Paul Martin lived in
Paul had just returned from a wonderful vacation in
Stepping into his apartment, the last thing Paul was thinking about was the free agent market for pitchers and its effect on the Kansas City Royals. He was thinking that it had already been too long since he had seen his girlfriend in a bikini, swam in the ocean and drank from noon til sunrise. He didn’t have many phone messages. There was a dinner invitation, a friendly robotic voice offering him satellite television at a rate he just could not miss, and last, an urgent message from his friend Lewis.
“Paul, quick! I know you’re on vacation, but when you get this, you need to call me! Something terrible has happened!”
The strident tone of the message worried Paul, even though he knew Lewis was prone to fits of over-exaggeration. He decided to put off unpacking and picked up the phone and called Lewis.
“Paul, you’re back! How was
“It was fun. Warm.”
“Get nasty with Ilana down in the sand?”
“What do you think? But didn’t you leave me a message about some kind of terrible event?”
“I did? Oh, oh yeah! You won’t believe this, I mean, it’s just a crime against humanity and nature and-“
“Lewis! What happened?”
“The Phils gave Adam Eaton eight million dollars a year! Can you believe that shit?”
Paul rubbed his temples. All he wanted to do was unpack and have a drink. Now he was getting roped into a hot stove conversation he just wasn’t prepared for.
“You know Lewis, I’m kind of tired and was thinking-“
“I mean, Adam Eaton? A guy who’s literally never had an ERA under 4? And in the National League no less. One day this guy is gonna be best known for being traded for Chris Young, mark my words Paul.”
“I will Lewis, I’m writing it down now. The date and everything.”
“Fine, be a sarcastic ass. But when you get unpacked and settled and everything, check out what happened with the free agency market while you were gone. If you think your heart can take it. You missed the dumbest month ever.”
“OK Lewis, I’ll check it out later.”
Paul hung up and went about the business of putting away his clothing and wishing he was closer to the Equator. When he was finished, he turned on his computer and began to look into what had made Lewis so upset. After a series of double takes and a round of derisive laughter, he called Lewis.
“Lewis, I’m all caught up.”
“You don’t sound very upset about it.”
“Why should I be upset? Rich teams throwing their money around like there’s only one baseball season left. Who cares?”
“But what’s it gonna mean for the Royals Paul?
Paul hadn’t thought much about that, and paused to consider it.
“Well, maybe this will be good for them. Getting priced out of retarded free agent moves will force them to go into player development and really pay attention to the minor leagues.”
“Yeah, but they won’t. Hell, they probably would have signed Kip Wells to a three year deal for five million a year if the Cardinals hadn’t signed him. We’re just gonna do what we always do: wait out the good market and then overpay a bunch of veterans to ‘provide leadership’, whatever the hell that means.”
“Hey, be optimistic about this Lewis. If Adam Eaton is getting eight million bucks a year, than it’ll be impossible for the Royals to overpay for anyone.”
“I don’t know man, it worries me. Makes me crazy.”
“You gotta calm down Lewis. Don’t forget that in the end it’s only baseball. And it’s only the off season at that. It’s not like these free agents actually have an impact on our lives.”
“Yeah, yeah. Still, don’t you wish for once the Royals could compete in all this?”
“Of course, but they can’t right now. So I just hope our drafts bring us sure Hall of Famers and go on with my day. And when Juan Pierre is hitting .212 in two years, the Royals will look smart for not signing him. Gotta look on the bright side here Lewis.”
“I’ll try that. Take care Paul.”
Convinced his friend was calmed, Paul decided to call it a night. Who cares how much money Jim Hendry was burning? It’s not my money. With that, Paul drifted off the sleep, sure that the next day would be no different from the previous day.
Paul woke up the next day feeling good. The overcast didn’t bother him, nor did the sharp wind cutting through the air. He walked down to his corner deli to grab a paper to read over breakfast. The food was terrible, but it had a surprisingly large amount of newspapers, including the New York Post. Paul loved the Post more than any paper on Earth. If there was another paper that showed a naked disregard for what was real news and fake news, Paul didn’t want to know about it.
Walking into the deli, Paul wondered what Post action he missed n vacation. Maybe Lindsay Lohan fought Paris and Nicole Hilton on the roof of the MGM Grand in
However, when he stepped up to the counter, Paul noticed that there were no papers to be found. No Posts, no New York Times, no
“Uh, Ted, where are the newspapers?”
Ted was a genial old man who ran the deli. He had done so since 1978 and had no plans of giving it up anytime soon. In fact, for a 79 year old, he was quick on the draw.
“Oh, Paul, you’re back. What paper do you want?”
“A Post, same as usual. What’s wrong, kids stealing the papers so you put them behind the counter?”
“Not exactly. Here, fill this out.” Ted handed Paul a few stapled papers.
“What is this, some kind of survey?” Paul looked over the sheets and slowly put them down. “Ted, this is a contract. Why do I need a contract for the New York Post?”
“Hell if I know Paul. Orders came down about two weeks ago, and now no one gets a paper without a subscription contract.”
“But this says I need to subscribe for six years! And every issue is five dollars!”
“Hey look, I could show you the Star contract.”
“How much is that?”
“Four years, three dollars an issue.”
“WHAT? That’s insane!”
“But there’s a hometown discount.”
“I think I’ll pass.” Paul put the contract down. “Well, I mean, no one’s buying this right?”
“Oh no, actually, people have been signing up in droves.”
“Why would they do that if you can just read the news online?”
“Most of the papers have taken down their websites. One of the fellas who dropped off the contracts said something about grabbing a piece of the action while the market was hot. It seems pretty zany to me, but it’s working. Say, you wouldn’t pay eleven dollars for a coffee, would you?”
“Of course not.”
“Well, everyone else has.”
“Oh Ted, not you too.”
“Hey, the market is hot, I’m gonna get what I can while it is. So, can I get you anything?”
“No, I’m good. Actually, how much for a bran muffin”
Paul walked out of the deli more confused than he had ever been in his life. How could this happen? How long would it last? Would he ever eat again? He stumbled around the sidewalk thinking about the disturbing new realities in his life until his cell phone rang. Ilana was on the phone. She sounded upset, talking excitedly into the phone about a problem down at the car dealership. Paul was hoping it wasn’t the same problem he had just run into, but he figured it was.