So I was in Chicago earlier in the week for a professional development conference, and I decided to reach out to Bill Swerski from the famous Super Fans sketch that you might have probably watched back in the early nineties on SNL.
And if you’re too young to know this famous character, who is an actual person in real life, you may have seen some old clips on YOUTUBE.
My uncle Bob used to work on the set of SNL during the eighties and early nineties, so I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the great characters that used to grace that comedic stage.
Now, I figured since I was in Chicago, I should reach out to Bill and see if he’d be cool with doing an interview with me. He was super excited when I told him that I was doing this Blue Jays blog thing and he said that I should meet him at Ditka’s Sports Bar.
I have to be honest, I recorded our conversation on my iPhone and he was a couple sheets to the wind, so translating some of what he had to say was a bit difficult at times.
Hello, my friends up in Canada. I’m Bill Swerski. If you don’t remember who I am, that’s okay. But you should be real happy with da Birds up there and where the organization is going.
Why should we be so happy, Bill?
Well, ya see, ya might not know this, but I’ve taken quite a bit of punishment with da Bears over the years and from what I can see from here, things seem to be looking up in your small town up there in Canada - if ya know what I mean.
Ahh, I see. Let me just get this out of the way before we begin.
Sure, what is it kid.
Any heart attacks?
I had one, maybe a couple … Listen kid … I don’t mean to be so rude, but can we cut the garbage and talk about da Birds.
Alright then, well I don't know if any of ya people up in Canada know this, but Bill Swerski is a big super fan of da Birds. And things are finally starting to look quite a bit better up there if ya ask me.
First things first kids, let me tell ya something - the greatest thing that your organization could’ve done was get Mark ShapIro up there from Cleveland to take care of the business. Ya see, I know that some of you Canadians have a real love for that, ahh, Alex Whatchamafuck guy.
Sorry to cut you off, but let’s try to keep it clean.
Sorry ‘bout that, yeah, so as I was saying ... that Alex guy, who just signed on with da Braves, isn’t exactly the Mike Ditka of baseball if ya know what I mean.
The way I see it, he’s kinda like a guy who would manage a restaurant like the Hard Rock Café. Ya know, nice tourist place to buy a shirt, have a ten-dollar beer, and some shitty wings. Now, on the other hand, I see Mark ShapIro as a guy who will manage a fine dining restaurant where they have a real chef and don’t use microwaves to heat up the food if ya get what I’m sayin’.
So last time I checked before the trade deadline in 2015, most of the people up in Canada who like da Birds were hootin' and hollerin' for him to get canned – or tossed in the trash.
But now suddenly, he’s like a local hero for all you people up there. The way I see it, the best thing for the future of other baseball teams out there is having that guy run da Braves. It’s gonna be like Christmas when he starts moving all their prospects for older players so they can try to get back to their winning Ted Turner days.
Here’s the thing I’ve learnt over the years as a super fan, building a successful organization is kinda like an all you can eat chicken wing night here at Ditka’s Sports Bar. Ya see, the wings are endless and they keep on coming and they’re good.
(Ed. Bill ended up going on a long rant about his love for chicken wings, beer and the Chicago Bears. He oscillated between what he loved more and ended up deciding that he couldn't choose just one and that all three count as one, I think. He was speaking rather quickly and it was hard to understand, at times, with his thick accent. Here's the rest of his rant ...)
And the menu has to have a lot of different flavours too if ya know what I mean. It can’t just be mild, medium, and hot. Ya need a good variety of wings on the menu. A scholar might call it durability and flexibility. That’s what a good chicken wing menu has.
Now, if the wings just don’t keep comin’ from the kitchen then that means all I have is the basket in front of me and sure I enjoy eating them, but I want more. Successful wing nights don’t run out of chicken wings. And when your baseball team can’t produce talent at different levels then the team is going to end up being an empty basket of wings. Do ya understand what I’m saying?
Ahh, yeah, I think. So what you’re saying is that it’s important to have talent move through the system kind of like a production line constantly feeding you chicken wings?
What do you think the organization should do with Josh Donaldson?
Ahh kid, I don’t know. I guess the way I see it, if a team offers a big return now, ya can make the move because one big chicken wing on my plate isn’t going to necessarily make me full. So it’s a real tough situation. Ya keep the guy, fans are happy.
I say ya ride out the first three months of the season and see what happens. Da Birds have one more window to fly out of, so there is no harm in giving it the ol' Ditka try.
One healthy Sanchez, a full season of Donaldson, and a healthy Martin could really make a big difference this year, but if shit hits the fan like it does here in Chicago with my Bears every year, no big deal. Ya deal with it then.
I don’t want to take all of your time, but what do you think of the offseason rumours so far?
The offseason for baseball is kinda like cheap tabloids and trashy gossip magazines. I just watch football kid and not the one where the Italians lose if ya know what I’m sayin’.
Sure, okay, do you have any advice for Blue Jays fans?
Yeah. If ya have ever gone out for all you can eat wings, think about what I had to say. And remember this, if the kitchen serving them doesn’t have athleticism then the wings are never gonna get to your table too.
I want to thank Bill Swerski for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk a little Birds with me. He said that he would be willing to do this again some time in the future, so I will try and make that happen.
Enjoy bullshit season folks, there isn't a shittier time of the year.