended to come up with a nickname for him.
Dan: And you landed on Spanky.
Josh: He’s got a huge tuchus. I couldn’t focus on anything else.
Dan: So you called him… Spanky.
Josh: Well, if I called him Tuchus or LardButt...he would know I didn’t remeber his name...
Dan: And you went with Spanky....
Josh: Dan, what’s the name of the Right Fielder?
Dan: You mean Stripey-Pants?
Josh: Is that his legal name? Or just some pet name you call each late at night when the moonlight reflects off the water, and highlights his eyes?
Dan: No...he plays RF in softball...he’s not important to remember, and he wears stripey pants...
Josh: Oh, I get it...that moonlight must do wonders for his eyes.
Dan: Hey, you would have called him Sexy Gams.
Josh: Look I get what you’re saying about Linebacker being an easy position to replace and the fact that the Bears have been playing a losing game of craps with their skill players picks lately...[Getting to his feet and yelling at the field] Come on Spanky, move you fat arse!!! Yes! Nice hit Stripey Pants!
Dan: How’s that moonlight looking now?
Josh: [sitting back down] Shut it...I have full confidence that the Bears will draft a Offensive Lineman this year, which is their biggest area of need. The reason their offense was so terrible last year, was that the defense was in the backfield before Benson had a chance to...
Dan: ...Fall over in the hole?
Dan: I agree it was a factor, but Rex doesn’t know when to get rid of the ball, and panics if there’s a blitzer within ten feet. Benson got over 20 yards on, what, two of his rushes?
Dan: So you’re telling me that if the Bears’ pick comes around and Rashard Mendenhall or Brian Brohm is still there that they’d be able to resist and take Chris Williams instead?
Josh: If they’re smart, yes.
[crack of a bat]
Dan: Nice hit, Washboard! [Josh gives him a look] Dude, have you seen his abs? It’s like a 12-pack. Okay, fine, that one’s pretty homotastic.
Josh: As is the word homotastic.
Dan: Hey, someone’s keeping score in this thing, right?
Josh: Oh, you’re suddenly interested?
Dan: Well, looks like we’re doing pretty well. What inning is it?
Josh: This is great news! Here, let me teach you how to read a scoreboard. See the lady behind that table? That’s Spanky’s girlfriend, Double D.
Dan: You kidding me? She’s a B cup, if that.
Josh: I know. Her name’s Denise Dunkelman. Double D.
Josh: Forget a girl’s name, say goodbye to the slap ‘n’ tickle.
Dan: Good man.
Josh: Anyway, Double D is running the scoreboard.
Dan: Oh, I assumed she was selling lemonade.
Dan: No, of course not. Heh. Funny one, right?
Josh: You’re lying.
Dan: [hangs head] Yes.
Josh: We’re the visiting team, so our score is on the left. Theirs is on the left. It’s 9-8. That number in the middle tells us it’s the 7th inning.
Dan: So we just have to hold them off for three more innings?
Josh: In this league we play seven innings.
Dan: Sweet. How many outs?
Josh: Two. That’s the dots on the bottom. [watches a strike go by the batter] Three now. Back to the field we go. [to batter returning to dugout] It’s okay, Package, you’ll get ‘em next time.
Package: Thanks, Fuzzy Face.
Dan: For the record, you’re not hearing the end of that one.
[A loud noise is heard behind them; a thud and a clattering of aluminum bats]
Josh: What the—
[They turn around and see a large man lying on the ground]
1st baseman: Ow! Ow ow ow!
Dan: You okay?
1st baseman: I can’t stand up.
BS: Someone else needs to play first base.
Lilwound: You’re the southpaw.
Mac: We need him to pitch.
BS: Dan, you’re the tallest. You do it. Hurry up, it’s getting cloudy fast.
Dan: Great, now how are we going to finish the debate? Can Josh move to second?
Josh: Screw that. I’m a shortstop. I’m Ozzie Friggin Guillen, baby.
Dan: Fine, I’ll take one for the team. [to 1st baseman] Don’t worry, I got it covered, uh… can I call you… High Ankle Sprain?
1st baseman: That’s stupid. Just call me by my real name.
Dan: I… could never figure out how to pronounce it.
1st baseman: Just call me Jes for short. Pronounced just like “Yes.” It’s Scandinavian.
Dan: Holy cow, I was right! His name’s Yes!
Josh: Didn’t they sing “Owner of a Lonely Heart?”
BS: You guys going to the field or what?
[they take the field]
Dan: [yelling over to Josh] Look, lots of teams do just fine with one great linebacker, one good one, and one average one. Briggs isn’t that important.
[A line drive is hit back to BS. He catches it.]
Josh: That’s one!
Dan: There’s no way Anderson can repeat what he did last year without the dangerous running game from Lewis. He’s the key to that offense.
Josh: I can’t hear you!
[A fly ball is hit to right field. It’s caught.]
Josh: ‘Attaway, Stripey Pants!
Dan: Hang on! [Dan motions Josh toward the mound, and they both approach for a mound conference.]
BS: What’s the deal, guys? I’ve already struck this guy out twice, he’s easy. This one’s in the bag.
Josh: Yeah, what’s up, Dan?
Dan: I said there’s no way Anderson can repeat what he did last year without the dangerous running game from Lewis.
BS: We’re one out away, can’t you guys do this later?
Josh: Yeah, I guess we could wait till 8 or 9 pm to take care of it…
Dan: No, we have to do it now!
Josh: Ah come on, man…we’ve got a game to finish, and beer to drink in celebration. The debate can wait.
Dan: That’s the kind of “fly by the seat of your pants” response I would expect from you. I on the other hand, have journalistic integrity!
Josh: No, you just like talking football.
Dan: Shut it poopy pants.
Josh: Real mature…chunky butt.
Ump: Listen ladies, we need to fnish this one.
Josh: Yes sir, give us another minute.
[Ump nods, and walks back towards the plate]
BS: Listen, Anderson isn’t all that great, he’ll prove that this year. The Browns are going to fall back to Earth. Lewis is a good signing, but Briggs…that guy is great, but he’s just a cog in the spoke of that D. You want a big re-signing? Look at Albert Haynesworth…that guy IS the Titans D.
Dan: No fair, he was franchised!
Ump: Okay, let’s play ball.
[Dan slams the ball into BS’s glove]
Dan: BS, strike this m**therf****er out!
[BS floats his knuckler up to the plate…and the batter gets a wicker cut at it…it’s a hot shot back up the middle…Josh breaks for it…snags the ball behind second, and fires on the run to Dan…the throw is low and to the RF side of first…Dan stretches like a human being shouldn’t, and pulls the ball in. A beat later the runner’s foot hits the base.]
BS: Nice play!
Ump: You’re OOOOOUUUUTTTT!!!!!
[Just then, a lightning flash lights up the sky…followed by a huge crash of thunder…and then the heavens open and a drenching rain falls. Everyone stares in silence for a second.]
Dan: This would be great football weather.
Josh: Everyone head for the pub!
[All the players start heading off the field]
Dan: [Catching up to BS] Thought I told you to strike him out?
BS: Sorry man.
Dan: You should be…you and your Derek Anderson bull! [Dan runs ahead, and grabs his gear and heads for the pub]
BS: [Pulling alongside Josh] Is he serious?
Josh: Give him a few pints and he’ll be your best friend.
Dan: [turning around] Sing it with me!
All: Take me out to the beer place
Take me out for some beer!
Buy me some ale and lager drafts
I don’t care, I just want to get trashed
But it’s root, root beer for ol’ Mac here
He’s underage, it’s a shame
But that’s why he’s driving us home
From this softball game!