Big League ChewIf you’re down and out about the state of baseball, here are four great stories to cheer you up.
“Almost surely the most famous Maddux story (probably because there were so many witnesses) involved an at-bat by Jose Hernandez, then with the Dodgers, against the Braves. Maddux as usual on off days was sitting on the bench with his fellow pitchers more or less "calling pitches" when he blurted out, "Watch this, we might need to call an ambulance for the first base coach." On the very next pitch Hernandez drove a line drive into the chest of the first base coach, who, fortunately, wasn't seriously hurt. John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Kent Mercker and others sitting around were needless to say completely freaked out. Maddux explained that Hernandez had been jammed inside by Braves pitchers for the whole series and he could tell from the shift in his batting stance he was going to rip one towards the first base coach's box.”
“Late in his career, DiMaggio was asked why he hustled on a play that meant little in a game that had little bearing on the Yankee’s fate that year. ‘Because there is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time,’ DiMaggio explained. ‘I owe him my best.’”
“The talks have been awkward from the start because Jeter…is now seeking a new contract just as he has started to show decline as a player. He hit .270 this past season, a drop of 64 points from 2009...Still, the current offers…would actually represent a small, but symbolic, annual increase over Jeter’s last contract...A deal that paid $19 million a year would also allow Jeter to rationalize that he was not taking a pay cut, a point that was emphasized on Friday by one National League executive who has been watching the Jeter situation with interest. That executive said that established stars like Jeter typically found it difficult to take any kind of reduction of pay, even when they have already made enormous amounts of money.”
From “Jeter Said to Be Asking $23 Million to $24 Million a Year" by Michael Schmidt (The New York Times, 11/26/2010)
“A decade before Marvin Miller came to baseball, Stan Musial, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, had his worst season as a professional, hitting seventy-six points below his career average. Musial then went to the general manager of his team and asked for a twenty-per-cent pay cut from his salary... it is hard…not to be just a little nostalgic for the explanation that Musial gave for his decision: ‘There wasn't anything noble about it. I had a lousy year. I didn't deserve the money.’”
From “Talent Grab” by Malcolm Gladwell (The New Yorker, 11/10/2010)
“The guaranteed contract is a fundamental principle of Major League Baseball, as much a part of the game as balls, strikes and outs. No matter how a player performs, or how his body holds up, he must be paid in full. Only in rare cases — an injury sustained off the field, gross personal misconduct — does a player forfeit his paycheck.
But the case of Gil Meche is rare for an entirely different reason. Meche, a 32-year-old right-handed pitcher, had a contract that called for a $12 million salary in 2011. Yet he will not report to Surprise, Ariz., with the rest of the Kansas City Royals for spring training next month. He will not have surgery to repair his chronically aching right shoulder. He will not pitch in relief, which involves a lighter workload.
Meche retired last week, which means he will not be paid at all.
‘When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it,’ Meche said this week by phone from Lafayette, La. ‘Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.’”
From "Pitcher Spurns $12 Million, to Keep Self-Respect" by Tyler Kepner (The New York Times, 1/26/11)
All the places I've been asked to leave.