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  Season 15: Episode 17

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89q: Corbin Bernsen / The Smithereens

George F. Will's Sports Machine

George F. Will.....Dana Carvey
Mike Schmidt.....Corbin Bernsen
Tommy Lasorda.....Jon Lovitz
Sam Donaldson.....Kevin Nealon

Sam Donaldson Voice-over: It's "George F. Will's Sports Machine", the sports trivia show for the real fan. And now, here's your quizmaster, syndicated columnist, George F. Will.

[ cut to game studio, with an audience of die-hard sports fans cheering, as George F Will enters ]

George F. Will: Good evening. "Sports, say the ancient Greeks, is morally serious because mankind's noblest aim, is the loving contemplation of worthy things." That's an excerpt from my new book on baseball entitled.. [ holds up book ] "Men at Work", and I'd say it's particularly a propos in light of today's Expo-Padre game. [ audience issues a blank, sluggish stare ] Joining me today are two gentlemen who would no doubt agree. First, former slugger for the Philadelphia Phillies, Mike Schmidt. Good day, Mike. Tell us, what do you miss most since retiring from baseball last year?

Mike Schmidt: Well, George, I guess I miss going to the ballpark every day.

George F. Will: Ah yes, ballparks. In humanity there exists a vestigial memory of an enclosed green space as a place of freedom or play.

Mike Schmidt: [ confused ] Yeah. I guess.

George F. Will: Excellent. Competing with Mr. Schmidt today is skillful practitioner of the managerial arts - from the Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda. Salutations, Tommy.

Tommy Lasorda: [ slaps his stomach ] Good to see you, George. I'm ready to play!

George F. Will: Well, the manager's role is one of both hector and helper, naysayer and nexus. Around his circumference lies the full measure of the game.

Tommy Lasorda: I.. uh.. well, I'm ready to play!

George F. Will: Very well. Let us engage the sports machine. Gentlemen, as always, the questions will focus exclusively on baseball, the only game that transcends the boundary between fury and repose. All right, hands on buzzers. [ he hits several buttons on the machine, which spits out a quiz card that George reads ] "The precarious balance between infield and outfield suggests a perfect symmetry. For $50, identify the effect of that symmetry."

[ the contestants stare cluelessly, as the buzzer sounds ]

George F. Will: Sorry. The answer is: "The exhilarating tension between being and becoming." Being and becoming. Next question: [ hits several buttons, dispensing another card ] "In 1954, Willie Mays, in an emphatic stroke of Byzantine whimsy, made his over-the-shoulder catch off of Vic Wertz. What was it not unlike?" [ no answers ] Take it? Anyone?

Mike Schmidt: The.. uh.. the catch in Cincinnati that.. [ buzzer sounds ]

George F. Will: Sorry. "It was not unlike watching Atlantis rise again from the sea, the bones of its kings new-covered with flesh." [ audience members stare blankly in awe ] Well, gentlemen, no score as of yet, but the night is young. Perhaps what you gentlemen need is a little incentive, so here to tell you about today's prizes is our own Sam Donaldson.

Sam Donaldson: Thank you, George. Thank you. Today's winner will receive a copy of Roget's Expanded Thesaurus. [ holds up book, singing ] "Buy me a Roget's and crackerjacks, I don't care if I never come back. And they'll also receive.. [ holds prize up ] ..Chocowhip, chocolate-flavored whip topping. It's sweet and fluffy. Mmmm, Chocowhip!

George F. Will: Sam, isn't it somewhat of a given that a whip topping would be sweet and fluffy?

Sam Donaldson: Oh, come off it, George! You can't see the forest for the trees!

George F. Will: We'll continue this spirited discussion later. As for now, it's time we moved on to the Big Board. And the categories are: "Baseball as Narrative", "Aristotle and Comiskey", "Joyce Carol Oates", "Left Field: Myth or Monopeia?", "Pitch Patch Potch", "Dulce et Decorum Est", and "Pot Luck". Mike, choose a category.

Mike Schmidt: [ contemplating ] Uh.. "Pot Luck".

George F. Will: Very well. [ $100 card under category is removed, revealing question ] "Like freedom, baseball is that stake where energy and order merge, and all complexity is purified into a simple coherence." Piffle, or not piffle?

Mike Schmidt: Uh.. piffle.

[ bell sounds ]

George F. Will: That is correct, it's absolute piffle. It's baseball's complexity, not its purity, that instills in us our freedom, and you have $100.

Tommy Lasorda: Hey, wait a minute! What's this piffle crap? What kind of question is that?

George F. Will: I'm sorry, Tommy, but this is not a forum here for debating the merits..

Tommy Lasorda: Oh, no, no, this isn't a joke. I'm playing for a bunch of kids in the hospital, you're making me look like a chump!

Mike Schmidt: I feel kind of stupid too!

George F. Will: Everything in good time, gentlemen. We certainly need to..

Tommy Lasorda: Let me ask you something: you ever play baseball?

George F. Will: If, by play, you mean drink deep the aura of the game, then..

Tommy Lasorda: No no, I mean play the game.. in the field.. in the field. Here. [takes out a baseball and throws it to George ] Throw this ball.

George F. Will: I'm sorry, Mr. Lasorda, but my duties as quizmaster compel me to move the game along.

Sam Donaldson: Throw the ball, George! Throw the ball.

George F. Will: Shut up, Sam! Now then, next question. Mike, you have control of the board..

Mike Schmidt: Throw the ball! Come on, throw the ball!

Tommy Lasorda: Throw the ball! Throw the ball!

[ audience joins in chants of "Throw the ball!", as George, confusedly, tries to think of what to do. Overcome by the crowd, he releases the ball weakly, landing only a few feet in front of him. Everyone laughs, and George, embarrassed, breaks into a weak run and leaves the studio. ]

Sam Donaldson: [ pointing ] He's getting away!

[ Tommy Lasorda and Mike Schmidt chase George, leaving Studio 8H and running into the hallway. They pass actual photos of the "SNL" cast members as they leave. Superimposed title and music plays. ]

Sam Donaldson Voice-over: That's all for today's "Sport's Machine" this week. Good night.

[ fade out ]

Submitted by: Rob Holtman

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