Scene: It is early in the morning at the Mets Spring Training Complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The players are due to report within a few days. Sandy Alderson walks in and finds Jeff Wilpon, wearing short-short gym shorts, knee pads, an old sweatshirt (ripped Flashdance-style), and matching lime-green sweat bands on his wrists. He is on his knees, slathering grease onto the floor of the weight room with a paint brush. Naturally, Jeff is wearing his favorite fireman’s helmet.
Sandy: Jeff! I didn’t expect to see anyone . . . (he pauses, taking in the scene). What in the world are you doing?
Jeff (beaming brightly): Setting booby traps!
Sandy: Excuse me?
Jeff (rises to his feet, gingerly walks toward Alderson): I’ve been here all night, setting booby traps!
Sandy: I thought that’s what you said. But . . . why?
Jeff: You saw that contract Clayton Kershaw signed with the Dodgers. Two hundred and fifteen million! That’s more than I got for my bar mitzvah. It’s more than I have in my trust fund. We can’t afford contracts like that!
Sandy: Well, we have a little time before we have to worry —
Jeff: — you said it yourself, Sandy! “There are limits to how effective an overall team can be with their payroll concentrated in a small number of players.”
Sandy: Yes, well, but I still don’t understand why you are greasing the floor in the weight room. That’s dangerous. Someone could slip and —
Jeff (smiling): “– and break an elbow — or a neck!”
Sandy: Oh, no. Jeff, what have you done?
Jeff: I got the idea a few nights ago. I was watching this really intense documentary on television. It was about this poor child in Chicago, just a boy, and he was abandoned. Terrifying, absolutely terrifying.
Sandy: This was on television?
Jeff (excitedly): Then, get this, robbers come and they want steal everything in this kid’s house. I mean, I identified with that kid, Sandy. I was that poor child in Chicago! But this kid, he’s like MacGyver, you know, he comes up with all these awesome booby traps.
Sandy: Wait a minute, Jeff. It sounds like you are describing the movie “Home Alone.”
Jeff (walks over to Zack Wheeler’s locker): Here, watch this. You might want to step back, Sandy. (Jeff opens Wheeler’s locker and a giant boxing glove shoots out, propelled by a spring mechanism. Jeff claps his hands in delight.) That’s a major concussion at the least!
Sandy: Jeff, this is crazy.
Jeff (holds up glass jar): I’ve got tarantulas . . .
. . . flame-throwers, a red-hot iron, broken glass, tar, feathers — all kinds great ideas inspired by that sweet blonde boy in the documentary.
Anyway, this one is my favorite. (Jeff pushes a button on the coffee maker, quickly steps to the side, and a giant anvil falls from the ceiling and crashes through the floor.
Sandy: Jeff, this is insane. We don’t want to kill our own players! Besides, I’m pretty sure you got that last idea from a cartoon. A cartoon, Jeff! About a coyote!
Jeff: We can’t kill them, but can’t pay them, either. We’ve got to face facts.
Sandy: That’s why we do the whole Super 2 thing, Jeff. It’s why we’re keeping Montero down. You saw the way we screwed Tejada last year out of a full year before he’s arbitration eligible.
Jeff: But then you gave him a big raise. Why?
Sandy: He was going to file a grievance, I had no choice. How do you think we came up with that idea of pitchers needing at least 150 innings at Triple-A? We pulled that number out of our gazoos, but it’s going to save us big money down the road!
Jeff: Look at this idea, you’ll love it. (He walks over to a chair, places a cinder block on it, and — sploinnnngggg! — it ejects the block through the ceiling. Plaster and bricks rain down all around them.) Ha-ha-ha. That’s d’Arnaud’s chair! It’s really an ejection seat. Ha-ha-ha-ha!
Sandy: Jeff, that movie you saw wasn’t real. It was all pretend, performed by Hollywood stunt men.
Jeff (shakes his head): No, I’m pretty sure it was a true story.
Sandy: It was a movie, Jeff. You can’t do that to real people. They’ll die!
Jeff: They’ll be fine, just a few months on the DL. I saw it with my own eyes. They jumped right back up. It was funny.
Sandy (sighs): It’s fake.
Jeff (soothingly): Let’s agree to disagree, okay, Sandy? Anyway, I’m trying to help the team out. Just like you said, it would be a terrible mistake to pay lots of money to good players. You can’t win that way! That would be the ruination of my savings account! See, I’m learning. I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!