Terry Ryan Holds "Press Conference" At Area Bar

USA TODAY Sports

The Twins GM is just now realizing how deep the rabbit hole goes.

SCENE: A bar. Outstate. Late afternoon. The sun is thoughtlessly setting earlier and earlier, which doesn't really bother the bar's few inhabitants. Bartender RICK putters around behind the bar, one eye on a football game while he washes glasses, or whatever bartenders do at such times. A lonely, balding figure stares into the bar at the far end, head in his hands.

The door swings open, a small bell tinkling as it does so, then shuts again.

RICK: Evening, Gary.

GARY: Evenin'.

RICK: The usual?

GARY: You bet.

He sits. Rick pours a cheap beer and a shot of whiskey and sets them in front of Gary, who slugs down the whiskey and takes a long drink of the beer.

RICK: Long one today?

GARY: Sure is. Longer every day.

RICK (chortling): Yep.

They sit motionless, watching the Bengals lose two yards in a game that neither could possibly care any less about.

GARY: Who's that, now?

RICK: Down there? Name of Terry. Doesn't say much, but he's been drinking straight gin since we opened.

GARY: Huh.

RICK: Yup.

The Bengals punt, and the game goes to commercial. Insurance is sold, unsuccessfully, to all.

RICK: Leave him be, now.

GARY: Nah, gotta say hi. (to the corner) Hey, buddy, how you doing down there?

TERRY RYAN (from the corner): How does it look like I'm doing?

GARY: Well, not that good, I guess. You all right?

RYAN: Let me check. (He pats himself, as an old man searching for his car keys in pockets that he does not have.) Nope, you know what - I'm not all right.

GARY: Sorry to hear that. You maybe need another one of those to keep that first one company?

RYAN: (enthusiastically) Now there's an idea!

He gulps a straight gin. RiCK pours him another. He gulps that too.

RYAN: You're right, that helps an awful lot. Tell you what, why don't you two gather around; let's have a little press conference here, what do you say?

RICK: What are you talking about?

RYAN: You heard the man! Floor's open! No topics off limits!

RICK (uncertainly): I'm not sure...

RYAN (not listening at all): You there! La Velle E. Beer the Three! What's your question?

GARY: Who now?

RYAN: That's an excellent question, La Velle, and I'm glad you asked.

RICK: Asked what?

RYAN: Here's your answer: we're screwed. We're straight-up ten out of ten gun-barrel ram-rod top-pot screwed.

GARY (who is appalled, but fascinated): Who's that who's screwed?

RYAN: We are. The Twins. And here's why. He waves an empty shot glass for emphasis. Look at the Dodgers, now. The Dodgers have more money than most of the rest of baseball put together. They could buy you and sell me before breakfast without thinking twice. And brother, they're not in the World Series.

GARY: So?

RYAN: And let me tell you something else, Interrupty McGee. The Tigers have five pitchers who are better than anyone we got, and the best hitter in baseball, and a guy who mashes home runs out of the park... and THEY aren't in the World Series.

GARY: Yeah, I guess that's a problem.

RYAN: That's not a problem! You haven't even seen the problem yet! He waves his shot glass around wildly, like a man conducting an orchestra while fighting off a swarm of horseflies. I can tell you the problem, but - wait. I'm not sure I remember the problem even now.

A hush falls.

RICK: You need another one of those?

RYAN: That was it! That was my problem.

Rick pours him another shot. Ryan squints at it for a second.

RYAN: Wait! I remember the other problem. Here it is: We got nobody. We've got a closer and one good hitter and then a bunch of spare parts. You tell me, how am I supposed to take a bunch of spare parts and, you know, a wheel, or two wheels, whatever you like, and then... what do you build out of spare parts?

GARY: A car?

RYAN: Sure! A car! I can't build a car out of a closer and one good hitter. And the one good hitter is in pit lane, guys. We're not sure if he's coming out. We got high hopes, but hopes is all we got.

GARY: Wow.

RYAN: You dang right, wow. Like I said, we're screwed. We're so screwed.

GARY: Well, you gotta ask yourself, who's at fault for all of this?

RYAN: What?

GARY: I assume somebody's going to have to be fired. My dad always used to say, "You got to pull the weeds or the flowers can't grow."

RYAN: This press conference is over.

GARY: Huh?

Ryan, who is squinting out of only one eye at this point, retreats unsteadily to the corner, via some help from a barstool and a brief battle with a Big Buck Hunter machine. Gary and Rick shrug, and turn back to the football game. When the door swings open again and the bell tinkles again, neither even so much glances at the door.

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