Friday, December 31, 2010

The Future Hangs Over Our Head

Ten more years in the books. Im an adult now. Im not 30 but I almost am. I have a career and its almost where I want it to be. I have my friends and they are not all where I want them to be. I have women in my life but not always the ones that I wish they were. Things change. Things stay the same. I'm the same. I'm different. I'm older. I'm grayer. I think I'm smarter. Lost some friends gained some new ones. Some heroes died and some are still here. Everything becomes a memory. Then you die. See you in 2011.

Res Ipsa Loquitor.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Running Through My Head

I am so unbelievably exhausted. What a week right? I try to have a normal friday to sunday cycle but I guess the Royals and Brewers had other plans right? I got to bed at 5 am friday woke up at 9 am and had 17 texts and 11 missed calls. What the hell right? The trade should be a great and welcomed opportunity for both of my guys. I should be at the KC fanfest this year instead of the one in Milwaukee. Sorry Wisconsin, at least youll have a cy young winner for two years at least to fall back on.
I finished a couple of big endorsement deals this week so Ill probably post those details when the ink goes on the paper.

Thats all for now.

Mahalo

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Trade 2.0

Well thanks to some new developments JJ might be PTBNL

Trade

Lorenzo cain 100 percent a Royal. Thats all I know.

The Royal We?

Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress are two of my clients. I am with Lorenzo this weekend and around 11 pm last night I got about 15 texts from members of the media asking if a deal was done involving both players. Both clients in addition to myself have heard absolutely nothing from either ball club. I read somewhere the deal was done pending a physical which is nice except JJ and Lo havent been informed of any pending physicals which probably means thats not true. Anything is possible but I would bet against this happening from what I know from my end. Both players are incredibly happy to be Milwaukee Brewers and it's the only organization either player knows. The Brewers have been phenomenal in working with both players especially sticking by Lorenzo as a raw underdeveloped prospect and Jeremy through all of his trials and tribulations. If a trade were to be completed it would be a huge honor and responsibility being traded for a Cy Young caliber pitcher. Both players are fierce competitors and would in my estimation not only rise to the challenge this trade would present to them but embrace the challenge as well. Ill post more as I hear more and it's been a while since I said famously "Mike Brantley will not be the ptbnl" so Ill try to be more responsible in what I leak. So in 8 hours Ill be at dolphin stadium with Cain/Hanyes/Brantley relaxing and enjoying the day.

Mahalo

J

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 1: Orlando

Will update later. Will not tweet. Probably. Hotel lobby, suites and restaurants here I come.

J-

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kids!!!!!

Im moving today. From a 2 bedroom to a 1. Finally growing up. Finalizing meetings for the winter meetings. I have a meeting today and had one last night too. So it goes.

Nothing mega exciting going on lately beyond work. Tron comes out. I'm totally a nerd for that. Flynnlives.com y'all.

Health wise im amazing and I have some amazing opportunities coming up so stay tuned for the 7 of you who still read this. Thanks you're amazing

Mahalo

J-

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I know

I know im exhausted. I know I am prepared. I know I dont like people who don't understand what I'm doing. I know I don't have to explain myself to anyone, results speak for themselves. I know I am never changing how I do things. I know if anyone has any issues with that then I just aren't for them. I know I am dedicated. I know I am relentless. I know where I am headed. I know how all this will end. I know. I know. I know.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Now I've Got You In The Undertow

So exhausted. Back from new york. Continuing education and all. Lots of data to process and get out. Roster freeze friday. Rule 5 coming up. Some more endorsements on the horizon. Taking emails. Taking questions. Taking everything except a break.

Mahalo

J-


Monday, November 15, 2010

DeRezzed

Im in New York for the day headed to the agent meetings. I cant wait to sit through that 10 am to 4 pm lecture then head back to florida at night. I also have been slammed with paper work lately but all in all things are well.

Every 11/12 I watch the back to the future trilogy out of tradition since that was the day marty mcfly went back to the future, also the date of the famous hill valley lightning storm.

Getting ready for orlando in December.

Need Sleep

Mahalo

J

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Becoming

I want to write more, I really do and I think I am going to shortly. Ive gotten a lot of nice emails from people saying this blog inspired them and they liked hearing about my exploits so maybe this wasnt such a bad thing.

Im headed to Arizona right now for the AFL all star game in which I have three guys in so that should be fun. Then in a week I go to the NY for the agents meetings which will be less fun but more serious.

I had a really interesting issue arise a few weeks ago when I headed to the AFL. A client of mine who I have grown to be incredibly close with called me and said the words every agent dreads, we need to talk. Nothing good can ever come from a conversation like that. So I asked him am I getting fired and he said yes. He said he loved me like I was a brother and he was so grateful and happy he met me but things could have been better on the work side of things. Thats a danger every agent faces. Players sometimes see what other guys get endorsement wise and get jealous without knowing any of the real specifics. Needless to say I didnt take any of this well and exploded as usual when these things go down. Also, this was the first day of my trip. Anyway, on the last night before I went home and I left him a message for him. For the first time in my career I didnt want things to end badly with a player I cared for so very much. I said lets just have a proper goodbye. So the guy came over to where I was at and got out of his car and asked me are you okay, I said no and I hugged the guy and started to actually cry a little bit. He cried too then we had about an hour long conversation that had very little to do with work. I could barely speak, I always knew I loved this guy but it felt like I was losing a relative, in this instance it was beyond devastating. At the end of the conversation we walked out to his car, he said give me your designation and then he resigned with me. He apologized the next day for putting me through that and we're good now. A week later I came up with a ton of money for him endorsement wise so everything is great again thank god. The guy was rewarded for sticking with me and I got to keep a very close friend. I have a very special bond with this player and that to me makes all the difference.

Congratulation to Darren Ford, my very first client to ever receive a world series ring. Darren wasnt on the active post season roster but he did play a big role in helping the giants get there down the stretch.

Hope to be back writing soon

Mahalo

J-

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Social Network

Im down to a post a month now. I guess this is what happens when you grow up. I wish to god I had more time to interact on this blog but I just dont have any time anymore. As mentioned I ended up with 7 major league players by September with more to come next year. I am headed to Arizona soon to see the guys I have out there so that should be a good trip....I hope

Hockey season starts tonight. Thank god.

Fantasy football team is 3-1 so far. Thank god. (and peyton hillis)

Preparing for winter meetings, draft, and more.

Hope everyone is well.

Mahalo

J


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Satisfaction Is Death

Last year was heavy on the draft. This year I am only advising one player. I have more big league clients now than I could have ever imagined and its looking quite likely that I will reach the double digits next season. It's crazy. Dont ever let anyone tell you that you cant do something because things like this can happen even to people like myself. I know I have been quite guilty of telling people they cant achieve in this field and the odds are heavily stacked against you but hell Ive gotten this far so why not? I havent even come close to where I want to be with respect to my career but I am on my way currently and I couldnt be more proud. I am not satisfied not by a long shot. Satisfaction is death

Mahalo

J-

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Go On

Ive been missing in action for a while. A bout with an illness never hurt anyone. Im good. Im alive. Im back. My clients are playing great and I thank god everyday for my friends. They've all been amazing. The signing deadline came and went. Its interesting sifting through the fallout. My two close friends are playing amazingly in the major right now and I couldnt be any prouder of them if I tried. Ill try to keep up but everyone keep on fighting the good fight. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Peace Love Empathy

J


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You Can Stay All Day

Not dead. Busy. Milwaukee,KC,Tampa,Miiami,LA, then home. Big leagues, travel, futures game all star game then sleep. Finished first 4 seasons of lost. I must not be a true fan because I seem to still know whats going on.

God this business is really messed up. One day I'm going to have the agent version of Ball 4. All apologies to the other books about agents out there, all one of them but mine wont be as filtered because when I write mine, Ill be done with this business. I look forward to writing it in 40 years

Mahalo

J


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Congratulations You Have Won

Kellin Deglan pick 22 first round Texas Rangers. 1st High School Catcher selected and 2nd catcher selected overall. Agreed to terms tonight. Headed to Arlington tomorrow night.

Mahalo

J

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's A Brand New World

Well real fast I wanted to jot something down here for the 6 readers I have left. 1 month out of the hospital and 15 hours away from the draft. I have been advising one family whose son is a potential first round draft pick today. I not only think about how his life is about to change forever but I think about all the things in my life that has taken me to this point as well. I am alone working at 1 am pacific time in a hotel in Langley BC. I think about my time as a baseball player in middle school or playing catch with my dad. I think about all the baseball card shows I used to go to where I learned how to negotiate. I think about all my days in college where I scouted like crazy. I think about all my friends and family that have helped me get to this point and I think about all my clients that have allowed me to have this life that i am so lucky to have. I think about my mom and dad especially. My mom who is so supportive these days and my dad who basically gave me my career. He believed in me more than anyone and especially during the hard times when nobody else did. My father has always been my biggest fan and I always have been his biggest fan. I remember being the bat boy for the orioles and I remember when I was about 15 watching Jayson Werth throw out the 1st pitch at camden yards right after being the orioles 1st round pick thinking how great it would be if that could happen to me. I am so fortunate to be going through this process again and I know all my hours of work and dedication will be validated tomorrow. A young man learns to play baseball and the game changes his life. A slightly older man learns to love the business of baseball and his life changes too.

Mahalo

Joshua

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Want You

Its been hard lately, Ive been sick so anyone who still reads this kudos to them. Had minor surgery then a major setback so I got readmitted to the hospital and finally got discharged may 4th. Sucks that I was in there for my birthday again. 10 years to the day of my 18th birthday also spent at Hopkins. Its been odd doing work from the hospital with a central line in my neck but whatever anything worth doing is worth g doing right. I really miss being on the road but hopefully that happens soon. All the guys have been so supportive I cant help but be touched. Its been amazing how everyone has rallied around me during this time. I cant thank them enough. Thanks to anyone still reading. The draft is a month away and I have a good one this year. Updates abound.

Mahalo

J

Sunday, May 2, 2010

That Stupid Club

I did it. I did something I never really thought would happen for me. Granted I did it in a fashion only I could have achieved but I am still here none the less. Im in the hospital again recovering from surgeries 41 and 42 in my life but more shocking than that is that in 30 minutes Ill be 28 years old. All my heros are dead and my most influential artist died at age 27. He was dead at 27 and Im alive. We're supposed to make the most of our time here and I try to remember that every day. Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison died at age 27. Its a surreal experience but again to celebrate the occasion I am turning 28 in a hospital bed. Ill be out soon and back to work and Ill be doing it as a 28 year old. I dodged one club but then again Heath Ledger was 28 when he died. One down 75 or so more to go


Mahalo

J


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

After All The Troubles Come And Gone

"So why did I do it? I could offer a million answers, all false. The truth is that I'm a bad person, but that's going to change, I'm going to change. This is the last of this sort of thing. I'm cleaning up and I'm moving on, going straight and choosing life. I'm looking forward to it already. I'm going to be just like you: the job, the family, the fucking big television, the washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electrical tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisurewear, luggage, three-piece suite, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing the gutters, getting by, looking ahead, to the day you die. "






Sunday, April 18, 2010

Can Money Pay For All The Days Ive Lived Awake But Half Asleep?

Long week as usual. Great news bad news and everything in between. Season is long and season is hard. Well have joy well have fun well have seasons in the sun. All that nonsense. Im off for now, one day Ill be more descript here I promise. Just slammed right now.

All in all

J

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm With You

Long week and getting longer, traveling, traveling and more traveling. 3 big leaguers and a minor league season to go. Hope all is well will write soon!

Mahalo

J


Monday, April 5, 2010

He Never Rusts

I do this every year on the blog so today is different. Every generation has a voice. Mine had the most relucant of spokesman. Kurt Cobain gave his life and soul to his music and obviously it led to his untimely demise. Drugs are never the answer and nothing good can ever come from them. They say that every so often someone give us three chords and the truth. Well, the truth hurts and its the chords we remember. 16 years. Got a long way to go and getting further away. Say a prayer for Kurt Cobain. See you in Nirvana

Mahalo



Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Worship False Billy Idols

NEW BP Column runs tuesday. Will get back to writing substance when the season starts

Mahalo



Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance.
Jean-Paul Sartre







Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Everythings Gonna Be Fine

At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.
HST




Sunday, March 21, 2010

I'm So Lucky

Happy to be in Baltimore, will be happier to be home




I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Off To Baltimore

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.
Friedrich Nietzsche




Friday, March 19, 2010

It's How It Starts

Im home, thank god I am home. It's been 2 weeks. I have games to see and friends to meet with. I have dinners lunches and phone calls. Lots of reading driving and watching. Watching and talking more than anything. And if I get a spare moment Ill probably read and sleep too. Been writing. Been doing a lot of things most of which have been productive. Read a lot of philosophy last trip and watched a lot of UCB. Good trip good to be home good night.

J


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

She Was Sharin Sharons Outlook On The Topic Of Disease

I am so beyond the point of exhaustion its not even funny. Woke up at 5 am yesterday and got back to the hotel at 2 am. With my limited math skills that was a 21 hour day. 5 games, 4 dinners, 2 meetings, and 1 Kusnick. I am FINALLY headed home today thank god. My 2nd BP column ran yesterday to mixed reviews. I am not a journalist obviously. All is well in the universe and Ill write from home

Mahalo

J


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Call Them Up Later

I am headed to the canucks/coyotes game with a group of clients tonight. Getting away from baseball will be a nice break, even if it's just for a few hours

