Take Me Out to the Holosuite
Production no.: 554
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Chip Chalmers
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: October 17, 1998
Max Grodénchik ...........
Aron Eisenberg .............
Gregory Wagrowski ......
Chase Masterson ..........
Penny Johnson ..............
The all-Vulcan USS T'Kumbra has docked at DS9 for repairs, and its captain, Solok, pays Sisko a visit in his office. Sisko happens to dislike this man intensely, and it's easy to see why: despite being a Vulcan, Solok has an ingrained air of smug superiority that would make anyone want to bash his teeth in -- anyone but a Vulcan, that is. However, Sisko does his best to respond civilly to Solok's subtle digs, such as the fact that he has two Christopher Pike Medals to Sisko's one, and that he has been on the front lines while Sisko has been here. Some of the repairs to the T'Kumbra will have to wait a while, which gives Solok the opportunity to comment on the lack of professionalism and efficiency on starbases run by human officers.
As an afterthought, Solok tells Sisko he'll need a holosuite. He's created a special program for his senior officers, which they are "eager" to resume using. "In fact, you may find the program of some interest. It is based on an Earth game." "And what game would that be?" Sisko asks, uninterested. Solok almost smiles. He's about to get Sisko's goat, but good. A few minutes later, as Solok leaves, Sisko emerges from his office, and orders Kira to assemble the senior staff in the wardroom, now.
At the resulting meeting, Sisko looks grimly around at his officers. He tells them that Solok considers the T'Kumbra crew the finest in the fleet. "I happen to think that the people sitting at this table comprise the finest crew in the quadrant...When the captain challenged us to a contest of courage, teamwork and sacrifice, I accepted on your behalf." "We will destroy them," Worf succinctly announces. That's the reaction Sisko was hoping for. This "clash of the titans", as Bashir puts it, is two weeks from now, in a holosuite. "What's the contest?" Kira asks. Sisko smiles, putting his baseball on the table. "Baseball," he answers.
The DS9 officers are bemused but willing, and they get to work familiarizing themselves with the intricate rules of the centuries-old game. The humans have their work cut out for them just as much as the non-humans, since baseball hasn't been widely played even on Earth in a long time. Intense discussions are held involving terms like "infield fly rule", "bunt", and "grand slam". In Quark's, as they're quizzed by Ezri, O'Brien and Bashir are looking up what a "Fancy Dan" is when Rom and Leeta come up, looking excited. They've heard about the game from Jake, and they'd like to play too, if there's room on the team. "Nog always talks about how Captain Sisko and Jake play baseball, and how it brings them closer together," Rom says. "Since Nog and I haven't seen much of each other lately, I thought this might be a good way of spending some time together." "And I decided to make it a complete family outing," Leeta adds. Ezri smiles. "That is so sweet."
Quark pronounces it "idiotic". They'll never make the team. "At least we're trying out," Rom says. "What about you?" "I don't have the slightest interest in this hew-mon game," Quark declares. Witheringly, Leeta replies, "And you know why? Jake said it's a game that takes heart, and you sold yours a long time ago." As they leave, Quark glares after them. Then he asks what time the tryouts are.
The hopefuls -- including Quark -- gather in a holosuite ballpark. Jake ("The Slider") Sisko will be the pitcher; the other positions are open. Sisko, in coach mode, gives them an opening pep speech. He lets them know that baseball is not an easy game to play, and there are only two weeks in which to practice. On top of that, the opposing team are all Vulcans, a race stronger and faster than any of the DS9 crew, except Worf and perhaps Bashir. "But there is more to baseball than physical strength. It's, uh...it's about courage. And it's also about faith. And it is also about heart. And if there's one thing our Vulcan friends lack, it's heart. I think we can beat them. I know we can beat them. We are going to beat them. Am I right?" The others respond, raggedly at first, but Sisko whips them up into showing more enthusiasm. Yes, sir, they will beat the Vulcans. With that, they start to practice catching and throwing.
Even that doesn't go as well as anyone anticipated. "This is going to be two long, hard weeks," Jake comments to his father, as they watch the others' efforts. "Jake," says Sisko, "I don't care how hard and long these next two weeks are. But I'm not going to lose to Solok in a baseball game. We're going to win." He declares this with the same determination he normally devotes to dire life-and-death battles.
