Editor’s Note: The following are notes from an internally produced script intended to communicate MLB’s rule changes to fans. As of publication, the video in question has yet to be produced.
We have had a chance to review the work you submitted. As you know, this video is meant to introduce fans to all of Major League Baseball’s new rules, which we might be changing imminently. Our data indicates that our primary demographics, “Furious nerds,” “Senior citizens who have said they’ll never watch it again,” and “Pornbots” all possess one single overlapping quality: Fear of, and disgust at, any kind of change. They are quite passionate about sameness, though their definitions of it change dramatically.
That being the case, we are frankly alarmed at the work you have produced. Our request was for a gentle, Ken Burns-style introduction, explaining that baseball has always undergone changes from era to era, and that our only intention is to make our national pastime a more engaging experience for everyone, from the most cantankerous analyst to the most Russian pornbot.
Instead, what you have delivered is a cartoon fever dream that not only fails to inform fans about what exactly we have done, it seems to possess an utter disdain for previous versions of the sport. Furthermore, your portrayal of various real-life people from within our league are bizarre and completely off-base.
We have outlined our concerns below, indicating which segments of the video to which they relate.
EXT. BASEBALL FIELD – DAY
A cartoon base with arms and legs struts confidently into frame. He has the bravado of a young man and is rich with American spirit.
BASEY: Hello, everyone! Spring is here, and baseball, as always, has returned! But this year, you may have noticed a few things have changed about the sport you love. That’s where I come in. I’m Basey, Major League Baseball’s new base!
He walks up to an old base, which has a face but no limbs and is still in the ground.
BASEY: In the past, bases have been responsible for most of our planet’s most grotesque ankle injuries. That’s why I’m three square inches better than my predecessor, so that runners are able to reach or pass over me with less danger of a defender stepping on or kicking them on purpose! This year, I’ll be in every big league ballpark in America!
DUMB-LOOKING SMALLER BASE: But Basey, what about me?
BASEY: Your only job was to serve the humans, and instead, your pathetic size has injured countless numbers of them. You’ve disgraced yourself long enough, old timer! It’s off to the glue factory for you!
DUMB-LOOKING SMALLER BASE: Oh no!
So right off the bat we have some questions:
- Why have you characterized the older base as “dumb-looking,” going so far to include it as the character’s name?
- Where did you get your statistics on global ankle injuries? And what qualifications are you using to define “grotesque”?
- Why do you think an old base would be turned into glue? We would never be so wasteful. They are melted down and recycled into rubber bullets for MLB team owners’ private security forces.
EXT. BASEBALL FIELD – DAY
Giants broadcaster Jon Miller enters frame.
JON MILLER: Hi, folks. I’m beloved Giants broadcaster Jon Miller. I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing “bush league” about these new rules from Major League Baseball. They’ll make the game safer, better, and faster.
BASEY: That’s right, Jon!
JON MILLER: Now, if only MLB would develop better public relations for the Arizona Diamondbacks!
BASEY: Ha ha—we’re working on it!
Jon Miller bends down, getting right in Basey’s face. In doing so, he inadvertently steps on Dumb-Looking Smaller Base, causing its eyes to bulge out comically.
JON MILLER: They make me so fucking angry.
DUMB-LOOKING SMALLER BASE: Please… you’re hurting me.
At no point have we said that Jon Miller would be available to you, and we fail to see the value in bringing up his recent on-air rant about Arizona. We feel it would be best not to plan on including this scene, especially the part at the end where he becomes physically menacing and curses at a cartoon character.
Which actually leads right into the next segment:
EXT. BASEBALL FIELD – HOME PLATE – DAY
Manny Machado is at the plate, not fully standing in the batter’s box. As he finishes adjusting his batting gloves, he goes to step in… but it’s too late and the umpire calls a strike on him.
Machado turns and speaks directly into the camera.
MANNY MACHADO: Uh oh! Looks like I got busted for not being in the batter’s box before there were only eight seconds left on the pitch clock. That’s on me—baseball’s new rules have been explained to me, I just chose to ignore them!
Manny puts his bat down.
MANNY MACHADO: Baseball, of course, is a game of adjustments. This is a quote said by everyone and attributed to no one—an ancient truth whispered by the universe. Players adjust to get a hit or make a pitch, fans adjust expectations based on talent level, and the sport itself adjusts with every sputter and belch of glorious capitalism.
UMPIRE: Strike two, Manny.
Manny looks at the camera and shrugs.
MANNY MACHADO: Ah, geeze. Here we go again!
There is simply no way Manny Machado would agree to do this, nor would we ask him. The budget for this video was supposed to be no more than a couple hundred dollars. He has also never, and would never, say the phrase “whispered by the universe,” nor would any other reasonable human being.
INT. OFFICE – DAY
Joe West is typing frantically on a computer keyboard, then turns and faces the camera.
