It’s somewhat trite to write a baseball rumors post at this stage of the offseason. Everyone and their blind, non-sports fan sister is following the news coming out of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Besides, the trade rumors and discussions that come out of this stuff is usually crap anyway. It’s just a bunch of General Managers sitting in a room playing rotisserie baseball with real players. Only most of them are way, way worse at it than your average fantasy baseball player. I hate the winter meetings, the hot stove and all the ridiculous salaries given to guys like Andruw Jones because a team panics and feels like they have to make a move now.
Naturally, I was reading an article about the potential deals for two-time All-Star outfielder Jason Bay, since a deal that would have sent him to Cleveland is all but dead, and something caught my attention. The San Diego Padres, my Padres, have inquired about getting Jason Bay back from Pittsburgh.
Then BAM! It’s late August of 2003. The Padres are terrible, still sharing a stadium with the Chargers, and seem to have no future. I have been sent back through time to stop the Padres from trading Jason Bay and Oliver Perez to Pittsburgh for Brian Giles. Stopping this deal would stop Kevin Towers from making essentially the last deal where he sends prospects away for veterans in return and right the one major baseball-related regret I have since the Padres post-1998 fire sale. I get to fix the curse of Jason Bay. I am JourneyMcD. I even have a sweet trench coat on.
I started by frantically running around the outside of Qualcomm (nee Jack Murphy) Stadium, trying desperately to get into the Padres’ offices. Only, it’s a really big stadium and I’m an out-of-shape former high school tennis player, so I stopped for an overpriced large coke and a churro, luckily I had the willpower to eschew waiting in the mammoth line that is constantly positioned outside the Rubio’s fish taco stand.
Finally, I ducked under a half-open security gate (that stadium was never secured very well) and made my way to the Padres’ team offices. I have no idea if they were in there or not, but this is where I was. I looked down the tunnel on the Plaza level and suddenly the action music queued up and I was running. There he was: Kevin Towers on his cell phone watching batting practice against the Expos; he’s got to be negotiating the deal. And then I started yelling. “Stop! Don’t do it! Bay is fantastic! And Oliver Perez isn’t THAT bad! He’s still young!” But saving the organization from the Brian Giles Era isn’t that easy.
Of course he didn’t hear me. Towers was way down on the field watching batting practice and I was a hundred yards away, yelling and waving my arms. They’d have looked if I had D-cups, but I was just some loon who wanted attention. So I ran down the steps and hopped over the field level railing, only this kid holding a helmet-sundae (no whipped cream, this is “the Q” after all) isn’t moving out of my way in the aisle. I did the only thing I could: I knocked him over and kept running. The sad part is, he’ll never know what kind of a favor I was about to do him and the whole city.
Standing over the home dugout, I was only 20 feet from my target, who was still on his cell phone, no doubt throwing in Oliver Perez because only a crazy team would take Jason Bay for Brian Giles straight up. “Kevin! Don’t do it! Bay is hurt, but I swear he’ll be way, way better than Giles! I know Brian is a San Diego native but he’ll never regain his 30-home run, 120 RBI status again!!”
“He’s fantastic. An All-Star!”
“Anything’s better than what we’ve got on this disaster of a team.”
“No, you don’t understand.” I said impatiently. “We deal for him, and we’ll be relying on Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko to be the heart of an aging team that has virtually no pitching. We’ll be terrible!”
I’m trying to stay focused on Towers, who was by then walking almost directly under me, so I did the only thing I could. I hopped over the railing and landed right on him.
Then we had a moment. I was laying across him like I was pinning him in the WWE and before security could pick me up, we made eye contact. “Kevin,” I was totally out of breath, “Kevin, you can’t trade Jason Bay. I’m from the future, you have to trust me.”
He looked at me like I was, well, from the future and had just fallen out of the sky, which I was and had. Then he said, “Kid, I was just telling Pittsburgh to go f–k themselves because there was no way I’m trading Jason Bay for anyone but A-Rod. Of course I know the kid is going to be an All-Star, everyone knows he’s going to be an All-Star.”
I couldn’t believe the relief that flooded over me. Somehow, I had managed to change history and save the Padres from a couple of years of mediocrity. Jason Bay would be the five-tool player the Padres had needed, and still needed in 2007.
“…but just because you jumped out of the stands on me, I’m getting rid of the kid for Giles. The Pirates want him that bad and I’m going to do it. I’m going to make the trade.” He leaned his head in closer to mine.
“Lemme tell you a secret, kid, being a GM is exactly like running a fantasy baseball team. There’s no difference, even down to making the trades to spite other people. So when you get back to ‘the future’,” his disdain was obvious, “no one will know this terrible deal will be your fault. But you’ll know and it’ll eat at you forever. I hate fans like you. It’s just baseball, but you’d let a dumb trade like this haunt you for the rest of your hollow, miserable life. So I’m going to do this and it’s your fault. Enjoy jail. Douche”
I managed to get out one classic, movie-style, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” before I went completely limp and didn’t say another word as the life went out of my eyes. The police had to take my hand and fingerprint me because I couldn’t muster the energy to move my own arm. I caused it. I was the one all along who made the Jason Bay trade happen. I spent a sleepless night in a cell in downtown San Diego, no belt, no laces in my shoes. And I e-mailed this to Phillips from a prison computer.
Then I laid down in my cell and a completely unexplainable flash lit the interior of my concrete box, and I woke up back in my apartment in Indianapolis. Had I imagined the whole thing? I guess so. Wow, crazy dream. Then I looked at my shirt and realized I was covered in that shitty chocolate sauce they put on helmet sundaes, and the realization hit me.
Forgive me, Padres fans.