Hardball Theatre: Billy Beane Buys a Sandwich

Billy Beane Buys a Sandwich[1]

A Play in One Act by Keith Good

(Lights up; the scene is frozen. A Baker stands in an apron and toq behind a “Sandwich” counter in the O-Co Coliseum. Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane is standing before the counter. Very serious. OPS Machine Scott Hatteberg and Pete the stats geek browse the soft pretzels. Pete is looking at Billy Beane. They stand in tableaux, a moment of stillness.)

PETE. Is that…Billy Beane?

HATTEBERG. I think so. (Hatteberg turns and looks)

BAKER. Can I help you sir?

BEANE. I need a loaf of bread, please.

BAKER. We usually sell sandwiches, Mr. Beane, but if you want…

PETE. It’s time now.

HATTEBERG. I should go. (But they don’t move. Billy turns and looks at Hatteberg. They look in silence at one another, frozen.)

BAKER. Do you know that man? (A bell rings. The lights change.)

BEANE. (Dreamily) He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit? If ever they make a movie about how I assemble personnel—

BAKER. They did make a movie—

BEANE. Hatteberg would be emblematic of my frugal, analytic-driven baseball.

BAKER. Whatever you say, Mr. Beane. (Baker pulls a rye from under the counter) Two dollars.

BEANE. I have twenty three cents. (Shows the loose change in his palm.)

PETE. Everyone else in the game has it wrong. The goal shouldn’t be buying sandwiches, the goal should be buying slices of bread.

BAKER. You just want plain slices of bread? (Looking between Pete and Billy). Should I put the rye back?

BEANE. You know…a sandwich? (Hand jives to demonstrate) Bread, yummy stuff, bread—yeah? Pete crunched the numbers in Cleveland—

PETE. I went to Yale. (Hands over an analysis paper) Bill James is my personal savior.

BEANE. Hatteberg here can build championship-level sandwiches if we only use one piece of bread per sandwich.

HATTEBEG. I usually catch two slices of bread. But I can learn just the first.

BAKER. You mean an open-faced sandwich?

BEANE. No, I just invented it.

PETE. I helped.

BAKER. It’s an open-faced sandwich.

BEANE. (Speaking over the Baker) I call it “Money Sandwich.”

HATTEBERG. I don’t know, Billy. This analytic sandwich-making is so new. Can’t we just make two-slice sandwiches like everyone else?

BEANE. If we make sandwiches like the Yankees, we lose to the Yankees. We just lost a pumpernickel Ruben to the Red Sox. There are rich sandwich makers, and poor sandwich makers. Then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us. We’ve got to think differently.

PETE. Of the 20,000 slices of bread for us to consider, I believe there are 25 slices that we can afford, because everyone else making sandwiches undervalues them. (Reaches into garbage, pulls out a gnarled crust.) Billy, this is a gluten-free baguette crust. It’s one of the most undervalued breads in sandwich making, just because it looks funny.

BAKER. No, it’s under-valued because gluten-free bread is mostly old yoga mats and school paste.

PETE. Mr. Moneybags here (Nods to Baker) wants to use pumpernickel which runs two dollars a loaf, but we can build sandwiches from these for eighteen cents a bag.

BEANE: (Looks to Hatteberg) Hatterberg?

HATTEBERG. (Nods) I think I can make sandwiches with this.

BAKER.  Let me get this straight. You don’t want a sandwich. You don’t even want a loaf of bread. Instead, you want to buy an old sack full of stale gluten-free bread butts?

BEANE.  Eh! (claps) Now we’re playing Money Sandwich.

(Baker disappears behind counter for a beat, reappears with a dirty-looking plastic sack overspilling with end-pieces of sliced bread. He heaves it onto the counter.)

BAKER.  Listen, I was just going to chuck this in the incinerator. Truth is even the pigeons won’t touch this crap. But if you really want…

BEANE.  (Pulls sliced turkey and Swiss cheese from his back pocket, offers them to Hatteberg.). Pete, text me how it goes.

PETE. What? Why?

BEANE. (As if it’s obvious) I don’t watch the sandwich making.

(A tense beat. Hatteberg takes the meat and cheese and Billy turns his back. Hands shaking, Hatteberg takes a crust from the bag o’ crusts. He tries to make a one-slice sandwich but misses. He tries again. Fails. Hatteberg takes a deep breath, steadies himself. Working slowly, he places the meat on one crust. Then the cheese. Pete texts Billy. Billy’s phone trills. He turns, swipes the sandwich and takes a massive bite.)

PETE. I smell Oscar!

BEANE. (Struggling to eat what is clearly a tooth-shattering and disgusting sandwich) Now that’s a sandwich! I’ll take the whole bag!

BAKER. (Shrugs) That’ll be eighteen cents, Mr. Beane.

BEANE. (Rummages through pocket, still chomping on an inedible sandwich, and slaps a dime and two nickels on the counter) Sold! We’re gonna change the way people make sandwiches forever!

(A Yankee saunters behind the counter, fills a pillowcase with sandwiches and throws a cloud of twenties behind him as he exits. Beat.)

BEANE. Can I get my change?

(The Baker points to the “NO CHANGE” sign above him. Fade to black.)


[1] With severe apologies to David Ives’ Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.


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