The Screwball: Mail bonding

A few years ago, the character Mac from the TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, wrote a fan letter—some would call it a love letter—to Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies. Just recently, Utley finally answered the letter, with direct responses to each of Mac’s sentiments. But while the second baseman’s reply surely will prove a thrill for Mac, it might also inspire other big-leaguers at last to respond to these character-driven missives.

Stewie Griffin, of Family Guy, to fellow New Englander Dustin Pedroia

Dear Dustin. I feel I can call you Dustin because we both are short and bald. Then again, I’m a baby. What’s your excuse?

In any case, I feel we should meet, undoubtedly posthaste. I don’t mind telling you, as my curiosity is surpassed only by my humility, that it would be great to have a chat. Believe you me, I know I can’t hustle as well as you—after all, just look at the soiled condition of your Red Sox jersey!—but I think you’d be impressed with my ability to “hustle.”

What I mean is that I “hustle” in a wholly different fashion, by convincing my fellow citizens that I’m a helpless baby when in fact I’m an English-accented prodigy who, alone in a suburban nursery, has built a multiverse transporter, a teleportation device, a time machine, weather- and mind-control devices, high-tech weapons and various robots and clones, all in service to my goal of world domination.

Do you also hate your mother? Ah, so do I! These are all topics on which we can converse, with flair and brilliance, upon your acceptance of my invitation.

Of course, there are a numerous other topics suitable for a tête-à-tête. For example—and just for clarification, you did say you hate your mother—we might discuss the liquidation of our respective matresfamilias, perhaps in the fashion of Strangers on a Train. Which is to say that you could kill my mother while I kill yours, and no one would be the wiser!

You haven’t answered my previous letters, perhaps due to my unpardonable failure to broach the subject of matricide, but I know you will answer this missive and we will become great chums—or at least partners in crime. I’m confident our relationship would be a real double—indemnity, that is!

Dwight Shrute, of The Office, to home-team pitcher Jonathan Papelbon

Dear Jonathan. I feel I can call you Jonathan because we are so alike, both in height and intensity, not to mention the unrestrained craziness in our eyes. I also feel I can call you Papelbon because my name is Shrute, and both names are kind of strange.

Anyway, I’d like to meet you one day. It would be great to have a game of Klootschieten. I know I can’t roll a kloot, which, as you probably know, is a round wooden ball, as fast or as accurately as you, but I think you would be impressed with my Geschwindigkeit und Genauigkeit.

As I’ve alluded to, I also think you’d be impressed with my intensity, as well as my Machiavellian willingness to do whatever it takes to win. As an example, I once sneezed without blinking in order to prove a point. I love your stare. You gaze with ferocity.

Did you have a good relationship with your Mutter und Vater? Me, too. When a boy wakes at 4 a.m. to castrate bulls with Mom and Dad, it’s all gemütlichkeit. These are all the things we can talk about and more.

I know you have been getting my letters because I bugged your locker and installed spyware on your computer. So come on, Papelbon, you can’t fool me. I hope you write back this time, and we can become gute Freunde. I’m sure our relationship would be a real base nacht!

Hank Hill, of King of the Hill, to Nolan Ryan

Dear Mr. Ryan. I feel I should call you Mr. Ryan because if there’s anyone who deserves the title of Mr., apart from Mr. Landry and Mr. Nelson, it’s you, Mr. Ryan. God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’d like to meet you one day.

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It would be great to have a catch. I know I can’t throw as fast as you, Mr. Ryan. Lord knows, nobody can throw as fast as The Ryan Express! But I think you’d be impressed with my speed.

Of course, you should know that my arm might be a bit sore, as I’ve been practicing in the yard for several weeks. Matter of fact, just yesterday I nearly killed Bill Dauterive with a four-seamer up and in, heh heh. If it’s all the same to you, I’ll tell Bill that you send your best. I’ll keep Mrs. Ryan out of it.

Mr. Ryan, did you have a good relationship with your dad? You don’t have to answer that. A man’s business is his own. As for my dad, well, I kind of hated the man. But he was still my dad, and a dad’s a dad. That’s what my mother always said.

