Sunday, November 19, 2006
Hot Stove of Darkness
The messenger finds Ryder in his room, wrapped in blankets, mumbling to himself, and furiously tapping away at his XBOX 360 controller, playing a game that apparently involves zombies and a chainsaw-wielding clown. As the messenger slowly creeps closer, Ryder suddenly turns his head and looks the boy right in the eye. The messenger matches his gaze, and in Ryder's eyes he can see a man who has been staring into the darkness for far too long. Too many Tomkos, too many Benitezes, too many Wayne Franklins inexplicably on the mound in season-deciding situations. The messenger fears Ryder, fears what this man represents, but still knows that he must conquer his fear and deliver his vital message. He begins to speak...
Messenger: Uh, Mr. Ryder...
Ryder: I expected someone like you.
Messenger: I, uh, someone like...wha?
Ryder (slowly wipes his brow with a wet rag): Are you an assassin?
Messenger (eyes shifting nervously): Um...well, not exactly.
Ryder: No. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill.
Messenger: Yeah, well, about that. Actually, Mr. Ryder, I'm here to deliver a message from my superiors in the Giants front office. They want you to know about our plans to compete in 2007.
Ryder, silent, perhaps understandably skeptical, cranes his head toward the boy, beckoning him to go on. The messenger shrugs and nervously continues.
Messenger: You see, we've decided that the first step toward improvement is to sign a leadoff-hitting center fielder, a guy who can serve as a catalyst at the top of the order. Someone who can distract a pitcher with his base-stealing ability and play Gold Glove defense. So we've offered contracts of three years, $30 million dollars to Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr., and we're waiting to see who takes it first.
Ryder looks away and stares at nothing in particular.
Messenger: Well, what do you think, Mr. Ryder?
Ryder (drops his head and puts his hands over his eyes): The horror. The horror.
At once the boy sees in Ryder a shadowy reflection of himself. Once a naive, unfailingly optimistic young man just like the messenger hinself, Ryder had been jaded by too many bad moves, too many bad signings such as these. He had watched the Giants ink names like Benitez, Morris, and Matheny to expensive and self-immolating contracts. He had watched a bright young prospect named Liriano, once Giants property, shine with another team while the Giants ended up with nothing to show for him. He had watched home runs by Scott Spezio and Steve Finley ruin would-be magical seasons. The weight of all this tragedy had turned him into a burned-out shell of a man.
Seeing Ryder in this state forces the messenger to see the error of his organization's ways. Doling out substantial money to Juan Pierre or Gary Matthews to fill a position already manned by another overpaid mediocrity would certainly not be a way to help this Giants team. It has been silly, counterproductive moves like these that have sent the Giants to two straight losing seasons and have them staring at a dismal future. Moves such as these have sent not only Ryder but an entire Giants fanbase spiralling into this heart of darkness.
Thanks to this encounter with Ryder, the messenger understands. He turns to leave, unsure of what to report back to his superiors. Suddenly, he stops as he remembers one last crucial bit of info.
Messenger: Oh, yeah, and one more thing, Mr. Ryder.
Ryder turns to listen.
Messenger: Apparently Tom and Katie did get married after all.
Ryder: Oh, son of a...