It was only a matter of time.
And to his credit, he didn’t disappoint. In a comic book accident gone horribly awry, baseball’s sordid combination of Booster Gold and Bat-Mite is at it again. Yes, Marlins president David Samson has opened his mouth and stuck both Keds in.
For those of you who accuse me of having a personal vendetta against Samson, all I have to say is this: What was your first clue?
Anyway, just because I have it in for Nosmas Divad (maybe he’s a distant cousin to Mr. Mxyzptlk.”—can’t hurt to try) doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be called to account when he opens his mouth to inform Mr. Natural Selection that it’s dinner time with baked shrimp as the appetizer, fried squab as the main course washed down with a Red Cap ale in a stubby and shortcake for dessert. Of course there will be after-dinner cocktails: 2 oz. gin, 3 oz. Midori® melon liqueur, 1 splash iced tea, 1 splash sweet and sour mix makes a lovely Midgetini.
All right, all right, I’ll knock off the small talk and get to it. Geez … try a little humor and slip in a tiny joke and folks get all PC.
After all, Mr. Samson appears to be an authority on jokes. For example:
Will Ichiro’s New Contract Ruin Baseball?” Samson opined:
“It’ll take the sport down, that contract. Right back to the ridiculous contracts. It can’t be … Well, sign Ichiro to a 20 million a year for five years it’s a joke, it’s inexcusable, it’s complete mismanagement. It can’t be true.”
If you’re wondering why the Marlins’ goodwill account is so deep into overdraft, well, there’s the first exhibit.
The deal isn’t a joke. The Mariners understand a few things that Samson does not. Ichiro is both an asset and investment for the Mariners; one that has, and will continue to pay, dividends to the organization. Leaving aside the strict market value of the deal, which U.S.S. Mariner thinks is a bargain, this is an investment at another level. It’s an investment for the fans.
In recent years, the M’s have had some spectacular, inner-circle Hall of Fame talent on their roster. One problem: They couldn’t hold on to it. Randy Johnson wanted to play closer to home in Arizona. Ken Griffey Jr. wished to return closer to his roots in Cincinnati. Alex Rodriguez simply wished to be the best paid player in the game”—something the Mariners were willing to make him, but not at the level requested.
In the immediate aftermath of these deals/trades there were some very hard feelings among the fan base. The fact that things turned out remarkably well over the long haul doesn’t really diminish the angst at the time caused by discovering that somebody you’ve invested a lot of emotional capital into didn’t reciprocate your feelings. As mentioned in an old Bootleg Sports column after Rodriguez’s first appearance at SafeCo Field after signing with the Texas Rangers: “Alex Rodriguez got all the bona fide respect from Seattle that he showed (Seattle). It’s hard to remember a torrid love affair fondly when you later find out your partner faked all their orgasms.”
Mariner fans loved Edgar Martinez and he is now a Pacific Northwest baseball legend. Make no mistake, he was well-compensated for the privilege of becoming such. Now they have fallen in love with Ichiro. He could’ve tested free agency but he was amenable to the idea of giving up the hectic bidding for his services to stay in Seattle if he liked the numbers. Ichiro obviously had a level he was comfortable with but still could have an excellent chance of being exceeded in the free agent market.
Seattle met the number and Ichiro waived his free agency rights; Ichiro’s happy, the Mariner fan base is likewise and so is team ownership.
What more could anyone ask?
Maybe the financial resources could have been allocated more efficiently, but it was more than just a straight player signing—it was the front office’s way of saying: “We know how much you love this guy. So here he is!” Ichiro’s a tremendous player and the fan base knows that the front office will open the purse strings to make them happy when it’s viable to do so.
That will pay off in ways not immediately obvious. It was a gesture of goodwill toward the fans. It might not add up in an accounting ledger over the years of the contract, but its effect will outlive the deal. It’s called investment—not mismanagement.
