David Wharton was busy with his stop watch timing the traffic light, the one he could see out his office window at the ball park. He picked up his office desk phone and called the mayor’s office to complain for the eleventh time that the red was 45 seconds longer than the green.
As usual, he got nowhere with the call.‘No wonder,’he thought,‘with his own family running the city. I wish I could hire my brothers and sisters.’
He looked at the wall clock and decided it was not yet time to walk out to the outfield to meet the head groundskeeper and tour the gardens to make sure the petunia plants being put in at center field did not exceed the count of 164. A ball club with a budget approaching $90 million could not overspend on petunias and David was going to make damn sure they followed the budget guidelines.
He didn’t get those plaques on his wall for nothing. He looked down at his desk and smiled. A huge tack formed into a paperweight and inscribed: Put This On Somebody’s Seat.Then right below that:The Best Deal 2007.And yet below it:Annual Award for Cheapest Contract to Most Productive Player, Major League Owners.
He was proud of that one, but the one he really wanted was theScrew Award, also given by the major league owners, for theLowest Payroll to make the Playoffs. That one went to the Minnesota Twins. ‘Damn,’ he thought,‘might have that one if we coulda gotten rid of Burrell. I gotta’ get that award this year.’
Then his intercom buzzed.“Sir, the gentlemen have arrived in the Tug McGraw conference room and are waiting for you.”
“Oh,” David said, “Okay, I’ll be right there.”
Seated in the McGraw conference room was Assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., Community Relations Specialist, Dick Allen, Tickets Vice President, Harvey Neuman, and team broadcasters Harry the K and Wheels. General Manager Pat Gillick, who was working at home in Toronto, was hooked in by conference call.
After taking his seat at the head of conference table, David brought the meeting to order.
“Gentlemen, I arranged this meeting to discuss a potential situation where if we got rid of two players, our team salary would drop lower than the Twins. So I want to address how we do that.
"We’ve got to get rid of Burrell and Lieber. Besides, Lieber’s damn truck is taking up three parking spots in the players’ lot.”
David continued: “So, I’m giving you all marching orders to dump those two sooner than later.”
“We’ve tried to get rid of Burrell,” Amaro said, “but nobody wants him, David, his salary is too high.”
“And I’ve been trying like hell to trade Lieber buy nobody wants him, either,”crackled Gillick from the inner-com.
“Okay, I think I have a solution,” David said. “First, we buy Lieber’s damn truck, then we throw it in as a gift to the GM of the team that takes Lieber and Burrell.
“That might work,”crackled Gillick. “We threw in Lidle and the Yankees bit on that.”
“Let’s get to work, then,” David said, “or should I say, ‘let’s get truckin.’ Ha, ha, get it Dick? Get it? Ah, go write your name in the dirt.”