Net Losses: A Play in One Act

Scene: It is late Saturday, September 6. Two CBS executives are seated next to each other at a large conference table.

Executive #1: I can’t wait for the Federer-Djokovic final!

Executive #2: Me neither! The two greatest tennis players currently playing, doing battle in the most wonderful city in America.

E1: Think of the ratings. Everyone loves Roger Federer, and everyone loves an old guy going for the win. Roger Federer is both of those things!

E2: But don’t sleep on Novak! Speed, athleticism, personality, and tennis’ most interesting nose. He’s got it all. It sure is a good day to be heads of CBS Tennis.

The executives cackle and toast their water glasses. Enter JOHN McENROE, whose dress shirt and tie are drenched in sweat.

McEnroe: I assume by now you’ve both heard the news.

E1: The news that we’re about to break records, earn huge raises, and become co-presidents of CBS? We sure have!

McEnroe: I guess you haven’t. Do you guys even watch tennis?

E1: How can I be expected to watch tennis when there’s college football on?

E2: How can I be expected to watch tennis when there’s anything else on?

McEnroe: Oh, God… well, I’m just gonna put it out there. Djokovic lost.

E1: What? I thought he was genetically immune to losing!

E2: This reminds me of what you always say, John. “You cannot be sincere!”

McEnroe: Well, I am sincere.

E2: This day will forever be mourned as one of sports broadcasting’s darkest.

E1: Relax, it might not be that bad. Who beat Djokovic? Was it Andy Roddick? Anna Kournikova? Did Nadal magically heal his knee and buy entry into the semifinals?

McEnroe: Kei Nishikori.

E1: Who?

E2: I think he’s that chef from that movie, the one who dreams of sushi.

E1: Mr. McEnroe, please tell us more about this Ryo Ishikawa.

McEnroe: He’s ranked eleventh in the world. He has a solid all-around game, but doesn’t do anything spectacular. His English skills are limited, and he’s known for his calm demeanor on court.

E1: Not spectacular? That sounds very un-Djokovician!

E2: Limited English? We don’t have money in the budget for an interpreter.

E1: Any chance this calm demeanor involves throwing water bottles at his opponent?

McEnroe: No, I tried to teach him that tactic, but he wasn’t buying into it.

E1: Well, I do believe this Koji Uehara is NOT someone we want in our US Open final, not by a long shot.

E2: It’ll be okay, though. Federer will still be there, and it might be kind of interesting to see the Greatest of All Time going up against a newcomer. Plus, Roger will win easily, and we’ll sell lots of commemorative DVDs of the match.

McEnroe: Actually, guys, there’s something else I have to talk to you about…

E1: Don’t worry, John, we have it covered. The trophy has been shipped over to the US Open engraving department, and is being fitted with Roger’s name as we speak.

McEnroe: Roger Federer lost too.

EXECUTIVE 1 falls from his chair and sobs uncontrollably.

E2: My mother always told me things like this would never happen to me if I just worked hard!

EXECUTIVE 1 picks himself up off the floor and begins using the documents in front of him to wipe his eyes.

E1: Is it too late to cancel the whole thing?

McEnroe: We must soldier on. If you guys can pull yourselves together, I’d like to tell you some things about Marin Cilic.

E2: Who is she?

McEnroe: He was Roger Federer’s opponent today. Beat him in straight sets. He’s from Croatia, he’s tall and sort of awkward, and he looks like Bert from Sesame Street.

E1: With the unibrow and everything? Oh, sweet mercy, this is all too much to bear.

McEnroe: He also served a suspension for doping last year.

E2: That’s it, I’m pulling the plug on this broadcast right now. No one in America wants to watch Shigetoshi Hasegawa versus juiced-up cheater Mary Killswitch. I don’t even think Croatia is a UN-recognized country.

McEnroe: Listen, guys, I know this is tough. But if you bail on this US Open, know that CBS will never get the rights to broadcast this great tournament ever again. I’ll personally make sure of it. The great sport of tennis shall not be marginalized!

E1: We should listen to him; he’s pretty much the king of the sport.

E2: No more US Open would mean no more Roger, no more Serena, and no more Will Ferrell reaction shots!

E1: Fine, John, you can have your stupid match. But there must be some way to make it better. Why didn’t you guys take our suggestion of training bikini models to call the lines?

McEnroe: I lobbied hard for that one, believe me.

E2: What if we got Pitbull to do musical performances between sets? I don’t think he’s doing anything on Monday.

E1: Those weasels at the World Croquet Championships got to him first.

E2: Hey, John, what if you played in place of the one who looks like Bert? You’re American, everyone loves your commentary, and I don’t think the phrase “calm on-court demeanor” is even in your vocabulary.

McEnroe: I’ll go get my racquets.

End scene.

Watch the 2014 US Open men’s final tonight at 5 PM Eastern, as Kei Nishikori takes on American hero John McEnroe. Only on CBS.