And Lord knows, I don’t always see eye to eye with my own boy, what with his vidya games and his tendency to throw like a girl. I know you don’t like to hear that kind of language, Mr. Ryan, and I’d be much obliged if you’d keep this between you and me. But facts are facts. He throws like Princess Stephanie. You got any advice for the boy, maybe like a certain type of beef he could eat? Thank you in advance, Mr. Ryan.

These are all things we can talk about and more, Mr. Ryan, maybe in the alley behind my house. My friends Dale and Boomhauer will be there, too. Bill, he’s still laid up on the couch, heh heh. But if you’ll do me the honor of a visit, I’ll have a cold can of Alamo beer with your name on it, Mr. Ryan.

I hope you read my letter, sir, and we can become good friends. I am sure our relationship would be a real Texas Leaguer, I tell you what!

Ron Swanson, of Parks and Recreation, to Luke Scott

Dear Luke Brandon Scott. I feel I can call you Luke Brandon Scott because that is the name on your birth certificate, the same legal document that you very publicly offered to produce in the 2010, when questions arose about the President’s birthplace, even though we shouldn’t have a president at all.

I’m not quite sure if I’d like to meet you. I don’t often enjoy interacting with people who don’t already rank among my friends, and frankly, you seem a bit off-putting. Still, as a man who identifies with many of your Libertarian ideals, in addition to your fondness for guns and hunting, I acknowledge that it might be of some utility for us to team up on a shoot.

To obtain a hunting license for a shoot near my cabin, you do not need to visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. I issue my own licenses. Just bring a driver’s license. If you have refused to obtain a driver’s license, your birth certificate will do—long-form only, please and thank you.

I don’t know if I can shoot as well as you, but frankly, I’m pretty sure I can. I’m also an expert woodworker and can eat 10 pounds of beef in one sitting, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

These are all things you can think about while you leave me alone. I have no idea if this letter will find you. I use my own postal system, and frankly, I haven’t ironed out all the kinks.

I don’t much care if you write back to me. If you do write, I’m not likely to read it. Either way, we won’t become friends. We might become shooting partners. I’m sure our relationship would be a real bang-bang play.

Eric Cartman, of South Park, to hometown shortstop Troy Tulowitzki

Dear Tulo. I feel I can call you Tulo because Tulo is an awwwesome nickname and you are awwwesome, and so am I. We are both awwwesome!

It would be great to have a catch in front of my friend Stan, he’s such a d—. That would show him. Also, if you throw it really fast, you might kill Kenny, which would be cool because he is poor.

I love your hair. You would love mine. Do you have a good relationship with your friends? Me, neither. These are all things we can talk about and more.

I know you have not been getting my letters because you would have waved at me on TV. But it’s not just the letters, Tulo. I also made videos of me wearing your jersey. Did you get videos? If so, maybe you could wear my jersey as a way of saying, “Thanks, Eric Cartman, you’re awwwesome.”

Oh, by the way, we have a game this Saturday at the Little League fields near the mall, so maybe when you’re wearing my jersey you could step to the plate when my name is called. I am sure our relationship would be a real game-winner!

Phil Dunphy, of Modern Family, to home-team outfielder Yasiel Puig

Dear Yasiel. I feel I can call you Yasiel because that’s the name your parents gave you, just like my parents gave me the name Phil. Well, it’s Philip, actually, but you don’t want to hear all that. Do you? Either way, I’d prefer to call you Mr. Puig, because Puig is so much fun to say. Say it with me: Pweeeeg. Fun, right? It’s like a fancy French cheese or something.

I’d like to meet you one day. It would be great to have you over for Pictionary. Can’t you just “picture” it now? I know you weren’t part of the “draft,” but you are “penciled’ into the lineup each night. And you can really “draw” a crowd! But seriously, Mr. Puig, I know I can’t draw as well as you, but I think you’d be impressed with my “line drive.” What I mean is that I demonstrate real ambition when it comes to delineating the subject.

Do you have a complicated relationship with your father-in-law? Of course you don’t. You’re not married. You’re single, in Los Angeles, so you probably spend a lot of time watching TV. That’s why it’s all the more important that you come over for Pictionary. Incidentally, my father-in-law will be here on Pictionary night. You’ll meet him.

