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”.


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


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


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.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thats What I Did I Killed My Toe

Today would have been kurt cobains 43rd birthday. There isnt a day that goes by where I dont listen to the mans music. I know Ill carry this music til I meet my end. Alls well that ends well. All in all is all we are



Anything Worth Doing

Everyone has an idea of what it is that I do. People have a perception of what all agents do. Some people think we're evil monsters ruining the purity of Americas Past Time while others don’t know we exist at all. Just about everything valuable that I have learned in this business has come from good old fashioned experience. There are certain things that I have learned by studying what people in the game have taught me directly while there are other things, valuable things, that I have been forced to learn on the fly. This is one example in crisis management. Unless you have advised someone in a major crisis you would have no idea what the hell you're be talking about. This is not something you learn in school it's just something born from experience.
       During the 2009 baseball season I had a client suspended for failing to comply with the minor league drug testing program. This was not the first time this player was suspended for this offense and from my perspective this could potentially be an atomic bomb to this young mans career. Fans never get to see the human impact on things like this. Fans tend to only think about the impact events like this will have on their favorite team. There are lives and families at stake when something like this happens and as an agent it is my responsibility first and foremost to make sure that the family and the player are stabilized and calm no matter how bad the situation may seem. Think Phil Ivey pushing all in with 7/2 off suit at the final table at Binions. It's that serious because a young mans career and sanity is at stake and along with that to some degree so is mine.
       To that point, one of the things I see happen behind the scenes all the time is that some agents think they are some kind of autonomous body that can exist without the players. Wrong. Without the players an agent is just a guy. Just a man like every other man. I never forget that fact. I literally am nobody without my clients. I have no career, I have no job, I have nothing professionally without my clients. My career completely co-dependent on the choices these men make every single day and I am completely subject to the whims of frailty.
       When I got news of my players suspension I was at a Movie theater in Cary, North Carolina. I was in Cary because I was scouting a player on the Canadian Junior National team who had just recently been drafted by the Dodgers that June. It was around 7 pm when I got the call. Up until that point I wasnt having all that bad of a day. I got to watch several games at the USA Baseball facility, I had dinner with an old friend from high school and I finally made my way to the local movie theater just so I could get some alone time. Much to my ultimate chagrin the only movie starting at the time I got to the theater was Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Now I consider myself to be a movie aficionado and I knew instantly I would lose all my movie cool the second I purchased a  ticket to see a Michael Bay film but at that point I didn’t care because at worst I would get to watch Megan Fox "act" for a couple of hours and at best I would potentially have some awesome childhood memories come flooding back to me during the course of the film. Sadly, the only flashback I had during the film came about halfway through viewing when I recalled the epic 1986 cartoon Transformers: The Movie. It was a children’s cartoon and yet at the end of that movie Optimus Prime surrounded by his closest friends and family just dies.
       Think about that for a moment. Someone had to write that entire scene, dialogue and all, then pitch the scene to whomever it needed to be pitched to, a director, the art department, the producer whoever. Then everyone involved with the movie had to sign off on the idea that killing an animated children’s hero would be a great idea. Then finally after all that the animators had to draw those scenes in order to give them to the voice over department so actors could voice a death sequence that could potentially traumatize millions upon millions of children. Who thinks of these things? I cant believe this was Orson Welles last film. (Really, look that up.)
       During that daydream I got the phone call. When you're an agent your clients have to come above all else. I feel not only an obligation to my players to be available 24 hours a day but I consider it a privilege. I feel if my clients believe in me enough to trust them with their careers then I owe it to them to give them every bit of my soul. I will always answer my phone at 3 am. The call came and the player was obviously very upset. I have known this player since he was 15 years old. This player comes from a special family with absolutely incredible parents. This is a good kid. Everyone says that about the players they represent but I know in my heart for a fact this is a good kid. This is the kind of kid who loves people and loves his career. This player always signs autographs before and after games until everyone who wants one has one and always says sir or mam when addressing adults. This is a kid who unfortunately has a very serious disease.
        I have much experience in dealing with the troubles of addiction because I grew up with it as a child. I had a family member very close to me go through the pain and suffering of addiction. Addiction is not a choice. Addiction is very much a disease and fortunatly for this player he had an agent who was quite sympathetic to his situation. Anger and disappointment I would imagine is the first reaction most people would have in a situation like this however I felt nothing but compassion for this player. I knew I would be able to help him get his career and his life totally rehabilitated if he let me. So the first phone call came from him. The second phone call came from his mother. We talked, I listened and I promised her I would do everything in my powers to help this situation. I simply told her, trust me and let me do my job. Then I got to work
       The first two phone calls I made after talking to the player and his family were to the two local beat writers for the team that this player played for. I broke the news to them immediately because I do not believe in hiding. I believe genuine and absolute contrition is the only path to salvation. I gave my quotes to both writers and I promised both of them that the player would be made available uncoached and totally unplugged when he was ready to speak. The first step in repairing a damaged image is to apologize but only if its sincere. The second step in this process was finding a place for this player to get help for his problem. With the help of his parent club arrangements were made for this player to get the help he needed. In addition to that, I had this player contact my family member who was them self a recovering addict in hopes that somehow that would help this player get through his struggles. During the entire off season this player got a regular job working at various places such as a landscaping business and a restaurant. I think in addition to his therapy, working a "normal" job helped put in perspective how lucky this player was to be playing sports as a career. After this players rehabilitation was finished, one final major interview was granted before the start of spring training that hopefully answered any lingering questions about the suspension and the problems this player had with addiction. The goal of this interview was to curtail any questions any reporters would have during the season because this absolutely cannot be a distraction during the year. And that’s the game plan when something goes awry. 1.Get everyone calm. 2.Contact the media and apologize 3. Get help. 4. Apologize more. 5. Live up to all the promises you have made. It doesn’t take dangerous gypsy magic to rehabilitate an image, just genuine contrition and the desire to right your life. So as of now all is well in the universe and the player is looking ahead to 2010 with hope for the first time in a very long time.
       I wanted to write about crisis management today because I was disappointed in what I saw from Tiger Woods today. I don’t think anybody with a pulse could have been surprised at the hilariously scripted and staged atmosphere at today’s press conference. However this is the kind of ignorance we've come to expect from the cauldron of audacity that is celebrity these days. It was arrogance at its purest. I honestly felt like I was watching the last scene in The Departed, where Matt Damon comes home holding his bag of groceries and is greeted by Mark Wahlberg wearing nothing but scrubs and Wonder-Bread bags on his feet. Tiger had the exact same look on his face the entire press conference that Matt Damon had right before the end and you could sense the entire time that Tiger was just waiting to say "Okay..." then credits roll. You almost half expected a CGI mouse to come to the podium and start gnawing on a piece of cheese.
       My client is not Tiger Woods but I do feel like he had an obligation to be honest with everyone included the public about his transgressions. When you make the decision to work in show business (because that’s what sports are) you are subject to different things that most people will never experience. Fame, Money, and in cases of indiscretion, total public embarrassment. It comes with the territory and the territory isn’t cheap. I know my client is on the right path and I will stand by his side until he tells me not to because after all I am always going to be subject to the whims of frailty.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stay Cool

