February 18, 2008
There are still eight months left in the 2008 season, but the rest of the 29 teams are going to need the time if they're going to top the prank the Phillies played on young Kyle Kendrick over the weekend.
If you haven't seen it yet (video here), the setup went like this: Manager Charlie Manuel called the 23-year-old pitcher into his office and told him he had been traded to the Yomiuri Giants for a player named "Kobayashi Iwamura." The ruse, expertly orchestrated by Brett Myers (who else?), worked so well that Kendrick was shocked into silence for most of the trick. Couldn't even stop to realize that MLB and Japanese teams never swap players.
So many things went into staging this that it's hard to pick just one favorite aspect.
Among the contenders:
• The sheer number of people who were complicit in bringing Kendrick to the verge of tears. From the team's traveling secretary to the Comcast cameraman to the PR people and writers who helped stage a fake news conference, it was a fine reminder of how much downtime there can be at spring training.
• The fake trade papers/travel arrangements. If Kendrick doesn't know not to sign anything without talking to his agent first, then I have a few business proposals I'd like to discuss with him. (If anyone else is interested most of the ideas have to do with either hot plasma TVs or slippers for housecats.)
• Manuel's weird sadist glee over the whole incident. "I would have loved to see him fly to Japan and get off the plane," the Phillies manager said afterward. "That would have been the best. As a matter of fact, I would have paid his fare." Quick show of hands: Who else is glad that Weird Ol' Chuck isn't their boss?
• How fast the prank has already spread. Kendrick's Baseball Reference page has already been bought by a sponsor who left "Good luck in Japan Kyle!" as a message. "Good luck living this down!" might have been a more appropriate tag.
• The howling Phillies clubhouse. Because it's always fun to laugh at the young'un. Did that scene remind anyone else of the Goodfellas clip where all the gangsters bust on Henry Hill after Pesci's "funny, how?" bit?
What about you?
Which part of the prank did you fancy the most?
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