Commentary

'Fever Pitch 2: The Unnatural'

Originally Published: July 31, 2009
By Jim Caple | Page 2

SCENE 1

[As our sequel opens, we see BEN and LINDSEY WRIGHTMAN at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game against the Rangers in early June. BEN has gained weight since the first movie ended, and he also has become somewhat obnoxious. But overall, life is good. He and LINDSEY have been happily married for four years and they have two outrageously cute daughters: 4-year-old MANNY and 8-month-old YOUKALIS. More importantly, the Red Sox have won two World Series, are in first place, and through the miracle of Hollywood logic, BEN now somehow has four season tickets behind the dugout on a teacher's salary. He is holding YOUKALIS in his lap and spoon-feeding her Dippin' Dots.

BEN: You know what I love, Lindsey? Imagining what life will be like for our girls when they're grown up. Take ice cream. It won't be like the stuff we grew up with. This is the ice cream of the future. When Manny and Youkalis are adults, everyone will be eating Dippin' Dots ice cream.

[Shot of DAVID ORTIZ striking out and dropping his average to .188. BEN winces and throws the Dippin' Dots to the ground in disgust. Their infant daughter YOUKALIS begins to cry.]

20th Century FoxTwo World Series titles later, Ben and Lindsey are still irrepressibly annoying.

LINDSEY: Now, look what you've done, Ben -- you made her cry! Why do you still get so upset? The Red Sox have won two world championships in the past five years. I don't understand -- why isn't that good enough? Why doesn't that satisfy you?

BEN: It's not because of me -- it's because of our daughter Youkalis. Do you realize the Red Sox haven't won a World Series in her lifetime?

[As ORTIZ heads back to the dugout, we hear a couple of fans shouting "You'll get him next time!" and "We still love you, Papi!" But we also hear a smattering of -- gasp! -- boos for the once-beloved slugger. Among them, we hear:

HECKLER 1: Get some new eye drops!

HECKLER 2: Get some new eyes!

HECKLER 3: Time to get back on the juice, Ortiz!

[At the last line, BEN snaps his head around to search for the fan who said it. As hard as he looks, however, he can't see who it was. He turns back to LINDSEY]

BEN: They oughta throw that guy out, Lindsey. Did you hear what he said? That Papi should get back on the juice. Like he thinks he took steroids.

LINDSEY: You mean you don't think he did?

BEN: Of course not. He's Big Papi. He wouldn't do that. He's not a Yankee. He's not A-Rod.

[LINDSEY is about to say something, thinks better of it and bites her tongue.]

BEN: What?

LINDSEY: I didn't say anything.

BEN: I know. But you were going to say something. What was it?

LINDSEY: Nothing.

BEN: It's not about Papi, is it? You don't agree with that jerk, do you? You don't think Ortiz took steroids?

LINDSEY: [Sarcastically] Oh no. Of course not. Why would I think that? Just because he was best friends with Manny Ramirez. Just because he added about 30 pounds. Just because he went from never hitting more than 20 home runs in Minnesota to hitting 54 here. You're right. Why would I possibly think he might be on steroids?

BEN: That's right! There isn't any reason. Oh, can you watch the kids for a second? I want to go get a Papelbon replica Red Sox onesie for Youkalis.

LINDSEY: She already has one.

BEN: Not a road alternate onesie.

SCENE 2

20th Century Fox"Honey, there are countless plausible reasons why Papi could've unknowingly tested positive."

[The July 30 game between the Red Sox and Athletics in Boston. BEN, LINDSEY and the kids are back in their seats. BEN is not happy. The Red Sox have stumbled in the second half and fallen to 2½ games behind the Yankees. Worse, he has just heard the New York Times report that ORTIZ was on the list of players who tested positive for a performance enhancers in 2003. His expression is roughly equal to the one he had in the original movie when he realized that losses affected him more than the players.]

BEN: I can't believe it.

LINDSEY: I know how you feel, honey, but you really should have suspected before. All the signs were there.

