Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Greatest Job on Earth

It’s a question many people ponder. If I could have done it differently, what would I have done? What would I have majored in at college? What would I have worked harder at to put me in a better position now? Some say being an actuary is solid because you make lots of money and it’s largely merit based. Others say real estate appraising is nice. Who doesn’t like spending half their day checking out elaborate properties? Financial planner, restaurant manager, aspiring porn star, college professor—these are all great professions, but they’re not even close to the greatest one of all…Bullpen specialist.

That’s right, the greatest job on earth currently belongs to Mike Myers and to some extent Chad Bradford. These guys live very comfortably off a “special skill.” Myers is a left-handed sidearm whiz. He often times comes into the game to face one batter, and regardless of how he fares, he leaves the game after facing that batter. In the last two ballgames, Myers only needed to make one pitch. Let’s check this out: Between the time it takes for Myers to warm up, jog to the mound, pitch, then jog to the dugout is all of about fifteen minutes and then his day is done.

But before Myers, there were other skilled professional athletes who barely worked for their money. Men like retiree Steve Reed, who to me, embodies the American dream. OK, that’s taking it a bit far, but his playing career was still pretty fucking cool.

Steven Vincent Reed is a 6’2”, 209 lb un-athletic, sidearm legend. He played college ball at Lewis-Clark State College where I am sure he gained his drinking and baseball prowess. His scouting report from STATS INC. reads: “Reed can help a contending team, but in a seventh/eighth-inning role. He has not shown an ability to close out games at the big league level. However, he isn't afraid of coming into a mid-inning jam and will throw strikes. He's a luxury on a non-contender because of the limited role.” STATS inc. also explains how Reed’s unique sidearm/submarine delivery often times puzzled right-handers, but that lefties have a career .288 average against him. So what does all this mean?

It means Steve Reed was a major league baseball player, without being a Major League Baseball Player. He was a luxury item, who got paid $900,000/year to pitch in select instances, to a couple batters (maximum) at a time. In 2004, he pitched a total of 66 innings in 65 appearances. Let me do the math for you: in a 162 game season Steve Reed can expect to pitch in about 1/3 of the games for one inning. That is like two games/two innings a week, or, in other words, plenty of free time. He was also never in the game when it really counted—he is not good enough to be. Although one could argue that Steve has a very respectable career ERA of 3.67, and 6.5 SO/9 IP, who are we kidding? He is not nearly as good as these numbers suggest because he is so bad against left-handers that he can’t be left in the game if someone even as unrespectable as Aaron Guile comes to the plate. So there go the pressures of playing. And the working out question is laughable. Although I can’t say it is a fact, I am willing to bet that Steve did a lot more 12-ounce elbow extensions, than 35 lb curling.

But the luxuries do not stop there for Reed, or Mike Myers. Games, excluding weekends, are usually played at night, which means you can easily sleep till at least noon, and if you had one too many after the game the night before why not just sleep till one, two, or even three—I mean if you play the numbers, you are probably not going to play that day anyways. And trust me, if you’re Reed or Myers you can go to the supermarket or anywhere else for that matter and not worry about anyone taking photos.

Mike Myers has made 303 total pitches so far this year, and we’ll say barring injury, that he should end up with about 600 pitches total. Randy Johnson, on the other hand, has 1972 pitches. We’ll double that, and say he’ll end up with 3944. This year, Myers makes $1,150,000, while Johnson makes $15,661,427. Per pitch, Myers makes about $1,916 and Johnson makes about $3,970. Sure, Johnson makes twice as much money for his work, but also has the pressures of being in the spotlight of the New York City media, pitching against hitters regardless if they’re right or left-handed, and can’t be seen in a public place without being harassed about his performance the night before. I’ll take Myers job over Johnson’s, over a financial planner’s, and even over an actuary’s. After all, you can’t beat these perks.


Anonymous Pete said...

I like it. It's like I'm learning something new, but it's not painful. Thanks Sandro.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Zilla said...

One of my favorite relief "specialists" of the late 90s was Indians pitcher Paul Assenmacher. (<-probably misspelled)
When he was on the '95 Indians team that went 100-44, he probably had about 12 "pressure" situations the whole regular season. He was probably 38 years old at the time but looked 52 with a grey beard and beer guy. His only job was to get out the other teams best leftie. He would strike out Ken Griffey Jr or make Robin Ventura pop out, then he'd be done for the week. I remember him getting some clutch outs in the playoffs that season, especially against Seattle, but for the most part he pitched to 1 guy then let Eric Plunk and Jose Mesa end the game immediately afterward.
Hail Paul Assenmacher!

10:07 AM  
Blogger Sandro said...

There should be a National Holiday in honor of all these great men.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

Do you understand that from the years of 15-21, every time my dad saw a left handed one batter relief specialist, he'd turn to me and say that If I worked hard enough I could've done that. I took it as the highest compliment possible.

4:32 PM  
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