The game-attending part of my season ended last week. The Brewers were in to face my hometown Marlins, so I got to spend three wonderful days with one of my favorite people, Jeremy Jeffress. What sort of wild partying does an agent do when he gets to spend three days with a millionaire pro athlete in Key Biscayne? Tax talk! Endorsement deals! Prep for the winter meetings! Setting up meetings in other cities! Discussion about the rising league-minimum salary! It was like the Star Wars prequel scrolls. No lavish parties at LIV or Blue Martini; just a work trip, as it always is, as it always will be.
You can’t get sucked into “the life” as an agent. I’m 33, and quite happily married. Most of my clients are in their 20s, or even teens—“Who’s Nirvana?” I’ve been asked. Cringe. Shudder. I’m old. I was 21 once, and I was an agent at 21. I was the same age as my clients, and I was single, and despite some early struggles in my life I had probably the best 20s that I could ever imagine. You know what? It screwed everything up, professionally. You can’t party with clients, because it’s hard enough to gain any respect in this business—especially when you’re in your 20s. Developing the party-guy reputation limits you. We all have responsibilities; I’m glad to have shed that image of myself.
Going to see players now, and going to games now, is different. I live in St. Lucie, not Ft. Lauderdale. I commuted, rather than staying in a hotel, driving 100 miles each way each day and returning home to my wife. Then Thursday, I flew to Dallas, landed at 1 a.m. for a 10 a.m. meeting, left the meeting at 3 p.m., caught an 8 p.m. flight and took an Uber from WPB to St. Lucie, arriving back home just in time to watch a DVR’d episode of Dating Naked.
I had Jeremy sign 50 baseball cards for me, and I passed them out to kids throughout the stadium. I do this at almost every game I go to. Yes, it’s brand-building, but it also gives me an excuse to talk to fans. Their expression when they find out how I got the cards never gets old—as though finding out I’m an agent suddenly makes me more interesting to talk to than I was before the reveal. I’ve had some of the best baseball conversations this way. While passing out Jeremy’s cards, I met a police officer who grew up next to Ernie Banks’ house, and who was friends with Ernie’s children. I got to know the parking attendants, who were a) beyond nice and b) under this impression than my client was named Jeff Ress. I met Pauly Shore, who nobody in Miami recognized. He was with a very nice man named JoJo, who is the producer of the HBO show Ballers, and we said we’d stay in touch for “future projects.” Who knows?
Anyway, I was able to get a lot of work done. The MiLB season had just ended, and Jeremy got on the phone to speak with several of my clients, wishing my minor-league guys well and offering to help them out if they were ever in Arizona. I finished a winter ball deal, and an autograph deal. And I had a chance to potentially see history: Ichiro was just one hit away from passing Ty Cobb’s 4,192 career hits.
In the second game of the series, Jeremy started to warm up, then came in to face Ichiro. I knew that he was going to give up that hit. Sometimes you just do. I was at Carlos Carrasco’s near no-hitter in Tampa, which came down to the last strike, and I knew that was going to happen, too. And it did. So I’m nervous as my guy throws; the people next to me think I’m insane, going crazy over a set-up man when I should be going crazy over Ichiro. But then Jeremy gets the groundout. Sometimes, I guess, you just don’t.
Jeremy has been amazing this year. He’s been reliable. He's been healthy–his 62 innings are a career high. He's had great control, and his unintentional walk rate is less than half what it was coming into the season. He's been tremendous in high-leverage situations. He's been everything a team would want in a reliever. It’s rewarding that the world gets to see Jeremy being reliable. He’s always been, in my opinion, but I get why he’s had to fight the perception that he hasn’t been. But that part of his life is long over. That’s what happens to us: We get old, we get past some of the wildness of our youth, and we try to be somebody that the people around us can rely on. Sometimes it’s hard to shake reputations, but it’s sure nice when you do. Res Ipsa Loquitor.
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