There is one more vital element to recruit: an umpire. Sisko asks Odo to take on that role. "I don't want a computer program calling a baseball game. That's something Solok would do. I want a real person behind the plate, not just some collection of photons and magnetic fields. I also want a person who can be completely impartial, and I can't think of anyone I'd trust more." Very uncertainly, Odo finally agrees, and Sisko hands him the rules. "Remember, the game is in less than two weeks, so you better start to work on your moves." "My 'moves'?!" Odo wonders after Sisko leaves.
The team, meanwhile, is in the infirmary, having suffered various minor and major injuries. Quark had his skull fractured by a bat, when Rom didn't look behind him before swinging. The worst off, however, is O'Brien, whose shoulder rotator cuff was torn. Bashir tells Sisko he can't allow the Chief to play. "Damn!" Sisko swears; he needed O'Brien on third and to anchor the second half of the lineup. But he makes the best of it by appointing him batting, pitching and first base coach. O'Brien is game, though he's not sure which one is first base.
On the Promenade, Sisko discusses the problem with Jake. Suddenly, though, he realizes he knows who he can get. In due course, Kasidy Yates arrives back on the station, to be greeted by a smiling Sisko, his hands full of flowers and his lips full of sweet words. Her next three cargo runs have been reassigned, for some reason, and she wonders suggestively what they're going to do with all her sudden time off. Sisko has a few ideas. "So tell me, how's your throwing arm holding up?"
The Niners assemble for another practice session, with Worf on first, Bashir at second, Kasidy at third, Kira at shortstop, Ezri in center field, Rom in right, Leeta in left, and Nog catching. Quark is riding the bench, beside O'Brien and Jake. Sisko hits balls into the field, so the others can try to get him out. When the ball sails into right field, Rom yells that he's got it, but it lands yards behind him. This is the tenth ball he's missed; and Rom is no better at throwing than he is at catching. It's agony to watch him.
After Sisko calls for batting practice, they notice that Solok is in the stands, scouting them. "If he is taking the time to conduct reconnaissance, he must be worried," Worf says. Sisko replies, "He should be. Next week, on this field, that man is going to get a painful lesson in humility." But when Rom steps up to the plate, he strikes out spectacularly. A triple threat -- can't catch, throw, or bat. Sisko's blood pressure rises almost visibly, and Solok's silence is eloquent. When the Vulcan finally leaves, Sisko marches up to Rom, furious. "That's it. You're done." He's throwing Rom off the team. The others are shocked. Rom is humiliated.
Afterwards, Leeta, Nog, and Quark try to console a miserable Rom, who thinks Sisko hates him. Nog offers to talk to the captain, but Rom says no. "I don't want him to kick you off the team too." "I don't care about the team," Nog declares. "If you can't play, I won't either." Leeta and Quark echo that sentiment, as do the rest of the players. "This game is supposed to be fun, not a life-and-death struggle," O'Brien says. They've decided to quit unless Rom is reinstated. But Rom pleads with them not to do so. "I don't want to make the team like this. I had my chance, but I wasn't good enough. Let's face it -- the captain's right. I'm hopeless. I don't deserve to be on the team. You play, you've earned it...I want to see you play. I want to see all of you play. I want to see our team beat the Vulcans, even if I'm only watching from the...the, uh..." Nog supplies the word "stands". The others finally agree, and Leeta smiles at her husband, loving his selflessness. "Rom, there are moments when I know exactly why I married you."
Over the next days, the Niners continue learning the game, and getting into the spirit of it. O'Brien introduces Bashir to the tradition of chewing gum -- only his is Scotch-flavored. Sisko lectures on strategy. Kasidy coaches Bashir on his stance. Quark practices catching by having his waiters throw glasses to him. Bashir treats Jake's elbow. And Kira has to smile when she sees Odo in his office (his back to her), rehearsing his "moves".
The day before the game, Kasidy administers to Sisko after a particularly rough practice, telling him that he lifts his foot at the plate. Trying his stance, he notices that she's right. Kasidy can see that that's not the only thing disturbing him. "So do I get to hear the Solok story now?" she asks, threatening to walk off the team if he doesn't talk. Reluctantly, Sisko finally relents. He and Solok were Academy classmates. One night, he was drinking in a bar with some friends, when he got into a debate with Solok, who claimed that Vulcans were naturally superior to humans and other "emotionally handicapped" species. Finally Sisko -- who was quite drunk at the time -- ended up challenging Solok to a wrestling match. Predictably, he lost.
