[Camera: From the front seat of Bill’s car we see the mind-boggling traffic. It's mid-morning, but darkly overcast. “Waiting For The Sun,” by The Doors plays in the background.]
BILL (voice over): I was going to the worst place in the world, and I didn’t even know it yet. My destination was twenty miles down the river of I-75 that snaked through the city like a circuit cable … plugged straight into Mr. Baker. As I neared Great American Ball Park, everything was still. The maple trees, the front gates, even the ushers seemed like they had been changed into some kind of stone. It was unnatural, like a trance. It was perfectly silent. I began to think I was deaf – then the fog came suddenly, and I was blind, too.
[An ominous sound began to emanate from The Banks. It was the groaning or wailing of thousands of Reds fans. The chorus was unbearable. But it wasn’t a hostile chant or a war chant, but rather the sound of human anguish.]
BILL (voice over): I parked my car and entered the belly of the Great American beast, which smelled vaguely of John Morrell bacon. I rode the elevator to the third floor and quietly stepped out into the hallway. My heart was pounding. I reached the edge of George Grande’s office and took a quick glimpse inside. His back was turned and he was on the phone. He had been reading a well-worn copy of The Dictionary of Clichés.
Grande (to the phone): Did you see Sean Casey? He brought the house down!
BILL (voice over): I quickly moved forward but slipped on a trail of BBQ sauce and melted UDF ice cream that led to Jeff Brantley’s closed office door.
BILL (voice over): As I regained my balance, The Reporter confronted me. I sensed that he knew I was coming and had been looking for me.
The Reporter: I’ve covered Mr. Baker since he arrived here. I think you’ve come to take him away. I hope that isn’t true. We’re all his children. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet-warrior in a classic sense. He can be terrible and he can be right. He’s a great man. The other day he wanted to kill me. Why? Because I asked about the line-up. And he meant it. But you don’t judge Mr. Baker. You don’t judge Mr. Baker like ordinary men.
BILL: Where is he? I want to talk to him.
Reporter: Oh, you don’t talk to Mr. Baker. Well, you listen to him.
BILL (voice over): I realized the uselessness of engaging The Reporter and continued my terrifying journey. I turned a corner and approached a dark, narrow hallway. A faded picture of Josh Hamilton dangled on the wall. And then, I heard … music, classical music. It was coming from inside GM Walt Jocketty’s office. I desperately hoped to escape detection, but the door opened and the General Manager emerged and stared at me. He was holding a 1990s-era cell phone and a surfboard. His Hawaiian shirt only partially covered the small tattoo of Jim Edmonds on his arm.
Jocketty: Yeah, Wagner. It scares the heck out of the other GMs. My boys love it. Make it loud. [Enormous loudspeakers blast out the music.]
Jocketty: [Shouting over the music and taking a deep breath] You smell that? Do you smell that?
Jocketty: I love the smell of rotten on-base-percentage in the morning.
[Jocketty pauses, savoring the moment.]
Jocketty: If you’re here for Mr. Baker, his office is down there.
BILL (voice over): As the GM turned to return to his office, I offered the suggestion of trading for an established closer, someone pitching for a team out of contention and was at the end of a contract, like Houston Street or Jonathan Broxton. That would give Mr. Baker a closer with experience to use and he’d still have Sean Marshall as a flexible set-up guy. Maybe then, Mr. Baker would permit Aroldis Chapman to become a starter. Jocketty, after all, had tried this before with Ryan Madson. But the GM’s door slammed shut and I’m unsure if he heard me, over the Wagner. The force of the door closing caused the Hamilton picture to crash to the floor. I moved on.
[The hallway carpeting between the GM and Manager's office appears to never have been used.]
BILL (voice over): I moved cautiously toward the set of large red double doors at the end of the hallway. The official door sign said “Manager” but written in wild hand with white spray across both doors was: “Chapocalypse Now.”
[From behind the door.]
Mr. Baker: Come in, Bill.
