Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jose's Departure

Jose should be bloody ashamed of himself not going with the 78 fucking
million dollar deal with the Mets; beloved teammates, fans; home-base,
as it were. Talk about the .05%!
-e-mail I received from a friend.

In an alternate reality, where the Mets did sign Reyes:

Fred and Jeff Wilpon are sitting around a shabbily decorated Christmas tree:

Fed: Now, I know that you wanted that bike we saw for Christmas…

Jeff: I sure did pop! It was bright red, and had ten-speeds and a bell and everything!

Fed: Well, son, I sure wish I could have gotten it for you…

Jeff: Gee, you mean you didn’t…

Fred: Well, I really wanted to…but you know how tight money has been around here, ever since we had to spend over a hundred million dollars on Jose Reyes’ contract.

Jeff: I know, pop. But a hundred million dollars sure seems like an awful lot of money, for just one ball player…

Fred: It is, son, it is. But remember, we did it for the fans.

Jeff: Golly, that’s right! The fans sure will be glad to have Jose back! Say, I don’t care about any bike! This is the best Christmas ever!

…I guess what I am trying to say is that it really bothers me when people talk about athletes making too much money. If someone is making too much money, it just seems belligerently myopic to focus on the guy getting the hundred million dollars as opposed to the guy deciding weather or not to give it to him.

On some level, I understand the idea that it would be nice if players were to accept reasonable deals, since even a very modest spots deal represents more than the vast majority of people will ever have a chance to earn in their lives, but if Jose had signed with the Mets for $78 million dollars, the Wilpons would have just pocketed the savings. If they had gotten a bargain on Reyes they wouldn’t have lowered ticket prices—they would have raised them, because Reyes being there would have made them worth paying to see. The most fan friendly thing that they could conceivably have done would be to use the savings for further player acquisitions—and their motive in doing that would be to protect their investment, by making their on field product more successful and more valuable. So, if you are asking Jose Reyes to take a nickel less than his market value, you are basically asking him to give Fred Wilpon free money. What’s that Fred? The government made you give back some of the free money that you made off of Bernie Madoff’s ponzie scheme (which you totally should have known about, you disgusting fucking nit-wit)? Don’t worry Fred, have some more free money in the form of a sweet-heart deal from Jose Reyes-- if there’s one thing that I hate, it’s seeing Fred Wilpon without a pile of money that he didn’t actually work for.

That is why it makes me happy when athletes make obscene piles of money—because at least athletes are good at something. Are you in the top 0.001% of the population when it comes to hitting a round ball with a round bat? Cool, have a giant pile of money. Fred Wilpon has such a giant pile of money that he can dispense these lesser giant piles, yet Fred Wilpon, as far as we can tell, sucks at being Fred Wilpon: he is too dumb to realize when he’s making money on a Ponzi scheme, he hires jack-asses to run his team, and he pisses on his players in the press.* If we have to live in a world where some people have giant piles of money and others don’t, I am much more ok with the giant piles of money being in the hands of those whose unique talents delight and entertain millions, than it being in the hands of actual rich people.

There is something that is sort of like capitalist pornography about athlete contracts. In the real world, people get laid through complex processes, involving longing, loneliness, lust, guilt and shame—in the pornographic world it is much more direct: you delivered a pizza to my house? Ok, let’s fuck. You have a unique and valuable skill? Ok, let’s make you rich. It’s much more exposed than the brand of capitalism that you run across in your daily life: you can look at amounts of money over years, and compare that with player statistics, and the expected value of a win, and watch it all jiggle and gyrate. The key fantasy of capitalist pornography, analogous to the big-breasted blond who just wants to blow everyone, is the spectacle of a worker with actual leverage over his employer selling his labor for the most extravagant price that the market will yield.

The Mets didn’t sign Reyes because the team stinks so much that it isn’t worth making long term investments on the big league level. If there was any cause for optimism about the club in the next three to four years, the contract Reyes signed would represent an expensive, but fair, investment—there isn’t any cause for optimism, so they let him walk. If anyone should be ashamed, I say that it’s the guy who owns the terrible team, rather than the guy who prefers not to play for the terrible team** at a discount.

*I’m alluding, of course, to Wilpon’s asinine comments in The New Yorker from the start of the season. Amongst other things, Wilpon blamed Beltran for striking out with the bases loaded to end game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. While I know that Wilpon isn’t alone in this, I’ve never gotten it: how the hell do you think that losing a seven game series comes down to one at-bat? Sure, if Beltran had gotten a hit the Mets would have won, but lots of other people could have won it for the Mets and didn’t. Fred, you fucking moron, the best parts of your rotation for that series were the mummified remains of Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez (or was he already hurt?)—game 7 was started by Oliver “the-goddam-worst-pitcher-to-ever-start-a-game-7-for-anyone,-ever” Perez, and you have the nerve to blame it on Beltran? Your take-away from that experience is “Beltran is a chocker and should have won it for us,” not “sweet zombie Jesus our pitching is fucking dreadful, how the shit did we make it this far at all?” That’s the kind of thinking that you expect from some Albanian dude who learned about baseball five years ago. What the fuck were they doing in the ‘70s, just handing out free real-estate?

**Everyone is saying "well, you have to understand why the Mets don’t want to sign such an injury prone player,"—but maybe you also have to think about why an injury prone player wouldn’t want to sign with the Mets. If you’re Jose, you have to know that the ultimate success of your career is going to come down largely to how healthy you can stay. And I think that Jose probably has every reason to feel that his best chances for doing that lie with a team called “not-the-Mets.”