mahalo

J


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mute Memories Start Talking

Baseball as everyone knows is a game of failures and its how people deal with these specific failures that determines how successful they are within the confines of the game. How is an individual persons life measured though? Is life measured by the amount of success one has at the time of his passing or is it measured by how a person overcame specific failures in spite of all odds to excel? I tend to be in the middle when it comes to such philosophy. I believe everything just is. Things happen, people react, events occur, and that’s life. It’s how people deal with these events that determines individual success or failure. Two people can be dealt the exact same hand and end up on opposite sides of the spectrum. Two kids could be given the exact same professional opportunity in baseball and for one reason or another kid a ends up in the big leagues while kid b ends up watching kid a from the stands. As an agent, one of the most difficult parts of the job is watching someone you love give everything they have effort wise only to realize that they are just not good enough to make it to the top. What is the road like that determines failure or success?
There are two kinds of players in the minor leagues, the prospects and the players who get to play with the prospects. There is an old adage that says if you have a uniform you have a chance. That’s true to some extent, but more often than not, minor league baseball players will fail in their attempt to reach the major leagues. The later a player is drafted the less likely that that player will become a major league baseball player. The draft is where it all begins. As an agent, my philosophy has always been straight forward. The round a player is selected in is totally secondary to the amount of money that a player receives as a signing bonus. It really is basic common sense. The more money a player receives as a signing bonus the more chances that player has to screw up. It’s better to be a 50th round pick who signs for a million dollars than a 1st round pick who gets 850k. Due to the MLB Draft being 50 rounds, most prospects who end up signing a professional contract do so with a minimal signing bonus which in turn means these players are signing knowing they have little more than the chance to chase their dream.
When a player signs his first professional contract the player ships out to the teams complex in Arizona or Florida and that’s where the road begins. If a player signs out of high school at the age of 18 and climbs the organizational ladder year by year, that player would be projected to reach the major leagues at the age of 24. If a college player signed at age 21 and was forced to climb the organizational ladder at the same year to year pace as a high school player, that player would reach the major leagues at age 27 so it can reasonably be argued there are more opportunities for a high school player to succeed as opposed to a college player based solely on age. From a business stand point as an agent, there are pros and cons to representing both college players and high school players. In theory the high school player tends to have the higher level of potential while the college player tends to be more mature and thus closer to reaching his albeit lower ceiling (again I am speaking in total generalities). If an agent were to sign a high school position player after the draft, the agent would be making a massive long term financial commitment due to the fact that there would be no income generated from the signing bonus. So with that being said, an agent better be certain that that this player who is not going to pay them for many years is not only talented enough to potentially make it to the big leagues, but is of strong moral character that when the player excels he wont leave the agent high and dry.
I have represented many players who have not made it to the promised land and I have represented several that have. I have made the conscious decision to run my company as hands on as possible. I love my clients. I know each and every one of them not because I have to but because I want to. I could never give my life to this career without the relationships I have with my clients. I love all of them dearly and I know they love me or they wouldn’t be here. The absolute hardest part of my job is watching someone I care about fail. Sometimes a players talent takes them to a point and then its over. Other times injuries derail a promising career and that’s that. The hardest part of this job is watching a kid walk away. I stay in touch with several of my retired players. For me, the agent relationship doesn’t end just because the career does. It is my sincerest hope as an agent that I become engrained in these peoples lives so much so that the relationship transcends the players career.
The second player I represented was a cubs farm hand named Nathan Mitchell. Nathan was a pitcher who had a good deal of success in college at the University of Houston but was never drafted and was signed as a NDFA by the cubs in 2002. I signed Nathan in 2003 after meeting him at a Jupiter Hammerheads game. I became quite close with Nathan over the next three years because I felt this man gave me an opportunity to live my dream when just about everyone else thought I was crazy. I knew I would do everything I could to help make this mans dream come true because he had done the same for me. Nathan got all the way up to AAA in the 2005 but injuries derailed his career and after one season in Independent league baseball Nathan called it a career. We have since stayed in touch of the years and admittedly we are not as close as we were during his playing career but that doesn’t change how I feel about what this man did for me with respect to my career. We still talk and email a few times a year and if he ever needs anything at all I still would drop anything to help. Nathan has a regular job, a wife, and a child now, and I couldn’t be happier for him. Nathan Mitchell is the kind of human being you would run through a wall for and I still wish there was something I could have done that could have helped him break through to the major leagues.
Each player has their own breaking point on weather to continue on with their dream or to give it up for the 9-5 world. The boundaries are different for everyone. Some players are content playing until the uniform is torn of their back and other guys will only play as far as their talent will take them. Its hard to watch players fail that give up everything to do this job. Their lives are put on hold in pursuit of a childhood dream. Obviously if a player reaches the big leagues then every ounce of the struggle was worth it. It also could be reasonably argued however even if a player doesn’t reach the major leagues the struggle was still worth the effort after all. Maybe the reward is the opportunity and not the end result when it’s all said and done ?
This is a cynical business I work in and a lot of the human element of my career is removed because of the ungodly amounts of money that are available to my clients but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that the pursuit of money should triumph above all else. Agents are supposed to aid and assist people in pursuit of the dreams in addition to enriching their lives off the field. Agents have a responsibility to do everything they can off the field so all the player has to do is go play baseball. A good agent simplifies the situation to that very basic equation. The agent does everything off the field and the player goes to work on the field. it’s a mutually beneficial relationship if both parties do what is required of them and that’s just the way things are.
I wish each and every player who has a dream to play in the major leagues could achieve that dream. The deck is stacked heavily against each player who puts on a uniform each day that a game is played. For a lucky few the dream is ultimately realized but for the vast majority of players the dream dies at some point in the minor leagues whether it be because of injuries or a lack of ability or lack of desire. As an agent if a player doesn’t make it to the big leagues it’s a devastating event. For me personally it has less to do with the monetary loss because it is absolutely impossible to put a price on somebody’s dreams. Even though players retire I am always there for a client as long as they will have me.



Sunday, March 7, 2010

And I Will Await

Beyond exhausted in Arizona for ST. Going to games, going to meetings, going to more meetings and then going back to the hotel. Here for 11 days then back home for the final stretch run of ST. Then more draft stuff then more pro games then more draft stuff then more pro games then the draft then more pro games then more post draft stuff then more pro games then more post draft stuff then more pro games then the draft deadline then winter ball then the fall league then 2011 then repeat. Im in a good place. Im tired but it's a good place.

Mahalo

J

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What in the name of Steve Levy?

One major aspect of active player representation is marketing. When an agent attempts to brand a player that he represents there are many things that one can do to help facilitate the branding process. A strong relationship with the media is absolutely crucial while attempting to market a player. I know with respect to my company, I have an unusually strong relationship with the media given the small size of my company. I always felt that everyone involved in television and print media could help my company grow more so than if I attempted to go about this journey alone. There is no way I could envision my career being what it is without the major contributions for many members of the media. For the purposes of this article I am only going to focus on marketing up and coming prospects and not established stars.
A trend amongst some of the younger and newer agents within the industry is that they seem to think that social networks are not only excellent tools in generating exposure for their clients, many even go so far to use them as recruiting tools. I am assuredly not a part of the group that believes sites like twitter, myspace, and facebook can help make a player famous nor will they aid them in any way, shape, or form. To some degree, these social networking sites have knocked down the wall that used to exist between the players and the fans. Fans are closer to the players now than ever before and while the overall fan experience is much more involved these days than it was say 25 years ago, the players personal lives away from the field is getting encroached upon more and more. Strictly speaking from a marketing point of view, I completely fail to see how these social networking tools could actually benefit a player. The agents that tend to utilize these sites in hopes of creating a fan base for their players fail to realize that the only thing fans tend to care about when following a specific player or prospect is their statistics or their on field contributions to their respective team. Creating an artificial fan base via a facebook fanclub or have tons of followers on twitter is not an actual benefit and if anything, it only invades a players privacy to the absolute extreme. If a specific prospect is hitting .220 in the florida state league and has 5,000 followers on twitter and 5,000 fan club members on facebook would that player really be in a better situation than say a prospect who hit .330 anonymously? Absolutely not, and it would be ignorant for any agent to think otherwise. You cannot mask the reality of a players situation because now more than ever the fans are ridiculously educated about every facet of the game now. Full disclosure: I do post on several message boards and that is a total personal preference. I personally enjoy interacting with fans whether it be online or in person. I always answer all my emails and private messages. I do not consider what I do on message boards work and it is something I choose to do on my down time.
Beyond statistics and on field contributions, good old fashioned media exposure is the only way to help capitalize on a players success. Radio, television, and print media all offer sufficient means of exposure that could potentially aid a players career. It is the job of the agent to not only assist a player in dealing with all forms of media, it is also an agents job to capitalize financially on that exposure. When I first started in this industry the very first industry members I befriended beyond the scouts who got me started were the local beat writers for my hometown teams. I asked them hundreds of questions and contacted them incessantly and I thank them dearly for putting up with me. As my company grew and I signed players from all over the country I made it a point to contact every local writer I could from my clients home town in addition to contacting every major media member that covered my clients major league affiliate. Every winter meetings I attended I made more and more media contacts and in 2003, in a stroke of absolute dumb luck, I befriended John Buccigross of ESPN. This will take the story way off course but its pretty awesome and I think its worth telling.
I had the ultimate good fortune of attending the 2003 NHL all star game in addition to attending the All Star player party held the night before the game. I was on a mission that weekend and if I failed this mission I probably would have never emotionally recovered. All I wanted that entire weekend was to meet John Buccigross. I am a massive hockey fan. I played for 13 years, I went to tons of games with my father as a kid, and I always felt that a guy like John Buccigross just understood better than anyone what it was like to truly love the game. He was like your local drinking buddy who just happened to make it big but after making it he tried to take all of his buddies along for the ride, except his buddies were his entire audience. I was part of that group and I wasn’t going to be satisfied unless I got to meet him.
The night of the player party, I brought 1 silver paint pen, my camera, and 1 hockey puck. I got to the event early in hopes I catching him. Hour after mind numbing hour I failed with astonishing regularity. At the time, ESPN had a hockey program called NHL2NIGHT. I somehow managed to meet the entire cast that night except Buccigrorss. Steve Levy, Barry Melrose, and the eternal Bill Pidto. Each time I ran into someone I would ask, “Have you seen Buccigross?” Each time the question was asked I was greeted with a look of absolute annoyance (It was quite funny to watch Steve Levy come to the realization he had no fans). Finally at the end of the night I was going to the escalator getting ready to leave when I literally ran into John Buccigross.
I have only gone speechless around celebrities three times in my life. When I met Dominik Hasek when I was 16 years old I went completely numb and rambled like an idiot while he signed a hockey card for me. The second time I ever got star struck I literally almost got struck by a star. When I was walking back to my office in 2003 Larry David almost hit me with his rental car. Yes, Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm almost ran me over, I looked at the at the car after it almost smashed into me and said “Oh my god, that was Larry David”. I waited for him after he got out of his car and had him sign a hockey puck I had with me. He asked me how I recognized him and I told him I had Jewdar. I can pick out other jews from a crowd. Larry David laughed at that comment. I made Larry David laugh, game over and thank you for playing I can now die in peace.
The very last time I was star struck was when I finally met John Buccigross. I somehow spit out the words “Bucci, can you sign this puck for me please I have been searching for you all night?” His response was twofold “ Why and whats your favorite band?” I told him and he promptly signed the puck which I still hang in my office to this day “What Kurt Cobain was to Nirvana Josh is to John Buccigross” His presence relaxed me and we ended up chatting for about three hours that night. When it was all said and done we had exchanged emails and cell phone numbers. I made sure we stayed in touch and he graciously did the same and while I was in college he even used several of my emails in his weekly column. After I had graduated, John allowed me to use his image on our website and he had hired me to help assist him with whatever he needed with regard to his career, so basically I am on call for him as he needs me. When John hired me I felt a tremendous sense of validation and without guys like him believing in me at such a young age I’m not sure I could have survived in this business. I started out as a fan but I ended up as his agent and friend totally by accident.
With John Buccigross as a client, more members of the media began to take me seriously and it allowed me access and opportunity that I normally never would have had. As my clients progressed and became more well known I made it a point to make all of them available to the media for everything. Any time someone in the media needed a quote or wanted interview I made it a point to make my clients available in a flash.
But what does an agent do with all these raw materials? The interviews and stories? Well, my company has a file for each client that the agency represents. Each file contains every piece of media that I can get my hands on. Those files are scanned and eventually power point presentations, brochures, and even full blown books are created for each one of my clients. These materials are then sent to absolutely every company on earth in hopes of securing endorsement contracts for our players. Without the media, it would be significantly more difficult in marketing my clients. If I were to contact a company and all they had to rely on were statistics and the my word I don’t think I would have close to the number of endorsement contracts on the books that I have now. And those contracts that I have been able to secure for my clients have probably kept me in business more than anything because when a player is in the minor leagues he needs to generate as much off the field revenue as possible to stay financially afloat. Not every player signs for a 6 or 7 figure bonus so aside from their salary, all a minor league players has to survive on is off the field revenue. Aside from on the field performance, this process is heavily added and starts with the media. So with all that being said I believe it is imperative to have a positive relationship with everyone involved in the media whether it be radio, television, internet, or print.
The media can make players a great deal of money but they can also prevent a player from making money. An agents relationship with members of the media can greatly assist a players career by potentially helping that player earn additional off the field revenue. If an agent has a poor relationship with the media or even simply ignores them, it can very negatively affect a players career. It is very important to note that an agent should never ever try to outshine his clients. No player ever wants to compete with his agent for the spotlight. If an agent is able to walk that line in addition to assisting the media with their job, a player can greatly benefit financially from that agent/media relationship. And as one dear friend told me several years ago when I told him I’d make him famous, “I don’t want to be famous, I want to be rich”.

