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Best Screenplay Oscar Goes To: Four Men and a Jersey PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 14 April 2008 11:54

Red SoxThere are no Oscars for Major League Baseball. Nothing like the studio wars in the ‘30s and ‘40s when the likes of MGM and Warner Brothers vied for the theater going public. But, baseball has a rivalry like no other that could come out of Hollywood central casting in the Red Sox and Yankees.

Few, if any, haven’t heard the news that a construction worker placed a David Ortiz Red Sox jersey in a cement slab at new Yankee Stadium in an attempt to “curse” the Yankees. This act would have been a Rembrandt if not for the fact that the construction worker tipped off some fellow workers, who then ratted him out. If he had taken a picture of the foul deed, and published the news years later, it would have been one of those “for the ages” acts. Instead, it’s like shooting the nose off the Sphinx – a bit of folklore that would mark yet another superstition in a long line of great ones in baseball, but not up to the standards that would have made it one for the ages.

Now, before Yankee fans go off the deep end, let’s get something straight: I’m all for anything that makes for great theater. The Billy Goat, the Curse of the Bambino, and other acts of superstition add incredible color to the game. If I didn’t know better, the Yankees, Red Sox, and MLB got together with PR and said, “Have we got a story line for you!”

Vince McMahon and WWE couldn’t make this stuff up. At least we got Hank Steinbrenner and the construction worker, Gino Castignoli on record before the jersey was dug up. As reported by the NY Post:

"I hope his coworkers kick the s- - - out of him," said George's boy, who now runs the team with his brother Hal.

Hank put no stock in talk of curses or in Castignoli's cruel bid to hex the Yankees' new $1.3 billion home.

A buried jersey, he reassured worried fans, means nothing.

"It's a bunch of bull- - - -," Hank said.

But Castignoli scoffed at the top Yankee honcho's ready dismissal.

"So, then, why is he making such a big stink about it?" asked the would-be hexer. "If it's no big deal, why not let it lay? Apparently, it's bothering him.

"Tell Hank he can come meet me if he wants to try - and tell him to bring [catcher Jorge] Posada, because he's the one Yankee I can't stand."

Are you kidding me? This is the stuff of Best Screenplay. I don’t know what’s better, Hank saying that he hoped that his coworkers kick the s- - - out of him, or the fact that Castignoli said to Hank, he can come meet with him if he wants to try. Throwing in Posada for good measure was the pièce de résistance.

And then, to have the press come down while the Yankees take jackhammers to the slab, and hold up the Ortiz jersey had all the makings of Geraldo Rivera digging into Al Capone’s vault. Lonn Trost might be up for best supporting actor for saying that they might sue Castignoli for the $300,000 it took to dig up the sacrilegious garment. Right, Lonn. Yes, I’m sure that the jersey was creating structural integrity issues to the new ballpark. As reported by The AP:

"We will take appropriate action since fortunately we do know the name of the individual," he said.

A spokesman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said Sunday he did not know whether any criminal charges might apply.

"It's typical Yankees," Castignoli told the Boston Herald on Monday. "It's not like I snuck in there. It didn't do any structural damage. I didn't put anyone in harm's way."

Oh, I do so hope they sue. The courtroom proceedings will add to the story. The Pedro-throwing-Zimmer-to-the-ground event ain’t go nothing up on this. If the Red Sox pick up the legal tab for Castignoli it will be priceless. One more chapter in a long line of Yankee/Red Sox stories. Maybe Castignoli should be the next President of Red Sox Nation. He fell in love with the Red Sox in ’75 after idolizing Jim Rice? Ya, gotta be kiddin’ me! Solid gold, baby! At the very least, the guy will never have to spend a cent buying beer at Fenway. He’s a hero to the Red Sox faithful. How long will it be before we have “Gino Castignoli Day at Fenway”?

Yankees President Randy Levine said that jersey would be cleaned up and auctioned off for charity via the Jimmy Fund. Bravo for the Yankees. Levine got his line in the script right, as well.

"Hopefully the Jimmy Fund will auction it off and we'll take the act that was a very, very bad act and turn it into something beautiful," he said.

“Very, very bad?” Now, the whole script is up for best comedy

Look, baseball needs this stuff. It’s part of its DNA. The more the merrier, I say. You could do this at the new Twins stadium, but really… it lacks the drama. To all you construction workers building new Yankee Stadium, or doing work on the renovation at Fenway Park, here’s a suggestion… when you do something like this, try and be more secretive. You’ll be warm in knowing that you’ve added to baseball’s great colorful history.

To Hank, Randy, Lonn, and Castignoli, thanks for playing along. You nailed your lines perfectly. That’s a wrap!

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Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

 
 
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