Kelly Haisan - Lifetime contract. (Revised.

Original in scibd) It was the bottom of the ninth, and the Yankees were down by a run. Johnny Damon was the leadoff hitter facing Jonathan Papelbon, his former teammate. He watched the first pitch, a fastball painting the outside corner. He stepped out of the batter’s box, took a breath and stepped back in. He watched Papelbon’s face. He didn’t even see the ball; he just swung. He rounded first and headed to second. The Yankees designated hitter was on base with a stand-up double. The Yankees started the ninth inning off with a runner in scoring position. Papelbon checked on Damon before he got Matsui to strike out on a 3-2 slider. He intentionally walked Jeter in hopes of getting Posada to hit into a double play. Posada was soon out on a check swing. Cano then hit a rocket to the shortstop Lugo who couldn’t grab it cleanly and reached first on the error. Chomping on his cigar, the owner watched impatiently. The entire dugout looked on as the bases were loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. It all came down to this. Mickey “The Kid” Covington swung at the first pitch. It was high, it was far but it drifted fowl. The crowd watched in anticipation. Could Mickey really come through? The Kid swung again and grounded foul on the first base side. He watched the next pitch for a ball. Papelbon geared up to throw the next pitch. “Strike three,” screamed the umpire. The Kid had struck out looking at a fastball right down the center of the plate. It wasn’t really a surprise. It’s something the Kid has done often, ever since he signed his new contract. The ninth inning was over; bases were left loaded. Pandemonium broke out in Fenway Park and echoed throughout Boston. The Boston Red Sox had won the American League Championship for the seventh time. Fans stormed the field in excitement, trying to capture the moment. The owner of the opposing team stared down expressionless at the field. The crowd sung along as “Tessie” played victoriously over the stadium’s public address system. “Boston you are my only, only, ooonnn-ly.” The owner was tempted to cover his ears. In the Red Sox locker room the bottles were being uncorked, and the players were being doused with champagne. Mike Lowell was probably spraying Manny Ramirez. People cheered in all the local bars and on the streets.

“Unbelievable,” whispered the owner to his General Manager, sitting beside him. “We signed him for 10 years, and he’s continued to disappoint us every day since.” “The worst deal we ever made. He’s got a full no-trade clause, and he won’t waive it. The former three-time MVP knows he’s on the twilight of his career. We are stuck with him. It’s hard to bench a man making over 25 million a year,” spoke General Manager Jason Hendrix. Almost immediately he regretted what he’d said as the owner smirked. He forgot he was talking to a convicted felon. A man who blackmailed players to stay with the team and was always in shady business deals. Most of the owners, especially in the past, where connected with the mafia and he was no exception. “Maybe there is something we can do about it,” grinned the owner. “You are not thinking what I think you’re thinking, are you?” asked Jason, but the owner didn’t reply. “I thought you were done with that type of behavior? You almost lost the team and everything we’ve worked for.” “There is a major difference. Last time I got caught,” laughed the owner. He called the infamous Johnny Houston, a guy known to be connected with the mob but never convicted. As always with Houston, he never answers the phone until you leave a message with what you want. The owner knew he was in a public place so he couldn’t say much, he said only that he had a business deal for Houston. Jason and the owner took a cab back to the hotel to get some privacy. Jason was nervous; he didn’t want a part in what was going to happen. He knew the owner’s past before taking the job, but he didn’t want any part of it. Yet what could he do? He had no choice but to go along. He already knew what was going to happen, and he was powerless to stop it. Perhaps he could play the hero, but playing the hero could send him to the morgue. Jason felt terrible but he would prefer to be around for his kid’s fifth birthday. The owners’ cell phone rang, and even though the number on the caller ID wasn’t listed, he knew it was Houston. “So what is this business deal?” asked Houston, getting right down to business. “Ten million dollars,” the owner replied casually. “You have my attention,” Houston said as nonchalantly as he could. “I have this player I need to get rid of. I’m sure you have been reading the papers. I need a quick escape from the Kid and his lifetime contract,” he said choosing his words carefully.

“I’m guessing you want more than dirt on him?” Houston responded. He knew what the owner required, but he wanted him to get as close as possible to actually saying it. “Yeah, something like that,” the owner laughed. When Houston didn’t respond, he knew it was a yes. “Just don’t get caught.” The owner hung up the phone. Jason looked down at the floor; he didn’t know what to do. Should he try and stop it? Should he warn the Kid? Should he call Houston and convince him it was a bad idea? He knew all too well that it was too late to convince the owner not to go through with his plan. He contemplated resigning, but now that he knew what the owner was capable of, he didn’t have a choice. He couldn’t tell the police because it would be his neck on the line, quite literally. He had a family to support, the last thing he needed was to mess with the mob. He might end up in the Witness Protection Program where he would be lucky to get a job as a groundskeeper with the Tampa Bay Rays. “Houston will get the job done,” the owner announced. “Jason, I need you to scout for another infielder to take the Kid’s place when he goes missing. Perhaps a trade or we could bring up a minor leaguer. The choice is yours, whatever you want to do. Anything would be better than the Kid,” spoke the owner as he poured himself a scotch. “Eric Duncan is hitting .340 in our farm system. He’s got a solid glove and can hit 15 or more homeruns a season. And if we bring him up, it wouldn’t look so obvious that we....” he stopped midsentence, unable to say the words. “It would be the logical choice for any team to make. And if he doesn’t hit, we can wait until the off season to make a deal for a replacement.” He was a smart general manager even under the worst circumstances. “Brilliant,” nodded the owner. He looked at Jason, and he knew his GM wasn’t going to try and talk sense into him. Even if he did, it would be easy to get rid of him too. The owner knew there would be speculation about the Kid. That people will wonder when Covington disappears what happened to him. But the owner was already planning ahead and decided he would start feeding the media ideas that the Kid couldn’t handle the pressure. His body was unlikely to turn up, and most people would assume he’d run away. And even if someone found him, it was probably be done to look like a suicide. Everyone knew the mental problems the Kid had. It was allegedly the reason for his postseason slumps. So it wasn’t hard to fathom that after losing the World Series, Mickey the Kid Covington ate a bullet.

Nothing would be traced back to the owner. Houston had killed numerous people although none as celebrated as the Kid. Even if rumors did start, it would only be another conspiracy theory. The players might hear it, but they would be too scared to question the owner. The press couldn’t prove anything. * * * It was the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees were down by one run. Melky Cabrera was on first, with two outs. Josh Beckett was one pitch away from another division championship. As the chorus of “Shipping up to Boston” rang through Fenway Park, the Red Sox ace wound up and fired a 99 mile an hour fastball. Eric Duncan swung and it was like the proverbial shot heard ‘round the world. The rawhide sphere went up and over the famed Green Monster in left field. Manny Ramirez took off his cap and watched the chance at another World Series vanish with Eric Duncan’s homerun ball. Jason Hendrix looked at the owner, smiling smugly at his team’s triumph. But for the downhearted general manager it was an empty victory. He longed for the days that baseball was a game and not a business. With free agency, steroids, lawyers, gambling and mob dealings, baseball just isn’t what it used to be. “Oh, somewhere in this favored land,” he bemoaned, “the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, and somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout. But there is no joy in Mudville — Mickey ‘the Kid’ Covington had checked out.”