Mahalo


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sleeping With Ghosts

One of the busiest times of year for any agent with any modicum of clients has to be the spring. From February until April I am absolutely slammed with a wide variety of work. When you run a small staffed agency, you are usually stretched beyond your limits during Spring training. Between visiting clients, scouting for the draft, and running the day to day things that go on inside of an office, Spring time really tests how strong a players agent really is. Many agents tend to bite off more than they can chew but if you know you’re limits and are willing to make certain sacrifices, there is no reason that an agent cant successfully navigate this time consuming segment of the year. With that being said, on a human level, being in the game this long , being in my late 20’s, I cant help but wonder what I’m missing out on away from the game.
No matter how much I try to ignore the obvious, baseball balances me. When you break through everything that I have to do to perform my job, it's the game that balances me. The game makes me happy, the game makes sense, and the game is safe. No matter where you're at it's always familiar and everyone knows where to find it. It's peace and it's an escape. At the heart of the monster lies the joy. People come and go, places change, and lives stop but in the end the game lives on to give a sense of familiarity to everyone who wants to take part.
However, it's the normal things I think I miss more than anything. Friends are starting their lives, getting married, growing up and being normal. Ive mentioned it before here, I think thats what I miss the most. I miss the idea that one day Im going to grow up and have a normal life. The life, the wife, the house, the 9-5, that dream is dead to me completely. It's like sometimes I am almost living somebody elses dream and I cant trade back for my lost dreams. I am thankful some of the time for the things I have but I wonder all of the time about what I have given up to do this. Im on the road constantly and I dont ever have time for anything but the job. I’m married to it, it's my wife and to blindly steal from NAS, I’m glad it aint divorce me
To get on point again however, starting in January of each year, right after the winter meetings, most of our clients begin to plan for their equipment needs for the upcoming season. As an agent it is my responsibility to make sure our clients are completely taken care of on and off the field. The first thing we do as a company is identify which players have secured endorsement deals and which players have not. My company spends a great deal of time and energy attempting to secure as many endorsement deals as possible. If we can secure endorsement contracts with bat companies that deal with shoes, batting gloves, bats, sun glasses, and dry fits, well all the less we have to spend on our own. It’s always been our belief that a player should be fully equipped to do his job and it’s the agents job to make sure that happens no matter the cost. So with our without an endorsement all of our players will have what they need. If a player needs to order anything all they have to do is call our godsend of a secretary Sandy. Without Sandy the agency falls apart completely. Sandy takes all the players orders in the office, contacts all the companies to place the orders, and smooths out any accidental equipment mishaps that may occur during the season. The players love talking to her and without her being there I have no idea where our company would be.
The art of securing an endorsement deal varies I guess from company to company. Every company we have had the good fortune to deal with has been more than generous to our clients. The majority of these relationships were cultivated over very long periods of time. Whether we get to know the staff members of these companies over the phone, at a showcase, or at the winter meetings, its always important to remember to be polite and honest at all times. It is an agents job to sell his players but if you misrepresent a client and his abilities to a company that might decide to sink a large investment in that player and the player ends up being a total bust the negative fallout lands squarely on the agents shoulders. I believe any player playing in pro baseball can secure an endorsement of some kind and the best way to do that in my estimation is to properly sell your player as accurately as possible. If an agent develops an honest reputation it makes it more likely a company will take a chance on a lesser known player that the agent really believes in. It’s very much a two way street and if everyone is honest and upfront things tend to go quite smoothly.
The draft process aside from representing the pro guys has to be the most time consuming endeavor an agent can do. It takes years to scout players and it takes even more time to get hired as an advisor. Information packages are created and mailed out, home meetings are set up and hopefully at some point in time you get hired to be an advisor. Then its non stop information overload. Remember, an advisor can never provide anything of value to the armature player or his family for free so at that point you’re really regulated to being a sounding board of information. You better hope your information is spot on as well because if you get one thing wrong you’re done. You’re not only done with that player, you’re done to everyone who finds out about your mix up. So if possible, it’s best to always be right about everything (no pressure).
Another big aspect of my job is availability. I am available 24 hours a day 365 days a year for everyone. There is a reason I go to bed at 4 am each day and it isnt for anything Howard Hughesish. I always want my guys to know, no matter where they are, especially the west coast guys, that they can call me when their games are over just to talk. I never want them to feel like it's a huge imposition on my life style and I never want them to feel like they're bothering me either. I just try to do my job the way I think my job should be to the very best of my abilities each and everyday. I figure if I do my job well it will eventually rub off on the players and that can only be a good thing. There are major downsides to always being on call. The desolation. Being in another hotel room. The same hotel room Im always in. It's pure desolation and it cannot be understated how boring this room has become. I know the familiar bed with the familiar drapes and the familiar broken air conditioner and familiar remote control that links me to 400 broken channels of the same benign minutia on the same broken television while I sleep with the same familiar ghosts. I get tired of it all sometimes but I remember on occasion I still get to do something not many people get to do. I affect peoples lives and that my friends can be a very good thing but a consequence of that very good thing is the fact that I am always tired. The road does it to you. It's out of your bed and into your head all the time. You find ways to get past it though. Whatever it takes you know? Whether it be dedication or fear, there is always some driving force pushing me to be great. That is all I think about and all I strive to do. I hate losing. To anyone at anything. Im hypercompetitive. Some could see it as a fault but I really don’t see it as a negative. There is nothing wrong with a divine love of winning. I do not take losing well. Not at all. Ive been fighting my whole life with everything so why should this be any different? Whenever I beat another agent for a client it feels good. It feels really good. They blow the save and I shut the door for the win. It never ends. No time for celebrating though. On to tomorrow.
So between securing endorsements for the pro athletes I represent, traveling all year, managing the draft, and running the office an agent can really stretch himself thin. I believe anything worth doing is worth is worth doing right. If this career were to be easy, then everyone would do it. Sacrifices are part of the job requirement and not just small ones, life altering sacrifices are absolutes that comes with this career. I know I have damaged my health long term to some extent because of my career. I sleep less, I eat worse, and I travel more. I have a million ex girlfriends and an ex fiancĂ© thanks to this career but I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences I have had because of my career for the world. I know when I wake up every morning I get to do something very few people in this world get to do. I know I’m good at my job and that’s something you cant put a price on. More importantly I know what I have overcome to get to this point in my life and the greatest reward I could get someday is knowing that in some small way I have helped change someones life for the better. Without that I would be nothing.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Ill Keep Them Still

