My dad, "Red" Scott, is already down here at camp. Since he's a broadcaster on the TV side, which means he won't have any games to broadcast for another two weeks, he doesn't need to be here. You're not going to see anyone from the networks who do games down here until maybe 2 days before their first one. Why? There's nothing to see right now. We're just doing drills, taking BP, throwing off a mound, running, running and running. Even the fans think it's boring. I'm serious. I signed an autograph for a kid yesterday, he's maybe 9 years old, and I asked if he had fun watching us. "I guess so," he said. "But why'd you did it for so long?"
You could say my dad's down here because this will be his first year on the team's network and he wants to make a good impression by knowing everything there is to know about our ballclub. If someone's timing is off, he'll know. If someone's lost a little something on his fastball, he'll know. If someone's quietly impressing the coaching staff, he'll know.
But he won't.
How do I know? First, he's my dad. He loves to say "Can of corn" for ground balls. That's his trademark line, "Can of corn." I read his book of the same name a few years ago. Yes, I was the one. Let's just say I'm glad I got my copy at 30% off retail. No, "Red" (quotation marks his) is down here for one thing - to break his son into talking on the record to the media. Who's his son? Me. Who's the media? Him.
There are a few reasons why "Red" took this job. New York is the top market (not the highest-paying, however, if you're a TV guy working for a regional sports network) for viewers. Ego is big with the men in my family. The more people who hear what we say (or in my case read), the better we feel about ourselves (and in my case the easier I can accept slowly, but surely, going bald). If we have something really great to say, like "I have an exclusive Jimmy Scott interview," then the viewership numbers grow in line with the ego, since Jimmy Scott (me) isn't speaking to the media. Of course, there's pride too. "Red" never played in New York. It's probably the one market he never had anything to do with as a player or broadcaster. Now he can take it off of his life's To Do list.
But pride is related to ego, and in my dad's case, they're both related to someone he's related to: me. Again, how do I know? I've been down here 6 days now. "Red" has been down here for 3. Who's been at my locker at the end of every workout with a microphone and camera crew? You guessed it. Who hasn't read the sign I hung from my locker ("No interviews today - especially any with "Red" Scott")? Who didn't listen to Ted Feldman, the team's overworked P.R. guy, and get the lowdown on my dealings with the press this season (which will be none; it's a short lowdown conversation)?
Athletes, especially famous ones who've won lots of championships, are heavily desired meal tickets. If you can get through to us, you're usually halfway there. I can't tell you how many "deals" people have offered me, deals that benefit the dealmaker much more than me. I can't tell you how much money I would have lost over the years if I'd listened. You always hear and see how the young, big, strong athletes have their posses with them, their hangers-on, their yes crowd. But you know who's worse than any high school pal who shows up on a famous athlete's doorstep after zero contact for 22 years? Family. I'm serious. There are more moms and dads out there who have ripped off their athlete sons and daughters than you can imagine. You don't think that because it's a job of a parent to help, not hinder. Just remember parents are people too. They make mistakes and they try to rape and pillage, just like the rest of us. Only I do it on a baseball diamond (when my elbow allows it). The bad parents do it in the comfort of the homes their rich and famous athlete offspring were guilted into buying for them.
"Red" hasn't gotten his scoop yet. But I did tell him to watch the Perez family very closely. Reggie Perez is competing against his son, Reggie Perez Jr., for an outfield job on the team. Reggie senior is 40 years old and, as you saw last August after he came over in the trade with Cincinnati, he can still hit. Reggie Jr. can hit, field, run, throw... Reggie Jr. will pretty much do anything his dad ever did and more.
I watch them stand near each other in the outfield, shagging balls in BP, and see a resemblance between "Red" and me in situations. "Red" was a pitcher who played for 11 teams in 8 seasons and won 49 games. I've played for 2 teams in 19 seasons and won 289 games.
There's a commonality in situations between the Perez family and the Scott family, only my dad was long retired by the time I got drafted. Reggie Sr. will have plenty of chances to play together in the same outfield with his son, which most people think will be pretty special. How special, I wonder, and to whom will this be special?
While "Red" loiters at my locker, I tell him to watch Reggie Sr. and Reggie Jr., then I remind him that my personal services contract with the team, which takes effect either next year or in 2010, means I will be sitting right next to him in the broadcast booth, chattering away about this guy's value to the team or some other guy's repeated mistakes. I ask "Red" to think about how he, now the broadcasting veteran of 20 years, will feel sitting next to his son, who has all the potential in the world but none of the experience. Will there be pride? Or will there be concern? There are only 25 spots on a team. The two Reggies, father and son, are together, yet competing against one another. "Red," I say, "do you think we'll be any different from them? There's your story. It's much more interesting than anything I have to say."
He scratches his full-haired head, looks at his camera man, and looks back at me. "Can you ask me that again, but this time with the mic turned on?"
Father and son. Don't take it at face value. You're probably wrong.