You didn’t have to know which of the two Philadelphia Phillies looking at the camera was the punker and which the punkee. One look at Kyle Kendrick’s clean-shaven face and aw-shucks expression next to Brett Myers’ mischievous grin, bushy goatee and wraparound shades said it all.
“He’s easy to pick on,” Myers told TODAY co-hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira by way of explaining why he picked Kendrick as the butt of an elaborate prank that’s destined for the punk’d hall of fame.
“He’s a good guy, he’s a good kid. He’s gullible, too.”
Kendrick listened with the same look of innocence he exhibited on the video of the trick Myers and the entire Phillies organization played on him on Sunday. Within a day, the video became a big hit on YouTube and Kendrick’s embarrassment was broadcast on every sports highlight show in the land.
The video shows the 23-year-old Kendrick being called into manager Charlie Manuel’s office at the team’s Clearwater, Fla., spring training complex.
Leaning back in his swivel chair and speaking in his managerial drawl, Manuel tells Kendrick that the organization is moving in a new direction and has traded Kendrick to the Yomiuri Giants in Japan for a pitcher named Kobayashi.
A more suspicious player might have noticed that Kobayashi is the name of Japan’s champion hotdog eater. And a more educated one might have known that major league teams can’t trade players to clubs in Japan.
But, as Myers said, Kendrick is gullible and swallowed it hook, line, sinker, rod, reel and fishing boat.
“It was pretty shocking,” he told Vieira and Lauer. “I was so stunned. At the time, so many things were running through my head, I didn’t know what I was thinking.”
Last year, as a rookie, Kendrick had been one of the Phillies’ better starting pitchers, and he thought he would be with the team for years to come. His face registers numb shock as Manuel and a front-office official who was also in on the joke tell him what a great opportunity it will be for him. They had even drawn up papers for Kendrick to sign, which, dutiful player that he is, he did.
On leaving the office, the first player Kendrick happens to run into is Myers, who expresses shock at the news that the kid has been traded. In the clubhouse, the news passes rapidly among the players and then to the media, who circle up around Kendrick at his dressing stall, asking him to tell the microphones and cameras how he feels about being traded.
Kendrick genuinely didn’t know and asked the reporters, “Is there good food in Japan?”
Before he got an answer, Myers interjected himself, declaring, “You’ve been punk’d!”
Everybody cracked up, and Kendrick laughed too, as much from relief as from any inherent humor in the gag.
He did give Myers credit for planning and execution.
“My agent was involved,” Kendrick said. “It was pretty good.”
Lauer and Vieira asked Kendrick if he would be able to get Myers back.
“I don’t know if I can get him back,” he said. “I don’t think I can top that, to tell you the truth.”
Myers was about to say something when a teammate sneaked up behind him and wiped a towel heaped with shaving cream in the pitcher’s face.
“Yeah,” said Kendrick. “That’s good.”
Myers was unimpressed. As he wiped his face off and spat out shaving cream, he said, “I’ve had that before. It tastes the same.”