"We like to do a lot of pranks on the Ben and Skin show," someone announced before my segment aired, and noted that their producer "gets these writers from all over the country who write blogs, and so they're eager to jump on radio stations because they don't get a lot of interview requests."
This was true. They caught me. I was excited to be there. Unlike sports radio hosts, I like talking about sports.
The backstory is this: Before the Rangers were in Boston to play the Sox two weeks ago, a producer had emailed Over the Monster asking if someone would like to discuss the upcoming series. The producer said they wanted to talk about ex-Rangers Robbie Ross, Mike Napoli and Alexi Ogando, and I planned to bring up Koji Uehara as well, whom I thought they'd forgotten.
They hadn't forgotten. This was the same week Ballghazi reached its most recent breathtaking peak, and Ben and Skin wanted to mine that content for all it was worth. The name of the show was never mentioned to me, and it was presented as if I was live on the air, but I wasn't. I didn't hear the fake intro above, obviously. As I prepped to go live with "Carl" and "Rational Bill," I heard screaming and the name of the show I was on in a Flexbomb-type drop which I would hear many, many times.
It was THE INFERNO (explodey sounds). It was explicitly the hottest take zone possible. A lot of people have said it sounds like Crazy Ira and the Douche from Parks & Recreation, and that's true, but incomplete. This made them look uncomfortably calm. This wasn't scripted. This was a setup, and the setup had to be convincing. It was.
Red Sox are wasting the ace they already have
Could the Sox use Cole Hamels? Yeah, everyone could. Boston can't even support the ace they already have, though.
The problem was that their lunatic act seemed, somehow, normal, and normal isn't funny. At no point did I realize I was being pranked. Name-calling, poop jokes, it was all there, and almost nothing landed. Listening to it back, it's sort of uncomfortable for them, because their schtick is to record the interview before their segment and play it live on the air as they commentate, usually in the form of cackling at how bad they're bullying some poor college student. As their jokes fell more and more flat, they stopped laughing and eventually cut out a five-minute stretch in which "Rational Bill" told me about having to change his grandfather's diapers and how he often got farted in the face.
Even this fell flat, when he asked me if anyone farted in my face. I have a three-month-old, so, frankly, it was a stupid question, and I answered it as such.
In fairness there was one great joke. In the single nod to the pre-show questions -- likely mandated for reasons of plausible deniability -- they asked me about Ross, a lefty reliever with the distinction of having been cut since the interview aired.
"Carl," who screamed at the top of his lungs at all times, asked me what Ross was up to, and I said he was facing left-handed batters and usually not getting them out.
"He was left-handed here too," "Rational Bill" deadpanned, and it was good.
The rest, and majority, were interchangeable questions about Tom Brady to which I was not allowed to provide a right answer. Did I think the punishment was fair? No, I said. "You're a pussy!" he said, and I made note to mention how unbearable I'd have felt if the Patriots had lost the Super Bowl. I meant in general, not just then, but it was all the same thing. I was called a pussy, bitch, douche and ass, all censored. Calling someone that is a fireable offense at some places and a job requirement at others; if I helped fill some quotas, good for me, but I want my cut.
I sang. Out of nowhere, "Reasonable Bill," suggested I sing a version of "Over the Rainbow," with "Over the Monster" lyrics. This I could do, as making up lyrics to songs on the fly, often in an altered state, is in the geographic center of my wheelhouse.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Tom Brady cheats
But we don't care because
We have Lombardi trophies
They paused, because you're not supposed to ace the test. So they stalled as "Rational Bill" sang "Over the Rainbow" from start to finish, even finishing with a Kamakawiwo'olean flourish, blending the tail into "and I think to myself, what a wonderful world!" Amen, brother.
And then it was over and I wasn't quite sure what had happened, except that I had been a mere log in content engine room that is THE INFERNO (explodey sounds), and I had signed up to do it. Baseball talk or poop chatter? The God of Content cares not, and I was unwittingly under the butthole of a media monster which I've been trying to avoid for years, and it was farting on me. It was insanity. It was easy. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, because, unlike them, I like talking about sports.
Still, I stewed about it in the moment, and then real life intervened. I picked up my girl from the nanny and walked her around the neighborhood and those feelings started to melt away. It was finally warm in Brooklyn after the long winter, the craziest in my life, and on that walk, under the perfect spring sun, and not for the first time since my baby was born back in mid-February, I thought to myself... holy shit, am I glad Malcolm Butler intercepted that pass.
Editor's Note: For those who would like to experience the full horror story, here's Bryan's appearance.