Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Updated: October 19, 11:59 AM ET
What, Buckner wasn't available?
By Jim Caple
The human body is roughly 60 percent water, though in my case, it's more like 48 percent water and 12 percent diet soda. So obviously, I like soft drinks, but I gotta ask: Could advertising executives have made a more unfortunate choice of players for a postseason commercial than A-Rod and Vladimir Guerrero?
You know the ad I'm talking about -- the one in which A-Rod and Vlad meet on a dark sandlot and take turns flipping the ball up and hitting it to the moon. A-Rod and Vlad? What, Bill Buckner and Calvin Schiraldi weren't available? A-Rod and Vlad? What, were those execs trying to get kids to start drinking milk?
Is the person who picked those two the same guy who keeps giving Ben Affleck movie roles? I kept waiting for the commercial to show them take turns hitting double-play grounders.
A-Rod and Vlad were a combined 9-for-53 (.170) with no home runs and one RBI in the postseason. They hit nine balls out of the infield and combined for one extra-base hit -- and that was when Vlad dropped an A-Rod fly ball at the wall for a double. A-Rod was 2-for-15 in the division series, made a costly error and grounded into a rally-crippling double play in the final inning of the series. Vlad was 1-for-20 in the ALCS and ran out his grounders as though his shoes didn't fit.
Rodriguez tried to defuse the criticism by acknowledging he played "like a dog" but this wound up backfiring when Scooby Doo, Snoopy and Marmaduke sued him for slander.
I don't know whether the commercial will continue to run during the World Series. If not, perhaps another ad could be shot, substituting in some people who might have a little more autumn credibility. In addition to Buckner and Tony Graffanino, there are:
Don Denkinger and Doug Eddings. They could gather on a dark infield and take turns missing obvious umpiring calls.
Jose Mesa and Mitch Williams. They could gather on a dark mound and take turns serving up World Series-losing hits.
Bobby Cox, Grady Little and Tony La Russa. The three could gather in a dark dugout and take turns whining about the umpires, calling in the wrong reliever and leaving Pedro in too long.
Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Giambi. They could gather in a dark laboratory and take turns applying the Cream and the Clear.
And there's no need to limit this to baseball -- there are plenty of other autumn heroes available. How about John Kerry and Michael Dukakis in a dark convention hall, taking turns delivering passionless, monotone campaign speeches. Or Robert Wuhl and Robert Urich's body together in a dark studio taking turns making crappy new TV shows for the fall season.
There is a way, of course, that the A-Rod/Vlad commercial can be salvaged. All they need do is to digitally alter the video so that we see the rival company's soft drink in their hands. And then they can film an additional scene to tack on at the end: The camera pulls back to show Derek Jeter shaking his head in disgust and drinking the soft drink.
Jim Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His first book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," is on sale at bookstores nationwide. It can also be ordered through his Web site, Jimcaple.com.