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Come On, Al, Can’t You Take a Joke?

“Hello, operator? Get me Al Campanis, the head honcho of the Dodgers. Don’t tell him who’s calling. No, I don’t want to surprise him, I just want him to take the call.

“Hello, Al? Hey, the Chief, El Heffy, Hail to the Chief. Dum-dum-da-dum-da-da-da-da-da-da-dum-dum!

“How’s the old front office, Jefe ? The old pennant-winners, eh? What a job you’re doing there, Chief. Everybody’s talking.

“What? No, I haven’t changed my mind. I always knew you guys had it in you. What do you mean, why didn’t I write that way? Chief, what’s a few adjectives here and there among friends? I mean, come on.

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“Chief, I got to thinking. What with the playoffs and the World Series coming up, how’s the old ticket situation? Eh? I was thinking maybe 10 or so along the third-base line and a dozen behind home plate for openers. Front row. I got friends in Hollywood. My people like to be seen. I mean, what are we, Bob Uecker?

“What do you mean, how can I be asking for World Series tickets for a team I said couldn’t pick up a rolling ball? Chief, where’s your sense of humor? Now, about those tickets . . . Are we talking sense of humor here or what?

“What? How can I want to see a Dodger team in a World Series that doesn’t have Garvey, Lopes and Cey on it? Chief, who are they?

“All right, all right, listen. I know I said those things. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Look, Al, if you got rid of Garvey, Cey and Lopes and Baker, that should be good enough for me, right? I mean, who am I, Branch Rickey? Al, in addition to those on the first-base side, I’ll want some in the shade. Will a check be all right?

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“What? Aren’t I afraid those guys who can only hit home runs in the rarefied atmosphere of Albuquerque will blow it? How can I have faith in guys I said couldn’t hit home runs at sea level? Al, be serious. What am I, a meteorologist? Do I look like a guy who knows anything about isobars, barometric pressures, inches of mercury? Now, let’s get back to the subject, which is World Series tickets.

“Al, I never said you traded the pennant to Chicago and San Diego. What I said was, wasn’t it a lousy stinking coincidence that Ron Cey’s and Garvey’s teams were in the playoffs last year and yours wasn’t. I was as surprised as you were. Not as surprised as Peter O’Malley was, but surprised.

“Tickets aren’t going to be hard to get are they, Al?

“What do you mean you have to take care of your friends first? Al, look at it this way: I’m just protecting the fans’ interest. Keeping you on your toes.

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“What? They take care of their on interests? Come on, Al. You know the L.A. fans. Go home in the seventh inning. Go out for a hot dog with the bases loaded and the game on the line. You know how they are. They’ll say, ‘Well, gee, the poor fellows are trying.’ In New York, the fans’ll say, ‘Who told you you were a pitcher, ya dummy.’

“Look at it another way: You ever heard an L.A. crowd boo? Somebody’s got to stick up for them, Al. They just don’t understand the situation. They’ll boo a quarterback but give a standing ovation to a pitcher who goes an inning and a half.

“You think they don’t need education? They’re like a journalist who’ll take a second carbon. They forgive, Al. Forgiveness and understanding just don’t have any place in baseball, Al. You know that. You ever forgive the guy who sold you Dave Goltz?

“Look, Al, I know your first baseman has a natural home run stroke. Who was it pointed out that every fifth hit he had was a home run? Ask yourself that. What? You say then I added that on his good months this came to two home runs. Chief, that wasn’t me. That was Don Rickles.

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“What do you mean, sometimes it’s hard to tell us apart? Who was it told the fans you had the greatest double-play combination in the history of baseball? No, I did not say it was your No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, I meant in the field.

“Al, what it boils down to is, am I going to get the tickets or not? Enough of this silly lovemaking, let’s get to business. What? You’ve already committed your share?

“OK, wise guy. You asked for it. You think you can win the pennant with that bunch of humpties? If you can get in the World Series I can get in the House of Lords. Tell me, was Chaplin ever funnier than your infield? Mack Sennett would have paid a fortune for their routines.

“Where’d you get that lineup anyway, out of the Yellow Pages? Where did they get their gloves at, a foundry?

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“I’ll tell you one thing: Branch Rickey would be ashamed to put that team on a field. It looks like it belongs at Lourdes, not Shea Stadium. Can’t you tell a ballplayer from a headwaiter? Why’d you pick Albuquerque for a farm? The Matterhorn taken, was it? All you can learn at 5,000 feet is how to yodel. Tell me, does your team play with brooms in their hats?

“Keep your World Series tickets. It’s going to be played in New York, anyway. That’s a team that was put together. Tell me, does it bother you that Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez all grew up around here? Couldn’t use ‘em, could you?

“No tickets, eh? All right, no more Mr. Nice Guy!”


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