INT. ESPN STUDIOS
(Cue sports reel. A composite of several shots accompanied by a sweet-ass electric guitar solo. Three presenters—JOHN MORRICK, CAROLINE DIAZ, TOM STACY— stand closely, talking earnestly.)
JOHN (V.O.): The dark thrill of mumbling away and the breakneck end to a budding career.
(As the graphics sweep away the presenters separate and only JOHN MORRICK remains, center stage.)
Hi there, and welcome to this review of last season’s most embarrassing moments. With Caroline Díaz and Tom “Punisher” Stacy, I’m John Morrick.
Today we bring you up to speed on the latest in the world of sport, highlights from the NHL playoffs plus some pre-season soccer, but first this year’s review of Seth Mallard and his least forgettable moments. Caroline?
CAROLINE: That’s right, John. On the morning after Mallard’s last night out before the start of the season, Trader Joe’s stadium would be host to this immediate and unexpected match-up against long-time ex-girlfriend Lara Liu.
Cut to: INT. TRADER JOE’S—DAY
CAROLINE: Dressed in last night’s clothes and confident in his ability to mask the miasma of cheap liquor about him, Mallard approached home plate through the snack aisle. In his run-up he’d already picked up several bags of Tostitos yet showed tremendous foresight by loading his cart with several Gatorades. Truly the awareness of a veteran.
And here comes the away team. Having faced each other for the last time eight months ago in the regionals, tensions ran high between Mallard and Liu. Imagine our surprise, John, when new boyfriend James Adams showed up as catcher.
It was top of the first when Liu slung the opening pitch asking how Mallard had been doing. An old hand at small talk, he read that fastball and, seeing the amount of food in their carts, made contact by retorting whether they planned on running away from reality, but—oh, foul ball: Liu replied that no, actually, they’re going to the beach for the weekend, the very same beach where her father refused to laugh at Mallard’s jokes for nearly three years. Incredible!
Instinctively, Mallard turns around, avoiding the away team’s gaze as he remembers he’s still in yesterday’s clothes, with eyes alight due to last night’s sour contacts searing into his retina. Returning to the plate, Mallard waits and—oh, he’s hit by the pitch as Liu places her arms round Adams’ waist!
Now this is where the whole game crumbled for the home team. Remember, John, this is what’s concerned several coaches (especially Mallard’s mom) through the years when facing pressure on the plate—his inability to focus on the swing. Let’s take a look.
Cut to: INT. TRADER JOE’S. SNACK AISLE
(LIU stands in the foreground, slightly akimbo. MALLARD stands vacant. ADAMS walks over to LIU.)
CAROLINE: Subtle by Adams! As soon as Mallard turned back to home plate, Adams called for the hit with his dreamy personal trainer’s grin. Obviously the relentlessly carnal preseason training has established great rapport between the players. As soon as he’s hit, look at that, Mallard’s lips begin their signature electrical wobble.
It’s an automatic walk but the shame is too much for Mallard who, on his crestfallen walk to first, avoids the plate and simply walks out of Trader Joe’s Stadium, although not before returning to his cart for the Tostitos.
Cut back to: STUDIO
JOHN: Unbelievable, Caroline, all that time psyching himself up for their next meeting and it all crumbled, just like that. It seems all that time invested in “improving himself” did not, as his friends suggested, help at all.
For the second highlight in this review we have a short but lingering one. Last week Seth Mallard’s boss had her going-away party.
Cut to: INT. TEACHER’S STAFF ROOM—DAY
(MALLARD stands next to his former BOSS, a woman a few years older than him. He is surrounded by presents and his COLLEAGUES.)
JOHN: All the staff chipped in for gifts, whereas Mallard got a card. Not only that but can you imagine misspelling “privilege” in an otherwise moving going-away card for your boss, and her pointing out that, ‘hey, you’re an English teacher, shouldn’t you know how to spell “privilege” correctly?’ Haha, classic.
Cut back to: STUDIO
CAROLINE: Oh, boy, that was brutal, John.
JOHN: Sure was, Caroline. Up next we have May’s iconic breakdown in the parking lot. Tom has the insider look at this one. Tom?
TOM: Thank you, John. Next in the countdown we have last year’s most voted breakdown. It has it all: misplaced keys, suppressed tears in public, and frantic pounding on the dashboard. All the makings to become a finalist for play of the year. Let’s take a look.
Cut to: INT. SCHOOL CLASSROOM—DAY
(MALLARD stands at the front of the class. His STUDENTS sit, fidgeting. Colorful posters hang from the walls, as do several examples of their work.)
TOM: First off, we know this season’s performance review was an important one. In order to clinch the title of “teacher of the year” all Mr. Mallard needed was for the students at Sallow Mills Middle School to behave for just two periods.
Considering how out of form they’d been last season and how Mr. Mallard had been keeping it together by a thread, this was clearly a close contest. It all started in the middle of English class when little Derek Barlow rushed up the wing, sidestepped two of his classmates, and, within seconds, slapped a soon-to-be-wailing Alex Prednov in the face, all while Principal Jones sat at the back of the classroom, busy in review.
After a year-long minute where Mr. Mallard wished he would simply drop dead, those few students on his side tried to raise morale by rephrasing the same questions repeatedly. Remember, folks, there are many rumors about students unhappy with his management and looking for transfers out of state, the promise of more free periods no doubt being enticing.
Two minutes after the end of the lesson, and following a brief timeout instruction from Principal Jones to meet him in his office, came Mr. Mallard’s breakdown. Let’s take a look.
Cut to: INT. & EXT. SCHOOL HALLWAYS—DAY
(MALLARD bolts from the classroom. He walks as briskly as possible, then breaks into a sprint through the inside and outside hallways.)
TOM: Did you see that? Let’s get a replay.
First he evades the meeting and races 70, 80 yards, knocking down a security guard in the process—personal foul! Then in the middle of his run comes the search for the keys, and, if we could just bring up the alternate angle here—oh, fumble! Keys straight to the ground! Just look at the crowd as the rookie teachers can’t believe their eyes, holding their heads in disbelief.
It’s a bitter road from being a first draft pick for the district in ‘08 to this. The tears, the runny nose, the hordes of middle schoolers ravenously staring from the windows, all this punctuated by slamming the dashboard and that final animal shriek is what makes this my personal favorite for most embarrassing moment of 2016. John?
Cut back to: STUDIO
JOHN: Textbook meltdown! Alright, folks, that’s it from us. Join us tomorrow as we witness the beginning of the end for a former great by going over Seth Mallard’s latest bout in advocating for a student’s suspension and how he got shut down by the new and younger vice-principal.
For Tom Stacy and Caroline Diaz, I’m John Morrick. Thanks for watching and we’ll no doubt see you again after beach season.
[Zoom out. Cue visuals. Credits.]