Matt Klentak arrives at the Phillies’ holiday party. The room is filled with players and team employees, but after a few minutes, he is dismayed to find he can’t find owner John Middleton or team president Andy MacPhail. He eventually asks, and is directed to a door at the side of the room with a bouncer standing in front. The sound of loud music and laughter can be heard coming from it.
Klentak: Um, hello. I’ve been told that Mr. Middleton is in there.
Bouncer: That depends. Are you on the list?
Klentak: What list? I’m Matt Klentak!
Bouncer: (Checks clipboard) You’re not on the list.
Klentak: There must be some mistake. I’m the team’s general manager.
Bouncer: You’re not on the list. So you don’t get in.
The door opens and Andy MacPhail emerges.
Klentak: Andy! Hi! This guy isn’t letting me in!
MacPhail: Oh, hello, Matt. I’d try to help, but you know I really don’t like getting involved with operations and things like that. But hey, did you see these new seats I got for the party?
Klentak: They’re great, but is there anyone I could talk to-
MacPhail: And be sure to try the food! The whole party is sponsored by Shake Shack! Anyway, I have to run for a bit. Enjoy!
Klentak looks around for someone to help when he sees Joe Girardi making his way towards the door.
Klentak: Joe! Just the man I wanted to see!
Girardi: Hey, Mike! How’s it going?
Klentak: It’s Matt.
Girardi: That’s terrific! You having a good time?
Klentak: Not really. But since you haven’t been answering your phone when I call, I was hoping to talk to you for a bit.
Girardi: Uh...I really don’t have much time-
Klentak: It’s just that my analytics team turned up some new data on how we can maximize Vince Velasquez this season and I think you-
Girardi: I’ll be straight with you...Matt? My old bosses told me that I wasn’t as honest with people as I should have been. So I’m just gonna let you know right now that I’m not going to pay attention to any of that.
Klentak: But you have to. I’m your boss!
Girardi: Ha ha, that’s cute. (Pats Klentak on the shoulder) Anyway, I need to go. Have a good time. (The bouncer nods at Girardi and allows him into the VIP room.)
Klentak: This is ridiculous! I’m going to call Mr. Middleton right now!
Klentak tries to call John Middleton on his phone, but it goes right to voicemail. A few seconds later, Middleton emerges from the room.
Middleton: (Through the open door to the VIP room) You guys keep that champagne flowing! I’ve got to go talk to the peons for a little bit!
Klentak: Mr. Middleton!
Middleton: Matt Klentak! How’s life on the hot seat?
Klentak: Not great! I’ve been trying to - wait, did you just say hot seat?
Middleton: I sure did. What else would I call a guy who spent $140 million of my money only to finish in fourth place?
Klentak: I’d love to talk about that, but this guy won’t let me into the room.
Middleton: Oh yeah, you can’t go in there. That room is for people with World Series rings only.
Klentak: But...but... (holds up a small gift) I even brought something for the white elephant.
Jake Arrieta bursts out of the room holding a bottle of champagne.
Arrieta: Whoa! My ears are burning! Was somebody talking about me?
Middleton: No, no, Jake, it’s okay. Go back in and have fun.
Klentak: So what I wanted to tell you is that I found a way to maybe upgrade our rotation... but we might have to go over the luxury tax.
Middleton: Ooh. Well, Matt, you know I’d love to spend as much money as we can. But you know those Bucks. They’re really getting pissy about the whole spending money thing, and they’ve been pretty adamant that we don’t do that. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll figure out something!
Klentak is pushed to the side by Ruben Amaro.
Amaro: Papa John!
Middleton: Ruben! You made it!
Amaro: I wouldn’t miss a chance to hit up the legendary VIP room! (Looks at Klentak) Whoa, what’s the nerd doing here? You’re not letting guys without rings in now, are you?
Middleton: No! No! Of course not! Now, why don’t you head inside, and tell everyone about how you beat out the Yankees to sign Cliff Lee!
Klentak: Him! You’re letting him in? He doesn’t even work for the team anymore!
Middleton: He’s got a World Series ring, so he gets in. I don’t make the rules!
Klentak: Yes you do!
Middleton: Well....Hey, Bryce! Bryce! Come over here!
Bryce Harper walks over to give Middleton a hug.
Middleton: How would you like to join us in the VIP room for a bit? I heard Joe Dillon brought a beard trimmer for the white elephant!
David Robertson pops out.
Robertson: Did someone say my name?
Middleton: No, David. But while you’re here, would you mind showing Bryce around for a bit?
Robertson: Sure thing, Mr. Middleton! (They enter to sound of loud cheering.)
Klentak: But Harper doesn’t have a World Series ring!
Middleton: Hey, sometimes you make an exception for the franchise player. Besides, he named his kid after me!
Klentak: I thought his son was named Krew?
Middleton: And I used to row crew back in college. It was a touching tribute. I mean, you have two kids, right? And I didn’t see you naming either of them after me.
Klentak: But, but...
Middleton: Listen, Matt. Don’t let this bother you. I’m sure that next year at this time, everyone here will have a new World Series ring! And if they don’t, it won’t be much of a concern for you anymore. Now why don’t you go have some Shake Shack and smoke a cigar and try to enjoy yourself?
Later in the evening, Klentak is standing by the drink table, pouring out his feelings to a sympathetic ear.
Klentak: ...and I just feel like nobody really wants me around anymore.
Andrew Knapp: Tell me about it.
To all our loyal readers from all of us at The Good Phight: Have a merry Christmas!