'A Bud Selig Christmas Carol,' Stave One: Marge Schott's Ghost
The Christmas season means it's time for Christmas Carols and Christmas stories. One of my personal favorites has always been Charles' Dickens A Christmas Carol. Accordingly, this is part one of Bud Selig's Christmas Carol.
Marge Schott was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. The register of her burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Bud Selig signed it. And Selig's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he put his hand to.
Old Schottzie was dead as a doornail.
Selig and Schott were partners in collusion for I don't know how many years. They were the most tight-fisted owners in baseball, even attempting to withhold money from players on the disabled list. The day that Marge died, Selig went to the funeral a happy man because he'd made extra money on the league's TV deal.
The mention of Marge Schott's funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marge Schott was dead. This must be distinctly understood. If we were not perfectly convinced that Nathan Petrelli ... wait a minute, that guy dies like twice a season. Heroes sucks. Forget I said that. Just know that Marge Schott was really, really dead, OK? OK.
Anyway, Selig had become Commissioner some time before the death of his old partner in crime, but he never changed. He catered to baseball's largest franchises and squeezed pennies together tight enough to create sparks to start a fire. He feared innovation, for innovation scared the other old dinosaurs that ruled baseball. Schott would've hated the internet. He knew it.
The night before Game 5 of the World Series, Selig sat in his hotel suite counting the TV revenue with his sliderule. The door was left open just a crack so that he could ensure that the housekeeper didn't steal any of his belongings. Why he thought the housekeeper would want any of his old man things was beyond me and the housekeeper, but that's neither here nor there. His nephew, who was happening down the hall in a bit of plot contrivance at that very second, saw the open door as a chance to talk to his crotchety old uncle about the ongoing series.
"What a great World Series, uncle! Hopefully the heavens spare us of the rain tonight!" he cried out cheerfully.
"Bah!" said Selig, "Humbug!"
"The World Series a humbug, Uncle Bud? Surely you don't mean that!"
"I do! A great World Series? The Rays and Phillies are in it! Where are my Yankees or Red Sox or Mets? But what do you care about TV ratings? You're poor enough!"
"What!" exclaimed his nephew, "But the Rays are exciting! The Phillies have great players like Chase Utley and Cole Hamels! What reason do you have to be morose? You're rich enough!"
Selig stared blankly and unable to think of a response grunted, "Bah! Humbug!"
His nephew looked for a second to argue with him, but instead walked out of the suite. Selig himself spent more time pouring over the terrible TV ratings. He glared grumpily out the window at the collecting storm clouds, gathered his papers into a briefcase, and left his hotel suite.
As Selig approached his limosine, a curious thing happened. There was nothing particular about the handles on the door of his limo, except that they were kind of big. Bud had seen the handle time and time again over all the years of his commissioner-ship. But on this day, it was not a door handle. It was Marge Schott's face. It wasn't a shadow or a reflection of his body guard that skimmed the low end of the gene pool, it was actually Marge Schott's face. Selig stared at it for a second, and it was door handle again.
Selig was momentarily stunned by the sight. For a half second, he expected to open the door to his limo and find Marge in the back seat, smoking a cigarette. He even thought he saw a curl of smoke escape when he opened the door but to his relief, the back seat was empty. When he arrived at Citizens Bank Park, he carefully searched his suite, but found nothing out of the ordinary. He sat down in his box. The weather was truly awful. It was cold and had already started to rain. Selig knew he was going to have to make a decision. He hated making decisions.
Suddenly, Selig felt the stadium rumble. He heard the elevator in the Commissioner's suite woosh down the shaft, then back up. It dinged. A loud clanging noise came from within the elevator. It began to move towards him.
"HUMBUG!" shouted Selig, "I REFUSE TO BELIEVE IT!"
"Oh, you'd better believe it, Buddy Boy," a familiar, husky voice rasped.
"No! It can't be! I know you! You're ... you're Marge Schott's ghost!"
"As big as life and twice as dead, sugar." Her appearance hadn't changed one bit. The wrinkled, grouchy visage sneered at him from behind a giant pair of glasses. Her cracked lips drew from a cigarette, while the smoke mingled oddly with her ethereal body.
"What do you want with me?" Selig quaked.
A ridiculous conversation ensued about how Selig feared that Marge's ghost was a figment of his imagination, or rather, a figment of a bad piece of cheese. Eventually, Selig realized that even the most devious piece of cheese wouldn't be evil enough to foist the ghost of Marge Schott upon him and the conversation moved forward.
"What are you doing here? Why have you come, of all people, to me?" Selig asked the ghost.
"Like all miserable spirits, I have been condemned to walk the earth and see the misery that I caused. I'm forced to see former Reds fans with the hope and love of baseball crushed out of them. Really, it's a miserable existence even for an evil old hag like me. "
"And the chains?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the ghost of Schott. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"
"Your chains are no different!" the ghost rasped. "In fact, yours have only grown in the years since my death."
"Is there nothing you can do to help me?!?" Selig was visibly shaken now.
"I have sat beside you invisible many nights before now," the ghost said, clearly alarming Selig. "And tonight, I have been made visible as it is part of my penance to warn you of your only hope of escaping my fate, Alan. Tonight you will be haunted by three spirits."
"That's my hope of escape?"
"Life's a b*tch, but hey, so is death," rasped Schott, suddenly breaking Dickensian character.
"I'd really rather not see any more ghosts tonight."
"Without their visits, you're gonna wear these chains just like me. But they won't make you chain smoke. Actually, they'd make me stop if they knew how much I enjoyed it. But yeah, hon, three ghosts. The first one will come when the rain begins to fall during the game."
The ghost clanged her chains over to the elevator and left Selig. He tried to say, "Humbug!" but stopped and slumped into his seat, awaiting both the game and his fate.