Everything in this game tends to run in cycles. Players come and go, money comes and goes, children become fans and fans later have children. Teams win and lose and players are gods for a day then the next day they’re sitting at home. Even the agent world tends to be cyclical in nature to some extent. A generation of agents have their reign over the entire industry while the next group anxiously waits their turn to run things behind the scenes. It’s hard breaking into this industry, I don’t think anyone really would dispute that fact. Like anything in life, being an agent takes equal parts technical skill and showmanship. You can have an agent who is the most technically sound and intelligent guy in the world but has no clients because he has zero charisma or ‘it” factor. On the other hand, you can have a guy who is the most vocal and flashy guy in the room but without any substance that agent wont have any clients either. Having a balance of flash and skill is something I have worked very hard at. Some days I struggle with keeping the flash in check and other days I’m all business. If you’re not careful, it would be very easy to forget who you really are sometimes.
One of the major issues I have had to deal with in my career from my own vantage point is the issue of "professionalism".You know what I have to say to all that? Fine. It's 2010 and everyone has a way of running their business and doing their job. I have seen many agents in my career and I don’t want to become what they are. Elliott Smith said it best "But they can't be people/not if I'm one/if i have to be like them/i'd rather be no one".
I don’t want to lose the human element of my career. I choose to be the way I am, completely out there and totally accessible. Other agents can say they do things a certain way or claim they want to run an agency like it’s a family but 99.9 percent of the time its total BS. I know how deep I get into my players lives and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve been fired before and I’ve cried over losing a player before and it had absolutely nothing to do with the money. When you lose a client in this business and you care about the player and the family as much as I do you should be upset over getting fired. Time heals everything and you learn from each experience obviously but the hurt never goes away because in some small way it's still a reflection of your work as an agent and ultimately the player decided that I had let them down.
The movie Thank You For Smoking had a tremendous concept within the film and I believe it applies to being an agent as much as it applied to the cigarette industry. Flexible Morality. Morality in its descriptive sense refers to values that help determine right and wrong whereas morality in its normative sense refers to a more absolute definition of right and wrong such as if a specific act was to be “immoral”. The concept of flexible morality was something that has always resonated with me since seeing the concept in the movie. Obviously the term and concept are meant to be satirical in nature but I think that within the confines of my specific field of work, flexible morality is a very active and present concept.
Morality by definition cannot be flexible, morality is an absolute concept so the idea that it could be somehow flexible is a flawed concept, however as an agent, I have seen many instances where an agent could be considered to have flexible morals. There are things you do within your career that you would never ever carry over to your personal life. For example, if an agent were to lie to the media during the course of a public negotiation does that mean the agent would do the same thing to his wife? If a player was currently represented by an agent but then went to dinner with another agent does that mean the player would cheat on his wife also? Can you be a bad person but be a good agent? I don’t have the answer to questions like this nor do I have a definitive opinion on flexible morality. I just think that a concept such as flexible morality should at least have a place in the discussion regarding professionalism.
I’ve discussed professionalism in addition to discussing what it’s like to get fired and the impact that has mentally and professionally however I haven’t really discussed some of the uplifting things that this job has afforded me to experience. I think the most fulfilling part of my career is experiencing the totality of a players career on and off the field starting in high school and ending in big league career. I get to experience a great deal of self discovery every day that I work in baseball. I have learned more about myself thanks to my career than I ever would have without it. I have been so fortunate to learn so much about myself at such a young age I cant even imagine what my life would be like without having done so.
Before I was a player agent I started a small company that sold autographs and trading cards of professional athletes. I would go to the local baseball card stores and card shows as often as I could and it was there that I learned how to negotiate. Around the time I was 14 I realized that it was far too difficult acquiring major league players autographs so I gave up and started to attend class A Florida state league games. The closest team to where I lived was in West Palm Beach, which was the class A affiliate of the Montreal Expos. The very game I went to I was able to watch Brad Fullmer, Hiram Bocachica, and some skinny outfielder by the name of Vladimir Guerrero. The visiting team that first game I attended was the Lakeland Tigers that sported a lineup of Darryl Ward, Juan Encarnacion, and Mike Darr. Several years later all six of the players I mentioned were in the major leagues and I had not only seen these guys play before they were major leaguers I had met them and acquired their autographs. Experiencing this process was arguably the biggest thrill of my teenage years. Research a player, scout him in person, get an autograph, then wait, then repeat. Though the process was time consuming, it was also substantially rewarding. It’s hard to put into words what its like when your scouting efforts are validated.
As an adult, the process hasn’t really changed all that much for me but instead of starting in the minor leagues, I start watching kids in high school. Instead of determining the future value of a players signature, I now try to determine a players actual value. The one constant feeling between the two experiences is the sense of validation. Knowing you were right about a player and his abilities is a feeling that cant be duplicated. Scouts , teams and agents are wrong about players more often than not , so in the rare chance you get one right, its just absolute and total elation. So as a teenager if I got a player right, I had a really cool autograph. As an adult, if I get a player right, I have a career. There are some little things that go into the job that one wouldn’t normally think about but that doesn’t mean these little things don’t leave a big impact.
From a personal standpoint, one of the most exciting moments of my career was when I got to first negotiate baseball card contracts for my clients. As a kid as I was a huge autograph collector and baseball card collector. I probably have 10,000 autographed trading cards in storage thanks to my old business. The first contracts I got to negotiate were in 2004. Companies like Just Minors, Donruss, Topps, and Upper Deck all made cards of my clients that year. I will never forgot making those phone calls to my clients giving them the good news. Part of the excitement came from knowing I wasn’t totally inept at my job but the major excitement came from knowing I was partially responsible for a trading card coming into existence. Getting card deals for my players is about as close as I will ever get to having a card of my own but that doesn’t take anything away from how wonderful an experience this process was to me personally. To be honest, I almost take getting card deals for my clients for granted these days. Ive done hundreds of deals for my clients over the years (I even secured a trading card deal for ESPN’s John Buccigross) and it is now just another part of my job. It’s right up there with scouting, traveling, and negotiating, just another thing that has to be done. I don’t think the job has made me that jaded yet, but with that being said certain things don’t retain a residual value. Even though it has gotten easier for me to negotiate trading card contracts over the years and the mystique of that experience has dissipated, it doesn’t make the experience any less important for the player. Without fail, one of the happiest times of a young players career is when they get their first real trading card. I still remember the first time guys like Michael Brantley, Lorenzo Cain, Darren Ford and Luke Montz all saw their first cards. It’s one of the last pure moments of a players career. You can see it in their faces, that childlike curiosity, that general shock that the card that they are staring at isnt a childhood hero, it’s them. Helping to make that dream come true is absolutely one of the best parts of my job.
People within the industry all have their opinions on me. Some people think I’m crazy, some people think I have a ton of potential, while others don’t even know I exist. None of that really matters though. What matters is what my clients think of me and more importantly what I think of myself. I have no idea what kind of agent I am, I have never been one to label myself, but I do know this, I have never sold out what I believed in to excel at this job. I have always stayed true to everything I believed in no matter what the cost was. Have I lost out on certain players because of who I am? Probably. It doesn’t bother me though because I can go to bed every night with a good conscience knowing I did everything I wanted to professionally on my own terms. Res Ipsa Loquitur.


