Don't forget the forgotten heroes of the sport's past.
My birthday was May 3rd. I'm 33 now. As I always do on my birthday, I turned dark. To quote Mitch Hedberg, “I bought a pack of carefree gum but it didn’t work, so I went back to pondering my own mortality.” So, while in Baltimore—I was cleared to travel in April—my wife and I went on a tour of cemeteries that included the grave sites of Edgar Allen Poe and John Wilkes Booth. When I Googled to see whom else was buried in those cemeteries, to my surprise many former ballplayers were laid to rest there, and long forgotten. It's amazing to me how long the lineage of baseball really goes. I went to the grave of Steve Brodie. Brodie was an outfielder for the Boston Beaneaters, St Louis Browns, the former Baltimore Orioles, New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The guy was a .300+ career hitter in 12 years and nobody on earth in my estimation has ever heard of him. Imagine what kind of attention a guy like that would get today. What kind of life would he have had if he'd been born a hundred years later, hit .300+ a hundred years later? The rotten luck of being born in the wrong century sucks. But to be there, to be reminded again that baseball's story began well over a century ago, blew my mind. It’s a fact we're all well aware of, but to actually physically touch a gravestone of someone who played a game that I work in is mind boggling. It made it real. It made me appreciate my own life even more.
Players slip through the cracks in this sport. Finding those guys before they break out usually takes a stroke of luck.
One of the most rewarding experiences is finding a gem that everyone missed. People ask me all the time how I find clients, and, honestly, a lot of the time I meet these kids by accident. Call it fate, call it determination, call it whatever, but the roads taken by my clients that led them to me have often been very strange.
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I was lucky enough to attend Opening Day in Tampa Bay this year to watch my client Steve Clevenger crack his fourth Opening Day roster. It should have been a special day, but the events that soon transpired—he got optioned that night—made the day not as special as in years past. I wont get into those events here, though I did publicly discuss the topic at length with Roch Kubatko at MASN. I had previously had a ton of great memories at Tropicana Field. Michael Brantley’s first major-league home run, and the first time I saw Jeremy Jeffress after he signed for the second time with the Brewers—one of the most emotional moments of my career—was there. It was there that I got to see Jeremy Jeffress for the first time after he re-signed with the Brewers, which was one of the more emotional moments of my career. And one of my favorite untold baseball stories happened Opening Day 2014 at Tropicana Field.
Fighting for a client who is all but out of the sport.
Jiwan James is one of my clients. He is formerly of the Phillies, where he was regarded by Baseball America as the best defensive outfielder, the best runner, and the best athlete in the system. Then he got a life-changing diagnosis. Last week he signed with the Detroit Tigers on a minor-league deal literally the day before minor-league players reported to spring training. Here’s the incredible journey we went on together.
Trades never get old. Sometimes they’re stressful, sometimes they're exciting, and it always depends on how your client reacts. Last week I had a player traded from the Pirates to the Braves: Bryton Trepagnier. I have a neat story about the trade process, and about how I found Bryton in the first place.
An agents advice for amateur players wondering when to hire an advisor.
It's February, which means things are coming on like a freight train in the baseball world. I am in the process of closing deals on all my clients' endorsements, filing my 2014 MLBPA paperwork, finalizing spring training responsibilities, and just overall getting ready for game season. I say game season because I don't actually get to experience an "off"season. No agent ever does. The closest I ever came to an offseason was the 10 days I spent in the Bahamas with my wife on my honeymoon, and even there by Day Five I had to deal with a now-former client getting arrested! A vendor who didn't know I was out of the country (and out of the loop) sent me an email: “Sorry about your guy.” I responded accordingly, then proceeded to flip out after Google confirmed the story.
Joshua wanders from a hospital room into a supplement convention and wanders out with an endorsement deal.
I am alive and well, thankfully. As I wrote earlier this month, on the eve of a fairly invasive procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, there is no such thing as a routine surgery, and my 90 minute procedure stretched to twice that long and a 24-hour stint in a recovery room (due to a room shortage). But otherwise, it was a totally different experience than any of my 43 previous surgeries. I had terrific nurses, my parents visiting, and a wife who didn’t leave my side until I was discharged.
I'm taking a step away from the game today to write a note directly to my readers. This was such a special year for me professionally and personally. I am happily married, work was just incredible, the column has taken off, and I just wanted to thank all of you, the great readers of BP, for allowing this column to exist. I appreciate the interaction so much, and you have no idea how much you all really do mean to me. Thank you.
The pretty much unreplicatable way to get your first job in professional baseball.
Every year at the winter meetings I offer to help exactly one job fair participant in a unique way. A little background: The job fair consists of scores of twenty-somethings who have to pre-register for the event. These are people who are trying to get their foot into the door by any means necessary. They stand out in San Diego because of their age, suits, and name. So every year I hold what I call the job fair lottery. Only three people have ever taken my offer to help them seriously and now all three work in baseball.
The view from the other side of the reporting process.
Normally I use this platform to discuss various stories about my career, so I apologize in advance for going off-script a bit, but I want to share my take on this new trend created by social media: The teenaged rumor hound. My old editor here at BP, Ben Lindbergh, covered the issue in Grantland this week: