Friday, January 25, 2008

Fever Dreams

When I was confined to my bed the other day with a fever that I would estimate at 115 degrees (very scientific), I tossed about in a half-waking state, experiencing a strange assortment of fever-fueled dreams and delusions. Most of those dreams were not particularly relevant to this Web site. For example:

1) I dreamed Herve Villechaize was my sex butler. Whenever I entertained a lady in the boudoir, I rang a small bell located above the bed, and Mr. Villechaize would rush into the room in his little tuxedo, carrying a silver tray of birth control options, sex toys and refreshments. My sex butler.

2) I dreamed about the Stouffer’s chicken crepes I used to eat as a child. Those selfish fucks at Stouffer’s don’t make them anymore. Fuck your frozen paninis, Stouffer’s, they suck on wheels.

But one dream did have particular pertinence. Actually, it was more of a fugue-state vision of the future than a dream. I believe that my fever showed me the events that are about to unfold, not unlike Jacob Marley. And we should all be very afraid.

Crystal ball:

Early in spring training, the Yankees are going to trade Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and two other middling prospects to the Twins for Johan Santana. The Yankees promptly award Santana a five-year extension through 2013 worth $130 million.

Caught by an enterprising reporter for a rare public comment, Hank Steinbrenner says, “We just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to put the best pitcher in baseball in pinstripes. We had to give up a lot, but we now have a guaranteed chance to compete for a championship every year.”

Meanwhile, Brian Cashman begins quietly asking about potential job openings around the league.

The move appears to pay dividends quickly when Santana shuts down the Blue Jays and leads the Yankees to an 8-2 win in their home opener. Johan receives a standing ovation, and Hank Steinbrenner takes the uncommon step of basking in the spotlight on the back pages, saying, “This is why we went and got him. He’s a big-game pitcher, and we all knew that going in.”

The Yankees jump to a quick start out of the gate, opening with a 22-8 record and a three-game lead over the Red Sox. No one pays much attention when Johnny Damon misses a mid-week game with “a stiff back.”

Two days later, Damon is placed on the 60-day DL with “a twisted, crippled wreck of a spinal cord reminiscent of Bernie Williams in his final days.”

The Yankees try to make do with Hideki Matsui in center and Shelley Duncan in left, but the plan is quickly scrapped following an embarrassing Carl Crawford inside-the-park home run. Austin Jackson is rushed to the big leagues, where he promptly hits .143 over a two-week stretch. In July, with the Yankees lagging behind Boston, he is traded for Ken Griffey Jr., against Cashman’s strenuous objections.

After showing up on Ken Davidoff’s doorstep at 1 a.m., Hank Steinbrenner says, “Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the best players ever to put on a uniform. He immediately joins Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Bernie Williams and Deion Sanders in the proud tradition of Yankees centerfielders.”

Meanwhile, Johan Santana skips a turn in the rotation with a “tired arm.” He avoids the DL, and finishes the season at 17-8 with a 3.45 ERA. In Minnesota, Phil Hughes goes 12-10 with a 3.78 ERA.

The Yankees miss the playoffs, as a near-total lack of offensive and defensive production at first base and center field submarines the season.

Brian Cashman quietly announces his departure when his contract expires in October. He is immediately the subject of a bidding war, and becomes the new Phillies GM.

Hank and Hal Steinbrenner don’t bother hiring a new general manager, as Hank says, “Hal and I can handle that end of things. We haven’t won a title here since 2000, so it’s not like we can do any worse, right?”

The Yankees sign Richie Sexson, Jeff Kent and Pedro Martinez to long-term free-agent contracts in the 2008-2009 off-season.

From there, the vision of the future gets a little hazy. Something about a torn rotator cuff for Santana, and a 2010 Cy Young Award for Hughes…