Build It Up Slowly

EXTENDED VERSION OF OLDER POST

Sometimes things happen in your career that shock you no matter what you've seen or been through before. I have seen almost everything happen in this business and I have to admit, I have become numb to a lot of the bad things. There is one act, one very specific experience that I never ever have gotten used to. Getting fired is still the ultimate pain in a very painful business. Getting fired by a player signals several things. It’s the death of a relationship and because of the way I try to structure my relationship with my clients it is a gut wrenching hell that has nothing to do with money. Anytime that I have gotten fired I have been pushed to the point of exhaustion. I have become physically ill and I have cried because I not only have lost a client but in almost every case, a friend. The other reason getting fired is so hard to swallow is because it’s a condemnation of your work. You feel like a total failure and again in my case, I feel like I have let down a player and his family. I am supposed to aid and assist these young men in their careers so if there comes a time where a player feels I have not upheld my part of the bargain I feel like a total failure.
There are some instances where an agent can get fired through no fault of his own. I had a player fire me once because a childhood friend of his started a company of his own. What am I supposed to do in a scenario like that? I also have been fired by players who have been lured away by other agents by the promises of better contracts and more money. These things happen. Companies see players they want and they go after them regardless of if they have representation or not. I have been fortunate thus far where I have not lost many players to other companies. I think I do a well enough job educating my players about what an agent can or cant do for them. I never promise any of my clients anything I cannot deliver and I think that’s a large part of my appeal. If a players asks me a question they know I will answer it as honestly as possible. If I cannot deliver something a player desires, well then it’s simple, I just tell them this isn’t something that I can do and if I cant do it there is a real good chance nobody else can either. Again though, there are just some times where there is nothing you can do anymore and the player agent relationship just dies.
Several weeks ago while I was in Arizona working, I had dinner with 10 or so of my clients. Everyone that was in town showed up except for one player who I had signed a couple years ago. Over the last two seasons I felt that I had cultivated a pretty good relationship with him. I felt especially close to him because here was a guy that was a lot like me. He had a reputation off the field which was totally unfair because this is an absolutely great guy. He was not unlike me with regards to what outsiders thought of him, but if you took the time to get to know him he really is a tremendously awesome person. I learned something valuable on that trip to Arizona, a very painful lesson that I will carry with me the rest of my career.
I picked up said player from the field my last day in Arizona to meet for lunch. As I had said earlier this player bailed on the team dinner the night before so that was a very bad omen. I had a horrible feeling about this meeting going into it but it didnt make the news any easier to hear. I was getting fired. Two years of work , all the phone calls, the travel, the endorsements, the meetings, the dinners, the baseball games, everything, finished. This player handled the situation as classy and as professionally as anyone I’ve dealt with in my entire career. I was shocked to say the least because I thought my relationship with him transcended baseball. I thought we were friends and that because we were both a little bit misunderstood we at least had each other to lean on when nobody else did. I was wrong. Very wrong. This is a sobering reminder that no matter how much you care about a player or how much you think you're helping them there are still things out there that can get you fired. This player voiced some concerns, we talked, but I wish to god he said something sooner than just firing me. I teared up during several points in the conversation and you know what? That’s a good thing. I really cared about this guy but in the end it didnt matter to him. In his eyes, and he has every right to feel this way, I just wasnt right for him. I respect him for being honest with me but I am saddened that our relationship is damaged forever.
When I first began my career I did everything I could to be a textbook agent. Suit and tie, slick hair, expensive shoes, the Jerry Maguire special. I did that for a few years and it was the worst mistake of my entire career. I failed. I not only failed but I failed hard, so much so that I almost quit the industry all together. Nothing sat right with me when I tried to do this job the way I thought other people wanted me to. I sold out and I almost burned out. I hated my job and I hated what I had become. I was a monster and not only that an unhappy monster with zero clients. Anytime I did have a client during that time period eventually they would move on to another agent in short time because I was just like everyone else. I was a carbon copy of the text book agents out there except I was the Ed Wood version of the bigger agents. If a player is going to hire a text book agent why would they ever hire someone like me? They would and they should hire someone with more track record. And that’s when things changed. When I realized how miserable I was trying to be someone that I wasn’t , only then could I start to become the kind of agent I ultimately am today. I made the very conscious decision at that point in time that I was going to do things my way no matter the cost. I was going to dress the way I wanted, speak the way I wanted, and do the things I wanted and if it worked, fantastic. If I failed? Well, there is always stand up comedy. As soon as I fully embraced the DIY approach I started to head the right direction. This is a double edged sword though. The players who buy into my program, who buy into me as a person, as their representative, will stick with me to the bitter end. As beautiful as that sounds the flip side is equally ugly. I am not for everyone. Because I am so open, outspoken, loud , whatever, there are some players that wouldn’t come within 100 miles of me much less even consider hiring me. So in some respects I limit the player pool that I get to represent but as a bonus the players I do represent love me and I love them in a way other agents could never understand.
And that’s the rub. The sobering cold reminder of everything that everyone always tells me. It's still a business. This is just a business. So, if the player is reading this, I'm sorry that you feel I let you down. I make no apologies for my actions or anything I have done that has gotten me to this point. If I didnt do things exactly the way I did them, I wouldnt be where I am at today. That doesn’t mean going forward Im the same person I was a couple years ago. All last year I worked hard to shake any labels I may have had. I worked hard to show people I was doing real things instead of coasting on potential. I think I have done a pretty good job of getting to where I need to be with my career thus. Im proud that I have 11 40 man guys, Im proud I have 5 25 man guys. I am proud of everything I have done so far.
All I can do now is keep doing what Im doing and hope that the guys I have will appreciate everything I try to do for them because god knows I appreciate all of them for sticking with me. I thank god every day for every single player I represent because I give up my life for them. They are my world, they are my life, and without them Im nothing and there is nothing I could do to ever fully repay these guys for giving me the life I have today. You win some you lose some but if you fully give up your soul for your job like I have you will never feel bad when things go wrong because deep down you know the problem is not with you.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cannonball!