JOE WEST: Howdy, folks. I’m former umpire and online sheriff Joe West. Now that I’ve learned to use the internet, I’ve been banned from Wikipedia for demanding everyone give me their home addresses. Now I have all the time in the world to review baseball’s new rules, and I have to say I’m a fan!
For instance, the one where umpires don’t have to shake the hands of managers before the game if they don’t want to! C.B. Bucknor really nailed it this spring, embodying the core principles of MLB umpiring: If people aren’t talking about how much you suck, you really haven’t done your job.
An alert on his computer goes off.
JOE WEST: Oh! Shit! Someone’s writing about the time I body slammed a guy because I felt like it.
Neither we nor Joe West have any interest in Joe West appearing in this video. Why have you written in swearing? We obviously would never include it. Just like how we wouldn’t include a reminder to people that Joe West actually body slammed a guy because he felt like it.
EXT. BASEBALL FIELD – BATTER’S BOX
Shohei Ohtani swings at a pitch and launches it into the stands, then turns to face the camera. Basey, standing nearby, applauds.
SHOHEI OHTANI: Hi, I’m international superstar Shohei Ohtani. Next winter when I’m a free agent, I’m going to make more money than God himself.
Nearby, a heavenly light shines down from the sky.
BASEY: Oh no! Now you’ve done it!
From it, three figures emerge: Dick Monfort, Chris Ilitch, and John Henry.
BASEY: Oh, thank goodness. It’s just the MLB Economic Reform Committee, made up of three men who have worked at companies with their own last names on the side of the building!
CHRIS ILITCH: Hey there, Basey. Say, have you put on weight?
BASEY: Ha ha! That’s just my extra three square inches! Say, you know what I love about you guys? That you’re not just owners, you’re actually sports fans!
CHRIS ILITCH: My name’s on the Stanley Cup!
JOHN HENRY: I was portrayed in Moneyball as Man Who Fails to Hire Billy Beane But Takes All of His Ideas Anyway.
DICK MONFORT: And I live in Denver, where there are several sports teams.
BASEY: That’s some fun information for people to have! I don’t think the fact that it all sounded like it was from Wikipedia makes it not real information at all. Say, what do you guys think about Shohei’s next big payday?
Dick Monfort chuckles.
DICK MONFORT: Well, Basey, everyone knows God doesn’t have money. He is money!
All three owners toast with previously unseen champagne glasses, then toss them to the ground without taking a sip.
DICK MONFORT: I think we can all agree–player salaries have gotten out of control.
JOHN HENRY: Shohei, wouldn’t you rather spend your career taking nice, team-friendly deals to prove that you’re a company man?
SHOHEI OHTANI: Would I?!?
We’re obviously going to cut this whole section, if not the entire video. We didn’t even get to the part you included where Ohtani decides to go for the money anyway and Monfort presses a button on a remote and makes his head explode, then all the owners shout “The economy!” and cheers again, once more throwing the glasses to the ground.
But our biggest issue is with this section:
INT. OFFICE – DAY
ROB MANFRED: Hello. I’m world famous baseball-liker and negotiating table shark Rob Manfred, the commissioner of baseball. When I asked ChatGPT to make up some new rules for baseball, things like “knife-bat” and “I will be free” seemed like meaningless robot-talk. We almost considered our project a failure. But then, it started making sense: “Ghost runners.” “Box containment.” “Clock that never dies.”
BASEY: Don’t forget me!
ROB MANFRED: Oh, right. I mean, of course I didn’t!
He tousles the top of Basey where hair would be, but Basey doesn’t have any.
BASEY: What a calm, reassuring hand!
ROB MANFRED: These new rules are now part of baseball, the sport that we all love equally. So it… upsets me to see them flaunted so egregiously.
BASEY: Uh oh!
ROB MANFRED: Jesus! Sorry. I immediately forgot about you again. Anyways, let’s watch some footage.
On screen, we cue up footage of the Orioles and Athletics continuing to play the bottom of the ninth inning of a game with no umpires on the field.
We cut back to Manfred.
ROB MANFRED: This is, according to the United States Constitution, treason. And these men will weep on their way to the gallows. For punishment? No. For a statement: The new golden age of baseball has begun. And we will all be witnesses to its rediscovered glory.
He bows his head solemnly, then looks back up at the camera.
ROB MANFRED: Ha ha, isn’t that right, Basey?
BASEY: You’re the boss!
We don’t even know what to say at this point. You’re all over the place tonally, and Basey seems to disappear completely at certain times. Also, why was Manfred written to be startled by him?
As we have stated publicly, the new rules of MLB are meant for “Reintroducing a more traditional look and feel to the game.” And if you weren’t the recipient of MLB’s Failson Fellowship, we would likely be letting you go. So give it your best shot, incorporate our feedback, and we’ll circle back on this in a week’s time.
The MLB Committee of Rule-Following and Failure Acknowledgment
Thank you for reading
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