BEN: No, I mean, I can't believe it, as in I don't believe it. There has to be a mistake. Big Papi wouldn't take steroids. He just wouldn't. He said that anyone caught taking steroids should be banned for life, and why would he say that if he had ever taken them? I bet it was accidental. Yeah, that's probably what happened. He probably got a bad nutritional supplement from a health store in the Dominican Republic. You know they're not subject to the same requirements for ingredients as in America. They're like Fenway Franks -- they can put anything into them.

LINDSEY: Whatever.

BEN: Or maybe Papi thought he was taking flaxseed oil. Or B-12. Or he took bad Andro laced with Winstrol. Or maybe he got it from kissing someone who had it on her lips. Or a vanishing twin that died in utero but passed extra testosterone on to him. I bet it was something like that.

LINDSEY: Right.

BEN: Plus, that test was in 2003. It's not like he tested positive in 2004. So even if he did take steroids -- which he didn't! -- it doesn't taint the 2004 World Series.

LINDSEY: Not at all.

BEN: Or 2007.

LINDSEY: Nope.

BEN: And certainly not this year.

LINDSEY: That's right.

BEN: Because if I found out those World Series were illegitimate, that the hero of those playoff comebacks was taking a banned substance, it would just crush me. If you can't trust Papi, who can we trust? I would have to sell my season tickets, get rid of all my Red Sox memorabilia and turn my back on the team.

LINDSEY: [With a hopeful tone.] Really? You're serious? You would really give up on the Sox?

BEN: I would have to, wouldn't I? Because there is no way we could bring up our daughters to root for cheats. As parents, it would be our responsibility. And as a teacher, too. You have to set a moral example.

LINDSEY: That's true.

BEN: It's the principle. Some things are just more important than baseball. Like personal integrity. Sometimes you just have to take a stand. I just wish his name had been leaked before we got the girls the matching Big Papi tattoos before the game.

LINDSEY: It's OK, they'll wash off.

BEN: Not these. They're real tattoos.

LINDSEY: [Double take.] Well, I'm just glad to hear you say that you're willing to give up on the team. Because last week, someone paid $100,000 for four box seats on Craigslist, and our seats are better than his. Do you know what we could do with that kind of money? We could move out of the apartment and buy a house in a nice neighborhood with a good school system for the girls. We could even put away some money for their college education.

PA ANNOUNCER: Now batting … No. 34, David Ortiz.

[BEN looks up to scoreboard. He thinks about all the wonderful memories he has of Ortiz, how good the player made him feel. But he also thinks about how Ortiz might have cheated to get all those big hits. He thinks about how that makes it all seem like a lie. He thinks about what other names might be on that list. He also sees how Ortiz is batting only .226. He abruptly grabs his daughters and stands up.]

BEN: You know, screw it. We should have sold these seats a long time ago. In fact, let's go now. I don't want to expose our daughters to this sham for a minute longer. Big Papi, my a--! He's a cheat and a liar and you can't trust him, and besides, he can't get around on a fastball anymore.

[They get up from their seats and make their way up the aisle. They are walking through the crowded concourse and about to leave the park when BEN hears a loud crack of the bat. With his youngest daughter riding piggyback, BEN turns around and bolts back toward his seat. The crowd is too thick, however, so he ducks around the other way and races through the concourses, fighting desperately to find a view of the field in a scene that echoes LINDSEY'S dash across the field in the original film. He gets back into the stands just in time to see ORTIZ touching home plate and pointing to the sky following a three-run, 420-foot homer into the right-center-field bleachers to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. He joins all the fans in a thunderous standing ovation.]

BEN: Papi! Papi! Papi! You da man! You da man! [He kisses YOUKALIS on the forehead.] Oh, my God -- did you see that, Youkalis? David Ortiz is the greatest clutch hitter of all time! We are not worthy! We are not worthy! Take that, New York Times! Take THAT!!!!

[LINDSEY makes her way to BEN's side.]

BEN: You missed it, Lindsey! Papi hit a three-run homer! Can you believe it? That man is sooooo clutch. We're lucky, Lindsay, you know that? We've got two smart, beautiful daughters and we live in Boston, where we have great role models for the girls like Big Papi.

[LINDSEY shakes her head.]

BEN: Plus, we have the Patriots! And you know those guys aren't on steroids, either!

[LINDSEY is about to say something but she thinks better of it and bites her tongue again as we FADE OUT.]

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com