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What a postseason. What a year. I have one client playing on a postseason team, so that has been quite exciting to follow. Only one of my clients has ever won a ring before—Darren Ford. Such a strange concept to me. Ford has won one but Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, and Barry Bonds didn’t. It’s a huge honor and a numbing experience.

During the postseason I have been inundated with even more emails than usual from college-aged kids asking for advice on working in the business. I get these emails from time to time, usually people asking for internships. I review every single one of them, but, with that being said, I have yet to hire anyone, ever. Most people I get letters from are fans. There is nothing wrong with that but it would be difficult for any diehard fan to transition into the business side of this business. It’s one thing to love the game—I mean, I of course do—but I in no way am a fan of a team. There is a distinct difference between loving baseball and being a fan.

What most people do not realize when coming to work in the industry is the amount of failure you face on a daily basis. You find a player, you meet with him, you don’t get hired. You find a player, you sign a player, he does well, you get fired. You find a player, he hires you, he does well, he keeps you for a time, and then you get fired. Or, worst of all, you spend a decade nurturing a player’s career on and off the field, only to lose him right before his pay day. These things happen. You can work for a decade and in an instant that decade goes out the window on a whim. Poaching is rampant in the sport. It’s a reality of the business and it is one of the reasons I value makeup above all else. It isn’t the first agent who discovers a player who gets paid; it is always the last man standing. That is why some agencies are structured to avoid the nurturing phases and just pluck guys right before they are about to get paid. This creates a system where certain agents have an incentive to take subpar, early contracts for their players because of the very real fear that they will eventually lose the client to a larger firm and end up with literally nothing. I am still an optimist and have never thought this way, but I also don’t see this changing. Every time you see a club-friendly contract, think about what went into signing said deal. Was it really about the player taking care of his family? Sure, in some cases absolutely, and at the end of the day the player always has final say on contract matters. But players pay their agents for their expertise, and occasionally you end up with a rich agent and a club-friendly contract.

The other part of the failure aspect is this: I am a good scout. I am confident saying that. I am 32 and have sent well over 25 players to the major leagues. Some have played for a year, some five, some even just a week or a month, but nonetheless I have found more major-league players than some people who have spent 30 years in this game. And I am pretty much numb to the business side of things. You can’t let certain things personally affect you, or you will be incapable of doing your job. Let bygones be bygones—I mean I had three, yes three players who fired me in 2012 rehire me in 2013. These things happen. You know what is hard, however? Watching a player you found before anyone else, years before anyone else, a player you helped carry through the totality of the minor leagues, through a rookie MLB season and a gut-wrenching trade—watching him succeed without you. Putting in eight to 10 years behind someone nobody believed in, only to get fired and watch him explode on the biggest stage in the game. Am I happy a former client can provide for his loving family? 100 percent. Am I happy he figured things out? Sure. Does it still sting that a person who was a dear friend is out of my life forever? All the time. You never get over certain players who leave you. It is definitely “the one that got away” syndrome.

There are instances where I have had players for six months, then they have a meteoric rise and switch, where the situation doesn’t bother me as much. If you have a player who has had three agents before reaching the big leagues, the kid obviously has a problem being loyal. However, when you lose someone after playing an integral role in getting them to where they are today—well, that just sucks, and it never stops sucking.

The best thing you can do is go back to work the next day, love and appreciate everyone you have the privilege of working for, and try to find the next guy who has been overlooked. You help that player who appreciates the help. You help the next kid make it. You don’t let past experiences tarnish your future. And you know what? When that next kid makes it, and he appreciates the sacrifices you have made, it really does make it worth doing this job.

One player texted me this past season: “Without you I would not still be playing, I owe you my career.” That text was worth more to me than any fee I have ever collected, and it’s the reason I get out of bed to do this job. My personality prepared me for this job better than I could have imagined. Baseball is a game of failure. As a hitter you’re going to fail more than you succeed, and the same can be true on the business end of this sport. But when you do succeed the failures make the successes that much sweeter.

Thank you for reading

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pjbenedict
10/17
Great article, thanks for sharing it.

I am of course hoping someone will do the research and figure out who ditched you...
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
Shouldnt be too hard to find sadly.
adrock
10/17
Great article. There's often a price to be paid for integrity, but in the long run it's almost always worth it.

In the exceedingly unlikely event that one of my kids turns out to be a professional-calibre baseball player, I will point them in your direction for representation.
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
Thank you. I appreciate the very nice compliment.
Camwulf
10/17
Love this column. Thank you
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
Thank you, I keep trying to think of things to fit in here.
sykojohnny
10/17
Happens all the time in most entertainment businesses also.
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
ALWAYS. baseball is just a branch in the entertainment world.
newsense
10/17
How does losing a client compare with the other kinds of failure: not getting a client you want or not getting your clients signed with teams or signed on good terms?
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
Not getting a client you fight for sucks but when its done its done. Ive interviewed with hundreds of MLB players back when they were in HS and it doesnt bother me a bit I didnt get hired. In fact Im happy for most of them since they couldnt have been nicer, I just didnt get hired. A guy not making it to the show is the most gut wrenching. Losing a guy who hits it big is the second worst feeling. Its not even the money, its just the complete lack of awareness or care that hurts the most. "Thanks for the ten years, bye" is something you just have to get numb to and hope that you learn from it so it never happens again. In some instances however you just get stuck with great players who arent such great people. This happens too. Though with that being said some Ive also lost some very good people too. They dont instantly turn to monsters just because of a business decision. Not all of them at least.
therealn0d
10/17
I use poker analogies a lot, but only because they make sense. This reminds me of exactly how you must feel about that great hand that got beat, or that hand you folded that would've dragged a huge pot had you just called that ridiculously large raise. But you can't let those hands affect future hands...you have to let it go. If it was a mistake you made, you learn from it, but if it was just bad luck, you forget it or you'll just play your way into more bad luck. You have to have a short memory and a long memory.

I can imagine that there are quite a few people that get into the agent business chasing that one big hand and go bust, not realizing that it's a grind.
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
Dead on, good analogy. I heard the waiting list for certification is like 10k long now, and I am one of 250 in the world. Saying you just need one guy to make it is exactly like hoping for a royal flush.
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
Actually the only difference you can hit a royal flush in baseball and get fired by it lol
therealn0d
10/17
Wait, there is no bad beat jackpot?
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
None
mmcma007
10/17
Oh man I think I know who that player is, and I would just like to say I'm sorry man. That is beyond brutal!!
JoshuaKusnick
10/17
Dont sweat it. Doors not closed forever you know
jjpzebra
10/18
Mind if we guess which team he plays for?
JoshuaKusnick
10/18
I think anyone with google knows what I'm talking about
dcoonce
10/19
Great column Josh. Thanks for it. And thanks for reminding me of Darren Ford - he was the Terrance Gore of 2011!
JoshuaKusnick
10/19
Ford helped the giants a ton get to the postseason. Glad he got a ring
JayR2003
10/20
Josh, I really appreciate the insightful articles on here. When I went to law school, I had dreams of moving into your industry. However, family and life got in the middle and I settled on the traditional legal work. Having acquaintances in the industry and reading your articles, it shows the unappreciated (and most of the time not glamorous) job you guys do.