Sisko admits that he got what he deserved. The problem is that it didn't end there. Throughout the rest of their Academy career, and afterwards, Solok continually reminded Sisko of it by writing papers comparing Vulcans and humans, using the wrestling match as an example in every damned one of them. "And now he comes to your station and announces that he's put together a baseball team," Kasidy says, realizing at last why winning against Solok now is so important to Sisko. "He doesn't care about baseball," Sisko says. "All he wants to do is to rub my nose in it one more time. But now he is using my game! My game!" Kasidy urges him to explain it to the rest of the team, so they'll understand why he's so obsessed. "No," Sisko tells her. "I'd rather they think I'm just caught up in some baseball game than pursuing an adolescent rivalry." "Just tell them the truth," Kasidy pleads. "They'll understand. They need to know how personal this is to you." Sisko is adamant, however. He makes Kasidy promise not to tell them either.
That, however, is exactly what Kasidy does. "He's embarrassed. He's calling it an adolescent rivalry, but Solok's the one that's kept this thing going." Now that the Niners know the reasons, Sisko's fight becomes theirs. "I'll tell you what we do," Kira says. "We go out there tomorrow and we put that Vulcan in his place. We win it for the captain." "And for all our 'emotionally handicapped' races," Bashir chimes in. O'Brien puts his hand out, and the others cover it with their own. "Niners!" they shout, enthusiastically.
The time of reckoning arrives: the holographic stands are full of holographic fans, and the teams stand in respect as the Federation anthem is played. Rom is there as well, watching rather wistfully from the stands. Then the Niners take the field, warming up. (The lineup is as follows: Jake, pitcher; Nog, catcher; Worf, 1st; Sisko, 2nd; Kira, shortstop; Kasidy, third; Bashir, left; Ezri, center; Leeta, right; Quark on the bench.) Mindful of the fact that his team has never played in front of people, Sisko asks Solok to eliminate the spectators; Solok raises an eyebrow, but complies. "Play ball!" Odo roars, as the crowd suddenly vanishes.
The first batter for the Logicians hits a long fly ball over left, going right over Bashir's head. It's a home run -- not a great beginning for the Niners. And the score keeps mounting up to Logicians 4, Niners 0 in the first inning. Sisko berates his team's mistakes. He isn't any happier when the Niners get their turn at bat: Bashir, Kira, and Worf strike out in quick succession.
Later, at the top of the 5th, the Logicians have widened their lead, while the Niners have yet to score. A Vulcan woman running to second slides into Kira, preventing her from throwing to first. Sisko manages to stop Kira from doing anything to get herself ejected, and Kira tags the woman out. But Solok is as smug as ever.
Finally, when the Niners are at bat again, Kira gets onto second. Worf is next. He gets two strikes and three balls. Judging the next pitch to be a ball as well, he starts for first, but Odo calls a strike three. Immediately, both Worf and Sisko are in the umpire's face, arguing with him. Odo is unmoved, and Sisko boils over with frustration. "You stole a run from us!" he yells at Odo. "You stole it just as if you'd reached up and tore it off the scoreboard!" As he's gesturing, he commits a fatal error: he pokes Odo's chest with a finger. "YOU'RE OUTTA HERE!!" Odo announces. He quotes the regulation against players making contact with the umpire at any time, the penalty for which is immediate ejection from the game. Stunned, all too aware of Solok's triumphant expression, Sisko leaves the field.
The Niners are equally shocked, until O'Brien, prompted by Bashir, takes over. He puts Quark in right field, Bashir on second, and Leeta in left. At the top of the ninth -- Logicians 10, Niners 0 -- a Vulcan hits what looks like will be yet another home run, but Ezri intercepts it, with a spectacular midair backflip that would have made Emony Dax proud. The Niners cheer ("Now that is a Fancy Dan!" Bashir calls); Sisko and Rom applaud vigorously, but Rom scoots away from Sisko when he sees the captain glance at him.
A few minutes later, as a Vulcan heads for home, Nog misses the catch, but the Vulcan misses the plate. Not seeing this, Nog is confused; Odo can't tell him what's up. O'Brien, realizing, calls out that the Vulcan didn't touch home. "What do I do?" asks Nog, bewildered. "Find him and kill him!" Worf advises, but O'Brien tells Nog to just tag him out. Jake covers home while Nog goes into the Logicians' dugout. He doesn't know which Vulcan to tag, so Kasidy tells him to tag them all. As he's doing so, suddenly the one he's looking for makes a break for the plate. Nog tosses the ball to Jake, who manages to catch it and tag the Vulcan, who is now officially out.
