You're about to make a terrible decision.
It's late at night, and you're alone, and you've just had a godawful day, and the people you normally depend on to keep you sane, it's their fault.
And it's not that you don't realize the breakup was probably for the best—that's exactly the problem. You have oriented your life around one goal, and over the course of a few years you've realized that goal was an illusion all along, that it was going to lead you down a path that gets narrower and thornier and harder to turn around in. It's always been easier to ignore that; you know you're the frog slowly coming to a boil, but what's wrong with a little warm water? And a little more? And a little—
But now somebody's poured you out onto the sink. There you are, a reasonably famous general manager, walking down dark streets with your collar turned up, calling yourself an idiot under your breath. At Steak and Shake the server sat you down next to the only other people inside, a stringy-haired party of four talking loudly about the coming race war, and on the way out you dropped your book into a puddle collecting in a hollowed-out stack of alt-weeklies.
You left it there. You left it there, and you threw your tie onto the pile with it. You walked right past the Walgreens. Ruben Amaro never sulks like this, Ruben Amaro does something about it. Walt Jocketty is a doer, like your dad wanted you to be. They wouldn't be eating cheese fries and reading Lost in the Cosmos, they would be doing something, they'd be in
Orlando. Kenny Williams would be riding Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster with Adam Dunn. You once saw Brian Sabean get drunk with Billy Koch and penny the monorail. Your first Winter Meetings Kevin Towers took you aside, his eyes glassy, and told you solemnly about how Ed Wade and Jose Mesa killed a guy at Downtown Disney and became blood brothers. You cried over it, both of you, it was so beautiful. Siri, where's the airport. Siri, where can I buy a tie at four in the morning. Siri, where can I buy a power tie
You're on the plane, you're reading American Way, and have you ever been on a redeye to Orlando before? You don't think you have. You're one of these people now, is the thing. You're the guy in first class laundering his sweatpants on the tray-table. You're the guy buckling an open cardboard box full of cassette tapes into the window seat, singing "Don't Do Me Like That." You're the guy writing up a $200 million Brandon Phillips contract on his netbook.
That's where he finds you. The calmness around him is the first thing you notice, the serenity. You haven't felt serene in years—years before the agent told you your cornerstone was going somewhere else, let alone before the deal was reported. "It's going to be all right," he tells you. "You've had a rough day."
He's not going to anchor your team, sure, and he's not going to do all the things he used to be able to do. But he'll help you out. He'll let you start over without having to really start over. And he won't leave you until you're ready. This guy, he doesn't even have an agent. He's wearing a pilot's outfit, and it's been a long night and god knows if this is real, any of if, but you'd swear he has a monkey perched on his shoulder, in a tiny, adorable pilot's outfit of her own.
"Let's get you out of here," he says. "I think we can still compete next year"—we already, you think, like the contract was meant to be—"it's just going to take a little work. And you're up for that, right?"
Yeah. Yeah, you are. Three years, $45 million. And everyone else acts surprised the next day, when the news breaks, but they don't know the first thing about the mistakes you almost made.