NEW YORK--The Yankees took a step towards improving their starting rotation last night when they gently placed a sleeping Jose Contreras on a raft back to his homeland of Cuba. Contreras has struggled mightily since signing with the Yanks last season, showing flashes of the excellence that made him one of the most sought after pitchers in the world, but unable to maintain it on a consistent bases. The latest move may be a sign that the Yankees have finally given up on Contreras.

“Jose has great stuff. I’ve always believed that,” said Joe Torre, hours after returning to New York from Miami. “His stuff is electric, but he just hasn’t been able to pull everything together. Now that we’ve sent him home, we’re hoping he can work on his mechanics and get his head together. Boy, is he going to be surprised when he wakes up in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Sometimes, a little tough love like that is just what a player needs.”

Torre bristled when one reporter suggested that the raft stunt was cruel and inhumane, and possibly even illegal.

“Pardon me, but that’s just b.s,” said Torre. “We gave Jose a life jacket and provided him with an excellent raft to sail back to Cuba on. It’s made of the finest wood and tied together with the finest rope money can buy. Believe me, any Cuban refugee would be thrilled to travel on a raft like that. I didn’t hear Jose complaining at all.”

According to Yankee officials, the decision to send Contreras back to Cuba was made last Friday, after yet another poor performance against the hated Red Sox. Instead of releasing him or sending him to the minors, Yankee boss George Steinbrenner instructed his front office staff to administer sleeping pills to the big righty, fly him down to Miami, place him on a raft and send him on his way.
At press time, Contreras and his raft were believed to be about halfway to Cuba.

“He was sleeping really well because of those sleeping pills, and we just put the raft on the shore and eased him out,” said publicity director Rick Cerone. “It was a beautiful night, too. I’m telling you, I almost envied him. To be able to wake up in the middle of the night and see all those stars and feel that warm sea breeze would be awesome. Too bad he has to go to Cuba. I only hope Castro forgives him for defecting, or he’ll have more than the Red Sox to worry about, heh heh heh…OK, that’s not funny.”

Some have questioned why the Yankees would go to such lengths to rid themselves of Contreras when they could’ve simply traded or released him. But sources close to Steinbrenner said the boss has such intense animosity towards the big righty that releasing him the traditional way would not have been satisfying enough. The boss wanted to teach Contreras a lesson, and also make him an example for the rest of the struggling roster.

“George actually wanted to hire someone to, you know, off him, but we talked him out of that,” said one club official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He came up with the raft idea himself, and we told him that was doable. He really wanted to stick it to this guy for stinking it up so bad, especially against the Red Sox. He also wanted to send a message to the rest of the team. If they don’t shape up, they could wake up in the middle of the night on a raft in the ocean on their way to Cuba. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.”

Contreras was spotted by a Coast Guard vessel early this morning about one hundred miles from the coast of Florida. He reportedly signaled to the vessel as it was passing by, but to no avail. The Coast Guard ignored him, claiming that it did not have jurisdiction over refugees going back to Cuba, though one sailor did ask for his autograph.

“We saw him about 100 miles due east of the Florida coast. He was waving his arms around and screaming for help,” said Samuel Mobley, one of the sailors on board the Coast Guard cutter. “Naturally, everyone on board was surprised to see that it was Jose Contreras. I have a nephew who is a huge Yankee fan, so when we pulled up next to him, I handed him a pen and asked him to sign the autograph. He made it out to ‘Jason’ just like I asked. Afterwards, he wanted a ride, but we really couldn’t help him out. If he was sailing to Miami we would’ve arrested him, but he was going the other way. We told him he wasn’t in any trouble, and let him go his merry way. What a nice guy.”

With Contreras floating back to obscurity, the rest of the Yankees roster is understandably shaken. Several of the players have been struggling, and many are hoping they don’t suffer a similar fate. Even Hideki Matsui, the one-time host of Manhattan, is nervously looking over his shoulder.

“That was extremely mean, what they did to Jose,” said Matsui, speaking through a translator. “It is very scary for me right now since I am struggling and Mr. Steinbrenner is mad. I have become paranoid. Just last night I awoke terrified to find a horse’s head on my pillow, but it was only my teddy bear, Ikiru. See how nervous I am? I am losing sleep over it. Perhaps I should go back to Japan where I am big hero, instead of staying here where I could be killed.”

Yanks Place Sleeping Jose Contreras On Raft Back To Cuba
April 27, 2004 - Volume 1 Issue 46