Ed. Note: Yesterday, if you didn’t hear, came a report that Manny Machado was chillaxing at the Bears game with Jerry Reinsdorf. Of course, the report came from a barstool writer, and was surprisingly lacking both T and A, so perhaps it was just faux barstool, or something. Either way, it was quickly refuted, by the likes of Phil Rogers. (Note: If PHIL ROGERS is refuting your rumors, you have taken a far, far, far right turn away from all sense and logic.)
Or, maybe those rumors had some legs, just not in the way you thought they did ...
FADE IN ...
A somewhat stark room, occupied by a single, older man, sitting back and smoking a Partagas, sipping a Tom Collins.
A cell phone rings.
JERRY, an older man in his 80s, bespectacled, dressed comfortably as if ready to watch a sporting event, looks over at the illuminated screen sitting on his armrest.
JERRY: Hmm ... “unknown caller” ... ah, what the hell ...
Jerry picks up his phone, punches and swipes a couple of times at the “answer” button, with mild annoyance.
JERRY: Hello, this is Jerry.
A somewhat faint voice of MANNY emerges from the speaker, a bit tentatively, speaking with measured politeness.
MANNY: Mr. ... Mr. Reinsdorf?
Jerry feels immediate regret for answering a call from another fan-expert who somehow lucked into his cell phone number.
JERRY: Yes, what is it?
MANNY: Mr. Reinsdorf, is that you?
Jerry taps ash off of his Partagas, taking a deep whiff of its buttery smoke, and prepares to hang up.
MANNY: It’s me, Mr. Reinsdorf ... MANNY!
JERRY: Manny who?
MANNY: Manny Machado. We met last week?
JERRY: Manny Machado?
MANNY: Yes, Mr. Reinsdorf. Remember, you gave me your business card and said to call any time, you could get me a real nice real estate deal when I move to Chicago.
JERRY: Yes, yes, Manny —
MANNY: — and you gave me a Welcome Wagon package, discounts on dry cleaning, Sam’s Club, 2-for-1 Bulls tickets —
JERRY: — yes, yes, Manny, of course, of course. So great to hear from you.
A pause. Neither man seems to know what to say. Both resume speaking at the same time.
JERRY: So ... have you made a decision? / MANNY: So ... I’m in town!
JERRY and MANNY [in unison]: Wait, what?
MANNY: I’m in town!
JERRY: You’re in ... Chicago? Was I supposed to know this? Did you call Rick or Kenny?
MANNY: No, no, Mr. Reinsdorf. I just thought, “what the hell, Manny, you’re just sitting around the house getting all bored and itchy.” I went back to Philadelphia, and yeah, it sucks. Oh, perdoname, Mr. Reinsdorf, my language. I didn’t like it, Philly, no good. People are always shouting at you.
JERRY: So, you just flew to Chicago from Miami?
MANNY: Yeah, what the heck, right? [MANNY laughs] So, you busy? What’s up?
JERRY: Manny, where are you?
MANNY: Pay phone at O’Hare. Wait, hold on, got to drop some more coins in ...
JERRY: Let my driver come and get you. [Laughs] You’re crazy.
MANNY: No, no, I got a nice Ford Focus I rented. I want to give it a spin, air it out a little. Where can I meet you?
JERRY: [Somewhat awkwardly] Uh, well, I was just getting ready to watch the playoff game ...
MANNY: You’re watching the World Series again? Mr. Reinsdorf, you really are a big Doyers fan!
JERRY: No, no, Manny, it’s the Bears. The Bears are playing in the playoffs today. [Laughs] They’re playing Philadelphia, wouldn’t you know. Eagles fans are probably already yelling at their TVs.
Both men laugh.
MANNY: OK then, order me some hot dog and I’ll punch in fútbol to my GPS and come see you! [Hangs up]
JERRY: Wait! Manny!
The phone line is dead.
JERRY: Oh, dear. This isn’t good. Gotta call Nightengale to get some spin out on this ...
The NFL playoff game has begun, a chilly, low-scoring affair. The sounds of the game are clear and distinct, but muted, almost quiet. As we widen on the scene, we see JERRY behind glass, in an empty stadium.
JERRY’s phone rings, again. “Unknown caller” comes up, although to JERRY, the number seems recognizable enough to take another gamble.
JERRY: Uh ... hello?
The voice on the other line is barely audible, behind thumping sounds of ample downtime, between-play noisemaking from the PA and fans at Solider Field.
MANNY: Mr. Reinsdorf! Where are you? I cannot find you here!
JERRY: Manny! [To self: Thank god.] You didn’t let me finish! I’m not at the football game! I’d never watch a game with those animals. Football? C’mon. You know I’m a genteel guy. Plus, I can’t smoke my stogie at Soldier Field, even in the luxury boxes.
