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I got the job.
I am now vice president of player personnel and fireworks for the Brockton (Mass.) Rox of the Can-Am League.
I know nothing about baseball.
* * * * *
My caller ID screen says, "Got Me." Great technology there.
An unknown caller phoning me while I'm massively jammed at work.
I can't answer the phone right now; Oprah is about to give away some fancy stuff, live. The women are jumping up and down, I need to see this.
It's still ringing.
"Good afternoon, ESPN."
"I'm calling for Don Barone."
I didn't ask anyone to call me. Especially not while I'm watching several hundred women almost faint because Oprah just gave them a tube of lipstick.
"Who's calling?" I ask, remembering the kid in Buffalo I stiffed on the Jim Kelly card off eBay.
"Jim Lucas "
Who is that? Oh my God, he knows I've never seen "Star Wars" he wants his ticket money Spielberg out box-officed him.
" of the Brockton Rox. I'm looking for my new VP."
Oh crap, that must be me. The team read my column. The Brockton Rox Theo and uh oh. Problem.
"This is Don," I say while muting Oprah. First VP rule I'm going to lay down: NPCDO (No Phone Calls During Oprah).
"Don this is Jim Lucas, president of the Brockton Rox."
I should have faked a sick day. I think I still have four fakes left.
"Yes Mr. President er, Jim."
"So, Theo never called; we still have his cubicle with phone and Internet access available."
"Broadband or dial-up? Is eBay blocked?"
"I'll check. So, you want to be our VP?"
Oh no. I told my editor, Don't edit out the reference to tongue in cheek.
"Do you have baseball experience?"
"Don you there?"
"Ah I interviewed Eddie Plank. The Hall of Fame pitcher guy."
"The dead guy?"
Why does everyone get hung up on that?
"Do you wear shoes?"
First time I've ever been asked that in an interview.
"Why?" I always try to be open.
"Because Brockton is the shoe capital of the world."
And in another "I'm not Theo/separated at birth" moment, I say, "I actually do have Target shoes on."
"You're hired," says my new boss. I'm not sure how I'm going to explain this turn of events to my current several hundred ESPN bosses.
"Be honest, Don you ever had any baseball experience?"
Rustling papers, I say, "Ooops, got to go breaking news sort of stuff, Jim."
Maury just came on.
And the answer is, No.
But I am now the vice president of player personnel and fireworks for the Brockton Rox.
During Maury commercials I dial up Google to see just what this player personnel and fireworks thing is. Paul, the producer who has already applied for the bat-boy job, suggests, "Hey, VP, take out the fireworks."
Somehow, I'm the guy that puts the team on the field. I need to find players who will play for $750 a month, plus $18 a day per diem.
I pop three Advil and see that it gets worse.
My general manager is a 28-year-old Russian Lit major.
My third-base stop signal is now Nyet!!!!
My PR guy is on the speaker phone saying something about how GM Andy "wants to put Theo to bed." Popping two Zantac, I assume that's not a literal translation and more like Andy's desire to use the fireworks on me.
Four Tums later I make my first VP of player personnel and fireworks phone call:
"Hello seat C-24"
"Oh God "
I'm calling my alleged ex-National Security Agency Bigfoot/ghost hunter friend.
"Dude how do you get through this secure line "
"I need a favor."
That question always has untold pension implications for Den.
"I need you to move the Cosmos 1263 R/B satellite a few clicks north and geostation it over some Venezuelan villages "
From the silence, I'm assuming I've just exploded several treaties.
In a tiny, soon-to-have-no-pension voice I hear, "Dude, I can only talk about stuff I don't know." I wonder if someone from the Department of Defense is about to knock on my door.
"I need to scan the baseball fields there. I need low-level video of any left-handed pitchers who throw 90 miles per hour. Oh, and try to get the numbers on their backs."
From the dial tone, I'm assuming that the VP of player personnel and fireworks for the Brockton Rox has just hired his first scout
I call back.
"I need you to put some of that undercover narc tracking/listening stuff on someone's car."
Click. Dial tone. Left toggle hit S send.
" and I need you to do it soon I need an outfield."
"What the "
"Preferably a Russian-speaking outfield."
"I know I'm going to regret this but who's car would I do that to?"
"Peter Gammons "
Don Barone is a feature producer for ESPN and a regular contributor to Page 2. You can reach him at Don.Barone@espn.com.