Ripped from a combination of the headlines and sheer conjecture, I present to you the first-ever reading of Oh S$%^, a one act play based loosely on the events of the 2009 Winter Meetings, as seen from the perspective of the Milwaukee Brewer front office staff in attendance.
Mr. Mustache: Erstwhile GM of the Cream City Crushers. Once widely considered one of the game's top executives, a recent backslide in his team's performance has him on the ropes: He desperately needs something to show for his efforts at the meeting to prove to increasingly unsatisfied fans that he's still the man for the job.
Gore Dash: His trusty assistant/sidekick
Andy Wolf: One of the top free agent pitching talents available at the Winter Meetings. Andy is coming off a good season and hoping teams will ignore the fact that he wasn't exceptionally good in the seasons before that.
Art Nellem: Wolf's agent. He also represents Gritty von Canthitalick, a catcher the Crushers recently decided not to retain.
Scene opens with Mustache sitting at a table in a hotel suite, across from two empty chairs. Across the suite, Dash sits at a desk with the hotel phone and a laptop. He's on the phone, nodding.
Dash: We'll see you in a few minutes, then.
Dash hangs up the phone.
Mustache: They're on their way, then?
Dash: They're on their way.
Mustache: And it's the deal we discussed? Three years, $25 million?
Dash: That's the one. They just want to discuss some details.
Lights go dark in the suite, as the viewer's attention is directed outside the door, where Andy Wolf and Art Nellem are having a heated conversation:
Nellem: For the last time, Andy, I get it. You don't want to play in Milwaukee, or anywhere in the Midwest. You've made it perfectly clear you want to play on a coast. But you want three years, right?
Nellem: And you want significantly more money than your performance justifies, right?
Nellem: I've got a plan for you to get all those things. Follow me, and don't say anything.
Follow the jump for the rest!
Wolf and Nellem enter Mustache's suite.
Mustache: Andy! It's great to see you! We're excited to have you on board. How do you feel about wearing a Brewer uniform for the next three years?
Wolf: I don't think I...
Nellem: (Interrupting) He doesn't think he can contain his excitement. But we still have a few things to work out. Can we sit down?
Mustache: Of course, come on in.
Mustache, Wolf and Nellem walk over to the table and sit down.
Nellem: You see, I'm not sure my client can commit to three years at the low price you've offered. Isn't that right, Andy?
Wolf: I don't want to spend three years in M...
Nellem: Middle-income housing. I know. We want to make sure my client doesn't have a hard time finding a home for his family in Milwaukee's booming real estate market.
Mustache: Booming real estate market? When did that happen?
Nellem: Today. Turned around all of a sudden.
Mustache: Well, ok. How much more money do you need?
Nellem: Two million.
Mustache looks over to Dash, who gives him a thumbs-up.
Mustache: Ok, you drive a hard bargain, but we're in. Three years, $27 mill...
Nellem: No, I don't think you understand. I meant two million more per year.
Dash puts both thumbs down, waving his arms frantically as he realizes Mustache isn't paying attention to him.
Mustache: Very well. Three years, $31 million. When can you come to Milwaukee for the physical?
Wolf: I'm not going to M...
Nellem: (interrupting) Make any plans without consulting his wife, of course. Can we let you know tomorrow?
Mustache: Of course. We'll talk more tomorrow.
Nellem and Wolf get up to leave.
Mustache: By the way, Art, how's Gritty doing?
Nellem turns around and glares.
Nellem: He may be forced to play for the Royals.
Nellem's phone rings. He checks the Caller ID.
Nellem: If you'll excuse us, I need to take this.
Nellem and Wolf exit, but you can hear a moment of the phone conversation.
Nellem: Oh hi, Omar! Yes, I just got done talking with them. They're offering...
The door slams shut and cuts off the rest. The room goes dark. When the lights come back up, Melvin and Dash are back at their original positions. There is a knock on the door, and Dash answers it. It's Nellem, alone.
Mustache: Good morning, Art. Where's Wolf?
Nellem: Wolf's not coming. He doesn't want to play in Milwaukee. He never did.
Mustache: Then why did he...
Nellem: Don't you get it, Mustache? We used you to drive up the price. When we called the Mets two weeks ago, they offered two years and less money. But Andy wants to play on the coast. So we waited for your offer, and took it to them. They upped their offer. He's flying to New York for a physical today, and we'll announce it tomorrow.
Mustache: But why...
Nellem: I did it for Gritty von Canthitalick, Mustache. All he wanted was $5 million to return.
Dash: He had a .315 slugging percentage as a Crusher...
Nellem: Nonsense! He had Hall of Fame caliber intangibles! Decades from now, when a player somehow clings to a major league roster spot despite clear statistical evidence that he doesn't deserve one, fans will compare them to him. They'll say, "Wow, that guy's a real Canthitalick." They'll talk about how he reminds them of Gritty. But no one will ever out-Gritty Gritty. And you let that guy walk out the door.
Mustache: If we re-sign Gritty, can we have Wolf too?
Nellem: Weren't you listening? Wolf doesn't want to play in Milwaukee. That's why he was perfect for this job. We killed two birds with one stone. We got Andy what he wanted: a multi-year deal to play on a coast. And I got what I wanted: driving the price of free agent pitchers so high you'll have to bust your budget to land one. Best of luck in your future endeavors, gentlemen.
Nellem walks out. Mustache and Dash look at each other.
In unison: Oh S$%^.
Dash: To plan B, then?
Mustache: I guess so. You call Warrod Joshburn, I'll call Dave Dougis.
Mustache pulls out his cell phone, and Dash dials the room phone. Both listen for a moment, and hang up.
Dash: Joshburn heard what we offered Wolf. He wants three years now too.
Mustache: Dougis wants the same thing. And a clause that says he'll always get more money than Brad Penny.
Dash: How does Brad Penny always seem to land on his feet?
Both men sigh.
Mustache: Plan C?
Dash: I guess so.
Mustache exits, and can be seen outside the suite telling reporters about the terrible plight of small market GMs. Dash remains in the room, updating his resume.
(I feel like the speech to reporters is a prime opportunity for a musical number. Feel free to use the comments to help me write one.)
Wolf signs with the Mets for two years, $20 million, with a vesting option for a third season that could raise the value of the deal to $35 million. The Crushers fail to make a significant move until a week before spring training, when they sign Warrod Joshburn to a one-year deal, and re-sign Raden Blooper to compete for a slot in the rotation. The Crushers stumble out of the gate, and Mustache is fired in June, with the Crushers ten games under .500.
A dejected Mustache is seen walking into a convenience store, where an employee is stocking the beer cooler.
Mustache: (mumbling to himself) The price of beer is so high. How's a former small market GM supposed to compete?
Store employee: I see you in here a lot lately. How about I make you a deal. I'll bring you beer on my way to work each morning, to save you the time.
Mustache: You'd do that for me?
Store employee: Sure. I heard what you offered for Andy Wolf. I'll do it for half that.
Mustache sighs and leaves the store.