Monday, May 17, 2010

The Madness of Kings Wilpons

Jerry Manuel had a chill in his bones. He was going to a place he didn't like, that he never went to voluntarily, though he lived in the same building. The first time it was a thrill, the surge of power he felt, the importance, but now, as he rode the creaky elevator up to the 100th floor, he couldn't help wondering if his job would be intact when he went back down.

A flickering fire greeted his eyes as he opened the door. The Wilpons always kept a raging fire in a pit on the floor burning constantly. Willie Randolph had advised Jerry not to question the safety of this. In fact, it was unwise to question anything the Wilpons did unless it was absolutely necessary. Fred and Jeff were brash and ruthless rulers. Scott Kazmir was traded because Fred had caught wind on an incident in which Kazmir, when asked if he would like his phnung pak mild, medium or hot, replied, "Not spicy at all." "The weakness!" shouted Wilpon to his newspaper, sitting alone at a beach resort in the Caiman Islands. "The fear of fire! This is no Met!" Minutes later, Jim Duquette was browbeaten into trading Kazmir for someone who can handle a "Goddamn fistful of habaneros."

Jerry Manuel had trained himself, somewhat painfully, to endure the stupid sauce at San Loco tacos in light of this story.
As was customary when coming to the office. Omar Minaya came to greet Jerry, then blindfold him. Jerry then walked toward the raging fire until he heard a Wilpon say "Stop!" As was typical in these situations, Jerry had not seen either Wilpon. It was presumed that they were just behind the fire, hidden by the smoke and flame, but what if they weren't? What if they were out of town? What if they intended to fire him by... firing him?
He stepped forward, feeling the licks of heat more intensely with every inch forward. He told himself to walk confidently. The Wilpons loathed unconfidence. Kris Benson had been shipped out, not so much because of his provacative wife, but because he "Acts like he's the team's goddamn chimney-sweep."
Another step. Jerry couldn't hear another human around. They usually stopped him by now. This wasn't good. He began to strategize what he would do if he felt the fire actually touch him and there still had been no call to stop. Would he play it safe and back up, perhaps roll around on the floor for good measure? Or would it be better to play aggressive, charge right through the fire, go with his momentum and seize the advantage over the Wilpons, assuming they were actually there? He preferred the second option, with the caveat that it was much more likely to kill him.
He advanced again, and now, surely the flame was very close. It was hot on his torso, and he even thought his shoes might be melting. One more step, and it might be time to jump. Might be time to leap through the flame and show Fred and Jeff and Omar who the real boss is. He stepped again, and still no call. Alright, if that's how it's going to be, the next step would launch him forward, careening through the flame, through death or triumph, let the best-
Holy crap that was scary. Yet Jerry was almost disappointed. The blindfold was removed. He wasn't actually that close to the flame. The lunge he had been about to make would have ended him right in the middle of it. Whoa.
"It's time Jerry." Jeff's voice always sounded improbably high, no matter how many times Jerry heard it.
"Please Mr. Wilpon! I can turn this ship around! We ran out of coconuts in Florida! What were we supposed to do? I can get these boys to the promised land!"
"We're not firing you," said Jeff. Out of the corner of his eye, Jerry caught Omar's surprise at this last statement. Omar quietly stashed away some documents he had been holding.
"No," said Wilpon. "It's time for him." He walked straight through the fire, not seeming to notice it at all. He held a picture of a Met, mid-swing in his hand.
"H-he's not ready," stammered Jerry.
"I DON'T CARE" roared Wilpon. Wilpons actually, because now there were two of them, Fred and Jeff standing side by side. They had screamed the same words in unison. "Fetch him," they said.

--To be continued--

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