Scene: The ramshackle office of Fred Wilpon. The Mets owner sits at his desk, staring into the screen of an ancient IBM-PC, gently tapping it with a small hammer.
Enter: Mets GM, Sandy Alderson.
ALDERSON: Morning, Fred. (Pauses.) You should really consider upgrading your computer.
WILPON: What? And throw money out the window? This old thing works perfectly fine.
ALDERSON: I understand. Waste not, want not. I feel the same way about outfielders.
WILPON (grows wistful): I saw that poll about Travis d’Arnaud at Metsblog. Did you read it?
ALDERSON: Of course, everyone reads Metsblog. We don’t waste our time on the other blogs.
WILPON: It says here that ninety percent of Mets fans want to keep Travis d’Arnaud as far away from Flushing as possible. Ninety percent!
ALDERSON: I know! That’s so great! Mets fans are so patient, realistic, and defeated. We’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em.
WILPON (bursting into tears): They love me! They really love me! I mean, all those fans looking out for my bank account. They all want me to save money!
ALDERSON: Well, yes, but –
WILPON: Same thing with this kid, Wheeler, too. Nobody wants him in Flushing. It’s unbelievable. What a sacrifice these fans are willing to make for Dear Old Fred. If I had human emotions, I’d cry like a baby.
ALDERSON (laughing): I know, it’s beautiful. If we just dismiss this season entirely, and bring those two up in late June, we could retain their rights for another year while holding off their arbitration eligibility. You won’t have to pay them good money for an extra year . . . (coughs, then whispers into his hand) . . . maybe.
WILPON (frowns): But sooner or later, I’m going to have to pay these boys?
ALDERSON: Well, they are talented, Fred. Both are top prospects. So, yes, if they play as well as we anticipate, we’ll need to offer them a nice contract at some point. Sort of like we did with Niese, at first.
WILPON (frowns): Hmmmm.
ALDERSON: What is it, Fred? You look troubled.
WILPON (brightens): I have an idea. Let’s push it back another full year! Don’t bring them up until, say, July of 2014. That would be a tremendous savings. Our fans would love that! They are sooooo patient!
ALDERSON: I don’t know, Fred.
WILPON: Or what if (snaps fingers) . . . what if . . . we don’t bring them up . . . ever? How much money would that save?
ALDERSON: Excuse me?
WILPON (wipes out huge calculator, excitedly punches numbers): Do the math, Sandy! If we never play these boys, I could save an estimated $300 million dollars over ten years!
ALDERSON: I’m not sure that’s prudent.
WILPON: Frankly, I’m peeved at you, Alderson. These are expensive players! What were you thinking?
ALDERSON: Well, according to our master plan, in our dogged pursuit of excellence, we –
WILPON: Excellence! Eck gads, man, are you out of your mind!!?? According to my calculations, the best course of action would be to take them out to a back field at St. Lucie, and shoot them both in the knee caps.
ALDERSON: Fred, we can’t –
WILPON: I know, I know. Damn this legal system! Hey, we could ship them to Siberia. Or better yet, send them to Vegas and hope they lose their focus because of the close proximity to prostitution, drug abuse, and easy gambling. (Shakes head.) No, that might not work. These boys seem dedicated. Hmmmm. I’ve got it, Alderson! LET’S SEND THEM TO THE YANKEES!
ALDERSON: You want to trade them away?!
WILPON: No, Alderson. That would only perpetuate the problem! Players are expensive, and excellent ones are such a bother. I’m saying, GIVE THEM to the Yankees. That’ll fix those pinstriped bastards! We’ll send our problems to the Yankees! Ha-ha-ha!
ALDERSON: Hold on, Fred. I’m not sure you’re looking at this correctly. I mean — imagine the day when we actually let them PLAY at Citi Field. It might be good.
WILPON: Bull hockey, Alderson!
ALDERSON: I know, it sounds crazy. And I can’t believe I’m the one actually saying this. But imagine if they played baseball in New York. People might start coming to the park. Buy jerseys, hats, and sushi. Ca-ching. That’s revenue, Fred. We could finally stop the bleeding. Look at this way, Fred. You are losing money NOW. Why worry about savings that may or may not materialize five years down the road? We could invest in the product right now!
WILPON: I don’t like it. Never invest in product, that’s my motto. I’ve spent money before and it never works!
ALDERSON (warming to the idea): But listen, Wheeler and d’Arnaud would help the team win games. I’m sure of it. This lineup now, without the right-handed bat of d’Arnaud, it simply won’t function. No one will throw a strike to Ike. And as for Wheeler, that kid is a sensation waiting to happen. Fans will line up to watch him pitch. He’d bring joy to the ballpark, Fred. Do you remember joy?
WILPON: Joy? I think so. Didn’t she work here as a temp for Steve Phillips? I’m not sure that worked out so well.
ALDERSON: Um . . .
WILPON: You just don’t get it, Alderson. They will want money, damn it! My money! You read that poll in Metsblog. Ninety percent! Those fans love me and want me to KEEP MY MONEY in my pocket, Alderson — in my pocket!!!
ALDERSON: Wait, Fred. Maybe you are looking at this the wrong way. Consider the Yankees right now. They are expected to have a down year, a roster littered with old players in decline. Their fans are discontent. The Mets have an opportunity right now to capture the imagination of the city. You’ve squandered the good will of an entire generation of fans. Players like Wheeler and d’Arnaud could help us turn the tide. Why wait for the Yankees to retool? Let’s strike now!
WILPON: You should be ashamed of yourself, Alderson, bringing these greedy players to my ball club. They’re all after my money! You read the poll, Alderson. The fans have spoken.
ALDERSON: But sometimes it takes money to make money. We can’t –
WILPON: Get rid of them, Alderson. Show ‘em the Bronx! Let them become the Yankees’ problem for now on. They’ll be writing checks for years! BWA-HA-HA-HA!