By TERRY LYONS, Editor-in-Chief
DEDHAM – This morning, the valet parking attendants were caught by surprise when an autocade of 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes made their way to Legacy Place. The first to arrive was a gentleman smoking a Hoyo de Monterey cigar.
The meeting was on:
Ted Williams represented Baseball.
Walter Payton represented Football.
Bill Torrey represented Hockey.
Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the hard-liner, was there to rep the team owners.
Strangely, someone had tied-up the great Secretariat right out front. The thoroughbred would’ve turned 49 years old just two days ago. Penny Chenery was inside, negotiating on behalf of her stallion who certainly earned a rightful seat at this table of greatness.
Auerbach opened the meeting, exhaling smoke, “So what’s with all this talk about GOATS,” he asked no one. “The only GOAT in my book is still alive, thank God. He’s still a little cranky but he’s alive and well. He was more interested in winning than anyone I ever saw play. He was not a self-promoter. Just a winner.”
“Six championships,” he stated to the smokey air, “tell me when you get to 12 and then you’ll have my full attention.”
“What does 31 lengths at the Belmont do for you,” asks Ms. Chenery, rhetorically?
“Can we get down to business,” demands Landis of everyone?
“Alright, alright,” says Auerbach who sits at the head of the table and thus becomes this committee’s chair.
“We’re here to make some changes,” said the great patriarch of the Boston Celtics franchise. “Things have gotten away from the very foundation of our sports.
“The guy upstairs has authorized us to bring the sports world back to reality. To re-establish the basic rules and regulations of our games and to stop this nonsense.”
“There’s nobody here to represent the damn referees and umpires,” notes Williams. “What’s up with that?”
“Okay, okay,” says everyone. “We’re here to focus on the sports, not to perform miracles,” adds Williams, grabbing Secretariet’s blanket. “Miracles are for the guy upstairs, right Red?”
As the sound of a gavel resonates, Torrey stands up and begins.
“There are no more goal-scorers, no snipers, no 50-in-50 guys,” says the great architect of the New York Islanders and later the Florida Panthers. “Too much clutch-and-grab.
“And this shoot-out thing. C’mon,” he complains, “why don’t they just spin a bottle around to see who wins a game?”
A voice comes over the public address system, sponsored by Bose. It is LOUD and deep.
“Let it be done. Sixteen Mike Bossys will be sent, one more Wayne Gretzky, one Gordie Howe, three Guy LeFleurs and I’ll throw in an Yvan Cournoyer for good measure.
“No more shoot-outs. A tie is a tie and that old adage of ‘ties are like kissin’ your sister’ was pretty funny. It’s back!”
“That’s it for ice hockey,” pronounces the VOG, “Next?”
“Hey, I thought I was chairing this meeting,” bellows Auerbach. “Who do you think you are?”
“Next,” shouts the VOG, as Auerbach sits down and puffs away, blowing the smoke in Fleisher’s face.
“Baseball games take forever,” says Williams, “and there’s not a pure .400 hitter in the league anymore. What are we going to do about baseball?”
“Hey now, Trout and Betts are pretty good,” says Miller. “I’d like a piece of that $430-million deal Trout just signed. That would buy every club in both leagues.”
“Let’s concentrate on the pace of play, first,” says Auerbach. “Selig tried to address it and this new guy, Manfred, talks about it all the time.”
Williams chimes in, “I’ve been thinking about it while I’ve been out in Arizona, and I’ve come up with a few basic rules.
“One: No mound visits in the first three innings, unless you’re removing the pitcher.
“Two: No more stepping out of the box. None of that Thurman Munson adjusting the wrist bands on his batting gloves thing. None of it. Just get in the box and hit, all due respect to Thurm.
“You made a huge mistake, there, Big Guy.”
“Three: And a new rule, a Manager is only allowed to use four relievers in any one game.”
“Let it be done,” bellows the VOG.
“What about the hitters?”
“I’ll send 10 Roberto Clementes, 10 Pete Roses, now that gambling seems to be legal, you hypocrites, 10 Rod Carews, one Frank Robinson and one more Ted, but that’s it.
“To help on the pace of play, I’m also going to send 30 Tom Seavers.”
“Done,” says Auerbach.
“Two down, two to go,” he adds as Secretariet snorts and nickers.
“Okay, three to go.”
“Football’s next,” shouts Auerbach.
“What are we going to do?”
