"Well, I didn't answer quickly because I didn't want to ruin your Valentine's Day."
The serious matter of negotiating a baseball contract usually must wait for such an inane exchange. It establishes an Alice in Wonderland setting in which logic is abandoned.
"I'll make this short," he said. This gambit is known in the trade as the Short Shrift. He spoke harshly but with authority, as though reading God's word.
"First, you will not be allowed to write or publish what you write during the season. Second, I will not discuss salary terms. What we have offered is final. Third, if you don't accept this contract you are free to make a deal for yourself. If it is acceptable to us—if you get a player we like or even enough cash—we'll let you go."
"Beautiful," I said. "Look, you know that I make a living of sorts by writing. Now you're taking that away from me. I've been writing all winter, and I hope to market these articles when and where I can. I can't control publication dates. And anyway, what's your objection to my writing?"
"It's always been club policy not to allow players to write during the season."
"I think that's perfectly clear. Anything that goes on in the clubhouse and the dugout belongs there. If you've got two, three players writing columns, competing with each other in papers, it's bad for morale."
"Are you going to bar reporters? There are as many newspapermen as ballplayers in the clubhouse some nights."
"The press is different."