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John Middleton: Mission Accomplished

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The Phillies’ owner celebrates his new acquisition

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Friday morning, 8 AM - Clearwater, Florida

We see a conference room in the Phillies’ complex. The room is a mess with empty beer and champagne bottles strewn about, with several holes in the wall. On one wall, there is a dry erase board with multiple versions of the Phillies’ 2019 lineup written on it. On another wall, written in what appears to be pizza sauce are the words, “We did it.”

A few random Phillies staffers are passed out on the floor. And curled up on the side of the room, wearing a Bryce Harper Phillies jersey is John Middleton.

The conference room door opens and Andy MacPhail walks in. He looks around, puzzled by the mess. He eventually spots Middleton and rouses him.

MacPhail: John! John! Are you okay?

Middleton: (Mumbling) Huh, what’s going on? Andy? Where the heck am I?

MacPhail: We’re at the complex. You were passed out. Are you okay? What went on here last night?

Middleton: (Looks around for a few seconds) Oh yeah...Last night...That was wild. We got a little carried away celebrating.

MacPhail: Well, we might have to extend the celebration an extra day, because I’ve got some big news!

Middleton: Really? I don’t know how it could top yesterday, but hit me with it.

MacPhail: So I commissioned a new ad campaign about the new amenities we’ve added to the park this year. You know, new armrests, and Shake Shack - stuff like that. And even though we didn’t release it, apparently word got out, because the lines at the ticket office have been ringing off the hook!

Middleton: Wait....you think ticket sales are up because of Shake Shack?

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People do love Shake Shack
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

MacPhail: Well, that and the new seats. What other explanation could there be?

Middleton: I don’t know, maybe because we announced a contract agreement with Bryce Harper?

MacPhail: Oh, did you guys finally agree on that? I guess you’re happy.

Middleton: You’re damn right I’m happy! We just signed Bryce friggin’ Harper, the MVP of the...wait, you didn’t know we signed him?

MacPhail: No. When did it happen?

Middleton: What day is it?

MacPhail: Friday.

Middleton: Then it was yesterday afternoon. How did you not know that?

MacPhail: I was probably napping or something.

Middleton: I texted you like fifty times last night!

MacPhail: I was really caught up with the ad campaign, so I guess I didn’t notice. And of course I turn my phone off at 8 PM. Don’t want it to distract me from The Big Bang Thoery!

They are interrupted by a knock at the door. They exchange puzzled glances.

Middleton: Hello?

The door swings open, and a cloud of mist billows into the room. Seconds later, Gabe Kapler rolls in on a segway.

Kapler: Namaste, gentlemen.

MacPhail: Oh, hi Gabe. What brings you here?

Kapler: I have heard news that our team has acquired the services of Bryce Harper. And I had some ideas as to how to use him.

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Gabe Kapler has many big ideas
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

MacPhail: Well sure, I would hope so. What do you got?

Kapler: Mr. Harper is blessed with a powerful arm, is he not?

MacPhail: Yes.

Kapler: Then I think we could best utilize him, if we made him...a pitcher.

MacPhail and Middleton stare in silence for a few seconds.

Middleton: Say what now?

Kapler: You know I’ve been toying with the idea of using a “opener” pitcher. So why not use a position player in that role so that we don’t have to alter the lineup?

Middleton: Maybe I’m still drunk, because I thought you just said you wanted to use Bryce Harper as a pitcher.

Kapler: That would certainly be a bold move, would it not?

Middleton: I know it’s not a good look for the team owner to directly interfere with the manager’s day-to-day handling of the team. But if you ever put Bryce Harper on the pitching mound, I will walk onto the field and fire you on the spot.

Kapler: I see. I will go back to my original plan of using Scott Kingery in that role then. Farewell, gentlemen. (He segways out of the room.)

MacPhail: So anyway, we’re set to release that new amenity ad today, and I wanted to see if you had any thoughts.

Middleton: Does the ad have Bryce Harper’s picture on it?

MacPhail: No, but there is a great shot of the Shake Shack.

Middleton: I didn’t pay $330 million to get Bryce Harper on the team, just so we could send out an ad for Shake Shack!

MacPhail: But people really like Shake Shack!

Middleton: Shut up about Shake Shack! Here’s how it’s going to go: Every ad we send out is going to have at least five mentions of Bryce Harper and three pictures.

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Hope you like seeing pictures of Bryce Harper
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

MacPhail: That seems excessive, but okay.

Middleton: And how about this branding: The Philadelphia Phillies - Starring Bryce Harper!

MacPhail: Why not just change the team name to the Philadelphia Harpers?

Middleton: I considered that, but the league office said it was a no go.

MacPhail: Ah.

Middleton: Now let’s get to it! I want the airwaves flooded with Bryce Harper! Everywhere you look: Bryce Harper! When people close their eyes, I want them to dream about Bryce Harper! I tell you, Andy, this is going to be the best investment I ever made!