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June 26, 2013
The Lineup Card
10 Hollywood Endings for Major-League Teams
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: Breakfast Club
They grew to trust each other. They fought together and got hurt together and came to discover that even people from different walks of life could be friends and teammates. And that all of us, not just Yasiel Puig, are athletes, and all of us, not just Nick Punto, are utility infielders. But you know, at the end of the movie, they never really wrote that essay... or won that division like they were supposed to. However, I'd give my left kidney to hear Vin Scully read Anthony Michael Hall's closing monologue. —Russell A. Carleton
2. Miami Marlins: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
One by one the important role players disappear, and in the end it's just our two main heroes, a bunch of people you've never heard of, and the feds.
3. New York Yankees: Thelma and Louise
In the end, their guts, guile, and firepower are all expended, their pursuers are legion (Jays and Rays, Sox, and Birds), and they’re backed up against a canyon. Steinbrenner (Girardi?) and Cashman make their pact, and then they drive the thing right over the edge. Rivera, Jeter, A-Rod, Pettitte, Cano: all contacts and careers dashed on the rocks below, as the Yanks cross the Rubicon, finally, to their post-dynasty afterlife. —Adam Sobsey
4. Detroit Tigers: Beavis and Butthead Do America
On second thought, this is actually the second-to-last scene of the movie. The final-final scene is Beavis looking for a neighbor's tool shed to go spend some alone time, if you will, so maybe this was a bad pick. Never mind. —Zachary Levine
5. Los Angeles Angels: Aguirre the Wrath of God
6. Kansas City Royals: Poltergeist
It turns out that the neighbors are too skeptical for their own good, though—the place really is cursed. It seems that instead of moving the corpse of Jeff Francoeur out of the outfield they just left him there and only moved the headstone. Dayton Moore screams about the injustice of it all, but it's too late; after a cacophonous flashing of lights and unsettling growling sounds, Kauffman Stadium simply implodes upon itself and is gone. —Colin Wyers
7. Philadelphia Phillies: Fight Club (Valuation Club)—A Re-Imagining
The first big blockbuster dump trade of the 2013 season—Jonathan Papelbon to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Avisail Garcia and Bruce Rondon—is mourned by the front office and fans alike as if a close family member has died. Twenty thousand loyal Philadelphians congregate outside of Citizens Bank Park chanting, “His name was Jonathan Papelbon. His name was Jonathan Papelbon.” This chant becomes a rallying cry for Phillies fans throughout the rest of the season. At first, fans are reluctant to support a wholesale tearing down of the club, but eventually an army of fans willingly congregate at Bull’s Barbeque to train in the ways of proper player valuation.
Through Ruben Amaro’s example, this insurgent element of the fan base learns to stop embracing such bourgeois concepts as “wins” and “losses” and learns to embrace life itself! Each trade the team makes at the deadline is less about helping the team in the future and more about cutting through the shackles of Corporate America and to the core of who we are as a species!
While Amaro is teaching the lessons of Valuation Club in Philadelphia, Beane travels from city to city, teaching others the way of freeing yourself from modern society. Amaro travels to where Beane has been, seeing the damage Beane has done in his wake, until he asks a bartender what his name is and—SURPRISE!—the bartender reveals that Billy Beane is a manifestation of Amaro himself. Amaro discovers that Beane doesn’t just want to trade a few players but wants to blow up the entire organization, down to the instructional leagues. Amaro and Beane “fight” in the Phillies executive offices—here represented by a game of paper football. Amaro realizes that the only way to destroy Beane is to turn the football on himself. He aims the paper football at himself, the tip hitting him in the forehead. Beane disappears.
Amaro realizes that he has gone too far and tries to get the last remnants of the Phillies fan base that cares about winning (personified here by the lovely Helena Bonham Carter) to salvage the last vestiges of his sanity. While Amaro manages to find love in the arms of Bonham Carter/the traditionalists within Phillies fan base, it is too late as his alter ego has successfully signed the papers to “blow up” the Phillies—trading every player from the big club down to the young ones in instructional league to another organization in exchange for true understanding of the meaning of life itself. Amaro and Bonham Carter hold hands as every player in the entire Phillies organization is released—not only literally by the organization, but also out of the bounds of our mundane existence into the astral plane. The Phillies might never be competitive again, but at long last Mr. Amaro can taste freedom. Fin. Cue the Pixies. —Mike Gianella
8. Oakland Athletics: Rounders
The A's get out to an early lead, but some overzealous moves on the basepaths combine with poor defense to stack tall odds as the game wanes into the late hours of the night. They patiently wait on reliever Al Alburquerque, who plays right into the hands of the AL's walkiest team with a pair of free passes on wayward sliders, at which point manager Jim Leyland gives his trademark tell as he points to his right arm and makes the call to the bullpen for newly-acquired closer Huston Street, who was pried from San Diego at the trade deadline.
Brandon Moss strides to the plate, knowing that Street will go to a sinker 84 percent of the time on the first pitch to left-handed batters, and that opponents have a near-.200 ISO on the pitch through Street's career. The A's flop the nuts as Moss unleashes the thunder on a first-pitch sinker over the inner half of the plate, parking a three-run homer into the right-field stands for the 5-3 lead, which holds through the bottom of the frame as the Tigers are unable to beat Grant Balfour on the river. The A's leave Detroit with three stacks of high society and a trip to the World Series, ready to try their hand against the best in the game. —Doug Thorburn
9. NL East: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The bad Phils beat the Nationals in a head-to-head match-up near the halfway point with Washington lacking their best weapon, and though Philly receives relatively little screen-time during much of the film, the team re-appears in the final month as a threat to the Nats' hopes for gold. The stage is set for an epic battle, but the hot-handed Braves dispose of the bad taste of maroon with a head-to-head sweep in the final days of the regular season. Atlanta's conquest of Philly allows the Nationals to sneak into the playoffs without a shot fired from their bullet-less offense, but the partnership is short-lived. The Braves force Washington to dig for gold in the Wild Card round, and the Nats look up from their potential winnings to see a rope tied in a noose and Atlanta ready to walk off with the loot. —Doug Thorburn
10. Houston Astros: Naked Gun
As to the topic at hand, I ascertain that the Astros’ season likely isn’t about to get better. The final game may very well remind us of the final scenes in The Naked Gun, where the Mariners faced off against Angels in a game that, upon re-watching, looked very much like it was played by actors. The only player who wasn’t an actor, Reggie Jackson, was the one tasked with not playing baseball. His job was to shoot the Queen, a job he failed at doing when a large woman fell on him from the top stands at the last second.
The Astros’ season has, so far, served to remind us that baseball can be fun to watch and follow even if we’re not any good at it. This will likely not get better as the season comes to a close. Therefore, I say the Astros’ season will end on any one of these events:
The Astros may not be this awful next season, so we should all enjoy it while we can. But for this season, if any team has a player even modestly likely to step into a bear trap, fall into a cake, and then somehow ends up in the harbor, this is your best bet. —Matthew Kory