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August 27, 2001

The Call

One Mystery Solved

by Keith Law

Through the beneficence of an anonymous, nonexistent informant, Baseball Prospectus has obtained tapes of an actual conversation from the night of July 31.

"Hello?"

"Carl?"

"Yes. Who's this?"

"What do you mean who's this? It's Bud!"

"Bud...oh, yes, Bud. What can I do for you?"

"It's a little late for that, don't you think?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean I thought we had a deal. I thought you were on the team. You know how I feel about guys who aren't on the team."

"Bud, what on earth are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about Rick Reed."

"What about him? I think we made a pretty good deal. At least that's what my baseball people tells me. At least, I think those were my baseball people."

"What about him? Do you know how much he makes?"

"Offhand, no. A few million, I'm sure."

"He makes about twice what Matt Lawton was making, that's how much."

"Well, yeah, sure. It's not like I can't afford it."

"SSSHHHH!!!! Are you nuts? Someone might hear you!!!"

"What exactly are you getting at?"

"I thought we had a plan, Carl. And then you go and add Todd Jones. And now Reed. What's next, are you going to sign Chan Ho Park this offseason?"

"Where exactly is this going, Bud? I have work to do, somewhere, at least."

"Don't you get it? All this time we've been telling everyone who would listen that the Twins can't compete because they can't afford the players."

"Right."

"And then you go and show that you can afford the players!"

"Well, no one ever seems to call us on this stuff, so who cares?"

"But what if you guys actually win?"

"That's what I want, isn't it?"

"But that's not part of the plan!!!!"

"So winning is bad?"

"If you guys win, there's no new stadium for you, or for the Marlins, or for the Expos. The Reds might actually have to pay for their cost overruns. And the salary cap will be dead where it stands."

"It's standing in the cemetery, Bud."

"SSSHHHH!! Jeez, Carl, what is your problem?"

"Bud, I don't have time for this. What exactly do you want from me? To give Reed and Jones back?"

"I want you to lose."

"What?"

"I said I want you to lose. I want the team to go into the tank. We can still sell this story to the press if you miss the playoffs."

"What on earth are you talking about?"

"Look, you've just about convinced everyone that you just can't compete in the AL Central without a new stadium and public subsidies and free pick of a player from the Yankees' infield every year. I'm told there are some people on this so-called 'In-ter-net' that see through us, but no one uses computers anyway. If you win this year, everything goes down the tubes."

"And this is my problem how?"

"You think you're having a tough time getting a new stadium now? Do you have some sort of kickback deal with the Hefty Bag people?"

"Touche."

"So what are you going to do about it?"

"I'll talk to Andy and maybe Tom and see what we can do."

"That's better. And don't let it happen again. "

Keith Law is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.

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