Game Day – Episode 9, Season 1 – The Wire

Stringer and Avon on the sidelines of the Eastside vs. Westside basketball game.

Teleplay: David H. Melnik and Shamit Choksey
Story: David Simon and Ed Burns
Directed by: Milcho Mancheveski

Opening quote: “Maybe we won.” Herc

Spoiler Alert: This is written for those who have viewed The Wire at least once if not multiple times. If you have not viewed, please enjoy the wonderful experience of the series for the first time with the delight of not knowing what is coming next. I encourage you to leave this blog and go watch The Wire, or better yet, buy the DVDs from Amazon (affiliate link). The Wire: The Complete First Season

While both Stringer and Avon are deadly, Stringer has more of a covert-ops CIA approach to business, whereas Avon is all shock and awe. Avon is about the brand. And his brand relies on street cred. He’s willing to drop $20K to buy the services of a junior college basketball ringer for the upcoming Westside vs. Eastside ball game. Not that $20K is a lot in the course of a days work for Avon’s empire – we know from Lester that the drug trade from the projects is generating over $1 million a month for Avon.

He’s also got a $10K bounty on Avon. And when Stringer suggests that Omar is “in the wind,” Avon points out that “this town not that big.” Stringer tries to talk Avon into declaring a truce, letting it die down, and then when he least expects it, they’ll pounce on Omar. Avon listens patiently, intensely, and then asks Stringer, “What people gonna say while we wait? Like it ain’t no thing to take my shit?”

Proposition Joe trash talking with Avon

This episode gives us a lot of time with Avon. And we meet Proposition Joe for the first time at the basketball game. The trash talk between Avon and Prop Joe is priceless – Avon demands to know why Prop Joe is wearing a suit and tie in 85- degree weather, does he think he’s Pat Reilly? To which Prop Joe responds “Man, look the part, be the part, motherfucker!” (I did a quick Google search to see if there were Successories based on quotes from The Wire – surprised that I didn’t find any – I’d love to have this one by Prop Joe framed and on the wall.)

In episode 1, we learn that Avon is the new kingpin of the Westside projects, and that his ascendancy has cost many lives. In this particular scene, we may be seeing that Avon is still a little green. While Avon has spent the time and money to bring in a ringer, Prop Joe is the wily veteran who plays a smarter game. Prop Joe has also brought in a ringer; but he’s used the first half to scout the Westside team and kept his ringer on the bench. At half time, Avon’s team is leading by 12 points. Prop Joe asks Avon if he’d like to double down. Avon accepts the bet. Prop Joe sends in his ringer, and finds himself $100,000 richer at that end of the game.

When Avon is yelling at the referee – we get a wonderful sense of just how strong Avon’s reputation is – the referee fears for his life and suggests putting more time on the clock and says he doesn’t want any trouble.

Herc and Carv pull over Wee-Bey who has a garbage bag full of cash in the truck

Herc and Carv are among my favorite characters. But no one enjoys Herc and Carv as much as Herc and Carv enjoy themselves. In the past, when it’s been Sydnor on the roof with Herc, you can see Sydnor’s growing irritation as Herc prattles on. Carv on the other hand encourages it and they feed off one another in a ways that provides us with some great comedy.

Based on information gleaned from the wire, Herc and Carv trail Wee-Bey and Little Man after getting a garbage bag from the tower. When they pull them over, just like with Damien Price, the find a garbage bag full of money.

As they’re heading back to the detail, Herc asks Carv about tipping, what would be a good tip. Carv suggests 15 percent. Herc responds with “I’ve heard some people tip 20 percent. Don’t you think Wee-Bey would be a good tipper?” Carv points out that Herc’s subtle suggestion to pocket some of the cash would be a clever idea except that there’s a wiretap. If the wiretap picks up that the Barksdale crew lost $20 grand and they only turn in $15 grand – they’d be busted.

Later on, when Lester and McNulty are briefing Daniels, Lester mentions that they heard on the wire that $22K was lost to the pullover. We can see the reaction on Daniels’ face. Daniels knows that Herc and Carv documented $15K. Later he calls them in and tells them they have until role call the next day to come up with the missing money. This is an interesting scene – Daniels is doing a slow burn, just barely containing his anger, and he hisses at them that, “this doesn’t happen! Not with me. Not in this unit.” Remember, early on, Special Agent Fitzhugh told McNulty that the Bureau did a forensic analysis of Daniels’ finances and that he had way more money than could be reasonably explained.

After Daniels leaves the office, Carv gives Herc a look to which Herc replies, “I wouldn’t steal and not tell you about it.”

Cut to Herc and Carv ripping through their trashcan of a car looking for the missing money, which Carv finds in the wheel-well. “Do you think Daniels will believe us?” Herc asks. “Would you?” Carv responds.

Omar steals another stash from the low rises.

As for Stringer’s strategy of letting Omar lie? The only problem is that Omar is not willing to let it go. He goes to the low rises and steals yet another stash. Instead of playing Robin Hood with the stash, Omar brings it to Prop Joe. He offers it in exchange for Avon’s phone number and the code of one Avon’s people.

Prop Joe considers this. He tallies up the cost of the day – Avon lost $100,000 to him at the basketball game; Omar gives him four G-packs of Avon’s stuff, and by giving Omar Avon’s pager number and Wee-Bey’s code “I’m putting your predatory self on his ass. Not his day, is it?”

Omar stakes out Orlando’s. Wee-Bey leaves to go get sandwiches. It’s just Avon and Orlando in the club. Omar pages Avon, and leaves Wee-Bey’s code with a “911.” Orlando reaches for the club phone to hand to Avon. Avon shakes his head and reminds him “We got rules, right?”

When Avon heads out to the payphone, Omar comes up from behind. Just then Wee-Bey pulls up. Omar opens fire, as does Wee-Bey, and Avon jumps behind a car. Avon and Wee-Bey are OK, but Omar, who manages to escape, has taken a bullet.

The video includes Avon recruiting the ringer as well as the game.

A la Carte

  • “Stupid criminals make stupid cops. I’m proud to be chasing this guy.” McNulty.
  • Carv grew up in the projects. When he finds out from Poot that Eastside has won the last two years, he responds with and enthusiastic “My boys!”
  • Lester gives Kima credit when he tells McNulty about turning Chardene. Lester certainly contributed, but he’s a leader and he’s not afraid to promote his people.
  • Bubbles schemes to get at the alley stash. He manages to snag it but not without being seen. The hoppers mistake another man for Bubbles and viciously go after him with baseball bats. Bubbles is understandably upset by this – enough to attempt going straight.

The Target – Episode 1, Season 1, The Wire

The Detail – Episode 2, Season 1, The Wire

The Buys – Episode 3, Season 1, The Wire

Old Cases – Episode 4, Season 1, The Wire

The Pager – Episode 5, Season 1, The Wire

The Wire – Episode 6, Season 1, The Wire

One Arrest – Episode 7, Season 1, The Wire

Lessons – Episode 8, Season 1, The Wire

The Cost – Episode 10, Season 1, The Wire

The Hunt – Episode 11, Season 1, The Wire

Cleaning Up – Episode 12, Season 1, The Wire