Dig a bit deeper into any of those holiday classics that you enjoyed as a kid and you’ll find a darker undercurrent belies all those happy endings and Christmas cheer. It’s a Wonderful Life documents the hallucinations of a suicidal family man after his languishing business appears destined for bankruptcy; A Christmas Story is about a child whose dream present is a gun; The Santa Clause is a legal morass of manslaughter, divorce and contract disputes; Jingle All the Way is a ruthless indictment of American materialism about a man whose relationship with his son hinges on the acquisition of a toy (spoiler: Arnold Schwarzenegger beats up an army of Santa Clauses and murders Sinbad’s comedy career).
The latest addition into the holiday compendium is the Arizona Diamondbacks' three-minute holiday cheer to their fans. Instead of a humorous rendition of a Christmas carol or a simple holiday greeting, the Diamondbacks opted for a thematically confused adaptation of Home Alone, the 1990 “family” film that chronicles the diabolical plots of a ruthless young sociopath in his attempt to thwart two dunderheaded home burglars.
Despite the unseemly reality that Kevin, played memorably by Macaulay Caulkin, is capable of substantial violence through clever plotting and an obsession with the Scarface-like “Angels With Filthy Souls,” we all find it generally amusing that the cute child capably terrorizes two intruders through savvy and panache, even if his methods recall John Yoo’s The Torture Memos.
The Diamondbacks chose president Derrick Hall, a bearded 49-year-old man, instead of a child to assume the protagonist’s role. Upon learning nobody is at work because the team is off for the holidays, Hall begins some innocuous hijinks—rummaging through the chief revenue officer’s office, announcing his name on the PA system and driving the bullpen cart—until embarking on a series of darker quests in his isolation. Hall’s recreation of Home Alone feels less like a jaunty tribute to a ’90s classic and more like Mark David Chapman’s reading of The Catcher in the Rye.
First, he orders a pizza from Papa John’s, only to threaten the innocent delivery man with murder by playing three video clips from Home Alone’s famed film-within-a-film “Angels With Filthy Souls.” Unlike Kevin, who tricks the teenage delivery boy because he has no source of stable income as an abandoned nine-year-old, Hall replicates Kevin’s tact so he can get a free pizza from a company that sponsors his team. Kevin got free pizza via his ingenuity; Hall tortures the delivery man seemingly for fun like the creepy brothers in Michael Haneke's Funny Games. What else can one expect from a team that traded the team’s best player in history (Paul Goldschmidt) for a handful of guys who might be everyday big leaguers?
Upon spotting “intruders”—four people all wearing jerseys of Arizona’s divisional rivals—Hall conducts a series of unimaginative pranks—he hits the Padres representative with an empty bucket of bubble gum; he rains baseballs atop the Rockies supporter; he squirts ketchup and mustard on the Giants fan and chases the Dodgers fan into the pool, the location where Los Angeles celebrated the 2013 NL West division title. The nadir doesn’t come until the very end, when franchise legend Randy Johnson rescues Hall from two intruders by firing baseballs at their respective heads. Johnson routinely hit 100 mph with his fastball over his 22-year MLB career and once exploded a bird, so fastballs from even the elder Johnson are likely lethal. Hall offers Johnson a beer for his efforts.
So despite the fact the Diamondbacks will open the 2019 season likely without their three best players—Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke and AJ Pollock—they will have Hall, who seems comfortable torturing his divisional opponents and contracting Randy Johnson as a hitman.