1pm EST – Captain Jack Sparrow Field – Estherville, IA
**Jeremiah Graves enters the room and walks to the podium amidst a hoard of media members and photographers.**
Graves: Good afternoon…I’ve called this press conference to answer a few lingering questions I’ve been getting from the media since the end of last night’s game. First and foremost, I want to congratulate Jay Christiansen and J’s Team. Those boys played one helluva game and deserved every bit of that win.
Jay Mariotti: You sound awfully upbeat for a guy who’s been upset from winning the league championship on numerous occasions. Could one say that you’re getting used to these late-season upsets and you’re okay with the loss?
Graves: No, Mariotti, I’m not okay with the loss, but what am I going to do? Jay had the tiebreaker thanks to Soriano’s lead-off bomb in the Cubbies game. You take away that home run and I’m in the championship, but clearly it wasn’t meant to be.
Tracy Ringolsby: So what do you think cost the Genies the win last week?
Graves: I don’t want to blame it on any one thing or any one player, but if I had to point at a few things that tripped us up…I’d say the screwy weather definitely played a big role…on both teams, for that matter. On Thursday I only had three players going because of off-days. I made the wrong choice when I didn’t start Cole Hamels on Saturday. Cole told me he was ready to go, but he’s been shaky down the stretch here and I was a little hesitant to run him out there against a dangerous Brewers team. The Mets bullpen continued its run of screwing over Johan and the Genies in one fell swoop.
Peter Gammons: I understand your hesitation to name any players individually, but looking at the numbers one would have to think that Robinson Cano’s 3 for 20 week was a definitely killer.
Graves: Well Robby has been sluggish down the stretch and we’ve talked about it. He knows what he needs to do, but he’s just not doing it. His contract with the Genies is up after this year and if this sluggish play continues through the 3rd place game, there is a very, very real chance he won’t be back in a Genies uniform next season.
Ken Rosenthal: What about JJ Hardy’s dreadful 0 for 8 performance yesterday. There’s no doubt that you were counting on Hardy for some sort of power production and you got zip from him. Have you talked to JJ or has he talked to you? I know Hardy is an emotional player…
Graves: Last night wasn’t the time to talk to anybody. Everyone was pretty beat up losing a shot at the championship on a tiebreaker. Plus we had to get out of Boston fast, get on a plane and fly into Minneapolis. This morning on the bus ride down to Estherville, I talked with a bunch of the guys and JJ was definitely one of them. JJ took it pretty hard, he’s a proud kid and really thought he could help us get over the hump, so yeah…he’s gonna be a little rough on himself—but the team seems to have rallied and we know what we need to do this week to snag third place against a very good squad.
Mark Kriegel: So do you think you guys have what it takes to overcome Captain Jack Sparrow after such a grueling loss to J’s Team?
Graves: That’s a good question Mark. I know the boys are tired and it really takes a lot out of a team to lose a game the way we just lost…and Travis is no slouch. He was in first place nearly wire-to-wire this season. He’s a dangerous team…but yeah, I think we’ve got a good shot. We went one-on-one in the 3rd place game last year as well and it worked out okay.
Dayn Perry: Speaking of last year. There is no doubt that you’d assembled the most talented overall team last year. You appear to have done it again this year via some very shrewd trades and free agent acquisitions, however, you can never seem to get over the hump and win the SLB Championship.
Graves: What the fuck is your deal?!
Dayn Perry: …what?!
Graves: That’s not a question, that’s not a question at all? You just want to fucking take shots at me? I know my team hasn’t won a championship, you think I don’t fucking know that?! What are you some kind of fucking idiot, Perry?
Dayn Perry: No, I just…
Graves: Fuck you, Fatty! You wanna mange a team or do you just want to keep writing pointless articles on FoxSports where you bash the Twins and then months later, when it’s been blatantly proven that you’re incompetent, you completely change your tune and start talking about how their the best franchise in baseball?! Then you want to come in here and tell me that I haven’t won a championship like you think I’m not aware. You’re 10 pounds of monkey shit in a 5 pound bag, Perry, get the fuck outta here!!
Dayn Perry: I have every right to be here…
Graves: Get him boys…
**Peter Gammons, Chuck Norris, Batman and John McClane all start pounding on Perry. Batman grabs a folding chair and cracks Perry in the face with it. John McClane and Peter Gammon hit a 3D through the media buffet table in the back of the room. Then they pick him up and hold him for a Chuck Norris roundhouse that sends Perry out a window and down 140 feet into the seats behind homeplate.**
Graves: (clears throat) Sorry about that, any other questions?
John Kruk: Yeah, I was just curious if there were any other announcements…
John Kruk: Yeah, because there has been a rumor circulating that the Genies might be disbanded and rebranded after this season if they were unable to finally climb the mountain. Is there any truth to that rumor?!
Graves: I don’t want to discuss rumors right now, especially now while we’ve still got two solid weeks of important baseball to go. I will, however, say that there will be some changes this offseason.
Buster Olney: Can you elaborate on any of the changes? Is it a change of personnel or a change of philosophy?
Graves: Well we’ve done a lot of both in the past 12 months and ended up with roughly the same results. In the past the team’s scope was to draft a strong team and make wise free-agent pick-ups throughout the year to put together the best overall team. This year the plan changed a little. We had another strong draft, but took some bigger gambles with the intent of getting more involved in the trade market and it worked well, especially when compiled with some of our free agent pick-ups.
Buster Olney: Yeah, that doesn’t sound all that different…
Graves: What’d you say to me?
**Olney looks around nervously as Chuck Norris and Batman each take the empty seats on either side of him.**
Buster Olney: I just meant that it sounds like roughly the same plan…
Graves: True, this year I mentally split the season in two. I drafted a team for the first-half to keep me competitive and then I traded for a team that should have been thriving in September for the playoffs. I made a move for Mark Teixeira, who is a second-half beast. I brought in Carlos Quentin who has MVP written all over him and only got hotter in the dog days of summer. When I acquired Matt Holliday and Robinson Cano, I clearly gave up more talent in Ian Kinsler and Carlos Lee—but the career splits showed that Cano and Holliday were better down the stretch. Kinsler’s career numbers in the second-half weren’t trending well, so it was the right time to move him. Adding David Wright finally grave me a solid, healthy option at third-base. Unfortunately, despite setting up a team that was more geared for late season success, the old adage proved itself true once again…
Ken Rosenthal: What’s that?
Graves: It’s not the best team that wins in the playoffs, it’s the hottest/luckiest teams that wins in the playoffs.
**Chuck Norris randomly kicks a camerman in the face.**
Graves: Okay, that’s the sign that this press-conference is over…
Tracy Ringolsby: So no news on the other announcements and possible changes?!
Graves: Not while the season is still going…we’ll talk at the Winter Meetings…
**Graves walks away from the podium and the rest of the reporters mill about amongst themselves.**
**FADE TO BLACK**