"No, he's part of the deal," Leyland said.
"Then I'm not going," said Sheffield.
At 6:15 on Friday morning, Dombrowski called Sheffield's agent, Jim Neader, in St. Petersburg, Fla., and said, "You've got an 8:20 flight to St. Louis [where the Marlins had traveled to play the Cardinals]. Pick up Gary and go to L.A. The Dodgers want to talk to both of you."
When Neader and Sheffield arrived in California a car whisked them to the Fox studios for a meeting with Carey and Chernin. Then Neader and Sheffield were driven to Dodger Stadium, where at 3:30 they sat down in Claire's office with Claire. Graziano and Dodgers general counsel Sam Fernandez to negotiate a waiver of the no-trade provision. "This was a highly unusual situation," Graziano said. "I report to Chase and Peter, but not on every bit of Dodgers business. For instance, I didn't call them when we signed [outfielder Raul] Mondesi."
Claire gave a recruiting speech about how much the Dodgers wanted Sheffield. Sheffield wanted the Dodgers to make up the money he was going to lose in taxes he would have to pay because of the move to California from Florida, which has no state income tax. At 7 p.m., he also wanted something to eat. Somebody delivered turkey sandwiches. Neader and Sheffield, still a bit dazed by the speed of events, prayed aloud over the food that everything would work out.
Meanwhile, the Marlins' game was on the television in Claire's office. At 9 p.m. someone switched the set to the Dodgers' game. Thirty minutes later the deal was official.
Bonilla, Eisenreich and Johnson arrived the next day with the kind of enormous smiles normally seen by shipwreck survivors just fished out of the water by the Coast Guard. A huge floral display and balloons that said CONGRATULATIONS filled a table in the center of the clubhouse. It was for Johnson, from his wife. It might as well have been from the Dodgers pitchers, who privately had seethed about Piazza's defensive shortcomings.
"You're not going to see teams running on us so easily any more," righthander Ramon Martinez says. "And we can be more confident now about throwing breaking balls in the dirt with men on base. Charles will block them. It's very good news for the pitchers."
At 6:45 p.m., Johnson walked down the leftfield line toward the bullpen to warm up starting pitcher Darren Dreifort. Each section of stands roared with applause as Johnson passed by, a wave of noise rolling through the big stadium. Piazza had been a homegrown star, the glamorous "godson" of Tommy Lasorda who blossomed from a 62nd-round pick into one of the five best players in the game. Yet he was forgotten quicker than last night's dinner.
"Everyone's replaceable," Karros said. "That's kind of sad. But that's reality too."