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Toast of the Rockies

Special to Page 2

Oh, man. Remember that Bob Welch autobiography, 5 O'Clock Comes Early?

Mike Hampton
This man has 121 million reasons to smile for the next eight years.
Waking up under my cubicle this Monday, I'm thinking of penning my own tome: 9 O'Clock Comes Early.

After all, we had the company holiday party on Saturday night. I'm just coming to.

As I stumble out from the cubicle, I'm thinking of throwing on the Ray-Bans to ward off the wicked glare of the flourescents. I'm surrounded by grinning achievers who didn't go to the party or, if they did, asked for a V-8 when I asked for a vodka martini. You know what I need. Two things: The water cooler, and Advil.

Or make it three things. Throw my boy Johnny on the list.

What I don't need is that dude near the cooler who I've never seen before. The guy in the Colorado Rockies jersey. The guy who appears to be handing out cash to anybody who walks by.

"Heya, bud!" the grinning Rockie says to me. "Want a C-note?"

"No, bro," I answer. "I want somebody to sew my skin back on, so it's not inside out. I want to hydrate. I want to talk sports with my boy Johnny, and I want to know who the hell you are."

I also take the $100.

"Say Daddy Warbucks," I say. "Who died and made you Kevin Brown?"

"Nobody died," he says. "Except maybe me. And then I went to heaven!"

He unfurls from his back pocket what appears to be a contract. It says he is entitled to $123.8 million. It says he is a pitcher. It says he will ply his trade for the Colorado Rockies for eight years.

I do a spit-take.

"Heya, bud, lemme get that for you," he says, producing more C-notes, mopping up more liquid off my shirt and pants.

"Listen, pal, the last thing I need on my salary is to see this," I say, wiping my nose with the contract. "You seen my boy Johnny?"

"Hey, let me get that runny nose," he says, producing more C-notes, which he uses to wipe my upper lip. "And who's this Johnny you're talking about?"

Just then, the glass door swings open. It's my boy.

Last time I saw him, it was Saturday night at the holiday party and he had Raquel from Receiving in the Xerox room. Now, he's carrying a Heisman Trophy.

"You know I never doubt you, J-Man," I say, "but the prize of the Downtown Athletic Club?"

"Dude, I told you to follow me from the office party," Johnny says. "You knew I was up to something."

It's true. Johnny is always up to something. He had talked some smack on Friday about crashing the Heisman ceremony, saying he'd pose as Paul Hornung, on the assumption that former winners are always let in, and that Hornung would be parked at a hotel bar somewhere nearby. Turns out Hornung was at the ceremony, Johnny spotted him, and burst into some Grade A improv when he got hassled by The Man at the door -- he passed himself off as O.J.

"So how'd you wind up with the trophy?" I say.

"Check this out," Johnny says. "Afterward, I'm doing shots at the bar, and Chris Weinke rolls by. He's got the trophy and all, and he's been legal for seven years now, so I buy him a few Jagermeisters. We get to talking, and I pull the old bar trick: I bet him his Heisman that he was older than me."

"But you're 39 years old!"

"Not Saturday night I wasn't," Johnny says, producing the Missouri driver's license of a 27-year-old.

Like Cusack in The Sure Thing, I admiringly say, "Man, that makes two Heismans for you now. I still can't believe you got Gino Torretta on that bar bet about the chicken costume back in '92."

"Never doubt me, bro," Johnny says, moving for some Sparkletts.

"That's outstanding!" our mystery friend in the Rockies jersey says. "Why, that's worth two, no, three, no, four hundred dollars!"

The Rockie licks his index finger and produces the bills.

"What's with this guy?" Johnny says, pocketing the cake. "Who does he think he is? Some baseball free agent, handing out cash like that?"

"It's not about baseball," the grinning Rockie says. "It's about winning! About schools for my kids! About ..."

Just then, our intercom sounds: "Page for Mr. Hampton. Page for Mr. Hampton. Darryl Kile on Line 2. Darryl Kile on Line 2 for Mr. Hampton."

Our grinning friend brightens.

"Cool!" he says. "I've been wanting to talk to him! Here, fellas. Make do with this while I'm gone."

He drops one large on the floor near the cooler.

Johnny and I look at each other.

"Dude, In-'N-Out for lunch?" I say, bending down to scoop the cash.

"And the rest on Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl," Johnny says.

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle finds refreshment at the Monday Morning Water Cooler every week on Page 2.

Murphy: Kuerten rising

Murphy: Phat weekend

Murphy: A rose is a rose ...

Murphy: All washed up

Murphy: Cooler heads prevail

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