Roger Goodell finally finds the right house for what he perceives to be a Christmas party. He double checks the address and see’s the name, “Stern” on the mailbox. He knocks nervously on the door, much like a 16-year kid picking up a girl for their first date.
Stern opens the door and says, “You’re late.”
Goodell responds, “Yeah sorry about that, just trying to get rid of kick…”
Stern interrupts by telling him late arrivals are worthy of a $500,000 fine.
“Well, I’m afraid I can’t afford that but I hope you accept my gift instead,” Goodell said.
“I’m Jewish, I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I’ll take it,” Stern tells him.
Before he can open it, the two hear a knock at the door. It’s Bud Selig, and like Goodell, he hears a lecture from Stern about being late.
“I’m sorry sir,” Selig said. “I’ve been working on my naughty list. Some people call it the Mitchell Report for some reason.”
Goodell, wanting to waste no time, picks up Stern’s wrapped present and hands Selig one as well.
“Here’s something I got you guys,” he said. “I think these things will go a long way in making your sports safer. That’s what I want to do for my league.”
Stern opens his gift first. It’s what looks like a basketball but feels more like a stuffed animal.
“It’s a replacement ball,” Goodell says.
“Yeah, um Roger, this would never work, it doesn’t bounce,” Stern said.
“Exactly,” Goodell responded. “You don’t have to worry about guys getting hurt from dribbling the ball. Instead, you can eliminate dribbling altogether. It’s not like you ever call travel anyway. Plus nobody will get hurt when it hits them in the face.”
Selig proceeded to open his gift. It’s a bat with padding and a tee.
“I was going to give this to my son, but figured it’s too dangerous for him right now,” he said. “I thought your league would actually get more use of it. You no longer have to worry about guys getting hit by pitch or players’ arms being too sore after throwing 100 pitches.”
Selig is all for it but knows it will be a tough sell to owners. Not to mention, he’s not sure if the padded bats will be easier or more difficult to cork and he’s all about cutting down on cheating. “No one’s hitting a home run with this stuff and….”
An excited Goodell interrupts by saying, “Not even steroid users. Steroids won’t do any good.”
“Can I interest you gentlemen in something to drink? Champagne? Scotch? 7up perhaps?” an unfamiliar voice said.
Stern immediately responds by saying, “Oh I’m sorry guys. This is Gary Bettman. He’s my butler right now until he gets his feet on the ground.”
Bettman tells them he’s the NHL Commissioner and his league is on strike. Having heard about other sports going on strike he begins to ask for advice from the others about how to handled things.
“Oh, I actually got the president involved,” Selig said. “That was back in the 90’s.”
“Oh man, it seems like just last year that my league was on strike,” Stern said. “Wait, where’s my champagne?”
“Yes sir, sorry sir. I’m on it,” Bettman said as he jetted for the kitchen before coming out with a bottle of champagne and three paper cups.
“What is this? What the ‘H-E-Double Hockey Sticks’ are you thinking? Paper cups? Is this the best we have to our offer our fans, I mean, our guests?
“No sir, I just thought…”
“Thought what?” Stern said with his voice rising and cracking. “Just thought, have you stopped beating your dog? Go get the best of the best and bring it out right now.” Stern tells him before turning around and apologizing to the others. “He’s just a mistake away from losing his job here. He’s ruining my image.”
Bettman then carries in the Stanley Cup and says, “OK guys, here she is. You have no idea where she’s been and what others have done to her,” and he begins to pour the champagne into the cup. It doesn’t take long for the commissioners to start enjoying the champagne and get to the heart issues as everybody offers advice.
It also didn’t take long for the alcohol to take effect in Stern particularly as his demeanor quickly changed to a loving and caring person.
“You know what changed and how I got rid of all the negative stuff? I came out with the NBA Cares. I tell the players if you don’t care, you don’t play. That way, we make sure the NBA really does care. We say it and we mean it. I think you guys should do something similar. Roger, you could have the NF-Love. Your slogan could be, ‘You can’t have enough love from the NF-Love. It’s perfect.”
Goodell agrees and is taken back by Stern’s wisdom but not Selig.
“I don’t love everybody, just some people,” he said. “Let’s face it, nobody likes those Houston folks. They whine about wanting the roof open and I said no way Jose. Then after that hurricane damaged their stadium, I offered them a perfectly good solution to play in my hometown of Milwaukee and they whined again because, ‘That gives the White Sox home-field advantage.’ Houston does have a problem. They always whine. Roger, it’s a good thing you don’t have a team in Houston.”
Goodell quickly corrected him. “Actually, we do. The Houston Texans,” he said.
“No kidding? I thought they moved to Kentucky or Indiana or somewhere like that,” Selig said.
“Nope, they’ve been in Houston for as long as I have been the commissioner,” Goodell said.
Bettman, hearing the conversation, finally worked up enough courage to speak.
“I don’t have a team in Houston,” he said. “Well, I guess I don’t have a team anywhere right now.”
Goodell, getting excited again said, “Oh, you should try what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get a team overseas to expand our fan base. If you got a team in the country of Africa, numbers would go through the roof. And Mr. Stern, if you played a holiday classic at the North Pole, I guarantee there’s not a fan who wouldn’t want to watch.”
The guys continued to drink the night away and discuss the issues most important to them and their sports. Goodell just wants to make things safe. Stern just wants to have a clean image. Selig wants to have clean players and Bettman just wants to have players. Their meeting or party just showed how similar they are. They truly are four of a kind.