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This game has nine innings

Fish to be on Rick Mercer

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THE Winnipeg Goldeyes are about to go prime-time. And coast-to-coast-to-coast, no less.

Rick Mercer, host of the hugely popular CBC show, The Rick Mercer Report, is shooting a segment with the Goldeyes at Canwest Park this Saturday that will see the comedian outfitted with a Goldeyes uniform and try his hand at everything from hitting Goldeyes pitching to catching a fastball to working with Goldie and hosting some on-field promotions.

The segment Mercer is filming is expected to air on the Mercer Report by early-October and, with a weekly audience of about 1.3 million Canadians, will provide the Goldeyes club a national platform the likes of which they've never had before.

But as anyone who has ever seen The Rick Mercer Report knows, that can cut both ways on a show that's all about Mercer having fun -- and poking fun -- at his guests.

So, Rick Forney, any trepidation about playing with the CBC's version of dynamite?

"Who's Rick Mercer?" the Goldeyes manager deadpanned Tuesday afternoon.

Seriously? "Yeah, seriously. I hear I'm doing some stuff with him or whatever. But I've never seen the show. What's his deal?"

Oblivious

Well, there was the time Mercer made national headlines when he convinced Liberal MP Bob Rae to go skinny-dipping with him. And then there was the time he made international headlines when he got an oblivious George W. Bush to answer a question about Canadian Prime Minister Jean 'Poutine.'

There have also been snow-angels with Ed Broadbent on Parliament Hill, weather-stripping 24 Sussex with Paul Martin and a naked segment with, appropriately enough, the Barenaked Ladies.

So what can the Goldeyes expect from Mercer?

"You've seen the show," RMR producer Tom Stanley laughed in a phone interview this week. "We can safely say he has just about zero (baseball experience)."

The Goldeyes had contacted the show approximately a year ago to inquire whether Mercer might be interested in filming a segment at Canwest Park. "But the big thing," Stanley says, "is the team is an attendance phenomenon.

"They seem to get about three-quarters of what the Blue Jays get."

Mercer and a three-person crew will be scouting at the Goldeyes game Friday night versus the Fargo RedHawks, but the actual filming won't take place until Saturday.

Mercer will take a version of batting practice that afternoon with Forney and some Goldeyes players -- hitting, catching, fielding -- and then move on to do some work with the game production staff during the ensuing doubleheader that evening.

The club is cognizant, however, about the need to balance Mercer's visit with the needs of a desperate team right now. "Obviously, we're in the middle of a playoff race right now," says Scott Unger, the club's director of communications, "and we don't want this to become too big of a distraction."

Good luck with that.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 25, 2010 C3

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