Doug Melvin is on a train. He doesn't yet know he's on a train, because he's asleep. The train shudders on the track and Melvin awakens. He's confused. "Why am I on a train?", he mutters to himself. His head aches and throbs, as if he is hung over. He looks out the window and sees desert. Sparse vegetation and a couple rock formations. It reminds him of the cover of "The Joshua Tree". "That was a great album", he thinks, the song "Bullet the Blue Sky" now stuck in his head. Bono's imaginary voice soothes the piercing pain in his head.
Then his brain snaps back into focus. He still doesn't know what he's doing on a train, or where he's going. He reaches for his phone, hoping for some clarity. Unfortunately, he isn't getting any reception. But his Blackberry reminds him that his text messages are full, which seems odd. He begins opening the messages one-by-one, and his look of confusion gives way to a look of horror. Fellow front-office personnel, baseball writers, and friends have flooded his inbox. Most say some variation of "Lohse, huh?" or "Well, someone had to do it!" A few seem positive, such as "Not a bad get!" or "You got a discount!", but even more say "I don't know man" or "Seems like a hefty price". Then there's the messages from his wife Ellen, a seemingly endless stream of variations of "Where are you?!"
He begins to piece things together. He remembers going out to dinner the previous evening with his boss, Mark Attanasio. He remembers the waiter being somewhat incompetent, forgetting things and going long periods without checking on their table. Mark seemed really chatty, and a little nervous. He remembers drinking wine. A lot of wine. And then...nothing. He woke up on a train heading to God knows where, and a phone full of ominous text messages regarding a pitcher he had little interest in.
"Did I make a deal with Lohse while drunk last night?" he thinks to himself. No, there's no way. Melvin wanted no part of Lohse, especially surrendering a draft pick to do so. Lohse was a decent enough pitcher, but Melvin was set on going with the younger guys. This all had to be an elaborate prank. Melvin chuckles to himself a little. "Good one, Mark." he says to no one. Suddenly his phone dings. He has a voicemail from Ellen, which means he now has reception. He quickly calls Attanasio.
Mark - "Hello?"
Doug - "Yeah Mark, it's me. Good one. You got me real good. Got me drunk and had everyone pretend that I signed Lohse"
(Mark doesn't say anything)
Doug - "I don't know where you sent me, but you're playing for the ticket home. And boo for not telling Ellen, she seemed clueless!" (laughs)
Mark - "Um Doug, there was no prank"
"We really did sign Lohse"
"Well, I signed Lohse, but I needed you out of the picture, at least temporarily. Just so I could get the deal done without hassle."
"You're probably around New Mexico by now, but don't worry, once you get there there'll be a return ticket waiting for you."
"You know I want to win, Doug. And the poor guy couldn't stay out there forever, you know? I kinda felt bad for him. And Scott."
"You felt BAD for them?! Mark, we have to give up our first round pick!"
"I know, but, I mean, what's the likelihood of that pick turning out? I need to sell tickets here, Doug."
"So wait, hold on. Am I fired? Are you just taking over? I just signed an extension. We have a deal, man."
"Oh no, no. Nothing like that. I just planned on getting the Lohse deal done, you're still my guy. I just wanted to get it done as quickly as possible, you know. I knew you'd just exacerbate things."
"Look, Doug, we needed the arm, and look at the bright side. Wily can start in the minors, and we get some extra service time. And we stole a guy from the Cardinals! You know I love that."
"But we basically give a pick back to them.
"What the f.....okay, how much, Mark."
"Not that much. It was a steal, really."
"Look, that budget thing was only a leveraging thing, right? So..."
".....three years, 33 million. The Cards get the 28th pi..."
Doug Melvin jumps off a train.