Fanatic Festival...

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Fanatic Festival...
...or Fan Fest, as most call it. We've held it every year for the past seven. I think they took two or three years off before that and the fanatics went fanatical, so they reinstated this New York Mardis Gras for baseball fans. Held at the Jacob Javits Center, it's impossible to get to. Parking stinks. No subway. Right on 11th Avenue, which is a busy street. And I hear the City wants to spend something like a billion dollars to expand the place. I wonder where the common sense goes once somebody gets elected into office...

...or is named manager of a professional baseball team. Rick Churches, our leader, is supposed to direct our on-field activities. Yes, he's in charge of the clubhouse too. But Fan Fest? He ran the show, so to speak. One person related to the team (an intern - my team leads the league in interns) said Rick arrived at Fan Fest yesterday just after 5AM to make sure everything was in its proper place. Later, on WTEM's "Jock & Jam Show," Rick would say he had to vacuum the carpets, which had lots of dirt. He made it sound like a joke. Still...

...it's hard to imagine the manager of a baseball team, who's earning a million dollars this year, arriving so early just to make sure the team signs weren't cockeyed. Anyway, my writing these past days has turned quite sour due to my "issues" with Rick and his boss, GM Alvin Kirby. Unfortunately, we had a face-to-face meeting today. I'm still sour. Thank goodness this little get together was behind a curtain in an area where the players (the ones who showed up) could relax and get away from the fanatics who paid upwards of $50 for a day of standing in line for autographs, paying more money to buy memorabilia, and eating "stadium style" concessions (which meant they overpaid for hot dogs too). But my meeting with Rick & Alvin...

...no Chipmunks jokes. Although Alvin does have a pretty high-pitched voice. Enough. My super agent, Jack Perry, couldn't attend Fan Fest because, well, I'm not his only client. Arbitration hearings are coming up soon and he overprepares. I had requested Jack send someone very tall and thick in his place to keep Alvin & Rick, or Rick & Alvin, away from me. Jack sent Tina. His wife. Tina is 5 foot 4 and about 97 pounds. She's sweet as hell and beautiful. Not what I had in mind, however. I wasn't on the showfloor for more than 5 minutes before the "altercation" (what the papers have described it) occurred. It went something like this...

...I was shaking hands with new third base coach Willie Fernandez when a third hand grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. It sure as hell wasn't Tina's hand. The following exchange took place:

Rick: Cut the sh*t, a**hole!
Me: Huh?
Rick: You heard me you piece of sh*t! Cut the sh*t!
Me: If I'm a piece of shi*t and you want me to cut the sh*t, that means you want me to harm myself. My contract won't pay me if I do that. It says so on page -
Rick: Get out of here!
Alvin: Jimmy, we'd like you to leave.
Me: (here's where I showed them) Why?
Alvin: You're on suspension.
Me: Why?
Rick: For being an a**hole!
Alvin: That's not the reason.
Me: Thank you.
Alvin: A number of comments you've made on your blog that have criticized the organization were uncalled for. Comments about me. Your manager. We're suspending you without pay for two weeks.
Me: It's the off season. You're not paying me yet.
Tina: Should I call Jack?
Rick: Yeah. You can tell that piece of sh*t that I said -
Me: Rick, lay off her.
Rick: (pushing me) What are you gonna do about it, a**hole?
Alvin: Excuse us, Jimmy.

I didn't see them again. Alvin literally pulled Rick away from me and that was it. I didn't leave. Tina called Jack who called Mrs. Delaney, who asked that I post an apology to the fans. I'm not sure what I did to bother the fans yesterday, besides decline an invitation to appear on the "Jock & Jam Show." But I like Mrs. Delaney. I'm a proud athlete but, ask Vanessa, have no problem telling people when I'm wrong in my personal life. I still don't think I did anything wrong here. I certainly didn't push my manager, nor did I stand "in a confrontational style" as one paper put it. But, Mrs. Delaney asked, and I'm not above saying I'm sorry. So to all of our fans, I apologize. Please accept this.

Oh, I'm not suspended, by the way. Mrs. Delaney overrode Alvin's decision (thanks to Jack for his input there as well).

I'm waiting for Rick to apologize to me now. He has my number. He knows where I live. A basket of fresh fruit would be nice. Or cookies. I love cookies. Just no hot dogs. They're too expensive. He should know that. I think he's showing up early today for Day 2 of Fan Fest. I hear he's going to be cooking.
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