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.

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