These are all things we can talk about when you come over. We can also have some chips and dip. I make the best guacamole. I call it “Guacadunphy.” The secret is salt.

I don’t know if you have been getting my letters. Actually, I don’t even know if you speak English. If you do, I’ll bet it’s with a delightful Latin accent like my mother-in-law Gloria’s. Between you and me, she’s—how do you say—mucho pimento? Very hot.

Oh, it’s not as weird as it sounds, my mother-in-law being mucho pimento. We’re the same age. But yeah, she’s absolutely gorgeous, with long brown hair, a great smile and huge … do I need to draw you a picture? I hope you write back and we can become teammates. I am sure our relationship would be a real Spanish fly!

Liz Lemon, of 30 Rock, to fellow funny person Derek Holland

Dear Derek. I feel I can call you Derek because Derek is your name, and because the rules of social etiquette suggest that I not call you Attila the Hun, Idi Amin, or Fart. But I could call you Harry, right? Seriously, that Harry Caray impersonation of yours is da bomb! Isn’t that what the kids are saying these days? Da bomb? That is so fly!

Anyway, I’d like to meet you one day. It would be great to have a round of improv. For example, you could pretend you’re Harry Caray and I could pretend I’m Leon Durham or maybe Keith Moreland or even Ryne Sandberg. Whichever. And I could smack that ball and run around the bases and you could be all like, “Holy cow!” And I could wag my finger and say, “First of all, sir, I am totally secular, and second, I’m not a cow, it’s just that my hips are wide!”

Right? Super-funny. Granted, I know I can’t think as fast as you—Kenneth, not now, I’m busy—but I think you’d be impressed with the—no, Jenna, you can not touch Nelson’s boomstick—speed of my comedy brain. Cerie, are you still taking this dictation? Wow, really? Tracy, put on some pants and stop bugging me, I’m dictating a letter to Derek Holland. No, not Daryl Hannah, Derek Holland—the guy with the mustache that looks as if a caterpillar died on his face.

So, Derek, I love your mustache, you grow it slow. Did you have a good relationship with your razor? Me neither! I have a mustache named Tom Selleck. You would prefer Adolph? I didn’t think so.

I feel these are all things we can laugh about, and without a laugh track. Seriously, those are for Two and a Half Men! (Hold for applause.) I hope you write back and we become pals, and collaborators. I mean, did you see Admissions? Gag! I don’t blame you! I would have taken a nap, too!

Hey, Kenneth? Pull up baseball reference dot com, would you? … So anyway, Derek, I’m sure our relationship would be a real hoot—Hoot Evers, that is!

Shawn Spencer, of Psych, to Miguel Cabrera

Dear Miguel. I feel I can call you Miguel because my best friend and crime-fighting partner already has the name Ovaltine Jenkins, not to mention the name Hummingbird Saltalamacchia, so to call you either of those names would do an injustice not only to you but also to Ovaltine/Hummingbird.

I also feel I can call you Miguel because you and I are so alike. You might ask, “Sean, que quieres decir?” I’ll tell you what I mean: I fool people into believing I’m psychic by focusing on little things that yield big results. By the same token, you fool people into believing you’re a gifted hitter with greats hands and keen eyesight when in fact you’re a psychic.

How else to explain your prêt-a-porter ability—sorry, Hummingbird informs me that the word I’m looking for is “preternatural”—your predatory ability to hit any pitch in any area to any part of the field? Here, I’ll place my fingertips on my temples and explain it: You know the pitch before it’s even thrown!

So, yeah, I would like to meet you one day. It would be great to have a game of Clue. I can’t predict as well as you, but I think you’d be impressed with my “sixth sense.” I really do see dead people. Seriously. They turn up in every episode. What are the odds?

Anyway, do you have a contentious, somewhat uncomfortable relationship with your father that seems to be getting better as the seasons go by? Me, too. These are all things we can talk about and more, perhaps telepathically. Ha!

I know you’ve been getting my emails because I’m psychic. Ha! Not really. I know you’ve been getting my emails because I have one of those email thingies that tells me when somebody opens one of my emails. Ovaltine installed it for me. Let me tell you, I don’t know computers from Uri Geller!

