June 27, 2014

An Open Letter to Lorne Michaels

Dear Mr. Michaels:

I have a great idea for an SNL sketch. First, let me give you some background. I played softball, but I don't remember much of it, which might be why my yellow-ball career ended in the seventh grade.

But, I have coached my fair share of softball. I'm not talking about "from the camp chair behind home plate" coaching (but I am good at that). I'm talking about on-the-field-giving-good-instruction coaching. And, if my D2's t-ball record is to be believed, I'm a pretty decent coach. Their record, BTW was 15-0. "Officially", we didn't keep score. (Suckers.)

I have also watched a great deal of softball as well. I do sit behind the home plate in my camp chair and pay attention to not only the game but also the officials (because someone has to point out their mistakes) and the coaches.

Most coaches are cliche talkers. For example, the third base coach, which is usually the head coach or manager because he or she can see the whole field and the runners will naturally have him or her in their sights. He will typically make a lot of gestures, touching his chest or his ears and slapping his arms and his neck, all the while hollering out things like Whatcha say now? Pick your pitch now. Do your thing now. Don't let the lady behind home plate shake ya, now.

Then the first base coach will say something like Here we go now in support of the head coach, then clap his or her hands and wait for the ball to be put into play.

On occasion, you'll have some coach who hollers out secret code numbers and the players have the numbers on their wrist bands so they know what to do. I think that's just weird.

But weirder still was the coach we encountered this season who was a walking, talking SNL skit.

She had a Dorthy Hamill hair cut and wore a visor that went under her hair so that at any given time, she looked like a nuclear bomb had exploded and her hair was the mushroom cloud. She wore athletic shoes with bobbie socks--you now those socks that had a little ball at heel of them? Those. She wore bermuda shorts with a collared shirt tucked it, and she had a watch on that she checked frequently as if all of her coaching abilities were displayed upon that sports watch. She was the third base coach and called all the shots. In your SNL skit, Mr. Michaels, she should be played by Kate McKinnon--both of them have the almost-crazy look in their eyes that just screams they might or might not know what they are doing.

For her first base coach, she selected a woman who "matched," as in her shoes matched her pants which matched her shirt which matched her bow which matched her hat which matched her purse which matched her socks. Probably they had worked the PTO bake sale table together and decided they'd make a good coaching team as well. The only absolute was that the first base coach knew very, very little about the game. In fact, probably the only thing she actually knows about the game is what she hears the first base coach hollering. She is wearing a matching jumpsuit, a wicker gardening visor and she may or may not carry her name-brand hand bag on her arm as she takes her place beside first base. She should be played by Aidy Bryant because, well, did you read her description?

While they were in the dugout and their team was on the field playing defense, the first base coach was sitting on the bench going through her handbag, I can only assume she was looking for her knitting needles to give her something to do. The head coach stood at the dug out and nodded her head when they got an out and shook it when the other team scored a run.

But, when their team was up to bat? Well, Mr. Michaels, here's where the funny happens.

The head coach, Kate's character, had obviously read a book about softball. I know this because instead of spouting sports cliches, she quoted the book when giving her team instructions.

Okay, number 3, you're up to bat now that means that when the pitcher releases the ball, it will travel at an undetermined speed through the air and across the plate. If it's between your knees and your chest and straight over the home plate, it's in the strike zone. At that time, you'll want to swing the bat straight through, twisting your body at your hips and extending your arms straight in front of you hoping to make contact. Be sure to watch the ball all the way through. If the ball is not in the strike zone, do not swing your bat, instead stand in your ready position and do nothing waiting on the umpire to call a ball. 

Then she'd clap her hands and mutter her obligatory cliche, something like "Drive it!"

And, while she was giving her instructional dissertation, she's pantomiming the actions she's talking about. When she says the pitcher releases the ball, she actually goes through the pitching motion.

But, that's not where the sketch ends. After the whole long thesis on being at bat, the Aidy Bryant character then repeats what she said last and adds her own two cents. Something along the lines of this:

Yes, drive it, number 3. Drive it all the way home and park it in the garage. Be sure to wear your seatbelt and if you get it parked in the garage, I'll make you some cupcakes and lemonade.

Then Aidy would not only clap, but dance as well. And adjust her hat. And dig her panties out of the pantsuit because you just cannot dance in a pantsuit.

The first time I saw this, I laughed, but not aloud, because clearly, no softball coaches could do this for every single batter, right? Wrong. This coaching duo did it every single time a player was up to bat. Every. Single. Time.

Okay, batter, that's you because you are holding the bat (pantomime holding a bat). You are going to wait for the ball to cross home plate (pantomime pitching) then you will keep your eye on the ball (pantomime intense staring) and when it's about thirty-two inches in front of you (pantomime a length) you'll slide one hand up on the bat so that you bunt it (pantomime bunting). Then the runner on third will race home (pantomime running) while you race to first (pantomime running) and you'll probably be out (pantomime an out call and crying), but we'll score a run (pantomime cheering)! Do your thing, #3!

Then Aidy would be aghast and say:

Do your thing? Oh dear. Don't do your thing right here in front of everyone. Maybe just hit the ball.  If you hit the ball and make it to me, I'll make you a bundt cake. Get it? Bunt and Bundt sound alike. I even have a coupon for a cake mix right here (digging in her purse). 

So, there ya go, Mr. Michaels. I hope to see this on the next season of SNL. If you do use it, I don't expect monetary compensation, but it would be cool for a little shout-out to my blog on air. And maybe you could buy some of my books and give them away. And then you could fly my hubby and I out to watch it live. And then you could put us up in a swanky Manhattan hotel. But, no monetary compensation ... unless you want to.

Have your people call mine, mmm-kay?


Heather Davis


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