“No more visits to the Orchids of Asia,” laughs Chenery.
“Hey, now,” says the VOG, “I’m going to deal with that stuff. Judgement day rocks.”
“Let’s focus on the game,” Payton chimes in.
“No,” says the VOG, “we’ve got to deal with the violence and the CTE first or I’m gonna shut this sport down.”
“Touch football, ‘you talking ’bout touch football,” asks Fleisher in his best Allen Iverson impression? “Please don’t go there.”
“Okay, says the voice. “I’ll deal with it. No more head injuries if you guys get the word out that even one more domestic violence incident, conviction or not, and I’m opening-up that trap door, right to the HEAT. The fifty yard line right to hell, you got it?”
“What’s with all these other leagues,” asks Auerbach? “It’s getting ridiculous. AAF, some Alliance thing like Star Wars, XFL, Pacific Pro Football, AAFL is that Flag Football thing, some Spring Football League, IFL, FFL, FBI, CIA, BBC, BB King, Doris Day.”
“Who the hell was Matt Busby,” asks Landis out of nowhere?
“Scottish footballer,” notes the VOG.
“Let the minor leagues flourish,” says Chenery, “It’ll help in the long run.”
“Let it be done,” says the VOG, “I’ll sprinkle in a few Walter Paytons, one more Joe Namath and then it’s all on the powers that be in the NFL to cultivate the talent, keep these kids healthy, invent some better equipment and stop screwing around with the injury reports in New England.”
“We’re really moving along here,” says Auerbach, “I’m not going to need to light up that second cigar.”
“Red, you’re up next!”
“Yeah, We Got Next!” … That David Stern even made a league for the women. Pretty good. I always liked that Rebecca Lobo kid and her husband is hysterical. Remember how good he was in Sports Illustrated?”
“Yeah, that Steve Rushin guy was a lot funnier than the dude writing this crap,” said Landis.
“Red, the NBA,” says Fleisher, “What can we do to fix the NBA?”
“Get rid of the three, that damn ABA gimmick, puffs Auerbach. “It’s just killing the sport – everywhere and at every level.”
“They say it’s exciting,” says Fleisher. “The home run of basketball.”
“The hell with that,” Red comes back. “It’s a horse-shit shot.”
“Neigh,” they hear.
“Sorry, sorry,” says the impatient Washingtonian.
“They reward guys for taking 30-footers. It started with Dampier and Carrier and then that damned Pitino had Billy Donovan chucking up threes because his team sucked. Son-of-a-gun took away my title, too.
“Now, it’s out of control. We’ve got to rein it in. No more three-pointers!”
“How about they activate the “three” in the last two minutes of the game? That way, if a team is down, they can hoist ’em up and maybe catch-up,” suggests Fleisher, always looking out for the best interests of the game.
“Steph Curry’s gonna be pissed,” says Fleisher.
VOG says, emphatically, “Let it be done, and I’ll toss-in one more Chamberlain to show everyone, even that Lebron guy, just how good Wilt really was.”
“So that’s it, right?”
Chenery speaks up … “I’ve been thinking about the Sport of Kings. I have two simple suggestions and then maybe we can agree to re-incarnate the Greatest of All-Time?”
“What’ chu Got,” asks Red?
“We’ve got to have safe race courses, the surfaces have gotten away. Twenty three horses at Santa Anita. We need to address that and – I don’t care if it’s a miracle – we need to make sure these thoroughbreds, these beautiful animals and their jockeys are safe.
“I’m on it,” says the VOG. “Let it be done. Safe racing surfaces will be invented and installed everywhere, and the grass will be eternally safe.
“I’ll throw in one more Del Mar, one more Saratoga, a Seattle Slew, and a Man O’War, and one War Admiral, although I could live without those names, so let one of them be named Lennon, one McCartney and the other Ringo.
“And lastly, before we have some Chow-dah and get out of here before I change the weather forecast for the 24th time today, I’ll send one – just one – more Secretariet.”
It shall be named, “Harrison.”
“We’re done. Everything should be fine, for a while at least, until they screw it up again with rules changes.”
“Take care everyone,” says Sweetness.
“Stay safe,” says Williams.
“What day is it,” asks Miller.
“Monday,” shouts Fleisher.
“No, the date,” asks Miller.
“It’s April 1st,” says Torrey, adjusting his bow-tie with a little smile.
“Pleasant dreams,” bellows the Voice of God.