It was a fine, sunny day at the ballpark, one of those days when everything seems right with the world-except that the ballpark was Shea Stadium, and the home team was the New York Mets. As I strolled towards the Leon Hess Memorial Refurbished Men’s Lavatory behind home plate, a piece of paper floated down from the press-box level. It was some kind of undated memo, although the recipient and the author were deliberately disguised. I’ll leave it to you to judge what it all means. Here it is:
To: The Boss
From: Steve P.
Re: Operation Schlock and Awful
Well, Boss, the heavy fighting is over, and it’s clear that you’ve won a smashing victory. All those retired general managers who predicted a disaster have been proven wrong. Our battle plan was carefully constructed, and we stuck to it. And look at the results: After just six weeks, you’re running away with the American League East, you’re off to one of the best starts in team history, and here at Shea Stadium, they’re booing the equipment manager and the batboys and it’s not even Memorial Day.
Over the last two years, our plan to sabotage the Mets on behalf of the Organization has worked out far beyond anything we dreamed of when we made our deal after the 2000 World Series. You were worried back then, Boss, that the Mets might overtake the Organization, like they did briefly in the mid-1980’s. You were worried about becoming irrelevant, of Fred W. becoming a staple of the tabloid back pages. That’s why you and I made our deal, and now it’s safe to say that thanks to my work, the Mets will stink for a decade. And that new stadium Fred W. wants, the stadium that made you so jealous? Forget it. Nobody builds new stadiums for losers.
Think about it, Boss: Since the Subway Series of 2000, I’ve arranged for the Mets to hire the world’s fattest ballplayer to play first base, a centerfielder who needs a G.P.S. system to track fly balls, a washed-up second baseman from Cleveland (as if you, with your Cleveland connections, didn’t have inside info about his utter lack of spirit), and a guy named Jeromy to play right field and strike out with men on base. What’s more, we decided to stick with Armando Benitez as our closer, a guy who serves up more meatballs than most trattorias in Little Italy.
What’s more, after the 2001 season, we leaked word that Robin Ventura was finished. The press bought into it. Met fans were calling radio talk shows saying it was time for me to get rid of Ventura. Perfect! So I traded him to … you! And last year, he was one of your most productive players. Nobody put it together! Personally, I thought it was a little too obvious, but I got away with it.
This is my way of saying, Boss, that I deserve a raise (and I think I’m going to be needing the money soon). After all, our little plan has worked out as spectacularly as your leveraged buyout of Drew Henson in 2001. By the way, let me salute you belatedly for that piece of work. There you were, a benefactor and fan of Ohio State’s football program, giving $17 million to this stud quarterback from the University of Michigan who was bound to win the national championship. You tell him he was meant to play baseball for the Yankees, you dangle millions in front of him, and lo and behold, the kid quits Michigan. Two years later, Ohio State wins the national championship.And Drew? He’s still in your farm system, trying to learn how to hit the curveball. Brilliant!
But let’s put everything in perspective. Even you would be hard-pressed to top what I’ve done with Mo Vaughn. Here’s a guy who can’t bend over to field anything except another box of doughnuts. Every time the guy gets into the whirlpool, half of Queens gets flooded. And I’m paying him-get this-$17 million this year. That’s what it cost you to get Drew Henson to stop playing football-except that in Mo’s case, it’s just part of the package I gave him two years ago. I saw in the newspaper the other day that Mo is making about a million dollars a hit so far this year. If that isn’t sabotage, well, my name isn’t Steve.
Now people are calling for my head, which is what we figured would happen eventually. Even Mets fans can take only so much. So now it’s time to live up to your end of the bargain.
That’s right, Boss. I want you to fire me as the Organization’s mole. I want to be fired and then get your usual termination fee, which has kept many former Yankee employees on the golf course for years.
It’s only fair, Boss. Think of all I’ve done for you.