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April 1, 2004

Wire Headlines

April 1, 2004

by Baseball Prospectus

The following article was part of Baseball Prospectus' April Fool's Day content for 2004.

2005's Overseas Opener to feature Tigers, Blue Jays

New York (API) -- The Office of the Commissioner today announced that MLB's successful "Overseas Opener" program will continue next year, with the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays playing a three-game series in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The Tigers and Jays will also play exhibition games against two teams from the fledgling Sierra Leone United League, the BHP Miners, and the DeBeers Ham Fighters.

"I'm told it's quite a plane flight," said Toronto ace Roy Halladay. Halladay's assessment is correct--the scheduled travel time is just over 23 hours in the air, not counting time on the ground for necessary refueling. The clubs will leave the U.S. on March 15th and arrive on March 17th, losing an entire day on the trip.

Why Sierra Leone? "Let's face it," said MLB Spokesperson Rich Levin, "MLB is always looking to extend the joy of baseball to new and growing markets, particularly with heavy African-American populations. And we sure as Hell weren't going to Haiti. That place is seriously f---ed up."

Cliff Russell, Senior Communications Director for the Tigers, commented on the cultural differences between crowds in America and in Sierra Leone. "The crowds are unbelievably enthusiastic," said Russell. "It's different from the U.S., though. If you witness a great play at say, Fenway or Yankee Stadium, you'll probably jump to your feet and cheer. In Sierra Leone, the custom is instead to jump to your feet, pack everything you own into a bindle, and head for neighboring Guinea, hopefully keeping ahead of the RUF or CDF forces intent on slaughtering you with machetes and AK-47s."

No Progress in Questec/Schilling Peace Talks

Ramallah (API) -- American peace facilitator Warren Christopher returned from Ramallah, where representatives of Curt Schilling and Questec completed three weeks of peace talks. According to Christopher, discussions were "well-intentioned and somewhat productive, though not dispositive."

According to one source in the Schilling camp who asked not to be identified, "We're nowhere. Those guys just don't understand that historically, the area one-to-four inches off the plate has always belonged to Curt. Curt just wants a space that he can call his own."

Talks between the two sides have been ongoing for nearly two years.

"We have the right to defend our cameras," said Questec President Michael Russo. "Schilling has never even acknowledged our right to exist."

President Bush has not ruled out the possibility of sending a special envoy to aid in negotiations, but did state that the U.S. is "committed to playing the role of an honest broker in these critical talks."

Tom Glavine could not be reached for comment.

Phifer Signs on as Bonds for "The Passion of the Reclined"

Hollywood (Entertainment News Wire) -- Red-hot Mekhi Phifer, star of "Dawn of the Dead" and NBC's "ER," has signed on to play Barry Bonds in the $135 million 20th Century Fox production of "The Passion of the Reclined," to be written by Joe Eszterhas, and directed by Milos Forman. "The Passion" recounts the tumultuous final days of last season, when San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds was glued to his famous clubhouse recliner by members of the local and national press.

"It portrays journalists in a completely unfavorable light," says Skip Bayless, Founder of the Sports Journalist Anti-Defamation League. "This film will lead to increased prejudice against sportswriters, and is not based on accurate accounts of what actually occurred."

Bonds disagrees. "If anything, the initial script doesn't go far enough in showing the kind of abuse I took at the hands of those traitorous, collaborating weasels. Mekhi's good casting, though. I look forward to seeing the film."

Phifer, who will be paid $7.5 million for the role, takes the controversy surrounding the movie in stride. "I definitely have to hit the weight room, and I'm going to spend a year surrounding myself with lazy, defensive alcoholics, to learn what it's really like to spend time with the beat writers."

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