What Price for Success?

January17/ 2000

 Have you followed the recent movements of baseballers Randy Johnson and Carlos Beltran?  I had no partisan bias that either end up with “my team”.  I’ve met The Big Unit but don’t “know” him nor Beltran.  Both have landed in New York. If you could go ANYWHERE and still make more $$$ than you could spend, where would you go and why?

   The Big Unit Meets Big Media scuffle is frontpage fodder right now.  Good, it keeps Randy Moss’ rear end off my radar.  Randy Johnson seems to be doing excellent “damage control” with the incident, but it plays directly to today’s “what would YOU do?” question.

   Randy or Carlos Beltran were guaranteed bazillions of $$$ and every  creature comfort imaginable “within the environment they can control”.  I am sure there is a “difference” between $110,000,000 and $115,000,000 but when you convert that to size of your plasma TVs, pairs of exotic cowboy boots, or plushness of leather in your Maybach is it really noticeable? 

   The current issue of Sports Illustrated has an article on Tracy McGrady and his lament that he “has no idea how normal people live”.  His “first job” at 18 was with the Toronto Raptors for $600,000/year.  Latrell Sprewell “can’t support his family” on $7,000,000/year.  It is a very strange world we live in Master Jack!

   I have a good friend who (get this!) makes more money each year than Shaq or Tiger and has for a number of years now.  He is a legitimate international celebrity and can buy any toy he wants 

… Maybach – Yep 

 … private jet – Yep 


… beachfront mansions, bodyguards et al – Yep Yep 


   When he had been “at that level” for a few years I asked him “what do you want to buy when you CAN buy anything you want?”  This is a slightly different parlour game than “If I won the Lottery I would …”.

   His answer was intriquing.  Apparently, after you fill your shopping cart with all the “necessities” you can go in one of two directions … 

  1. Accumulate for the sake of gross accumulating exemplified by the NBAer or Rapper who own 20 luxury automobiles and 100 diamond Rolexes; or 
  2. Buy the very best” whenever you need to buy anything.  All the beef in your fridge is prime kobe, all the wine in your private cellar is primo vintage, your silverware, suits, shoes, underwear, pillow cases, golf clubs, towels, shampoo, everything that you utilize in the course of a day within the environment you control is “the best there is”.  

   I’m pretty sure I would be a #2 guy.  I don’t care for “alotta” stuff but a little decadence in the everyday items would be quite nice I think.

   My friend is basically a #2 too albeit on another planet.  But guess what … there are levels of affluent decadence waaaay beyond “buying everything in a Sharper Image catalogue”.  Remember those Neiman Marcus Christmas extravaganzas?  My buddy, the Sultan of Brunei, and Bill Gates’ personal shopper are on catalogue mailing lists that make Neiman Marcus look like Montgomery Ward.

   So how come Randy and Carlos chose New York?  Back to my phrase “within the environment you can control”.  Beyond their residence and personal transportation they will be at the mercy of a somewhat harsh and unforgiving outside world.  I appreciate why many folks enjoy The Big Apple.  Another pal, Barry (aka The Only Conservative Repub in SoHo), is such.  He is a compu-guy and his wife is a journalist.  They could find “jobs” in any major metro area but they enjoy the unique features of NYC’s uber-urban world.  I can’t see Randy or Carlos grooving on ethnic delis and sitting on a park bench in Columbus Circle doing the NYT crossword on Sunday morning.


   In Randy’s case, he has “his ring”, his 5-6 Cys, his reservation in Cooperstown.  He could have worked a deal with any “contenda” to extend his career another 2-3 years as he chases a few Nolan Ryan’s records.  Why choose New York where, as he quickly learned, The Big Unit ain’t a big deal?  The traffic, the weather, the congestion, the noise, the time it takes to get anywhere are all elements he cannot solve with a fistful of dead presidents.  Derek Jeter and A-Rod in their late 20s are still chasing goals that Randy Johnson has already attained.

   In the case of Carlos Beltran, the comparisons to A-Rod are automatic.  Beltran has all the physical tools of baseball superstardom.  Once he is “at the ballpark” it’s all the same … 90’, 60’6”, 3 strikes, 4 balls, infield fly rule, etc … but “outside the lines” he is facing a different lifestyle than “anywhere but New York” would afford him.  I was curious if his agent, Scott Boras, would consider that in his negotiations … apparently not.

   From what I’ve read of Beltran, excessive opulence doesn’t seem his style.  Using unlimited wealth to shield you from an environment that that same wealth can afford you escape from seems silly.  In Beltran’s case with the Mets, he is not “wearing pinstripes and following in the footsteps of Mantle and DiMaggio”.  

   He’s “wearing orange and following in the footsteps of Cleon Jones and Ron Swoboda”!

   I assume Randy and Carlos will buy spacious penthouses in the same building as Jeter, A-Rod, Pedro, and Piazza and use “their decorator”, “their car service”, and whoever supplies “their domestic help”. I am sure they will create a plush, protective inner world within the larger world.

   Then there’s George Brett.  Born/raised in El Segundo CA, spent his entire Hall of Fame career in Kansas City.  Retired with wherewithall to live anywhere … chose to stay in KC where he and his family enjoy a very nice life.  Attaboy George.

   All right … I know what you are all wondering.  When SwaggerSays passes Matt Drudge in daily unique views (current ETA = June of 2006) and Dave Barry and Rick Reilly e-mail me for “what advice can you give a struggling writer?” what “environment” will I choose?  Thanks to the miracle of cyberspace, I can “do my thing” anywhere.  I could follow the daily tribulations of Dickie, John, Chuck, Ol’ Roy, Herb and the army of goggle-eyed loonies that debate their every sneeze and itch from anywhere.

   I’ve done “urban jungles” and “sprawling metroplexes” and even “quaint New England village”.  I would stay right where I am in Piedmont North Carolina … and then:  

  • Definitely keep the F-150 SwaggerMobile but let Mizzus pick out another Volvo with less than 200,000 miles and pass hers down to Kid.  
  • Go with top grade hardwood floors rather than Pergo laminate 
  • Open a “no limit” account at the new Orvis Super Store across town.  
  • Give Mizzus no-limit accounts at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware 
  • Tell Kid that, yes, she has to keep her new (1st) job at the No Clutter Store.  
  • As for Annabelle The Cat … my bazillionaire buddy (see above) has two cats so I would ask him for tips on feline decadence. 
  • Call Carlos Beltran and get the name of a good “domestic help” agency.

   I wonder if Randy, Carlos, Latrell, and Tracy have someone to call them “Honey, Daddy, Friend”? 


Swagger’s Stumper

What current TV “Hottie” played Tango’s sister?


   “Sam Rothschild’s specialty” was handicapping sports events.  When “the boys back east” couldn’t  blow him up with the car bomb they set him up in San Diego running their sportsbook. (Casino)

   Some of you have asked about “The Bowflex Babe”.  When you see her commercial you will understand.  She makes Total Gym’s Christie Brinkley look like chopped liver (well, “chopped liver” who still has those killer hips and a dazzling smile) … 

   Travel Channel is doing an All Las Vegas Week … check it out.  Especially the Mandalay Bay commercial with the 5th grade teacher!

   Rachael Ray did $40/day back in her hometown of Lake George NY … neat place.  Mizzus and I used to visit there.

   It’s January which means “Herb Hate” is in full bloom in our neighborhood.  We jog by the Sendeks every morning.  The chainlink fence w/ the barbed wire is back up and the Tab Thacker look-alike is on guard duty.  The drive-by obscenity shouters and egg throwers should show up anyday now.  Rabid Wuffies on the prowl AGAIN!

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