Friday, January 07, 2005

Are you KIDDING me?

A small story in today's AP wire really ticked me off. I feel obligated to comment.

You might recall a certain October night (10/27/2004 to be exact) -- the moon turned red and disappeared in a rare lunar eclipse. Edgar Renteria grounds out, pitcher Keith Foulke to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. Red Sox Win, Red Sox WIN!!! For the first time in 86 years the Boston Red Sox are the champions of Major League baseball.

Today's AP news details the saga of the ball which Doug Mientkiewicz (D-Mint, from now on) received from Keith Foulke to seal the Red Sox date with destiny. I believe Joe Castiglione spoke something like this:

"The 1-0 pitch. Here it is... Swing, and a ground ball stabbed by Foulke. He has it! He underhands to first. And the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions!!! Can you believe it!!! Blah blah. 1918 put to rest. Blah blah. Hugging. Blah blah. 1918. '78 and 86. This one's even sweeter!" (hear the actual clip here)

Unfortunately, Joe forgot to turn off his microphone when he went into the locker room after the game to join in the celebration. Not wanting to break from character, he continues to provide his commentary:

"D-Mint hides the ball from Pedro, who tries desperately to trade him a grilled cheese sandwich emblazened with the image of the Blessed Virgin. He stashes his treasure in his sock and slams the door to his locker. A slightly-hidden side door to the locker room bursts open. A stampede of players' friends and families pours in. Jodi-Mint gives her hubby a BIG hug, and he leans over and whispers in her ear. What's this? J-Mint opens D-Mint's locker and puts a less-than white sock, with an odd-sized lump in the end of it, in her purse. Johnny Damon's fiance approaches J-Mint and asks her what that smell is emitting from her pocketbook. 'Are you sure it's mine?' The soon-to-be Mrs. Damon replies: 'O, yeah, I saved a special something from my sweet Johnny...'"

The next day, J-Mint and D-Mint walk arm and arm over to a special booth set up for special authentication of players' 2004 World Series artifacts. Today it's manned by Bud Selig. They hand him the Misses' slightly-opened, yet racously odiferous purse. Bud calls over one of his fello MLB chums, saying, "Uh, Jim, this is your job." Jim then reaches into the purse, pulls out the sock, and reaches down in to its depths, unable to maneuver away from the sticky sweat that still lingers within. His fingers feel a slightly-damp, leathery orb. He pulls and tugs, finally revealing a specially-marked baseball bearing a "2004 World Series" logo. It's slightly dinged -- the battle scars, though shallow, tell of near-pulverization off the bat of the fierce warrior shortstop known in these parts as "Edgar Renteria". Jim pulls out one of those dime-store holograms, affixes it to the baseball and prints off a certificate reading "Baseball used to record the last out in the 2004 World Series."

J-Mint initially wants to run home and pull up her eBay account. D-Mint, the wise sage that he is, instead pulls out the keys to his safety deposit box housed in the neighborhood Bank of America. They hop in the car, drive over to the BoA, enter the vault, find their box, put the key in the lock, turn, and -- voila -- the door opens. They slightly curl the certificate and place the ball underneath. The smallish door now feels more like the gates in front of Fort Knox as they close it, turning the key to the right and pulling it out. A slight "Ka-Chunk" sound echoes within the stone-cold vault. You can almost see the audio waves from the resounding "Ka-CHING" as J-Mint and D-Mint gaze into each others eyes, turn, and walk out of the bank.

Months later, it appears that D-Mint feels that he's entitled to share the same spotlight as Steve Bartman, Patrick Hayashi/Alex Popov, Phillip Ozersky, and Richard Arndt. A few of those guys (Hayashi/Popov, Ozersky) had a few more Ben Franklins padding their bank accounts, and others (Bartman, Arndt) gained noteriety. I'm hoping, though, that D-Mint's fate is sealed more along the lines of Richard Arndt.

See, Richard Arndt was the Bob Christofferson of the 1976 Milwaukee Brewers. He's the guy that snatched up Hank Aaron's 755th HR ball. Being employees of a teamhaving a slight historical interest in each of their respective baseballs, Arndt and D-Mint were asked to give their balls up "for the good of the team." Of course, with Smeagol hanging over their shoulder whispering "My Prrrrrecioussss!" both guys chose to focus on the flashing dollar signs that blink blindingly before their eyes.

Nevermind that the type of employees they are slightly differ, there's that light-year sized gap between their salaries. If I were a defense attorney and given a choice on who I'd defend, I'd give a large edge to Mr. Arndt. See, back in the 70's, I'd bet he didn't make more than $3,000 a year. Maybe slightly more, but still not a whole ton. However, in 2004 alone, D-Mint made $2.8 million, plus at least a few more thousands in October. He's under contract for a slight raise to $3.75 million in 2005.

In today's AP article, D-Mint tries to defend himself:
"I know this ball has a lot of sentimental value," Mientkiewicz said. "I hope I don't have to use it for the money. It would be cool if we have kids someday to have it stay in our family for a long time. But I can be bought. I'm thinking, there's four years at Florida State for one of my kids. At least."
Well, D-Mint, it's not like you're a 26-year-old research scientist making $30,000 or even a groundskeeper from the 70's making $3 grand. If you have a problem coming up with the cash to put any future kids you may be blessed with through four years of HARVARD, then you've obviously taken lessons from Mike Tyson, M.C. Hammer, and others who've failed to see the need for budgeting big bucks.

Oh, and what happened to Mr. Arndt?
Arndt was fired from his job with the Brewers in 1976 after keeping the ball. The Brewers, according to Arndt, even docked his final paycheck $5 for the cost of the ball.
Well, it'd hurt D-Mint at least a little less, but I'd dock him the $15 cost of the ball from his World Series share at the very least. That seems like a little harsh of a sentence for Mr. Arndt, but such punishment wouldn't be sufficient for D-Mint. If I were Theo, I'd DFA him right away. Looks like he might be on the trading block. However, considering the shadiness of the not a few characters on the Red Sox, D-Mint actually would fit in.

Uh, Doug, that ball should be added to this list. Next to Curt Schilling's blood-stained stirrup and sock (though Schilling did donate his spikes), I'd venture a guess that it would be the crown jewel.

Pull yer head out, dude!


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