It’s 3pm on a work day. Suddenly, a good friend of yours calls and they ask you if you know anywhere that is hiring. They have worked hard, they loved their old job and were happy doing their daily toiling. Now, they don’t know what to do. You ask if their next gig has to be in the same field. They don’t care right now. Times are tough and they just want to work. They want to provide for their families or keep saving for a house or even just pay off tuition loans from college or grad school.
My mother used to say “read the room” to me. That meant it was always important to make sure what you are saying or what you are doing is appropriate for what is going on around you. I wish I could say I always read the room, but I didn’t. Still, can you imagine after your friends around you are looking for work, replying back to them, “I am angry at my job because they are overpaying me and not asking me to do much work and are keeping me around for at least three years?”
I can’t imagine that either. But I know two guys who literally DID just say that. They both have the same job: centerfielder. They both play a game for a living: baseball. They both didn’t “read the room”. They are Juan Pierre (Dodgers) and Gary Matthews Jr. (Angels).
The Dodgers and Angels had their reasons, but both teams decided to overpay for new centerfielders. The Dodgers were even dumb enough to give Juan Pierre a year deal for just under 50 million dollars.
This should be where the story ends, honestly. Two guys, God bless ‘em, got paid enough money that their families and their ancestors will always be rich (unless one great grandchild decides he wants to collect islands and build diamond crusted buildings on them). But this isn’t where the story ends.
In the case of Juan Pierre, he was a lazy hire by GM Ned Colletti, a knee jerk for J.D. Drew opting out to go be lazy in Boston (a place that sucks) and win World Series. They sign Pierre and he does what he always did. Never strike out, hit about .300, have a frusteratingly low OBP, steal a lot of bases and throw like an eleven-year-old girl. Eventually, the Dodgers decided they needed more and proceeded to admit Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp could play, and after a failed Andruw Jones experiment, they landed the Dreadlocks to patrol left field and be awesome 24/7. Juan was out of a job.
For Gary Matthew’s Jr., when he wasn’t eating steroids at an amazing clip, when he wasn’t eating them in a contract year, he was busy letting the Angels watch his batting average shrink 71 points since the aforementioned roiding contract year. So the Angels signed Juan Rivera and figured they could at least utilize Gary’s high flying defense. That was until the poor economy led to a great deal on Bobby Abreu, who now makes Gary the odd roiding outfielder out (3 OF postions and a DH). Luckily, Gary is off the juice because he is pretty angry right about now
Today, USA Today grabbed quotes from these two guys who should be counting their lucky stars. They should be counting them because in a time where fans of the team they played for are hustling to scrounge up cash to come to a ballgame and endure seven dollar hot dogs and eleven dollar beer, these guys are complaining about playing time.
A very pissy and infantile Matthew’s had this to say today:
“I’m not going to sit here and not play this season,” Matthews said in a calm, measured voice. “I’m just not going to do it. Obviously, something must be done.”
Something will be done, Gary. You will shut your pie hole and collect your paychecks which equal out to around $68,000 each time he doesn’t have to do his job. That money is guaranteed. He gets it no matter what. I know it sucks to sit on the bench. Everyone wants to feel useful. Well I got an idea for you Gary that doesn’t involve using steroids or playing baseball: Pick fifteen games this year and donate your day rate to sit on the bench and complain to a fifteen Angelinos who lost their job this year. Don’t worry, you will still get 10 million dollars in salary AFTER doing this (based on his 33 million dollars and three years remaining on his deal).
Juan Pierre was just as insensitive and doubled up on Gary in saying this:
“It’s tough because I’m used to playing every single day. Last year was torture for me. If this organization thinks I’ll be happy making money and sitting on the bench, they signed the wrong guy.”
Was it torture Juan? Was it like having to tell your wife you lost your job? Was it like telling your kid they can’t have a bicycle for Christmas? Or was it just a bummer to want to play a game, but not being allowed to. Well, I know in fairness you have been performing at the level you always have and someone probably would stick you in centerfield and see if you could break a glass window by throwing a rock at it, but don’t tell us it is torture. Torture is watching you never take a walk while collecting 9 million dollars a year.
Bobby Crosby of the Oakland A’s was almost as lame as Pierre and Matthews today, but at least had the public relations savvy to mention how it affected the team:
“You’re getting paid the same, but you don’t want to sit on the bench. I don’t think the A’s would want me around if I ever thought, ‘Oh, great, I get to sit around and do nothing now.’ ”
But the truth is, what everyone wants out of all of you is to shut up and collect your paychecks. If the team can move you, then great, bon voyage. If it really isn’t about the money, ask the teams for a reduction in salary. If Juan Pierre came to the Dodgers front office and said, “Hi Mr. McCourt. I really appreciate how much you are paying me, but I really would like to play everyday. Maybe we could reduce my salary to a level where you could trade me more easily and still get something back.”
What do you think they’d say? Nothing, they’d be too busy doing a wild and naked dance while dialing a dozen other clubs on the phone at once. But Juan isn’t doing it. That’s because in a time when people are fighting for crumbs, he and roiding Gary and Bobby Crosby all want their cake and to eat it to.
Well they can. From the bench.