Game Time: An Open Letter To Carlos Lee
Life is a breeze when you're Carlos Lee
I hope your travels are going much smoother this week than last week. I'm guessing the pilot of the Astros' team charter doesn't have any issues with an expiring pilot's license, so getting from Pittsburgh to Chicago and then eventually back here to Houston should be no problem.
Before I get to the body of my letter, may I suggest you go through your Rolodex of private jet pilots and delete the ones that have deemed "renewing my pilot's license" to be on par with some insignificant household chore. "Dammit, what is it I had to do today? ...clean the garage...check....scour oven....check....what else? Oh that's right! Renew the mandatory document that allows me to actually perform the job which generates my income! A job that involves transporting people at altitudes of several miles in the air! I knew I forgot something!"
Yeah, you may want to lose that dude. And yet, in some sense, I can see where you would bond with this individual. If there is a "private jet pilot forgetting to renew his license" fashion of playing left field in the major leagues, your license expired two years ago.
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I'm not writing to convey a comparison of you with other players who've been blessed with franchise-altering (franchise-cripppling?) contracts, and I'm not here to analyze what Drayton McLane's rationale was for giving you $100 million over six years. I've done that before...a couple times.
I'm just writing this letter to say "Fuck you, Carlos."
Not in a violent way, like if I were getting out of my car after you sideswiped me at an intersection and now I'm ready to punch you, or a "Hey! Did you just hit on my wife right in front of me?" way. But just in a way where I think I express the sentiments of most Astros' fans (and sports fans, in general) who show up early at their own jobs, give their best, and pay their hard-earned dollars to watch you field fly balls like a wasted dad at Dave and Buster's playing Dance Dance Revolution.
Honestly, Carlos, if your effort is the baseline comparison for allowable frustration, I'm actually speaking for fans who give anything more than ten percent effort at their job and would at least give their employer the courtesy of calling them if they don't plan on making it in that day.
Because you do neither of those things.
Despite overtones to the contrary, I'm not typically "if this were the real world" guy -- you know, the guy who calls talk radio and tries to apply the workplace rules of an accounting firm or a construction site to professional sports. It never translates, it never will translate, that guy needs to accept it.
However, Carlos, because per game you're paid about three or four times the median annual salary in this country, this should actually make you more inclined than the average Joe to do menial things like call your employer if you're going miss work, or...well...actually try at your job.
Between December 13, 2004 and November 24, 2006, you were on four different major league rosters. If you were worth the trouble of paying a transcendent figure like $100 million, one of the three teams you were on before the Astros would have found a way to do it. Certainly, they wouldn't have all either shipped you off for a bunch of smaller piece parts or let you walk in free agency.
At this point, I don't know what Astros fans are more angry about, Carlos -- the fact that you're just a big, fat punch line, or the fact that you don't even really seem to care. I get the whole "waking up happy to be alive every day" thing, but for $19 million per year, the fans would like a bat broken over a knee just once. Maybe some cursing or a chokeslam of Ed Wade. Something. Anything. Hell, Shawn Chacon was only in Houston for about twelve minutes, and he at least gave us that!
Your punishment for missing the team's post All-Star workout and not calling someone to tell them you'd be AWOL was
another day of rest a seat on the bench Friday night. Somehow, I don't think you got the message. If it were me doling out the punishment, Carlos, I'd have tied you to your locker during the post-game buffet or made you play catcher for nine innings or had you swim across the Monongahela River in a bright yellow Speedo or had you pitch batting practice with no screen....
Not that I've thought much about it.
$100 million contracts are supposed to be reserved for elite players. Five-tool players. When you go to YouTube and put in names like "Albert Pujols" and "Derek Jeter" the first set of highlights to come up are towering home runs or slick fielding plays. When I put "Carlos Lee" in YouTube, the first four videos are some flavor of you being jeered by fans, both home and away, for being a big, fat toad.
You're stealing money, Carlos. Most of us have known this all along, and my guess is so have you. The last person to find out is the guy rifling through his pockets wondering where his $100 million went. I don't even give a shit what he does with you at this point, Carlos, I really don't. This team is so backwards right now, and so far from being fixed, it really doesn't matter.
I really just wanted to tell you, on behalf of Astros fans tired of your act, on behalf of the souvenir shops who have to dust off the rack of "LEE 45" jerseys every day knowing none of them will get sold, on behalf of whoever the poor sap is that has to hang the huge mural of you on the side of Minute Maid Park before every season...on behalf of all of them, if the punishment for your being an inconsiderate jackass is a seat on the bench, then feel free to retain your unlicensed pilot, lose your cell phone, and hang out in Panama. Cash your checks.
We were getting by just fine without you.
Carlos, you just turned 34 last month. From ages 28 through 32, baseball-reference.com says that you were most similar by age to former Toronto Blue Jay slugger George Bell.
By age 34, George Bell was out of baseball, Carlos. Just sayin'. Maybe if you could be more like George Bell...
And I think that just about says it all.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.