Deadline Day this year contained nine trades and involved the following 14 general managers: Brian Cashman, Ben Cherington, Kevin Towers, Chris Antonetti, Jed Hoyer, Jon Daniels, Dayton Moore, Walt Jocketty, Michael Hill, John Mozeliak, Neal Huntington, Ruben Amaro, Ned Colletti, and Brian Sabean. You've read the analysis on this site, but it's time to go deeper. What follows are nine one-paragraph, 150-word (exactly) short stories (or, in one case, a one-act play) about the men who do the business.
* * *
The mirror stared back at Ruben. Impassive. Pitiless, even. Intellectually, he knew it was his own reflection, but he saw more. Judgment. Disapproval. His youthful indiscretions showed in every line, every gray hair. He poked at his stomach—nothing to be ashamed of, certainly, but not the stomach of the 27-year-old he'd been 20 years before. He straightened up, suddenly put in mind of his first baseman. The one turning 33 before Thanksgiving. The one who'd be making $25 million four years from now. The one with a .329 on-base percentage. What odds that he ended up as fit in 2016 as Ruben was today? His shoulders slumped. Flags were supposed to fly forever, right? Rings to glitter? So why did last place feel so awful? Why did the half-decade of dominance fail to cushion the fall? Ruben leaned in close, probing the eyes of the man staring back.
* * *
Why don't I have a mustache? Ned has one and it makes him look like that cigar-chomping scout stereotype. Brian's got the goatee thing rocking. Jackie Z doesn't have facial hair, but he doesn't have any hair at all. What's my excuse? I'm over 50. I played the game. I've actually been an on-field coach, ferchrissakes. And I'm quit of the Yankees, so I don't have to follow their stupid rules. I really should have something on my face. I mean, hell, didn't I just trade this dude who was pre-med at Yale for a guy whose defining feature is that his name almost rhymes with "Fat Albert"? HEY HEY HEY. Mustache mustache mustache. Kelley wouldn't care. I work 18 hours 363 days a year. A mustache is the least of her worries. That's it. I'm doing it.
* * *
Michael sat at his desk, the surface gleaming and free of printouts, binders, books, or anything else that might indicate what his job might be. Those who would know swore that he had significant responsibilities, that he was decisive and confident, that his leadership and intellect and skill at his job were all but unmatched. But at the moment, he just sat there, unreadably placid. Was he thinking about the political mess surrounding the building in which he sat? Maybe he was just reminiscing. Cambridge had treated him well and given him many happy memories, after all. Or maybe it was the state of the organization that employed that occupied him so. Suddenly he flickered. Nobody was there to see it, but, philosophical questions aside, he actually flickered. A few minutes later, Michael pushed his chair back, stood, stretched (though no one saw that, either), and stepped into the hall.
* * *
Chris: Hey bud, welcome.
Lars: Thanks, sir.
Chris: Nah, nah. Chris.
Lars: Ok. That's cool. The last guy, he had a weird thing about how he was younger than like half the guys on the team? He was all about titles.
Chris: [laughs] That's how it goes. I went through it. Look, I wanted to talk to you before you started playing, talk about why you're here.
Chris: We think highly of you. I mean, we traded Steven Wright to get you. Do you know Steven Wright?
Lars: I mean, I've seen Craig Ferguson's show.
Chris: Ok, you've got an idea. Anyway, we know you haven't really hit since like 2008. You've had a rough go of it. But we like your swing. We can work with the approach. And that's what'll happen. It's Cleveland. There's no pressure here. Just get out there and rip, huh?
* * *
I've been with the lad since before he can remember. I was not his nanny, of course—unthinkable. The dear departed Mrs. Angleton served that role. I was his valet. I had the honor of cinching his cufflinks the first time he wore them and every time since. Even at Holderness, it was not viewed as entirely usual for young master Jed to have a valet, but I was undeterred. It was important for him to focus on his academic and athletic endeavors. He did very nearly leave me behind when he went to university, but, thankfully, he changed his mind at the last second. I would have been rather adrift. Anyway, I understand that work has been quite stressful for him of late, though I must admit that I do not follow the details. He has been particularly picky about his shoes. He always did express anxiety that way.
* * *
Today called for a three-way. Walt was happy, but not giddy. He'd accomplished something significant, but he hadn't reeled in the biggest prize of his career. No, a three-way would fit the bill. He began to make preparations. He rang his wife, asked her to run down to the store to pick up the things they'd need. He thumbed through his phone, considering who he might invite. You always needed a lengthy list of backups when you were having someone over on short notice like this—some people couldn't find a sitter, some already had plans, some made excuses that showed they just weren't interested. Walt wasn't hurt by the latter—he was the one celebrating, not his friends, so he couldn't expect them to be as excited about an impromptu three-way as he was. He rubbed his hands together excitedly: ooooh, the grated cheese!
* * *
HANDLEY, Tex.—A neighborhood watch group reported seeing a 14-year-old speeding past the Handley Baptist Church in a Suburban twice on Tuesday afternoon. Sam Mathers, the leader of the group, said that they declined to report the first incident, when the black SUV was traveling northbound on Hunter St., but became suspicious when the same vehicle returned a few hours later with a large Latino man in the passenger seat. "There were bundles and bundles in the back seat the first time. It didn't look like drugs, though. I tell you what: It might have been money," said Mathers. Police stated that an overheard snippet of conversation between the driver and passenger as they sped south had them looking for non-Texans. "We're pretty confident that the driver is from Long Island," said Detective Mack Mulroney. "We just don't understand what he's doing so far from home."
* * *
Dayton carefully shut his door, closed the blinds, folded himself onto the leather couch, and commenced to cry, quietly and privately but profusely, as he pondered the unfairness of the situation, the unfairness of being forced to exile a man who loved nothing as much as he loved the consumption of food from a land of wondrous meats and delectable sauces to a place known only for an awful stew/pasta concoction that they dared call "chili," the unfairness of destroying the most startling contrast between an exceedingly large human and a rather small human each doing the same physical job with approximately the same effectiveness that anyone had ever seen, the unfairness, finally, of saying goodbye to a man he had come to consider a son, a son he was essentially paying to like him, sure, but a son, and no one could belittle or judge Dayton's pain.
* * *
The dames had long since disappeared. The hard men were the last ones left, the three bruisers at the bar. They'd been underestimated before—the receding hairlines and eyewear on Cash and Moz were more accountant than gutter muscle, and nobody's ever been scared of a blonde in an oxford shirt. But these three were the real deal. Fortunately for the neighborhood, not to mention the barkeep, they were in a celebratory mood. They'd done things today. Transacted business, they might say. Dirty work wasn't on the evening's menu. Then the door swung in. That's always how it begins, right? That dress and those eyes. The teetering walk that, on a different day, the dudes might have noticed wasn't quite natural. They played it cool at first, but at this hour, with those bottles and these men, cool was not how this could end.