Super Bowl was fun. I went to a ton of events this week. Moves Magazine super bowl party, Michael Irvin's party at the hard rock, probably could have hit the GQ party, and had a chance for the espn one as well. I got to meet Mitch Richmond, TO, Donovan McNabb, Brady Quinn , Jevon Kearse, Josh Cribbs, Ludacris and tons of other guys from the world of sports at the event. It was even more fun because I finally got to take my dad to an event finally.

Finishing up a bunch of end orsement deals before the season. Booked all my travel arrangements for ST. Cant wait.

Exhausted beyond belief balancing work and my life. Its a chore for sure.

All in all Im all in all


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This Is Just A Business

Sometimes things happen in your career that shock you no matter what you've seen or been through before. Last night 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 alot like me. He had a reputation not unlike myself but if you took the time to get to know him he really is a tremendously awesome person. I learned something valuable today. I picked up said player from the field today to meet for lunch. I had a horrible feeling about this going into it but it didnt make the news any easier to hear. I was getting fired. This player handled the situation as classy and as professionally as anyone Ive dealt with in my entire career. I was shocked to say the least because I thought my relationship with him transcended baseball. 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 letting me go today. I teared up during several points in the conversation and you know what? Thats 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.
Theres 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 doesnt 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 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. 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.

Thats all