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Scott Ostler

Here's More Proof That Money Won't Solve All Problems

February 25, 1986

Yo, all you big-time athletes out there.

If you want to win my love and respect--and I know you do--here are a few suggestions: Don't be ashamed to cry, especially about money.

We all have money worries, but yours are a lot bigger because you have a lot more of it to worry about. When Kirk Gibson was negotiating with the Detroit Tigers, and they offered him a three-year contract for only $1 million per year, Kirk said if he were to sign it, "I think I would vomit."

When he finally signed a three-year contract for $4.1 million, Kirk said, "I got a sour taste."

This shows that Kirk not only has money problems, he also has gastro-intestinal problems. I wouldn't want to sit next to him in the dugout.

Don't take no guff.

Let's say you're playing in a big tennis tournament. Let's say it becomes apparent the chief umpire or a linesperson has been bribed by your opponent, or by the Mafia, or is suffering from hallucinations that limit his ability to tell which planet he's on, let alone whether or not your last serve ticked the net.

Get the hell out. What's a lousy $20,000 fine when your feelings are hurt?

You owe it to the integrity of the sport to pick up your rackets and towels and mineral water and walk off the court. No, don't walk; storm.

What about the fans who paid to see you play? What about the TV audience, and the TV sponsors, and the little kids who want to be just like you?

The hell with 'em.

Pace yourself.

Halfway through the season, start moaning about the "dog days," the time when the end of the season seems so far off, and the game is so boring, and life seems so meaningless.

Shoot, they give you $500,000, want you to work six months, nights even, and they want you to play hard and be enthusiastic every game, too. Well, nobody ever said life was fair, Pal.

Be honest.

You're playing in a golf tournament and you're having trouble putting. Let your fans know why. The stupid greens are lumpy as a waffle iron! You're lucky you can find your ball on the green, let alone putt it.

Then you've got noisy galleries, photographers with shutters louder than .357 magnums, and grass that sometimes hasn't been cut and clipped in two or three hours. It's hell playing under conditions like this.

We can all relate, believe me. What you're playing is almost as bad as real-life golf. I, for instance, have yet to play a round of golf where a wild swing didn't buzz the next foursome with dangerous drives. Fortunately, I've yet to skull anyone.

Be involved.

Attend your salary arbitration hearing. Even though you have hired an agent to handle these matters, you should be there just to hear what team management really thinks of you. Listen to them magnify all your faults and bad-mouth everything from your haircut to your batting stance. It will do wonders for your attitude and your confidence.

Share your joy and sorrow.

This is similar to the first item, but it's something that can't be stressed too much. The general public is worried sick about your financial situation. We understand. When Orel Hershiser heard he won his arbitration case, good for a million-dollar salary in '86, he said: "It was a big relief. I hadn't been sleeping too well. You can see the bags under my eyes."

Money bags?

Orel's fans hadn't been sleeping too well, either, worrying about how this young man was going to scrape through the next six months on only $600,000.

Demand your rights.

If your manager or general manager is insensitive enough to hint that you might have to fight for your job this season, threaten to quit, file a union grievance, sulk or jump off a bridge.

The Dodger brass indicated that Greg Brock will have to earn the starting job at first base this spring, despite his obvious brilliance in seasons past. This puts undue pressure and stress on Brock, who should be concentrating exclusively on honing the deadly stroke that struck fear into the hearts of all left-handed opposing pitchers last season.

Hire a sharp agent.

Wade Boggs lost his arbitration case, so he'll have to settle for $1.35 million this season.

"This is a tragedy," Boggs' agent said.

An agent with such a refreshing perspective on life and the real world can do wonders for his client's attitude and image.

Be strong.

If you have a problem with something like drugs, have the courage to place the blame where it belongs.

Don't be afraid to tell it like it is and explain that you missed the team plane the last four trips because of a pesky flat tire.

Be like Dave Parker, who testified before a grand jury that he used drugs because of fan and media criticism of his play.

"They were extremely hard on me," Parker said. "I got it on the road and at home."

I assume the "it" was verbal abuse, not cocaine.

Steve Howe also had the courage to blame the media and fans for his drug problems, and I think we all accept the constructive criticism and love him for his candor.

In fact, we love all these guys. How could we resist?

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