And there he rested, his cravat removed and replaced by a dressing gown, slippers, and a nightcap. On the 57th floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, sitting high above the Las Vegas strip, that old Brian Cashman bent over slowly and grabbed his saucepan so that he might take in his gruel in front of the warm glow of The Michael Kay Show. Just then, a clanging began to ring throughout the suite. Growing louder and louder, the thump of each click and clang became so overpowering that it knocked the paintings straight off the walls.
“Humbug!” said Cashman dismissively.
His color changed though, when, without pause, the source of the clanging passed itself through the walls of the hotel room and into his very presence. Though distorted, the haunting figure had a face he knew well. It could only be him—it could only be Derek Jeter! Tied to the former Yankee captain’s feet by the heavy steel chains that made that awful clanging racket were translucent visions of Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, the back-to-back National League MVPs that Jeter had traded off in a fire sale.
“Derek! Why do you trouble me? Why are you fettered so?” yelped Cashman in a fright.
“I wear the chains I forged through business deals.” replied the ghostly Jeter. “I made them link-by-link by choosing money over people. And so, I am here tonight to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate, Brian. You will be haunted by three spirits.”
And out the window he flew, dissipating into the warm Las Vegas night. Cashman, having passed out from fear, awoke several hours later to a dark sky. In a state of dreary confusion, he suddenly felt a cloud of smoke fill the air. He wiped his eyes, but the smoke only became more dense. From it, a figure began to emerge with a portly belly, a bulbous nose, and a cigar sticking out of his face. Across his back was the number three.
“Are you the spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?” asked Cashman.
“I am! I’m the Ghost of Yankees Past. Bear but a touch of my hand,” replied the Spirit.
Cashman did as the Spirit demanded and off the two flew through the wall, now standing in the Polo Grounds. Cashman looked on as Babe Ruth rounded the bases in a rout of the Boston Red Sox. Fans cheered, beers spilled, hot dogs flew through the air. On-lookers could be overheard shouting their praise.
“He sure is something, but I still can’t believe we paid a guy $125,000 to play baseball!” said a man to his friend.
“I’d pay him double if I had the credit to do so!” returned another.
Cashman looked on with a smile. The Spirit turned to him and said, “You see, Brian. Paying ungodly amounts of money to acquire top talent is what the Yankees have always done. Take my hand once more.”
Cashman did as he was told and the two whisked off again, this time landing in a crowd on Broadway in Lower Manhattan. A bus drove by, crowned at the top by the 2009 Yankees. Standing there in the middle of the pack were a younger Cashman and Alex Rodriguez.
“‘Twas me!” shouted Cashman. “I remember signing Alex like it was yesterday.”
“Look harder,” replied the Spirit in a nudging tone.
As he squinted his eyes and looked through the crowd, Cashman recognized a familiar face. It was the smiling, laughing Robinson Cano. His face drained of color as visions of Stephen Drew passed over his mind. The regret! The shame!
“Remove me!” Cashman exclaimed, “I cannot bear it!”
He shut his eyes with a fierce pressure and when opened again, he found himself back in his Las Vegas hotel room. Before taking a moment of relief, he heard his name being called from a booming voice in the adjoining room. Upon entering, he saw a jolly giant sitting near the ceiling, atop a mountain of baseballs. The giant wore the number 99 across his back.
“Come in!” exclaimed the Spirit. “Come in and know me better, man! I am the Ghost of Yankees Present, look upon me and touch my bat!”
Cashman followed the booming orders of the Giant and grabbed onto the barrel of his bat. Instantly, the room vanished and the two hovered over the Washington Nationals’ press room, taking in the applause of the ceremonial placing of the jersey and hat upon their newest star, Patrick Corbin. Writers in the back could be heard besmirching the frugal decisions of the Yankees.
“No! I couldn’t go over five years. I simply couldn’t! Could I? Could I have gone six years, Spirit?” cried Cashman.
“Come!” yelled the Spirit, ignoring his begs of sympathy. “My life upon this globe is very brief.”
Cashman grabbed the bat again and the two jettisoned off to the press rooms of Boston and St. Louis, where similar scenes unfolded for the return of Nathan Eovaldi and the welcoming of Paul Goldschmidt. With tears in his eyes, Cashman looked on the Giant who, with his time running short, began to wither away. A dull whisper could be heard in his last breaths. Cashman came closer to hear the words of the Spirit: “Nobody cares about the luxury tax.”
Horrified and ashamed, Cashman could hardly bear another second. He wished to return to his life but instead was confronted by the slow, harrowing visions of a creeping phantom. The mysterious presence filled Cashman with a solemn dread. The dark figure didn’t appear human, but the one detail that could be drawn on was a tie clip that read “S. BORAS.”
“I am in the presence of the Ghost of Yankees Yet To Come?” asked Cashman.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its hand.
“Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any I have seen. But as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart.”
Cashman followed the floating spectre into a haze and when it cleared, they sat on the uptown 4 train. The hazy figures of two men could be heard speaking.
“I love this team, bro. It feels good to be rooting for a champion,” said one man in a heavy New York accent.
“I just bought this new jersey and I couldn’t be happier. It’s about time we popped champagne again,” replied his friend, his voice tinged by Brooklyn.
The haunted Spirit pointed forward, prompting Cashman to look closer unto the scene. When the haze cleared, he saw that the men were wearing Red Sox jerseys! By God!
“Spirit! How do men of New York come to cheer on a team from Boston?” asked a horrified Cashman.
The Spirit said nothing but moved effortlessly in another direction. Cashman called out, but ultimately followed his quiet captor into the haze. When the fog cleared, they stood in an empty clubhouse. The Spirit pointed straight ahead, prompting Cashman to walk forward, kicking through empty glass bottles of Sam Adams that dressed the floor. He saw a trophy.
“Answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be or are they shadows of things that may be only?” pleaded Cashman.
The Spirit said nothing but pointed ahead. Realizing the futility in his requests, Cashman crept toward the trophy, trembling as he went; and following his finger, read upon the gold of the base: World Series Champion Red Sox 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.
“No! Spirit, no!” cried Cashman. “I will honor the Winter Meetings in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this trophy, Spirit!”
The Spirit said nothing, but withered away slowly. And just as curiously as his night started, a very happy Brian Cashman found himself inside his 57th floor suite in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino once again. With a childlike pep, he gleefully picked up his phone, typed a message, and hit send.
In another room, in the very same town, a confused Bryce Harper picked up his phone and read the text aloud, “God bless Us, Every One!”