John Buck tried to maintain his cool when he stepped onto the elevator on the 44th floor of the 100 storyMet building. He could not maintain his cool. He wore the mortified expression of a man who has invited everyone to his home for a barbecue, given specific instructions on what everyone should bring, and only half an hour into the gathering does he realize that he owns no grill on which to operate. He tried to say hello to Marlon Byrd as he stepped onto the elevator, but it came out as,
He tried to cover for it by singing the Beatles’ song by that name, which he did for the remaining 56 floors on their not especially fast elevator journey to Sandy Alderson’s office.
Marlon Byrd was also an ecosystem of emotions, but not related to the fact that he assumed that his GM was almost certainly about to tell him he had just been traded. Byrd’s emotions, for reasons that would take a lot of explaining, had mostly to do with the GDP of Luxembourg. He wore Google Glass within his shades, and used it exclusively to monitor the minute fluctuations of the tiny European country’s gross domestic product.
The elevator opened. The two men advanced forward, dancing to different beats. Byrd entered with a strut, related mostly to an unusually large order of pizza, muffins and vintage scotch for a poorly planned but well funded party in Ettelbruck. Buck tried to look upbeat by doing his special shamble gallop, which is his fastest means of self-propelled locomotion, and can occasionally be seen on close plays.
“Gents,” said Sandy Alderson, wearing a fedora, “have a seat.”
Byrd and Buck sat in large, almost throne-like chairs across a formidable desk from Alderson.
“Scotch?” offered the GM. Both players nodded, thinking that this was their final scotch as Mets. As residents of the Met building. As humans who could answer in the affirmative when the Met doorman asked “Be you Met or be you not, for only Met shall pass.”
“Help yourself to food too,” said Alderson, gesturing to a table with partly eaten pizza pies and tumbled muffins. “We were just hosting a few other GMs. People with strange amounts of power and money prefer to have strange tastes so that they can claim some sort of logic to how it all shook out.”
Alderson turned to face the window, pulling a lit cigar from somewhere in the rim of his fedora. He puffed. Buck started to take his shoes off, and then realized there was no reason to and he was just doing random stuff because he was nervous.
“Before long, you will see reports that both of you have been traded to the Orioles for Gausman and Bundy,” said Alderson.
Buck made a noise of mourning. It sounded like the average noise that people imagine walruses making.
“I did notice,” said Byrd, eyeing his GM through impenetrable shades, “that you said we will see reports.
"That’s a funny way to say we’ve been traded. So maybe we haven’t been traded. Maybe there’s another explanation.”
“You have a mind for this business, Marlon,” said Alderson. “Neither of you have been traded, but try not to explicitly deny it when reporters ask you. Come look at something.” Alderson waved them over to his computer. There was a dark and grainy video of the inside of a truck bumping along the highway. There was something large in there. Long muscular legs, cloven hooves, a submarine of a body, and its head was crowned with mighty antlers.
“An antelope?” tried Buck.
“A buck,” answered Alderson.
An orange flash whizzed by the camera.
“A bird?” asked Byrd.
“An oriole,” said Alderson. “And also an Oriole.”
At this point he let fly with a truly mighty laugh. Buck and Byrd laughed along, because they were confused and intimidated.
“Amidst all the language of passing physicals and insurance policies, no one notices when you swap out ‘John Buck’ for ‘John the Buck’ or ‘Marlon Byrd’ for ‘Marlon the Byrd.’ Players with animal names are the new market inefficiency!”
“So…” said Buck, slowly processing, the Orioles think we’re getting us, but they’re getting an actual buck and a bird?”
“Correct,” said Alderson, returning to his scotch and cigar.
“One question,” said Byrd. “In any trade the players have to pass a physical before the deal is complete. How’s that going to work with these animals?”
“You really think that buck is going to fail a physical? That thing is a natural miracle! And as for the oriole, the thing can fly!”
“One more question,” said Byrd. “We’re…not good enough to get either Gausman or Bundy. How did you get both?”
Alderson grinned. “The Orioles are also getting an invisible rabbit named Matt.”
Byrd and Buck smiled as the elevator doors closed. Buck sunk his teeth into a blueberry muffin. Byrd was pleased with a series of credit card transfers made solely to get flight miles, but which also served to raise the GDP of Luxembourg.
And they were both Mets.