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Just a Mets Word Meaning ‘No Outfield’

The following passage is from Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live [1]by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad regarding the show’s first foray into prime time, a 1977 trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras:

Buck Henry and Jane Curtin were sitting atop their reviewing platform in the middle of the French Quarter, waiting for the Bacchus parade. The exact routing and timing of the parade had been the subject of many hours of discussion between Lorne Michaels and the police department during the week, and they had continually assured him that it would arrive at Buck and Jane’s location no later than forty-five minutes into the show. But by mid-show there was still no parade, and no indication its arrival was imminent. Every ten minutes or so, usually when something else went wrong, Lorne would cut back to Buck and Jane. Having no parade to cover, they filled time with jokes written by Herb Sargent and Alan Zweibel, who were standing just off-camera, scribbling one-liners. In the control booth, people were trying to contact the police, screaming what would become the most repeated question of the night: “Where’s the fucking parade?”

The parade never did arrive, at least while the show was on the air. There were numerous explanations offered later, among them that there had been a fatal accident along the parade route. Finally, in the closing seconds of the show, Jane Curtin turned to Buck Henry and said, “Shall we tell them, Buck? The parade has not been delayed: The parade never existed!”

“That’s right, Jane,” Buck said. “Mardi Gras is just a French word meaning ‘no parade’!”

And Michael Bourn is just a Mets word meaning “no outfield”. No matter how often we uttered it, its definition hasn’t changed.

Michael Bourn, you see, never existed, at least in our world [2]. He was just a rumor. There was one outrageous urban myth making the rounds that intimated he could very well be the Mets center fielder, but only if something happened a few weeks from now with an arbitrator and an agent and a favorable ruling and an inside-straight negotiation. But by then, as anyone with a calendar could tell you [3], Spring Training will have been long underway, so when you look back on it with just a touch of hindsight, it’s tough to imagine that Bourn — if he indeed existed — was ever going to become a Met.

I sure found myself believing it might happen, though. Made me happy to think it might. I could make lineups with Bourn at the top of them and envision an outfield with Bourn in the middle of it. But I hear players can be had in an amateur draft, and if the famous one-liner scribbler Sandy Alderson [4] is really wise and really lucky, having a pick between the 10th and the 12th in that draft can eventually lead to great things.

Maybe even a parade!

But probably not.

Thing that is real: Me, talking The Happiest Recap [5] and the unhappy outfield situation, on the Rising Apple Report, Wednesday night around 6:40. You can listen here [6].