Who IS On First

Abbott and Costello  
December 2015

I've been seeing a number of articles like this one by Peter Van Buren purporting to tell the reader all about the various players in the “great game” in Syria and Iraq. Each time I read an article like this, I can't help thinking about Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's classic comedy skit, Who's On First, only played with bombs and bullets instead of bats and balls. So here it is, for serious baseball fans only, “Who IS On First.”

Abbott: Hey Lou, I've been appointed manager of a baseball team. We're off to the Middle East to play in the “Great Game to Save Civilization.” Want to play on my team and help me save civilization?

Costello: Sure, Abbott. Who do you have on first base?

Abbott: IS

Costello: IS is a verb. A verb can't play first base. Now tell me, who's on first?

Abbott: I already told you, IS.

Costello: Who is?

Abbott: IS is.

Costello: Doesn't he have another name?

Abbott: Sometimes he's called ISIS. ISIS is on first.

Costello: Is, is, is, is, is ... will ya stop stuttering at me and tell me who's on first base.

Abbott: That's right, Lou. ISIS is on first.

Costello: What about the second baseman. What's his name?

Abbott: Israel.

Costello: I'm not asking you if he's real. I know the second baseman is real. I'm asking you, what's his name?

Abbott: Just like I told you, Lou, Israel.

Costello: Who's real?

Abbott: The second baseman, Israel, is real.

Costello: There you go stuttering at me again. Do you have a third baseman?

Abbott: Of course we have a third baseman, Turkey.

Costello: Stop calling me names, Abbott, and tell me, who's on third?

Abbott: I already told you, Turkey.

Costello: I am not a turkey; and I'm not your third baseman. Who's playing catcher?

Abbott: Iran

Costello: I don't care how fast you ran. I just want to know the catcher's name?

Abbott: Why?

Costello: If the catcher ran away, you don't have a catcher anymore. Get serious, Abbott. We can't play without a catcher?

Abbott: Syria is the short stop.

Costello: Do you have a pinch runner?

Abbott: Of course we have a pinch runner.

Costello: What's his name?

Abbott: Daesh

Costello: I know pinch runners dash. Tell me what his name is.

Abbott: Daesh.

Costello: Look the score's tied in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on third. You send in the pinch runner. The batter bunts and the pinch runner makes a dash for home plate. Who dashes toward the plate?

Abbott: Daesh dashes.

Costello: There you go, stuttering at me again. Look, Abbott, all this talk about baseball is making me hungry. Let's go get a bite to eat.

Abbott: Hungary's not on our team.

Costello: You mean you want me to go to the Middle East and starve?

Abbott: Starve is our pitcher.

Costello: Whose field are we going to play on?

Abbott: Iraq's.

Costello: That's the last straw, Abbott. I'm not going to the Middle East to starve and play ball on a field of rocks. I don't want to be on your team and I don't want to save civilization. I'm staying home.

Less than three months until spring training. Hope the Cardinals have a good season. Do they have cardinals in the Middle East?