Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Life of a Minor Leaguer: Agents

Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world.  If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off.  ~Bill Veeck

Who out there besides me cannot stand when they hear the name Scott Boras? Seriously, just the thought of him and his multi million dollar player contracts is enough to make me nauseous. He prods and pokes, threatens and chokes, until he has squeezed every dollar out of every organization he runs across.  Is he good at his job? Maybe. It depends on what you define an agent's job as. He is good (maybe the best) at negotiating to a stand still, then waiting. He knows that his client is a commodity that has a value, and his job (as he clearly has demonstrated) is to raise that value as high as it can go...not matter the cost. 

Personally, my definition of a good agent is someone who can be the middle man between you and some entity (the organization, endorsements, fans, etc.) making the interaction as peaceful and painless as possible for BOTH sides, not just the player's. Unfortunately, my definition of an agent is a dying occupation. Instead of having someone who is proficient in diplomacy, you see agents skilled in strategic warfare, willing and ready to pounce on and kill any unsuspecting prey. 

Baseball is a business, I understand. But first and foremost it is a game! I appreciate and respect those within the game who fight to preserve that at all costs. Agents nowadays are widening the gap between players and teams, players and fans, even players and their own families. With the expectations of enormous contracts, teams aren't as willing to keep guys around for long periods of time forcing these players (wives and kids too) to bounce around from team to team begging for whoever will give them that extra 100k. It's an ugly reality. As my good friend Robert Lang put it, "Take a little less. Stay where you are. and win a freaking World Series like they used too." Amen Robert, Amen.

So here's my situation...I'm in single A, I'm not negotiating any contracts, I'm not pushing for arbitration, I'm playing baseball. I am fully capable of calling a Mizuno rep. and negotiating my own equipment deal. I don't need help "wooing" people...C'mon I worked at Booster. And when that time comes for me to sit face to face with a General Manager to discuss the terms of my modest contract, i'll do what everyone else does, Outsource someone who does it better than I do, pay him for his work, then tell him "thanks, I'll call you when I need you again." Having an agent is like having a loud obnoxious bully on retainer for when you need to push someone around in the schoolyard. You know what Boras, thanks, but i'm good on my own.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Life of a Minor Leaguer: Preparation

People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring.  ~Rogers Hornsby

Where do people get the list? You know, that list of questions that everyone is required to ask upon realization that you play professional baseball. It usually starts out with "So what, are you in like triple A?" No, I'm not in AAA. This is the equivalent of me asking someone starting out in sales, "So you're like VP right?" I'm in single A. There are 7 teams in the domestic side of the Mets Organization: 2 rookie teams, Short Season A, 2 long season A teams (A- & A+), AA, and AAA. So when I say i'm in single A, there's no need to sigh and say "oh...sorry." I'm halfway there, and I'm content.  

The latest question from The List is "Where's Spring Training and when do you leave?" Answer: Port St. Lucie, FL. Leaving March 5. 

Here's the brief explanation of Spring Training factoids...There are two places where MLB teams hold spring training, Florida and Arizona. It's about half and half of teams in AZ and FL. It's roughly a month long. Big leaguers go 2 weeks before minor leaguers because their season starts 2 weeks before ours. Every year a handful of minor leaguers are invited to Big League camp even though there is very little chance that they will make the Big League roster out of Spring Training. Organizations just want to give them a taste (motivation is important, because the minor leagues kinda suck sometimes).  The minor league Spring Training used to be (from what i'm told) longer and more relaxed. It isn't anymore. 

It's 28 days to showcase how you have improved over the offseason, improve your conditioning, and hopefully make the team you want without getting cut.  It sounds kind of intense, and it is. I love it though! There's nothing like 230 guys competing for 40 Big League roster spots. It's your opportunity (probably the only one you'll get all year) to separate yourself from your teammates in front of all the "decision makers" in the organization.  It separates the show horses from the battle horses. You will always have those guys that look good in a uniform, talk coherently and without an accent, and have $500,000 of the organization's money in their bank accounts...but can't play when push comes to throw, hit, run, etc. And then you have your battle horses. Those guys from East Jackson, Nowhere who can't complete sentences without using 5 expletives and "learnt" how to pitch from grandma when they were 5...but God can they compete! They have nothing to lose and the world in front of them for the taking.  These are the guys you want with you. These are the guys you want to be (minus the illiteracy).  There's something so motivating about nobody really expecting you to succeed.  I graciously welcome this chip on my shoulder and plan to use it to my advantage.  2 weeks until I report and I am preparing to "Shock the World!!" (channeling Cassius Clay). 

My Preparation. Keep the ball down. Don't overthrow. Stay healthy. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Ok, so I might be a junkie. It seems that everything that i've ever wanted to do (i.e. when I grow up) involves being famous. Not necessarily "red carpet" or headline news famous, although that would be cool too, but famous enough for people who shouldn't otherwise know my name or anything about me to say "Hey, you're Collin McHugh aren't you?" First (and still) I wanted to be a Big League baseball star. I wanted to play Major league baseball, but I wanted more than that, I wanted to be the BEST. Call it a fault, but i've always been pretty ambitious. "Okay" was never really good enough for me. I mean, i've not been the best at everything I do, but not for lack of trying. I hate to say it, and I'm kinda bushing as I type, but I'm the guy who (when nobody's watching) will google my name to see if anybody is saying anything about me. No, the answer is most often, No. But that's all just fuel for the fire, my friends. And truth be told, I'm getting closer every day to being Famous.

Most of it has to do with my insanely talented wife, Ashley. She is one of those people that can do, well, anything really. These are the reasons she will be famous before me, allowing me to ride her coattails to the top:
-She can sew
-She can knit & crochet
-She can cook (like, for real)
-She can do calligraphy
-She can draw & paint & design
-She can weld (bad ass)
-She uses Illustrator & Photoshop like a third hand
-She's hardworking, driven, and legitimately good (maybe even great) at all the things above

Anyway, all of this has culminated in her new small business venture, BuzzyCraftery. Check out her Blog and see some of the things she's been working on. She's currently working on wedding invitations and stationary, so if your needs meet her talents, feel free to contact her on the blog, facebook (ashley buzzy mchugh), or twitter (arbuzzy) to get things started.

This woman is going places, and I'm pumped to be a part of it! If your fame fetish is anything like mine, you'll want to get to know Ashley so you can say "I knew her when", and feel that much closer to famous.