BILL (voice over): I entered his large, austere office. A solitary picture of Ralph Garr adorned his massive desk. There were no computers, only an old Strat-o-Matic game set with original player names crossed off and the current Reds roster written in. Paul Janish’s card was crumpled and on the floor. Mr. Baker slowly rose from his seat as he spoke.
Mr. Baker: Have you ever considered real freedom? Freedom from the opinion of others.
[Mr. Baker does not wait for an answer.]
Mr. Baker: Bill, did they say why they wanted you to terminate my command?
BILL: Your methods are completely unsound.
Mr. Baker: Are you an assassin?
BILL: I’m a blogger.
Mr. Baker: You’re neither. You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.
[Jim Day and Thom Brennaman rush in and subdue Bill.]
[Camera: Fade to black.]
[Camera: Pans the underground batting cage. Large wall signs pronounce: "Free Swinging is Discipline!" "The First Pitch is the Last Pitch!" and "Sacrifice is No Sacrifice!" Bill is sitting on the floor, tied up, wearing Cubs wristbands against his will. A used Neifi Perez t-shirt serves as a gag. Thom Brennaman can be overheard telling Jim Day what a great and misunderstood man Jim Tressel was.]
[The Reporter arrives.]
The Reporter: Why would you want to kill a genius? The man is clear in his mind. He hates all this. He has wisdom, man. And Todd Frazier is busy rescuing children from a burning building again. He won’t be here to save you. So you’re gonna help Mr. Baker. You’ll see.
[Mr. Baker appears, standing over Bill. He is dressed in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform, with sharpened metal spikes and bloody wristbands. Mr. Baker drops something into Bill’s lap. Bill looks down and sees Sean Marshall’s severed right hand. Bill screams through the gag and struggles to jostle the hand away. He passes out from the thought of Marshall going on the 15-day DL and Logan Ondrusek pitching the eighth inning.]
[Camera: Fade to black.]
[Camera: Bill is awakened and finds himself seated at a large conference table across from Mr. Baker, who is now dressed in his former LA Dodgers players uniform, home whites. A Dodger-blue sweatband on his forehead. Marty Brennaman, in golf clothes, paces behind Mr. Baker holding a two-iron. Thom Brennaman walks exactly three steps behind his father.]
Mr. Baker (slowly): I’ve seen the horrors. I watched them walk Barry Bonds. My left-fielder, 232 times in one season. I’ve learned … to despise these … walks. You have no right to second-guess me. You have no right to judge me. Horror has a face. And you must make a friend of horror. Horror, moral terror and sacrifice bunts are your friends.
BILL (voice over): I sensed this might be my only chance to say something before he had Marty Brennaman kill me with the two-iron.
BILL: Hank Aaron told me that Aroldis Chapman reminds him of Warren Spahn!
[Mr. Baker considers this information for several minutes. He eventually nods his head, orders Jim Day to untie Bill's wrists and summons The Reporter. Marty looks impatient, mumbling about his tee-time.]
Mr. Baker to The Reporter: Hank Aaron once said that your best pitcher should be a starter. I’ve decided to make Aroldis Chapman the Reds #1 starting pitcher.
The Reporter: Brilliant!
Mr Baker: And I’m naming Johnny Cueto as our new closer!
[Bill's head slumps to the table.]
The Reporter: Brilliant!
Richard from Springboro: Brilliant!
Thom Brennaman: That’s the greatest decision in the history of history.
Marty Brennaman: Who’s paying for my golf round today?
[Camera: Fade to black.]
[Camera: Following Bill slowly walking away from GABP.]
BILL (voice over): I guess I should be grateful they released me. What had transpired was incomprehensible. The only reason I was certain it wasn’t a horrible dream was the stupid Cubs sweatband still on my wrist.
[Bill's on the sidewalk near the GABP office complex. He's shaking visibly as he walks to his car. “Ride of the Valkyries” blares from a speaker. As Bill drives away, Jeff Brantley leans out his office window, wipes something from his mouth and shouts.
Brantley: The way to I-75 … It’s right down Broadway! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
[Camera: Fade to black. “Ship of Fools” by The Doors plays in the background.]