Because we completed my arbitration hearing today, and because of leaks, arbitrator Benazir Sutton told me the gag order was lifted. I can now fill you in, from my perspective, on what happened on Days 2 and 3 of my arbitration hearing.
Remember this all boils down to one thing: Money. The team was upset when I opted to accept my contractual player option for the 2008 season. We almost had a lawsuit in November over some sticky he said/he said points. We renegotiated my contract to lower the burden on the team's salary structure for this year while guaranteeing me a little more money over the next five. Win/Win people in the business world call it.
But since then, this forum you are reading has bothered (now suspended) GM Alvin Kirby and manager Rick Churches to no end. Thus, they fined me $500,000 last month (which I did not report) and said they'd fine me $100,000 for every month I continued to do this. We tried to handle the fine behind closed doors.
They told me three weeks ago that my elbow would not ever be in playing shape again and that I should retire. I had just come from a doctor's appointment, one in which the doctor cleared me for spring training. They claimed a second opinion (one I had no knowledge of) told them I was done. Kaput. Finito. Chop off the arm and count the rings to see how old I really am. In this case, they want to collect insurance on my contract and not pay me out of the team's own pocket.
They just don't want to pay me. It's as simple as that. And in the case of this High & Tight blog, they want me to pay them.
Not gonna happen.
Alvin's Assistant GM Nick Curtis filled in yesterday (since Alvin was holed up with his lawyer all day fighting the sexual assault charges brought against him Monday night.) Nick is a good man and really didn't have much to do as, on Day 2, Alvin attacked me (bad choice of words considering the charges against him). Alvin presented his case against me on Day 2. Day 3 was super agent Jack Perry's turn to refute all allegations and turn the tables. I thought he did a great job.
Bottom line: We're fighting for the right for me to play this year on the active roster. I did push ups for the board and Jack showed video of me throwing to Andy, my personal trainer. I'm up to the low-80s on the radar gun. We proved it. The team had said I'd never even pick up a ball again.
If the glove fits, you must acquit. I wore a nice new leather Rawlings. It slipped onto my hand like egg whites.
Arbitrator Sutton said she'd give her decision in 2 to 3 weeks. In the meantime, I am to report to Spring Training and proceed as if nothing was going on. The team thought that wasn't fair. What if I injured myself? She laughed and said, since they said I was already injured beyond repair, what's it matter? As I said, Nick is a good guy, but, like me, probably should keep his mouth shut more often than not.
Thursday is packing day and we fly down first thing Friday morning. You can bet I'm bringing my new glove along for the ride.