A long time ago I learned a very valuable thing about scouting. Never turn your back on an 80 tool. Some people prefer statistics over tools but not me. I have always been a tools guy. You have to be careful sometimes that you don’t get too enamored with a prospects tools but nine times out of ten I am the kind of guy that chooses naturally ability ahead of anything else. I don’t believe it’s a question of right and wrong and so far it has worked for me in my career but I wanted to talk about a situation in which I was rewarded for my steadfast belief in a players tools.
Back in 2007 I was watching a high school show case called the Diamond Club. It’s an event in Florida where scouts invite top prospects to compete against each other over the course of a few days. While at the showcase I found a kid who was arguably the most insanely athletic player I have ever seen play baseball. This kid had comic book like tools. It wasn’t like I was watching Steve Nebraska that day, but I’m telling you, I may never see a kid this athletically gifted again the rest of my career. He was 6’4 and ran like the wind, he had a strong arm and showed really good hitting instincts. This was a guy.
It’s always exciting discovering a new prospect. I feel one of the advantages I have in this field is my ability to independently evaluate talent. Some agents rely on scouts and some even hire scouts to find players for them because they lack the ability to determine a players ultimate value. I am beyond fortunate that I don’t have to rely on anyone other than myself to scout players. The fact that I can scout does not mean I don’t talk to other people in the game to get their input on certain players and it doesn’t mean that I’m right far more than I’m wrong but what it does do for me is provide a slight edge on some of the competition. When you represent a player you have to know what you’re selling. You have to know your product better than anyone else because you’re making a long term commitment that will cost you ample time and money, so you better be damn sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and lucky for me, I usually do.
So, in 2007, I found Jiwan James at the Florida Diamond Club. I was able to see him at several more showcases that season. I believe I saw him in Fort Myers and Jupiter at perfect game events in addition to seeing him play one final time in the state all star game held in Sebring Florida. We spoke with Jiwans family during the year and mailed him information about our company in hopes of being retained as the families advisor. One of the things I learned that year about Jiwan was that he wasn’t just an outfielder, he wasn’t just a pitcher either. Jiwan was a wide receiver, safety and point guard. This was a multi sport and multi talented athlete. There was a general sense that no matter what baseball offered Jiwan was headed to the University of Florida to play football with Tim Tebow and the rest of gator nation. That’s the rub with two sport athletes, you never know if you’re wasting your time because until they sign on the dotted line you don’t know which sport they’re headed to long term. I was told by a very dear friend of mine that you should never sign a two sport athlete to a baseball contract unless they LOVE baseball ahead of all the other sports. If a multi sport athlete doesn’t love playing baseball he will never make in spite of whatever tools that player may have. If a two sport athlete struggles in professional baseball he’s more likely than a one sport athlete to quit because he has other options to fall back on. So again, it was widely assumed Jiwan was head to UF to go play football and that was that.
The phillies selected Jiwan in the 22nd round that June. I had ignored my own advice that year and totally missed that he signed a pro contract that summer for well above slot money. The only reason I even found out Jiwan signed is because I ran into the scout who signed him and overhead him talking about it. I was disappointed that I totally misread that situation because I really felt Jiwan was headed to UF. You can never assume anything in this game, you absolutely have to go with your gut sometimes and just stay on top of things no matter what people are telling you. I very rarely make that mistake and I certainly haven’t made that mistake since the Jiwan situation. Jiwan got his start in the GCL as a pitcher. Jiwan had one of the most fluid deliveries I have ever seen for a kid his age. It shouldn’t have been a surprise given his athletic gifts but I again assumed he was going to be a position player in professional baseball. He did have 9 AB’s in 2007 before going on the mound full time but his natural abilities on the mound were just too tempting to pass up.
I tried to get in contact with Jiwan while he was playing in GCL but I had no such luck. We called his family a few more times until we finally got a hold of him after the season. At that point we were informed that Jiwan and his family appreciated our interest in his career but they already selected another agent to work with. He told me if his relationship ever soured with his agent I would be the first person he'd call. That's why it's important to never burn any bridges if you dont get hired. Baseball is a strange game and you honestly can never tell whats going to happen in the future. Disappointment is something you cannot dwell on in this job. Much like the game itself you fail far more than you succeed and its how well you deal with failure that determines what kind of agent one will be.
The following season I had three clients report to Clearwater for spring training. One client, Michael Durant, got randomly assigned a roommate for his living assignment that spring, Jiwan James. One day while talking to Michael online he mentioned to me that his roommate was looking for an agent. I asked who it was and was promptly told “Jiwan James”. Very rarely does an agent get a chance at redemption and despite the fact that signing Jiwan after he was a professional would be a huge expense and commitment, I jumped at the opportunity to speak with him again. Jiwan had told me that the agent he originally hired had quit the industry. Jiwan called him up one day and tried to order some gear for spring training and met with a reluctant admission. His agent told him he was done, which was totally disrespectful to Jiwan, because had he not called his agent that day he never would have been informed that his agent was quitting. Jiwan and I spoke for a few weeks after our initial consultation and after some major assistance from Micahel Durant Jiwan had finally hired us to be his agent. Jiwan was hurt at the time but I really believed in this kids mental make up and talent so much so that it didn’t even bother me that he would be on the shelf the rest of the season.
Even though Jiwan was rehabbing during the initial stages of our representation we still spoke regularly online. I work a great deal from my cell phone and my lap top so the more clients I can talk to online the better I feel about things. One thing Jiwan has done for me which isnt really appreciated is that he put to death any ideas I may have had that I was still a kid. Jiwan is not only a freak athlete, the man absolutely dominates video games. I have literally zero down time to play any kind of video games these days but I still wastefully purchase them in the unlikely event that Ill get to the play them like when I was a kid. I talk, a lot. Sometimes it gets me into trouble and sometimes its an asset. I told Jiwan 100’s of times that I would absolutely dominate him in Madden this year. So one night I couldn’t sleep and I saw that Jiwan was online. Finally I had the chance to play him on xbox live and dominate him once and for all. We set up the game, picked teams, and were talking over the headsets the whole time thus ensuring that no woman will ever talk to me again for doing all this. Long story short, I was down 56-0 at half time, shut the game off and didn’t talk to Jiwan for an hour. The only reason I am telling this story is because I told Jiwan I would publicly admit my Madden failure and retire from video games for good after that defeat.
Back in the real world Jiwan continued to work hard off the field in hopes of getting back on the mound again. This sadly was not to be. The stress from pitching on his arm was too great and now the Phillies decided to put Jiwan back in the outfield. This was a pretty scary proposition. Because of his signing bonus, there was an expectation that Jiwan was going to be a big time pitching prospect and now he was facing an uncertain path as a position player. Jiwan was confident this move would be for the best and jumped right back into hitting despite the two year lay off. Jiwan so far has proven to be right. After a very exciting instructional league season Jiwan is coming into 2010 as the best athlete in the Phillies organization and as a preseason top 10 prospect according to several publications including BP. Rankings are all well and good but it’s what you do on the field that counts. The future is brighter than ever for Jiwan and I am happy as hell to be not only his agent, but his friend too. I never gave up on Jiwan while he was injured because I always believed he would get himself back to where he needed to be. You have to trust you gut with these kind of things and if you are lucky enough to represent a kid with great character and makeup sometimes that’s just as important as the physical gifts one may have. And although the big leagues are years away right now, I have little doubt that’s where the end of the rainbow is for Jiwan James. And that’s the lesson. You never give up on an 80 tool. Jiwan James is physically gifted beyond belief but when it comes to makeup and character Jiwan James is that rare 80 tool human being.




