“Generation Kill”, the new mini-series from “The Wire” creator David Simon premieres on HBO next Sunday night —- featuring “The Wire” season 2 alumnus P.J. Ransone, by the way — and the Washington Times’ Thom Loverro took the opportunity to quiz Simon about… baseball! In addition to blasting MLB for their refusal to allow “The Wire” to shoot at Camden Yards (“they can kiss my pale white ass….apparently, baseball can only be depicted as a part of American life when it is glorified or marketed in the most wholesome manner”), Simon shines some light on “Homicide” episode 79, “Blood Ties, Pt. II”.
Question: When you were doing Homicide, you did that episode at Camden Yards about the Yankee fan who killed his friend. I know you had told me that the character was sort of patterned after your cousin. Can you tell me a little bit about that and the character? And why, of all guys on that team, did you use Scott Erickson and Armando Benitez in the episode? Benitez could barely speak English (a very decent guy, though, gave me a ride to the ballpark one day) and Erickson, who barely spoke to anyone (and not a very decent guy)?
David Simon: My cousin — and my nemesis in my long-running fantasy league — is a Yankee fan. A vile, smug Yankee fan. He lives in East Rockaway, New York and his soul is sick, sick, sick with Yankee entitlement and arrogance. I pity the b*stard. I do. Anyway, we wanted to film an episode at the stadium and of course the Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority were a little bit loath to stage a murder at their pristine gem of a sports complex. So I thought of my cousin and came up with the following: — “What if we kill a Yankee fan?” The Oriole representative we spoke with was intrigued. He thought for a moment, then asked: “Who is the killer?” “Another Yankee fan.” Sold. The trick was then writing a part obnoxious and self-absorbed enough to be a credible New York Yankee devotee — and finding an actor to take the part to the heights of villainy. We did our absolute best. I used many of my cousin’s stock phrases in the dialogue — enough to certify the homage as such. I named the character for my cousin and the victim is one of his best friends. Detective Munch holds up the victim’s Yankee hat at the crime scene and declares that he is uncertain whether such a murder is actually against the Maryland Annotated Code. Benitez and Erickson had cameos because we threw open the opportunity to the team as a whole and they responded. They were both very gracious and patient. We had Munch, who was obsessing with his fantasy baseball squad, inquire with both as to whether Benitez might be in line with some save opportunities. He is then roundly abused by both players.