Mismanagement occurs when you bad-mouth your customers, run down your product and your place of business, try to extort money that rightfully belongs to the public to be used for schools, libraries, infrastructure and the like. It’s when you expect people making much less than you to unilaterally enrich you before you’ll give them the product they pay for. It’s when you lie to people living pay check to pay check to give you free money—claiming poverty while you live a life of affluence all the while threatening something they hold dear. Mismanagement occurs when you destroy an institution when you don’t get your way and then take your act on the road.
That’s mismanagement. Giving the customers something they want? That’s called smart business. That’s why they can pay Ichiro $90 million while you try to trade anybody who comes near your yearly income.
Speaking of which…
Maury Brown reported that you said, referring to Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio’s kind gesture…
“Can you believe those (expletive) guys? Celebrating mediocrity. Throwing the doors open for reaching .500?”
It’s called saying thank you for sticking with this franchise that hasn’t seen the playoffs for over a quarter century. It’s called cultivating goodwill. You see David, this is why you fail: The citizens of Milwaukee were hoodwinked via political machination into picking up the tab for Miller Park. Mr. Attanasio doubtlessly realizes this and wished to give something back. It’s called appreciation. It’s called gratitude. It’s acknowledging that the world doesn’t owe you a living simply because your father-in-law bought a baseball team. Had you married into a different family, you may well be the guy who sits at a bar drinking his welfare check every month complaining that life’s not fair.
If anybody has reason for gratitude in life—it’s you.
But instead of looking to cultivate the fan base and showing some appreciation to the hard-working folks who pay to see your father-in-law’s product you wander around wondering why idiots who don’t look at fans and taxpayers as something to leech off can do so well for themselves.
The Mariners get it. The Brewers get it. You are the one who doesn’t get it. To succeed you have to invest. You have to gently cultivate the soil, clean out any weeds that might hinder the crop. (You‘re fired!) It’s called cause and effect. A man who died almost two millennia ago recognized this basic principle: “Do not be deceived: … A man reaps what he sows.” As ol’ Casey Stengel said “You can look it up” (in this case in the Bible at Galatians 6:7).
There must be a God since you’ve escaped natural selection for this long. This principle has been around for eons and: You. Still. Don’t. Get. It. You got on a short bus as a kid and never got off of it.
Criminy, some people who try to take the short cut to success buy lottery tickets. You expect to win the lottery but you never buy a ticket, you‘re too busy waiting for someone else to do it for you.
Not. Gonna. Happen.
Since you’ve evidently disproved Darwinism I suggest that every night you drop down to your knees and thank God for Larry Beinfest.
However, in the credit where it’s due department, I would like to give Marlins management props in how they handled the incident involving Scott Olsen:
Olsen was suspended by the team Monday for two games without pay for insubordination and conduct detrimental to the team, manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The trouble apparently began with a faulty button on Olsen’s jersey.
After Olsen came off the mound in the middle of the fifth inning, he tore off his jersey, threw it at a clubhouse attendant and demanded a new one.
Sources said Mitre admonished Olsen for his behavior. That led to the scuffle while third baseman Miguel Cabrera was at bat.
And a shout out to Sergio Mitre for sticking up for the clubhouse attendant as well. I usually have little good to say about the Marlins’ front office (save for the brilliant work of Larry Beinfest and his staff) but I would like to pass along a hearty well done for doing the right thing. The ability to throw a baseball 90 MPH does not make you a better human being than another; it just means you can throw a baseball 90 MPH. Mitre probably reaches 90 MPH as well but he demonstrated what makes a better man: Having a better heart and having empathy for their fellow man.
The Whine Cellar
The best thing the Toronto Blue Jays can do in 2007 is to not screw up 2008—don’t fix the things that aren’t broken.
As of July 18…
Players who are on (or close to*) pace to top Earl Webb’s record of 67 doubles (assuming 600 AB):
Player 2B Team Pace Chase Utley 39 PHI 63 Magglio Ordonez 35 DET 63 David Ortiz 32 BOS 60
*on pace for at least 60
We’ll be following their progress on this page as the season goes on.