The Compensation Negotiations: A Logjam In Eight Acts

The Red Sox and Cubs have had some trouble getting together on compensation for the Red Sox loss of Theo Epstein. They've been talking for months now with no results. This might be how it went:

* * *

[phone rings]
Ben: Hello?
Theo: Hey Ben. How ya doing?
Ben: Hi Theo. Doing alright. Settling in. Yourself?
Theo: Just fine. Just fine. This whole Chicago thing is kinda weird. I mean, tomato sauce above the cheese?
Ben: [long pause] Um, ha.
Theo: Well, I guess we should get down to business then, huh?
Ben: Yeah. What were you thinking?
Theo: Well, the whole thing is a bit awkward. I mean, if you deserve compensation for losing me, then it can’t be much because I was terrible.
Ben: Are you kidding? You won two World Series here in Boston.
Theo: I was lucky.
Ben: You signed Ortiz, Millar, and Mueller.
Theo: Blind luck.
Ben: You traded for Schilling and signed Foulke.
Theo: Luckity luck luck luck.
Ben: Listen, Theo, luck or not, you were hugely successful. And look at us now. I mean, I’m totally in over my head without you here. I’m giving up potential starters for bullpen arms right and left. I’m about to spend $16 million on a 36 year old DH and the only thing stopping me from giving him even more is that I’m too afraid to actually talk to him. I frequently pee in the coffee maker. Even right now, just talking to you, I’m terrified.
Theo: You’ll be fine, Ben. You guys don’t need me at all. I was just dragging you down anyway.
Ben: Ridiculous. Well, anyway, let’s see what we can do about this compensation thing.
Theo: Alright. Do you have something in mind?
Ben: Yup.
Theo: Name it.
Ben: Starlin Castro.
Theo: [laughs] That's ridiculous.
Ben: OK, fine. What were you thinking?
Theo: Um, how about this half eaten bag of Skittles. I ate all the red ones out, but…
Ben: No way! We just lost the best GM in the game. We need compensation for our loss.
Theo: No, you lost an incompetent boob who used to poo in the janitor's closet.
Ben: Let's just talk about this later.

* * *

Ben: Hello?
Theo
: Hey Ben. I think you should extend Crawford.
Ben
: What?
Theo: In my professional opinion you should extend Crawford. That’s what I’d do if I was there. And Lackey. I’d give him a signing bonus, too.
Ben
: No you wouldn’t.
Theo
: I would too! And I’d trade for Carlos Lee!
Ben
: Stop it.
Theo: And Sign Prince Fielder to pitch!
Ben
: [hangs up]

* * *

Theo: Hello?
Ben: [breathing]
Theo: Hello?
Ben: [breathing]
Theo: Hello?
Ben: [breathing]
Theo: Ben! If Larry has everyone in the office hogtied and is naked holding a banana to your head, say "I agree a pack of Chiclets is adequate compensation!"
Ben: [quietly] I agree a pack of Chiclets is adequate compensation"
Theo: A small pack.
Ben: [hangs up]
Theo: Ben! Ben! Hello? [phone rings]

* * *

Theo: Hello?
Ben
: Hello?
Theo
: Hello? Hello? I can hardly hear you, Ben.
Ben: You’re holding the phone upside down.
Theo: What?
Ben: You’re holding the phone upside down.
Theo: WHAT?!
Ben: [hangs up]

* * *

Theo: [phone rings] Hello?
Ben: Matt Garza [hangs up]

* * *

[phone rings]
Ben: What.
Theo: I stole office supplies.
Ben: Huh?
Theo: You have no pencils. Or paper clips!
Ben: You gotta be kidding me.
Theo: Not in all of Fenway!
Ben: Sheesh…
Theo: All your post-it notes have Xs on them!
Ben: *sigh*
Theo: I stole once I’ll steal again!! I’m a thief!
Ben: [hangs up]

* * *

[phone rings]
Ben: Hello?
Theo: Hi Ben.
Ben: Hi Theo.
Theo: Still trying to prove you’re in over your head and the organization is lost without me?
Ben: Still trying to prove you’re bad at your job and therefore worthless?
Theo: Look, I’m not proud of the way I’ve behaved, but I’m ready to talk.
Ben: You know? Me too. I’m sorry.
Theo: I’m sorry too.
Ben: OK. I was thinking about minor leaguers… [sniff] what’s that smell? Smells like burning…
Theo: Your office is on fire! There are too many plugs in the wall socket! I’m irresponsible!

* * *

[phone rings]
Bud
: Hello?
Theo: Hi, Mr. Selig
Ben: Hello, sir.
Bud: Hi, boys. Busy busy busy. What can I help you with?
Theo: Compensation, sir.
Ben: Yeah. We both agreed there should be some, but we just can’t seem to agree on what it should be.
Bud: Well state your cases, boys.
Theo: I think Ben is over-valuing me and my contributions to the Red Sox. I’m just a GM and a bad one who steals office supplies at that. There is no way I’m worth a top prospect.
Ben: And I think Theo is under-valuing himself. He is possibly the most important GM in baseball since Branch Rickey and certainly the best in Boston baseball history. He’s probably a Hall of Famer. There is no way he isn’t worth a top prospect.
Bud: Boys, boys, boys… Listen. When I was younger, my great grandfather Horace Selig founded this used car dealership right after getting off the boat from Romania. Back then he couldn’t afford cars, so he sold boxes with the tops cut off and cardboard wheels glued on the sides and called them Cars. The great people of Milwaukee didn’t know any better and ate ‘em up. He worked hard and eventually worked his way up to selling actual cars, used Pontiacs with different colored doors and smashed odometers that he’d pieced together at the junk yard. The great people of Milwaukee had never seen a color scheme like that and bought ‘em quicker than my great grandfather could piece ‘em. Then he worked even harder and got hit by a bus. A big one. Knocked his head clean off.
Ben: Uh, that doesn’t exactly answer our question.
Bud: Yup. Theo, give him a pie or something. And never call here again. Dammit, I need a sponge bath. Denise! [hangs up]

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