It’s arbitration time in MLB and there are cases being heard and decided all month.
In today’s NY Times Business section there’s an article about former Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli winning a different kind of arbitration case—this one against his former Merrill Lynch adviser.
You can read the article here on NYTimes.com.
Briefly, there was an agreement that the investment account was never supposed to go below $1 million; when it did, the Mirabelli was forced to sell some of the assets to cover the loss.
The Mirabellis sued and won.
This type of story humanizes players to a remarkable degree. There’s an idea that because a professional athlete is a professional athlete, that they’re set for life and it doesn’t always work out that way.
Mirabelli’s career earnings as a player—according to Baseball-Reference—were nearly $7 million.
Of course that’s a lot of money, but in a sport where a player like Alex Rodriguez is making almost that amount per month, it’s comparatively low.
Mirabelli carved out an unlikely career and something of a cult following because of his image as a beefy, workmanlike, lunchpail player whose job it was to catch Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
He was a little bit better than that when he got a chance to play regularly, but that’s how he’s remembered.
But he didn’t make enough money for a family man to live the rest of his life without worries and is now working as a real estate agent in Michigan.
Some players have to work after their careers are over.
It takes this type of revelation to bring to light the humanity of athletes.
Shady people buzz around money and try to sell the public figure with the supposedly big paycheck on investing, spending lavishly and spreading their wealth around—even if they don’t have all that much wealth to begin with.
There are players who toss their cash into the air and see that it’s gone before they realized they had it; then there are others like Mirabelli who put their money in “safe” places and find themselves having to pay for the shortfall because they trusted someone who was working for a company that’s seen as established and respected.
At least Mirabelli was paying attention. There are many other professional athletes who don’t; who find it’s easier not to think about it, don’t worry about it and get caught up in schemes that they had no clue they were a part of and wind up penniless.
For every former athlete like Magic Johnson who invested his money wisely and is something of a business titan, there are ten Antonio Cromartie-types who have loads of kids with loads of women and wind up handing their paychecks over to lawyers and disgruntled former flames.
It’s happened before and it’s going to happen again because averting one’s attention or shirking their responsibility for their own finances is easier than taking control.
It’s also profoundly stupid.