I do hope you write back this time. I’m sure our relationship would be a real seeing-eye single!

Nick Stokes, of CSI, to Ryan Braun

Dear a—–. I feel I can call you a—— because you are an a——. I would not like to meet you ever. It would not be great to do anything with you. If we were to have a catch, you’d probably tell me that my shoes were untied and then throw the ball at the top of my head with your chemically enhanced velocity. The result: a subdural hematoma that causes ataxia, blurred vision and death, whereupon my colleague Doc Robbins would perform an autopsy amidst throbbing techno music and cool blue lighting.

I know I can’t cheat as well as you, but I think you’d be impressed with my ability to catch those who do cheat. I’m a scientist, after all—a scientist who in minutes can perform lab work that would normally take days or even weeks, often while surprisingly attractive fellow scientists are walking into a lab that for some reason is suffuse with the aforementioned blue light—but a scientist nonetheless, one who seeks the truth through testing and re-testing and not one who conceals the truth by looking for loopholes in the test.

Did you have a good relationship with your dad? I really don’t care. You’re an a—— either way. I hope you receive this letter so that you know what I think of you, but I hope you don’t write back. I don’t want us to become friends. I’m sure our relationship would be a complete game to you.

Larry Bird, of The Neighbors, to Reggie Jackson

Dear Reggie Jackson. I feel I can call you Reggie Jackson because I called my son Reggie Jackson when we first came to this piffle-obsessed place you call a planet from our own planet of Zabvron.

In fact, when my family and I first arrived here, we all assumed the names of former professional athletes, primarily because Earthlings ignore scientists and mathematicians in favor of women who run fast, leap high and look good, and men who produce body odor in exchange for fame, wealth and child support orders.

As counterintuitive as it may seem to you—despite your limited intellect, you can surely appreciate my superiority and thus the unlikelihood of my desire to make your acquaintance—I would like to meet you one day. It might be worthwhile to have what you call a catch. I know I can throw faster than you, and I think you’d be impressed with my ability to appreciate your appreciation of my ability.

I hate your hair, or what is left of it, and you move quite slowly, especially as compared to the warp speed at which our Zabvronian craft traveled to this Twinkie-laden spheroid.

Did you have a good relationship with your father? I don’t care. I’m just trying to be—how do you phrase it?—polite. Actually, your culture seems profoundly inhibited by forced etiquette and manufactured emotion. In fact, it seems a monumental soap opera, and not a good one like As Zabvron Turns: Rotational Velocity and Axial Tilt at the Center of the Universe.

These are all things you can listen to me talk about and more, so very much more. I don’t know if you’ve received this letter, as your postal service appears subpar, and I don’t care if you write back, as I will likely reject the opportunity to read it in favor of winning my first Tony Award. We will never become friends. I’m sure our relationship would be a real sinker.

Homer Simpson, of The Simpsons, to Daryl Strawberry

Dear Daryl. I feel I can call you Daryl because I called you Daryl the last time we were together, remember? I know you’ve had some troubles since then, and goodness knows, I can’t even remember my wedding anniversary even though it happens on pretty much the same day every year. But you might remember that we played on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team together back in 1992, in the championship game against Shelbyville.

Funny thing is, I don’t remember that game because, while pinch-hitting for you with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, I got beaned … totally unconscious, like I am on Tuesday nights at Moe’s. Actually, I always have to watch Episode 17 of Season 3 to remember that my skull drove in the winning run that day.

Anyhoo, I’d like to meet you again because it would be like that movie 50 First Dates where Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore keep meeting because if they actually remembered meeting the first time it would be a pretty short movie. It would be great to have a catch. Maybe this time you won’t say I have a bad attitude. I mean, if I want someone to accuse me of having a bad attitude, I’ll just go to work!

I know I can’t throw as fast as you, but I think you’d be impressed that I can even throw a baseball given the fact that I have only three fingers, like Mordecai Brown. I love your lack of hair. You look great. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Mine has been very animated.

These are all things we can talk about and more. For all we know, we already talked about them. I hope you write back and we can become friends again. I am sure our relationship would be a real homer … or maybe a real strawberry.

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John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

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