Why the media sucks…
Seriously though. I had some discussions over the past week or two about my contract situation and figured the best way to explain it clearly would be here.
So I think the best way to do that is explain exactly how everything happened and where it stands today.
The easy parts.
1) It was no mystery, since I’d said it since day 1 of signing the contract back in 2003 with Boston, 2007 was to be my final season (well 2006 was if we hadn’t won the World Series, but we did). Shonda and I, and our kids had talked at length about where and what we were going to do after the season was over but non-retirement had never really become a topic. At some point last year she and I began discussing, or mulling over, the thought of playing beyond 2007. We never talked at length or in depth but it was something we chatted about on and off during the year. 38 Studios became a reality and playing another year became less of an option at that point. The season ended and the winter came and almost went and a lot of things happened. The first was that physically I felt much better than I anticipated feeling, and the second was a talk with Shonda. In late January we spoke at length and both decided that if the good Lord found it in himself to keep me healthy I would not retire following the 2007 season. After a short discussion with the kids, who were ecstatic (though a bit put off since we promised them puppies when I retired) it became clear to me that this was the right thing to do.
2) I knew for a fact that this would catch the Red Sox off guard and so I made a call to Theo that night to inform him of the decision. I got the impression he was pretty fired up about it and we talked long enough for me to think that the contract situation was pretty much resolved and 2008 would be spent in Boston.
3) Not long after that I got word, and then Theo did, that someone in the media had found out and was going to talk about it. That’s when I spoke with D & C about going on their show to make the ‘announcement’. The main reason I felt that was the way to go was twofold really. They’ve been very good to me, and more importantly to ALS through the monies they’ve raised. Contrary to some writers beliefs I don’t get paid to appear on EEI, ALS does, and always has. Not to mention there have been additional monies raised through other things we’ve done on the show. Even though I don’t agree with them often (I think D and I have some differing opinions on politics) they’ve always been fair to me and I would like to think my teammates, for the most part. So the decision to either allow someone not in the know to leak it, or for me to be pro-active and much clearer on what had really happened was an easy one.
Now we fast forward a bit and we have what appears to be ‘controversy’ because the Red Sox do not extend my contract when alls said and done, and I am going to file for free agency at years end. Again contrary to ‘expert’ opinions and views this was never a ‘gun to the head’ situation, the Sox knew this and I knew it. It really was very simple for both sides. We spoke at length, Theo, Mr. Henry, Mr Werner and I all spoke at some point and at no time, and let me reiterate that, at NO time, were there ever any hard feelings, ill will, or loud exchanges.
The Red Sox owe me nothing. They’ve paid me over 40 million dollars for what amounts to two seasons worth of starts. They didn’t ask for a refund in ’05 when I couldn’t get my mother out, and on top of that they’ve been respectful of my family at every turn.
I wanted to remain in Boston to finish my career, I made that clear to them. They made it clear to me that if it wasn’t for the money this would be a done deal. I get that, it’s not hard to understand. If I was to sign a 4 million dollar deal I’d be signed already. The 13 million we had talked about was money they were looking at as ‘available’, so this had changed their plans if they were to sign me.
Shonda and I have sold our homes in Arizona and are in the midst of selling our home in Philly as well. Medfield is where we have chosen to raise our children. The town is phenomenal and the people are as well. We feel the public school system offers our kids an enormous advantage and we want to be part of the community there.
That being said there’s been speculation that many ‘off the field’ things have made it so we can’t, or won’t play elsewhere. That’s just not true. The Red Sox know that at the end of spring training we will no longer discuss 2008 until after free agency becomes an option. While it may appear as if it’s a ploy, it’s not. One of the disadvantages to this market is the sheer volume of news, and what’s really news as opposed to what isn’t. I was very clear in that I would not allow this to be a story once we started playing games that count, the team, the organization and most importantly my teammates don’t deserve to be asked questions about something that has nothing to do with winning or losing ballgames, and that’s exactly where this would go.
The other was 38 Studios. People falsely thought that I needed to stay in Boston since the company is located in Maynard. One of the things I think I know about good teams, and good businesses is that one person can’t drive either. I think and know that my vision for 38 Studios and what we are going to become will be realized, and I also know that for that to happen there must be people in place to lead this company other than myself. Brett Close was my insurance. When 38 Studios hired Brett as President I lost all concern for having to be ‘in house’ 365 days a year for this company to become the multi-billion dollar behemoth it will be. I think people that are good to great leaders get that to be great you must surround yourself with incredibly talented, driven, honest, hard working, loyal, accountable people. Every member of this company to date is just that, and Brett adds that in spades as the President. So while it would be awesome to be able to be in Boston to help things along in ’08, it’s not even remotely a hinderance if that does not happen.
Our first choice is Boston, the Red Sox know that, we know that. The team has decided that waiting and seeing is the approach to take (and I think many, if not the majority of fans would agree) with a 40 year old pitcher. While I can disagree all I want it’s not really relevant to the situation. I couldn’t for a second use the ‘they are disrespecting me’ or “They owe me” route. That’s disingenious at best and ridiculous at worst.
Am I disappointed? Sure, I’m human and I’d like to think they need me or want me enough to make this happen now. However I also realize that they, and the game, will go on just fine when I am gone. I’ve always needed the game a hell of a lot more than it needs me.
So there it is, and it really is that simple. A lot of times most of these situations are much simpler and never as complicated as the media would have you believe. I will get ready for the season, bust my ass to win one more game than everyone else in this rotation, to win another world series, and then the off season will arrive. When it does I will file for free agency at the appropriate time and if the Red Sox make the better all around offer then I will come back here for 2008, if they don’t, we won’t.
Oh and one more thing. To you Yankee fans. I won’t and never have offered up the “I wouldn’t go to NY” unsolicited. When this story first broke I was asked about the possibility of going to NY and I said I couldn’t make that move. I don’t hate the Yankees, far from it, but after what’s happened over the short period of time I’ve been in Boston, and given the fact that there are probably ten times more fans in NY that would not want me to wear the pin stripes, as opposed to those that would, I couldn’t. So rest easy, it won’t happen.
Someone mentioned that not allowing the Yanks to get into the bidding would mean less money in the end as a dumb reason to say this, I will say this. If I am concerned about my contract next year being for 20 million per, as opposed to 15 or so per, then I’ve made some immensely bad financial decisions in life, which is not the case.
No, I couldn’t go there for many of the same reasons Mariano said the same thing. While he has his entire first ballot Hall of Fame career to look back on and make that decision, which I am sure gives him far more reason to not make the move, I feel much the same way.
In the end it is simple. In 2008, if by the Lords Grace I am healthy, I will be pitching somewhere I want to be for a team that has a great shot at winning a world series. In the meantime it’s all about trying to get the second one in four years here.