Man, were those winter meetings depressing. I really miss the days when the Mets took money that technically didn’t exist and gave the green light to a general manager with little concern for long-term implications to do with it as he saw fit. The illusion may have worked only fleetingly well, but danged if it didn’t make for fun winter meetings.
So let’s do it again on a limited scale. We can’t go out and gather up the current iterations of the Martinezes, Beltrans, Delgados, Lo Ducas, Wagners and whoever else we like and re-create 2006, but we can pretend.
Then why don’t we? I don’t mean giving Bernie Madoff a jingle in stir and asking if there are any other fake accounts that can be drawn on, and I don’t mean rekindling the magical moolah thinking of Omar Minaya. I literally mean let’s pretend we’re offseason big shots again.
Let’s rent Josh Hamilton.
Usually you hear “rent-a-player,” and you think about taking on some big contract for the final year of somebody else’s onerous pact or maybe just the last couple of months of one for a pennant drive. You know that player won’t be around, but you’re going for the win with all you’ve got.
The Mets can’t do that, but they can give us a momentary respite from their futile search to find a better version of Mike Nickeas, their grim machinations to rid themselves of their reigning Cy Young Award winner and their bulletins revealing Rule 5 finds they select and quickly sell off. They can rent Josh Hamilton.
For an hour.
Seriously, how much could it cost? As long as Hamilton is just sitting on the open market waiting for his multiyear megadeal, let the Mets swoop in and engage his services for 60 minutes. He doesn’t have to sign for longer than that. He doesn’t have to play ball. There’s no time for that. There’d be just time enough for this:
A crowd gathers in one of the Citi Field clubs.
Jay Horwitz steps to the podium and introduces Jeff Wilpon.
Jeff Wilpon welcomes one and all, marveling that this is a milestone day in the history of the New York Mets and introduces Sandy Alderson.
Sandy Alderson speaks to the creativity and persistence that led to this moment and how pleased he is to have not just filled a need but to have upgraded so meaningfully to a true game-changer: “We’ve gone from having no viable outfielders to the outfielder who’s the talk of the industry.” He then introduces the man of the literal hour, Josh Hamilton.
Josh Hamilton steps up and dons pinstriped Mets jersey No. 32 and the traditional blue cap with the orange NY. He is beaming from ear to ear as he poses with Alderson, Wilpon, Terry Collins and David Wright and then makes a few remarks.
Josh Hamilton says he is thrilled to be a New York Met.
He explains he developed a real bond with Jeff and Sandy and how they made him feel wanted.
He was inspired when he heard their plans for 2013 and beyond.
He is ready to play wherever Terry wants him.
He credits David for convincing him what a great fit New York would be for him.
He remembers the overwhelming passion of Mets fans the one time his old club visited Shea in 2008 and looks forward to rekindling it immediately.
He feels comfortable knowing the New York area offers him all kinds of options, whether he lives in the city or the suburbs.
He knows he will have a terrific support network here, thanks to the Wilpons, “who are just the best people ever”.
He calls his eyesight “perfect for any game — day or night”.
He announces the formation of the Josh Hamilton Big Apple Foundation, which will support an array of children’s charities “every time I make that big apple in center rise”.
And he singles out Jenrry Mejia for being gracious enough to let him wear No. 32.
David makes a brief presentation of a commemorative bottle of Schweppes Ginger Ale to Josh, letting him know this bottle is a “down-payment on the case we’re gonna be celebrating with as teammates when we win the World Series”.
Cameras click, boom mikes hover, Horwitz arranges the media into groups and sets select reporters up for one-on-ones with the Mets’ newest superstar.
Kevin Burkhardt tells Chris Carlin and Bobby Ojeda back in the studio that, “Guys, you can just see in Josh Hamilton’s face how happy he is to be a New York Met today.”
Joe Benigno asks the first radio question via remote: “Josh, you signed with the Mets as a free agent. The Mets have signed a lot of free agents, but a lot of free agents haven’t exactly worked out here. What about that?”
Bruce Beck records a standup, declaring, “The Mets may have played like turkeys these past few seasons, but now they’ve got a real HAM as the meat of their order!”
Everybody smiles. Everybody’s excited. Everybody’s happy for the rest of the hour. And when the 60 minutes are up, Hamilton removes the jersey and the cap, and the Mets aren’t on the hook for another dime — no muss, no fuss, no commitment…just like a classy escort service for teams that couldn’t otherwise take a date to the hot stove dance.
Compared to ginning up enthusiasm over Brandon Hicks and Anthony Recker, I’d take it.