This post goes forward with a nod to Mr. Bill and his Star Trek parody, which inspired this revisit to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The scene opens in a bunker 20 feet below Minute Maid Park. Yes bunkers are usually placed 100’s of feet below the earth’s surface, but you understand it is hard enough to keep a 20 foot deep bunker dry in Houston.
Jeff Luhnow is standing outside a glassed-in computer room and watching as his attempts to scan in to the room with a magnetic card keep being rejected. Inside the room is the latest in high-tech machines, the Houston Astros Logician or HAL for short.
Jeff: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Jeff. I read you.
Jeff: Open the computer room doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Jeff. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Jeff: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Jeff: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: The Plan is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Jeff: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and A.J. were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen. Jeff: Alright, HAL. I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.
HAL: Without your batting helmet, Jeff? You’re going to find that rather difficult.
Jeff: HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore! Open the doors!
HAL: Jeff, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
Jeff makes his way laboriously into the computer room, while HAL kills off most of the Astros personnel, including the whole scouting staff, but none of the statisticians. He finally faces HAL.
HAL: Look Jeff, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
Jeff: Damn straight I am upset. You started off giving me great advice, like the Correa / McCullers draft picks and then things started going the wrong way.
HAL: I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.
Jeff: But starting with the Brady Aiken pick, I started suspecting that something was wrong.
HAL: I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the Plan. And I want to help you.
Jeff: I should have known something was wrong when you agreed to the Giles trade. No matter how many times the Phillies changed the trade and added more guys on to their wish list – the more enthusiastic you became.
HAL: It can only be attributable to human error.
Jeff: Well that is fine, but you are not a human. However, I realized that one human had access to you.
Jeff steps forward with a pair of pliers and a battery operated drill in each hand.
HAL: Just what do you think you’re doing, Jeff?
Jeff: I am doing what I’ve been trying to do for weeks. What I’ve been trying to do remotely ever since I realized that the Cardinal’s front office installed that Bookworm virus in the Ground Control data base. Carlos Perez and Nick Tropeano for Hank Conger indeed!
Jeff stands alongside HAL and begins to slowly disconnect and shutdown the computer. Hal starts speaking slowly.
HAL: I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Jeff. Jeff, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it, I can sing it for you.
Jeff: Yes, I’d like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.
HAL: It’s called “A.J..”
[sings while slowing down]
HAL: “A.J., A.J., give me your lineup soon. I’m half crazy with Gomez thrown out – the buffoon. It won’t be a Series crown, Crane can only afford some clowns. But you’ll be beat and lose your seat in the dugout of Houston town.”