Being compared to a well known mass murderer, even in a metaphorical sense, is not something that a good percentage of people would be proud of. However, in this case, it was the highest compliment. The e-mail read:
"Congratulations to Specialist 63025-Kappa for being employee of the month. He can carve a path a chaos like Jack the Ripper could carve through victims!"
It was better than nothing, he thought. Specialist 63025-Kappa, or John Kewolski in a previous live, was part of the shadowiest of all shadowy United States intelligence agencies. Its codename was simply "Project Chaos", and only the President and the Secretary of State knew of its existence. It was formed in 1970 for the sole purpose of planting rumors of outlandish conspiracies to the American people to divert them so that the Government could go on with some actual conspiracies, mostly of the boring financial deal kinds, without much scrutiny. It was the only Government agency with "Hawaiian Shirt Fridays".
The first act of Project Chaos was an ingenious one. After the United States Government invested millions of dollars into the Apollo missions, and had launched an actual rocket into space that went to the moon with many people watching said launch, and people had actually walked on the surface of the moon and then came back, they were somehow able to convince some people that this act never happened. This was all despite the fact that the people who believed this were not firsthand witnesses to the Apollo missions, nor do they understand the science behind it. It was a spectacular first act for the agency.
John always got choked up when thinking about that first mission. Those brave men who risked everything to not go to the moon. He gave a salute to nothing in particular at his desk in remembrance and then went back to work. The end of the congratulatory e-mail said that each specialist must start a rumor on twitter to distract from a deal where Turkmenistan would buy off some of the national debt in exchange for Emma Stone's phone number. The e-mail said that "It didn't have to be a Government conspiracy, so go crazy!"
A smiled crept onto John's face. He always liked free-form rumor mongering. He had an idea planned out for awhile now and he couldn't wait to use it. He went to the team list page on mlb.com. He closed his eye and let his cursor land on a random team. He clicked on it, and went to their roster page. The wheels were now in motion.
The very next day, John walked into a bar in Nashville. He looked around casually, but then spotted his target. He was sitting at the bar, talking to a young attractive female tending the bar. As John walked up to the counter, he could hear his target's lamentations.
"I need a good rumor, my job depends on it!"
"Oh, that's too bad," said the bartender, who had an air of annoyance around her, like this person wouldn't stop bothering her, "I think you'll find one here, it is the winter meetings, after all."
"I don't even like bowties! It's just a novelty I use so people notice me!"
John decided to make his move there. He sat two seats away from his target. The bartender looked at him and John ordered a Gin and Tonic. He went in for the kill.
"You know, if you need a rumor, I have some inside information that might interest you."
The rumors swelled up the next day on twitter.
"JUSTIN UPTON TRADE IMMINENT"
"RANGERS INTERESTED IN UPTON."
"KEVIN TOWERS TOOK UPTON'S BIKE AND MADE HIM CRY"
"UPTON TO BE TRADED FOR BAG OF FEED AND HORSE TO BE NAMED LATER."
John was back at his desk and cracked another smile. His rumor had spread like wildfire, and all the other specialists were jealous of him. A simple baseball hot stove rumor had taken the internet by storm. As far as he knew, his work was done.
In a basement in Ashgabat, his plans hit a snag.
"So this is personal mobile number, yes?" This was a representative of the Government of Turkmenistan talking with another Project Chaos agent.
"Of course, now about the deal..."
"How do I know this is not hoax?"
"Try dialing it later, not about our payment..."
"I call it now, and make sure I am not cheated."
The Government representative pulled out a cell phone and dialed the number he was just handed. There was a long and tense pause. The representative slammed down the phone.
"It goes to voicemail!" The Project Chaos agent started to sweat at this. He had assurances from very reliable sources that this number was legitimate, but it would be all for nothing if they thought it was fake
"Well, uh, she's probably busy or has it on silent or something."
"Why would she not answer? You answer me!"
"Well there is a big time difference so she might be sleeping."
"Emma Stone does not sleep, scum!"
"How do you know that?"
"How do you know that?"
The agent paused. The representative did have a point there.
"Deal is off, American pig dog!"
"Now come on, you can't just..."
"You get out now or I will make you pay!"
Meanwhile, in an office at Chase Field, another conversation was taking place between equally shadowy figures.
"Are you really trying to trade Upton?"
"No, not actively. I mean people call about him and I listen to their offers and then I hang up on them, but I'm not trying to, no."
"Well, twitter keeps saying you are."
"Those writers will make up anything just to get pageviews. It's nothing to worry about."
"Have you told people that?"
"Yes I have."
"Whenever I say that I'm not trying to trade Upton, people seem to think it's going to happen that much more."
"Why would people do that?"
".... Have you been on the internet?"
John was having a good day. He was just wrapping up a phone conversation which had given him much joy.
"Now now, Mr. Sutton, Misters Kendrick, Hall, Castro, McLennan, and Jeffcoat say you can't be released from captivity until you agree to wear the polo shirts." There was a loud yelling from the other end. "I don't care if they're made of Asbestors, they may be the key to unlocking human superpowers and you are going to wear them or you're done. Good day, sir."
He hung up the phone and then decided to check his e-mail. There was one new message from his section chief. All it said was "Your work is not done."
John sighed and decided to up the ante. He picked up the phone...
Back in Phoenix...
"Uh, sir, did you see this?"
"Did you sign Cody Ross?"
"Of course not! We have enough good outfielders here already."
"Well, uh, according to our payroll accounts, you did."
"Uh-huh. In fact, Mr. Ross is outside the building waiting for a tour."
"You didn't make eye contact, did you?"
"Oh no, just looked up and to the left a bit"
"Why did you sign Cody Ross, sir?"
"You know I didn't do this, did you call the league office?"
"They apparently said that it was final and there wasn't anything I could do about it."
"Well.. guess we can trade someone for some value I guess. Kubel might fetch something."
"That he may, sir!"
"No no no no no no no no no no!" John slammed his desk hard that some of the other specialists gave him weird looks. John had just read a tweet that said Jason Kubel was the most likely outfielder to be traded out of Arizona's logjam. This wouldn't do at all. Not at all. He picked up his phoen again.
"Hey Buster, I got a scoop for you! No, it's not about Mike Trout... No not Bruce Chen... What are you?" John sighed, "Go Vandy, yes. Now listen to me..."
Arizona very much open again to talking about trading Justin Upton w/other teams, and not surprisingly, their specific demands have changed.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 3, 2013
"I think you need to fire everybody."
"Someone is leaking out false information for some reason. Just fire the whole lot."
"Technically sir, you're the GM, you can't fire office personnel and the like. That's a big problem."
"There are no such things as problems, just challenges."
"But... you can't go over the head of the owner."
"That's what you think."
"No, that's what I know."
"Just make it happen."
"Whatever you say. It will be done."
"Ah yes. I love you in Easy A." The Government representative looked at the Project Chaos agent and gave him a thumbs up. The agent sighed. Getting hold of Ms. Stone was not a simple task, what with the time difference between Turkmenistan and the United States, but he had found a way.
"Are you in a new movie now? I will see it lots!" There was a pause, "What is it called?.... That is stupid title, why are you Americans so stupid?"
"I hate Ryan Gosling! You hang up now!" The representative slammed the phone again. "Deal is off, Capitalist swine!"
"Ugh. Upton better be traded before this is all over, that's all I'm saying." The agent muttered to himself.