A meeting with George Steinbrenner can be intimidating enough. Because Steinbrenner has a fear of heights and level ground, his Tampa office is located several thousand feet underground. Accessible only by stairs, the office is completely surrounded by a foul-smelling moat that is infested with sharks, crocodiles, piranha, and water rats, among other creatures. A ramp guides one into the office, although it is nevertheless unnerving as the creatures snap at one’s feet. More unnerving, though, is the person who waits in the office.
So imagine Yankee general manager Brian Cashman’s state of mind as he entered Steinbrenner’s office recently for his annual performance review. There, Steinbrenner sat behind a huge desk in complete darkness, save one thin candle. Screams could be heard far in the distance and strange chants seemed to emanate from behind the walls. Steinbrenner—enveloped in an eerie glow—was surrounded by stacks of paper and motioned for Cashman to sit.
"Welcome Brian," Steinbrenner began as Cashman mumbled a terrified hello. "Let's begin with the Tony Womack signing, shall we? One writer refers to Womack as the worst outfielder in 90 years. We signed him as a second baseman and had to hide him in the outfield."
"Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano, $17 million for those two disabled-list twins with seven combined wins," the Boss said sternly, and then cast his most evil gaze at the GM. “Not to mention that $18 million stinkbomb called Randy Johnson.”
“Who could’ve predicted the things that have happened?”
“Predicted? PREDICTED?” Steinbrenner fumed. “We don’t make predictions in this organization, Brian. We gather intelligence, take appropriate actions—however extreme, even to the point of…extermination—and we deal in certainties. Predictions are why we have a bunch of pitchers pulled from the sewers. Predictions are for losers.”
“What can I say, sir, I’m sorry.” Steinbrenner waved his hand menacingly.
“Now, in fairness, I’ve implemented the 360 degree performance review for this,” he continued, “which means that three of your peers will evaluate you. I’ve polled representatives from other teams.”
“Lou Pinella, my friend here in Tampa, says that if you can’t figure out a way to beat his Bad New Bears—and we’re 4-9 against them this year—then you don’t deserve to be a Yankee.”
“Well, sir, Lou is a borderline sociopath…”
“He seems perfectly sane to me,” Steinbrenner continued. “Secondly, I spoke with Lee Mazzilli…”
“The guy just got fired! His team totally collapsed!”
“Not before compiling a 6-4 record against us,” Steinbrenner countered. “He agrees with Lou. You’re a disgrace, with a Little League pitching staff on a $210 million budget.”
“Sir, I must…”
“And finally, Theo Epstein.”
“Well, what do you expect the Red Sox to say…something good?”
“Well, oddly, there was quite a bit of laughter in the background, but ultimately he said you’re doing an extraordinary job and that you should never be fired.”
“Really? Theo’s a great guy,” he said, beaming.
“Encouraged me to continue to give you full power on trades and free agent signings.”
“I love it!”
“I have great admiration for this Mr. Epstein,” Steinbrenner continued. “In fact, since he’s in the last year of his contract, I offered him your job, and ten times your salary.”
“The little dufus turned me down.”
“Whew! What a relief! Does that mean I can stay?”
“Yes, despite your putrid performance, you can stay. Now get out of here.”
“Right away, sir.”
“Oh, and Brian?”
“The ramp leading out of my office and over the moat seems to be malfunctioning.” Cashman stared at Steinbrenner in fear. “Sorry, Brian. You’ll have to swim.”