Sisko laughs delightedly and turns to Rom. "Did you see that? That's what I love about this game! You never know what's going to happen next. Every situation is different." Rom smiles bravely. "It looks like a lot of fun." And somehow, in this moment, Sisko finds himself letting go of the fierce competitiveness that has been driving him, and remembering how much he loves the game for its own sake. He looks at Rom for a long moment, and abruptly tells the Ferengi to come with him.
It's the Niners' last turn at bat. Nog slides into third, safe; they finally have a man in scoring position. Jake is next. But Sisko, by the dugout, gets O'Brien's attention and tells him to call time out. "You're making a substitution." At that moment, Rom enters the dugout, in full Niner uniform. O'Brien smiles, and calls for time, which Odo grants; he tells Rom he's up. Quark is incredulous. "You've got to be kidding! We've got a man on third. We could score!" But O'Brien orders him to sit down.
Amid the encouraging smiles from Leeta and the rest of the team, Rom approaches the batter's box. As he does so, Sisko gets an idea and brings the crowd back, complete with an announcer's voice. "Come on, Dad, you can do it," Nog says, adding under his breath, "I hope."
The first two pitches are strikes. Suddenly O'Brien remembers something. "Julian, what was that thing called, you know, when you just tap the ball down the baseline?" Bashir tells him that's a bunt. They all begin giving Rom the bunt signal. Rom, who doesn't have a clue what they're trying to tell him, happens to put the bat in the way of the next pitch. The ball hits the bat and dribbles down the first base line. Confused, Rom finally responds to his teammates' urgings and runs for first while Nog takes off. Nog slides home, and Odo calls "Safe!"
The crowd goes wild, and so do the Niners, pouring out of the dugout and sweeping Rom onto their shoulders, carrying him around the field. The game dissolves into chaos. Solok complains to Odo. "This is completely improper! The game is not over!" In trying to get Odo's attention, he puts a hand on him -- and Odo looks at him and smiles. "You're gone!" he barks. Solok is flabbergasted.
The Niners celebrate in the bar, just as boisterously as if they'd won. Sisko comes over to where Rom is sitting with Leeta. "I owe you an apology." "No," Rom demurs. "Unless you really want to." Sisko does, and Rom accepts. "If you have some time, one day, maybe you can teach me how to bunt," Sisko says; Rom replies, "Sure", but as the captain heads off, he asks Leeta, "What's a bunt?" "That's my dad," Nog says proudly to one of the Vulcans.
As Sisko gets a drink, Solok approaches and tells him frankly that he fails to see why the Niners are celebrating. The bunt was an accident; they lost. "You are absolutely right," Sisko says. "And I couldn't be happier." He calls for a round of drinks on his tab, but Quark is ahead of him on that. "You are attempting to manufacture a triumph where none exists," Solok says. In response, the Niners drink a toast "to manufactured triumph".
"This is a typical human reaction, based on emotionalism and illogic," Solok announces, as coldly annoyed as only a Vulcan can get. The Niners pick up on this, and gleefully stoke the fire, pointing out his emotional reaction. Steam almost starts coming out of the Vulcan's ears. "I refuse to engage in this human game of taunting." "Did I forget to wear my spots today?" Ezri asks Quark, who smirks. "All that intelligence, and he still doesn't know what a human looks like."
Kira calls to Sisko. "Here's something else for your desk." She tosses him a baseball, covered with the signatures of all the Niners. Sisko catches it and looks at it with pride. "Well, would you look at that? Would you like to sign it?" he asks Solok suddenly. It's the last straw; the Vulcan slinks away, mustering all the dignity he can in the face of the laughter of these maddeningly illogical humans (and other assorted emotionally handicapped species). Joyfully, Sisko tosses the baseball into the air.
This episode had actually been planned to take place late in the 6th season, but Ira Behr decided to save it for the next year. Max Grodénchik had actually played baseball semiprofessionally during his high school years. To look like a worse player than he was, for this episode, he threw left-handed. Avery Brooks, Cirroc Lofton, Armin Shimerman, Nicole deBoer, and Aron Eisenberg also had varying degrees of experience playing the game. For the others, the producers enlisted the aid of a member of the show's stunt team, Joey Banks (a regular extra on the Defiant bridge, and a baseball coordinator for several Hollywood productions, who also happens to be the son of famous Chicago Cubs outfielder Ernie Banks). Banks also recruited players to make up the Vulcan team. The ballfield scenes were shot at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Astute viewers may notice that the name on the back of Kira's uniform reads "Nerys" rather than "Kira". The costume department was made aware of their error, but the replacement uniform did not arrive in time for shooting.