JERRY: Nevermind. Manny, I’m at the baseball park. I like to open it up for a big game, just sit here in the owner’s box, crack a cold one, open up the ChiSox Bar & Grill and fire up some dogs. Sometimes I put the game on the jumbo screen in the outfield. Best seat in the house!
JERRY: Nevermind, let me get you some directions. How’s the Focus running? ...
FADE OUT ...
JERRY’s cell phone rings, again, “unknown caller.” He’s into his third hot dog and second beer already, hands soiled, but he’s feeling just loopy enough to not think twice about answering without wiping his hands.
JERRY: Yo, Jerry.
MANNY [with jet-lagged urgency]: Mr. Reinsdorf, I’m here! At the ballpark! But it’s locked!
JERRY: Which gate are you at? I’ll come let you in.
MANNY: Uh ... Gate 3?
JERRY: No, no, Manny, walk down to Gate 4, that’s the player’s entrance you’ll come in when you play here. Remember when you came and visited? You saw that fella in the parking lot snapping pictures of you as you were walking in?
MANNY: Sí, Bruges Lavine ...
JERRY: Sí, Bruges Lavine ... yeah ... anyway, you can see our World Series trophy again! OK, so walk down to that gate and I’ll come unlock the door!
MANNY: OK, Mr. Reinsdorf.
Up in JERRY’s luxury box, the smell of red hots with mustard, lightly-buttered and toasted buns, light cigar smoke, iced beer and crisp Chicago air wafts through the proceedings, as the “defensive battle” by the lake lingers on ...
MANNY: I really like it here in the Windy City, Mr. Reinsdorf.
JERRY: Uh, I’m from Brooklyn, Manny, but we don’t really call it the “Windy City” here.
MANNY: Oh. Well, I like Chi-town a lot, anyway ...
JERRY: Uh ...
MANNY: No Chi-town either? OK. “Chicago.”
Game continues on in the background, on the big screen. Neither man is paying much attention, because, well, it’s
fútbol football ...
JERRY: So, should I call Rick, or Kenny?
MANNY: If you want. I just like hanging with you, Mr. Reinsdorf ...
Reinsdorf smiles. These are the exact same words Carlos Boozer and Adam Dunn once said to him.
JERRY: How about your compadre Yonder? ¿Sí o no?
MANNY: Nah ... I love the dude, but c’mon, he’s familia. This is business!
Both men laugh.
JERRY: I like this kind of “business.” Fills the stomach. Keeps the taste buds happy. Another dog?
The fútbol game ends, and Jerry is smart to take out his Jumbotron remote and snap the game off before the boos rain down in Philadelphiaesque fashion.
JERRY [digesting]: So ... business?
MANNY: Mr. Reinsdorf, you know I want to come here.
JERRY [tentatively]: Manny, you know that we lost 100 games last year? And even with you, we’re lucky to be .500 this year?
MANNY: Uh, you know I played in Baltimore last year, right? They lost like 100 games before they even traded me!
Both men laugh.
JERRY [still tentative]: Uh, you know that the only way I can pay you $300 million is if we defer salary to, like your great-great-grandchildren, right?
MANNY: Por supuesto, sí. I know. Sir, no bull, I’m a simple guy. My agent, I love him, but c’mon, how many millions do I need now? I can afford to get a Ford Focus, any color. Leather seats. Automatic windows. It’s cool. I get my Focus, I’m like a cerdo in slop.
JERRY: Oh, that is a relief.
MANNY: You know what I want?
JERRY: To win?
MANNY: Uh ... yeah, to win. But what else I want?
JERRY: A lotta dough?
MANNY: Sí. What I think would be cool is this: I want my paycheck to read — you pay your people bimonthly, sí?
MANNY: OK, I want my paychecks to say $1,000,000 every time. No more, no less. That would be so cool. Not gross. I mean, after social security, after taxes, after 401(k) — you offer a company match?
JERRY: Yes, up to 5% of pay.
MANNY: ¡Muy generoso! OK, so after all the subtractions, make it a million. I want that 26 times a year. The first one, díos mio, I might not even cash it. So, whatever it takes, more than $26 million a year, to make the check come out that way, I’m in.
JERRY: That’s it?
MANNY: Sure. Incentives, opt-outs, length, whatever, leave that to my agent and your guys. It doesn’t matter. I love Chicago. You guys were great. No questions about “Johnny Hustle” like in New York. No “we gotta fit you in the budget and play you some at first base” like L.A. No, “here, taste this grease meat sammich and if you make a face I’m gonna boo you” like in Philly. Chicago is real people. So am I.
JERRY: You’re just real people who’s a great enough baseball player to cash a million dollar check every two weeks, ¿que no?
JERRY: So ... we have a deal?
MANNY: We do.
JERRY and MANNY [in unison]: Let’s call ... BARSTOOL!