What if Manny Ramirez and AJ Burnett were never best friends


Praise for What if Manny Ramirez and AJ Burnett were best friends in High School:

“Andre, other than Bergkamp and Josh Towers we try to keep the homosexual undertones of being sports fans less obvious.”

-Anonymous commenter on Drunk Jays Fans

“That’s terrible. I don’t even understand why you made this.”

-Lori, my sister-in-law

“Yes, at least the photoshop is good.”

-Lisa, my wife

Recently Mark Teixera signed a 180-million dollar deal to play for the New York Yankees, and so they no longer have any reason to sign Manny Ramirez. Manny Ramirez and AJ Burnett will never be best friends, except in a highly implausible future. This is the worst I could have hoped for. The title of another post, conceived a week ago, was going to be “What if Manny Ramirez and AJ Burnett were best friends on a championship-winning NASCAR team”, but now that post can never exist. Impossible past and future relationships still exist as possibilities, of course, but somehow their existence holds less weight, at least in this reality.

٭ ٭ ٭

AJ Burnett leans back on the cool grey of his feather-down pillow, his hands lightly tapping his chest. “I will never be best friends with Manny Ramirez in high school,” he says. “Together we will never captain a championship-winning NASCAR team.”

The entire house is silent.

“I will perform well next year,” he whispers.

“Next year, I will perform terribly.”

“Is performance really a condition of the future? Does next year’s performance already exist?”

AJ Burnett’s eyes go wide. “Sixteen-and-a-half million dollars,” he says. “Sixteen-and-a-half million dollars a year.”

His wife turns over, shifting her weight to get comfortable. It’s nearly morning and everything is draped in a cool blue, but it’s still far too early to wake up. “Stop it,” she mumbles, “you’re going to make yourself sick.”

Speculation twists in the air like a flurry of dead leaves and trash on a mid-autumn wind. Its musty half-rotten smell is reminescent of Jake Peavy trade rumours. “Is he going to the Cubs?” breathes the air. “Perhaps the Braves? Could it be the Yankees after all?”

The speculation freezes in mid-air. AJ Burnett turns over in his bed and exhales deeply. He is wracked by anxiety.

٭ ٭ ٭

Manny Ramirez is playing XBOX on a couch in his den. There are men on the screen and he is shooting them.

“Where is Scott Boras,” he mutters to himself, as he shoots a man through the heart with a sixty-year-old rifle.

“Hey!” he shouts, “Can I get like, a pastrami sandwich?”

A woman in a crisp white uniform appears at the door and nods her head. “Yes, of course,” she says, “right away.” Manny does not hear her. He’s muttering about Scott Boras. He’s shooting men in a World War Two video game. The screen gets very busy and he goes into a kind of trance. He remembers hitting a home run over the wall at George Washington High School as a boy.

In time the woman in the crisp white uniform comes and brings him a sandwich. He eats it with one hand, not bothering to pause the game because he is playing online. A voice on the other end speaks over the sound of gunshots, explosions, and men dying everywhere. It belongs to Scott Boras.

“Hey, hey I found you.”

Manny Ramirez is forced to respawn.

No one is thinking about AJ Burnett.

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