Keep Running Up That Hill

The line between being a professional who is doing his job and being a self loathing stalker like creature is dangerously thin in this industry. Every year that I have held this job I have scouted kids younger and younger each subsequent year. The first year I started at worst I would only have to look at high school seniors. Then over time I started scouting juniors then sophomores and now I have to look at high school freshman. High school freshman get looked at by scouts and agents. I half expect to see Chris Hanson every time I show up at a game these days. I pray baseball doesn’t go the route of college football because I don’t even know what I would do if I had to start scouting little league games. I honestly cant envision a time where I would be comfortable going into a families home somewhere in middle america and pulling a Nick Nolte in Blue Chips, having to answer if I am a southern baptist or northern baptist. Over the last 10 years that’s where this business has gone. We’re scouting children for financial gain. Speaking of Blue Chips, Ive always had one major qualm with that movie which is amazing because I‘m pretty sure if I watched it again I‘d probably find a 1,000 more. This one issue has baffled me the last 16 years since the film was released so much so that I completely am blind to anything else that was wrong in the movie. The casting director found Penny Hardaway and Shaq to play two fictional basketball recruits in the film named Butch McRae and Neon Boudeaux. However when we finally get to see the token white recruit, who of course was a three point specialist, the role was played by an actor. They literally could not find one white NBA player to play Ricky Roe. Not one! Not Tom Gugliotta, not Adam Keefe, not Rex Chapman, not even the most obvious pick Christian Laettner. Evidently the crew could not find a white NBA player with the acting chops to keep up with the epic performances of Shaq and Penny.
The business of scouting has gotten more ugly the last 10 years and it’s gotten that way thanks to coaches, colleges, scouts and agents. Kids play year round now and it’s alarming to me that many of the kids lose out on a great deal of their childhood because of the demands of their baseball schedules. College and pro teams all try to do their homework on these kids years in advance trying to gain a competitive edge while many established agents have been forced into earlier recruiting in hopes of trying to curtail something very dangerous I have noticed in the last few years. Ive seen people trying to get into this industry do anything in the world to try and land a client and the worst trend Ive seen is underclassman retain an advisor even as young as 14 years old. Retaining an advisor is obviously a personal choice and one can choose to get one at whatever point in time the family decides they need help but there is absolutely no good reason a freshman in high school should ever be talking to an advisor. Hiring an advisor as a freshman in high school in a one way street and I wish more than anything teams did not put families in a position where the feel like they need to start the process sooner than they have to. There are good parts however to scouting while you’re an agent.
One thing I have learned in this business is that you never close the book on any player ever while you’re scouting. If you’re at a game to see a certain player you cant just focus on that player. I discovered two of my higher profile clients completely by accident. I went to Florida State University from December of 2001 to May 2006. FSU is located in Tallahassee, Florida which is vastly different from Fort Lauderdale where I grew up. Tallahassee may be in Florida but it’s more like south Georgia than anything. Tallahassee has a community college which was located two blocks from my apartment where I lived while I was in school. The first time I ever went to TCC before I became an agent full time I had the pleasure of watching Chipola CC in 2002. I had the opportunity to watching Adam Loewen who had a ton of buzz because of the amount of money he turned down that June. I also got to watch their lesser known third baseman by the name of Russell Martin. Watching that game opened my eyes to something I was totally unaware of at the time which was the viable professional prospects could be found a the junior college level.
A few years later I went back to TCC to scout players for my agency which was still very much in its infancy. I did whatever internet research I could ahead of time and discovered there were several draft and follow players at the school and at Chipola CC, whom TCC was playing that day. I specifically went to the game to scout Michael Saunders who is now in the major leagues for the Seattle Mariners. I never got the chance to talk to him that day because I was enamored by the centerfielders on both clubs. Lorenzo Cain and Darren Ford. Both Darren and Lorenzo were drafted by the Brewers the previous year and were draft and follow prospects for the 2005 season. Since both players were drafted in the middle rounds I figured neither was represented and I thought it would behoove me to make contact with them.
Starting out in this business, professionalism is something that I had a problem with. It wasn’t because I had a lack of respect for the game or the people involved in the game, it was because I had no idea what the hell it was that I was doing. I was still in college and I was working with my father trying to get our company off the ground. I would literally go to class then head to the games dressed in street clothes and unfortunately for me the street clothes didn’t exactly scream “agent”. It’s honestly a miracle any player would talk to me when I got started much less hire me. The day I met Lorenzo and Darren I was wearing dirty jeans that were completely torn at the heels and a Nirvana T-shirt. I looked more like a classmate than someone who could assist in these young mens careers. After the game I approached Darren first because being on the visiting team I figured he didn’t have much time to stick around after the game before catching the team bus. I introduced myself to him gave him a business card and all he kept saying to me was “Call my mom, I have nothing to do with this”. That wasn’t real encouraging not to mention he was pretty much laughing at me the entire time. I figured that was the end of that situation and I soon made my way to the TCC clubhouse. I waited for Lorenzo for a good hour before he came out. I introduced myself gave him the same talk I gave Darren an hour earlier and then presented him with my business card. I will never forget the look on Lorenzo had on his face the entire time I was talking with him. It was the ,Where’s Ashton look. I am fairly certain to this day Lorenzo thought he was being punk’d by a teammate.
One day about a month after I met both players I get a phone call from an unfamiliar area code. I answered and the first thing I hear was “What do you want to do with my baby!” It was the voice of a woman whom I have grown quite close with over the years. It was Darrens mother Carla. I spoke to her for an hour and assured her I had nothing but the best intentions at heart when I contacted her son. I stayed in touch with Mrs. Ford for months until I finally got the good news that I was hired. Same situation happened with Lorenzo. I stayed in touch with Lorenzo and his mother until I finally got the good news that I was hired. And that’s what happens in this business. I went to a single baseball game to see a player that I didn’t even get a chance to talk to and over time I was hired by two players that I now consider to be a part of my family. I have no idea what my life would be like if I didn’t have both Darren and Lorenzo in my life not only as clients but as my friends. Darren and Lorenzo were the first two players to hire me out of college (I had signed several minor league players at that point in time) and now they’re both on their teams 40 man rosters. It is such a rewarding experience being there the entire journey that starts in college and with a bit of luck and determination ends in the major leagues.
The second story I have about accidentally finding a player also happened at TCC and it all came from that first game I attended there. A major league team had a predraft workout at TCC that May and I wanted to go to see what something like that was like. While there my father and I were sitting behind home plate next to a woman whose son was invited to the workout. We sat next to this woman totally by chance, we just wanted someone to talk to while we watched the workout. This woman told us all about her son and how his father was a former major leaguer. As an agent, when you hear a player has a parent who played in the major leagues you automatically assume that the family already has an advisor or agent taking care of the situation. I learned quickly that this wasn’t the case for this player and his family. So after the workout I told my father to give this woman our business card. He initially resisted but I told him Id kill him if he didn’t. Finally dad relented and told the woman ‘Even though you probably don’t need this, my son said he’d kill me if I didn’t give you my card” The player and his mother were polite as can be and when it was over they told us they appreciated the card and that we’d be in touch. That player was Michael Brantley
That June the draft came and went and we went about our business as usual. We had Darren Ford and Lorenzo Cain both part of the Brewers organization playing in their minor league system. By some act of god, Michael was also drafted by the Brewers. Because Michael was drafted by the Brewers and was playing with Darren and Lorenzo we were able to stay in touch with him over the years. As expected, Michael did not hire an agent and was being taken care of professionally by his parents so in his mind he had no use for my services. Even though Michael didn’t want to hire me it didn’t impair the friendship I had with him. After Michaels third season I finally got the call I had been hoping for. I had two meetings set up, one with Michael and his mother and one with Michael and his father. Both meetings went well and about a week later I was officially hired.
I will say one thing about the meeting with Mickey Brantley. I was beyond nervous about meeting with a former major leaguer about representing his only son and I was pretty sure my age would work as a disadvantage in this case in addition to being relatively new to the industry. The only concern Mickey had about hiring me was the fact that I represented Darren Ford and Lorenzo Cain, the two people largely responsible for allowing me to stay in contact with Michael in the first place. Mickey felt that I had a huge conflict of interest and it wouldn’t be in Michaels best interest to have an agent who represented his competition. When Mickey asked me how I would deal with that situation I assured him that the conflict was minimal at best, that Michael would likely move to a corner OF position, and that there was always the chance someone could get traded. Thankfully Darren and Michael were traded the next season and my conflict of interest was alleviated. I now represent three centerfield prospects for three different teams.
So one baseball game changed the course of my entire life. Because I went to scout Michael Saunders at TCC in January of 2005 I signed Michael Brantley, Lorenzo Cain and Darren Ford. I have been there from the beginning for all three players and now I get the ultimate reward of seeing them live their dreams up close and personal. Michael has a chance to be the opening day left fielder for the Cleveland Indians this year while Darren and Lorenzo both will likely make their MLB debuts sometime in 2010. I have lived up to every promise I have made to all three of these men and in return they have stuck with and my father the entire time. The ultimate reward for all the hard work I have done is knowing that I have made a difference and have had a positive impact in the lives of my clients. They aren’t just clients to me. These guys are my family. I know it’s a business and while some agents prefer to set professional boundaries I will never close myself off to any of my clients. They all know me from top to bottom. They know my strengths and they know my faults, I give them my heart and soul and the only thing I ask in return is that they do everything in their powers to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to play baseball.