The grievance process is interesting if you're not one of the parties involved:
- There's me, who attended Day 1 along with Jack Perry, my super agent, and two "witnesses," former players who can state good things about me. We make up the cool party. Stop on by for some good music and pigs in blankets.
- There's the team, which was represented by GM Alvin Kirby and Rick Churches, my esteemed manager.
- There's the arbitration board, on which sat commissioner Elliott Pollock, Players Association head Howard Phillips, and an independent arbitrator, Benazir Sutton.
The "prosecution" began with Alvin Kirby's opening remarks, which explained last year's injury, my poor rehabbing schedule until the fall, my going back on a verbal agreement to accept a "lucrative" buyout offer of my contract from the team, and the "heinous, slanderous remarks" I have written on this blog about him, Mr. Churches and Mrs. Joan Delaney, our owner. Alvin said he'd provide medical witnesses who will prove my right arm will never be usable again on a professional level.
Jack gave the defense argument, that coming back for the 2008 season was my decision (a player option that I, as player, contractually enjoyed) and that I, the player, never signed or stated to the team an acceptance of their buyout offer. He admitted to my poor rehab "attitude" but stated a psychiatrist would testify that I was depressed, that professional athletes go through periods of inner emptiness after major injuries. But, he said, I did recover mentally and for the last three months have gone through the most rigorous workout program of my entire amateur and professional career. My personal trainer Andy, employed by the team, is set to testify in my favor (Unless he turns on me because of economic pressure from the team - meaning they'll fire him if he so much as shows up. I can see that movie before it's even made.)
In terms of this blog, Jack talked about my second amendment rights, until I corrected him and said the second amendment was the right to bear arms. The first amendment is freedom of speech. Jack broke up the room (my side and Mrs. Sutton, at least) stating the mistake was on purpose. This whole problem is based upon my arm and I have the right to use it on a mound this season. He's a shrewd fellow, that Jack Perry.
We broke for lunch. A two-hour lunch. I was done after fifteen minutes and walked around midtown Manhattan. Lots of Jimmy Scott fans out there. I used my cell phone to make a video of fans telling me they were on my side. Maybe I'd use it in court. Or just show it to Vanessa next time she gets mad at me.
After lunch, Mrs. Sutton asked Jack and Alvin to meet with her in private to try to mediate the dispute before spending any more time dragging each other through the dirt. I was wearing my overalls, so I was fully prepared for a good old fashioned dirt dragging. But Jack agreed, as did Alvin, and they disappeared for 45 minutes.
Union head Howard and commissioner Pollock spent that 45 minutes arguing about something in the back of the room, which was not a courtroom with mahogany walls and microphones, jury box and a bailiff named Rusty. We were in a 28th floor conference room with no windows. My chair could swivel 360 degrees, so I passed the time getting dizzy. Rick watched me with disgust and occasionally shook his head. He's no fun at all.
When Jack, Alvin and Mrs. Sutton returned, she said we were through for the day. It was just about 3:00 and we didn't have time to press ahead into the seriousness of "these matters" on a Friday afternoon. We adjourned until Monday.
You're dying to know what Jack, Alvin and Mrs. Sutton did/said behind those closed doors, aren't you? I was too. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to tell you right now. This is called a "gag order." In other words, I can't write publicly about the hearing until it's over. Jack thinks team management is afraid public pressure, caused by what you're reading, will be too strong for them to lay out their case with impunity. I just nodded, not know what "impunity" meant. I'll look it up tonight after lying in bed for three hours and not falling asleep. After this posting is done, I'll write about other stuff until the gag order is lifted.
We reconvene Monday at 9:00 AM sharp. Mrs. Sutton told us to plan for two days of testimony. Her ruling will probably come within two weeks after we wrap up.
Ironic reminder: Single-game tickets go on sale Sunday morning at 9:30. I should be back in May, so I suggest you start there with your purchases. Don't listen to Rick and Alvin. They're just jealous they didn't think up this blog thing first.
See you in May!