|Watching sausage (and TV) get made|
By Kenny Mayne
Special to Page 2
We were in a hurry to get to right field. No, we had to be in right field now. And we were in the left field corner.
Not that we ever used the "Mets" lot. With use of an All-Star media credential, one could self-upgrade parking accommodations to lots with closer proximity to the stadium. Much closer.
In one brazen (and successful) attempt to parlay a media credential into a virtual valet parking arrangement, I told the attendant that it was OK for me to be let through, as I'd been offered the safety patrol captaincy back in the sixth grade. Little did he know I turned down the position out of a fear of responsibility. I was going to enjoy sixth grade, buster.
Where was I?
In the left field corner with my producer, Haley, and my camera operator, Melf. We were in the field exit tunnel, and our mission was to document for the world (talk about responsibility) the sausage race at Miller Park that night. This race was to include ESPN Inc. employees Dan Patrick and Sean Salisbury.
The sausage race was scheduled to take place after the semifinals of the home run derby. But at the last minute, the sausage race director (looks more impressive on a business card) informed us the race would now run during the middle of the semifinals. At the time this info was related to us, the middle of the semifinals was quite possibly two pitches away. If Jason Giambi didn't hit some homers, we'd never make it over to the finish line in time ... unless we wanted Selig to take away our Mets parking lot pass.
Of course, this was a pessimistic view. After all, hadn't the adage been passed down from generation to generation that "a team can do a lot with eight outs?"
Eight-out rally caps, everyone.
If only we had caps.
We instead sprinted out into the bowels of Miller Park and found there's a lot of beer and sausage product in the bowels of Miller Park. But sadly, there were no keys to any electric carts.
Now, I wanted this story as much as anyone, but I'd sooner smoke bratwurst pudding than try to sprint around the stadium in the span of two pitches. We gave it the old college try and after keys were located (or an electric cart was stolen, whichever came first) our driver stood on the accelerator.
He had to stop once to drop off Haley behind the third base field entrance. One of the three of us had forgotten the microphone. Which one of us, I don't know. None of us carried the title "audio technician." It was bad enough trying to get Major League Baseball to let three of us dorks on the field to cover a weenie race; who knows the length of federal government forms necessary to appropriate a fourth pass. But had we obtained another credential, even that free-loading bastard who'd have ended up using it would not have submitted sheeplike to parking in the Mets lot.
We dropped Haley off, cart still rolling.
She'd have to run on her own now to grab the mike and meet us in the right field corner. This was assuming Giambi had hit a few more homers at this point.
Otherwise, I'd have been left to call the race into the camera microphone and risk ending up with audio quality born of a mating between Community Access Television and 1960s Bulgarian TV.
The driver floored it once more, and he laid on the horn just like those electric cart drivers at airports who mow down travelers as a way of keeping the population of the infirm high enough to stay in business.
We turned a corner, our driver blared his horn again and a husband and wife froze in their place.
They turned. It was Mr. and Mrs. Frank Robinson.
But the look he gave us indicated we'd have been banned like Pete Rose had the Expos been contracted, as originally planned.
I said "thanks" as we passed them. "Thanks" was employed as an omnibus word meaning: thanks, sorry, excuse us, and please don't make us park in the Mets lot.
We made it to the right field corner on time, but that was only because the sausage director changed plans once again and moved the race to the middle of the second semifinal.
Then the plan was changed once more back to the original plan.
It was as if the sausage race director had to delay the thing until somebody returned on an errand for her from the Mets lot.
Magically, the sausage race director gave the signal for the event to begin. Dan, in his hot dog outfit, Sean in his Polish sausage outfit and two other guys in their Italian sausage and bratwurst outfits took the field.
If you're wondering why Dan and Sean are named in the above paragraph, but the Italian and bratwurst runners aren't, it's because one of the three of us (Melf and Haley and me) forgot to ask their names. It was probably the same person who forgot the microphone previously.
Frank Robinson never saw the running of the sausage race. Otherwise, he would have glared at Dan Patrick, who cheated by cutting across the grass instead of staying on the warning track course as the others did.
Cheaters never prosper. He still couldn't get to the tape before the bratwurst, whatever his name is.
And Salisbury finished third behind the Italian sausage, whatever his name is.
Dan was DQ'd and placed last, but he did say funny things afterward, which is worth something.
Curiously, we headed in the direction of the Mets lot after we finished the taping. A thunderstorm of epic proportions had erupted . But there was no time to dwell on that. We were professional journalists. It said so right on our passes.
We had work to do. The work cannot be easily explained. It has something to do with time codes and sound sweetening and whether the editor has a scheduled break.
We slammed something together in about 37 minutes. And it was on color TV at some point.
The whole thing is a lot like watching sausage made.
Kenny Mayne is a SportsCenter anchor.