DFA: A BLOG ABOUT LIFE ON THE BASEBALL MARGINS: February 21, 2008
DFA, chapter 12: Living High on the Hog
The next night, I showed up at this fancy French joint called Le Cochon Doré. The kind of place where the chef told – ordered – the patrons what to eat, you had to know a senator to get a reservation – and the senator might be sitting at the table next to you. You know, dudes, the kind of place that screamed “money.” Those kinds of joints make my nerves quiver.
Rick was waiting for me with another guy, tall and gaunt, built like a marathon runner. He wore an expensive skintight-tapered black suit – a “Helmut Lang,” he told me later – a diamond-studded watch and what they called “stylish earwear” (also by this Lang dude). As he stood up to greet me, he flashed a cosmetically bonded smile.
“Ric Grieff, my agent, Larson Pomade.”
God, I thought, even this guy’s name sounds like it came out of a fashion magazine.
“Larson’s with IBS.” They were the megilla of agencies, and I’d run into a handful of golden boy prospects who were temporarily passing through A ball who had signed with them.
“Ric,” Larson said. “Or should I call you Ric with a ‘c’ and this other Rick Rick with a ‘k’?” He had a squawky laugh that sounded like he’d just swallowed a parrot.
“There’s only two of us,” I said. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out.”
“Great.” He looked around the restaurant, which featured statues of large golden pigs – more like hogs or wild boars, really – marble columns and other stuff they had in the Roman days. It was like the set from “Gladiator,” that I remember watching on pay-per-view one night after we lost a double-header in Aberdeen where I went oh-for-nine and hit my pitcher in the head trying to nail a runner stealing second. Broke his jaw.
“You’re going to love this place,” Pomade said. “The foie gras raviolo is to die for.”
He ordered a bottle of wine for each course. They all seemed to come from some baron’s cellar, and we had to listen while the wine waiter described each one. The first one tasted of “elderberry, with hints of sunflower, nutmeg and topsoil.”
“You mean dirt?” I asked, and the waiter looked like he wanted to put me in a dungeon. “I’m sorry,” I said to Ric and Pomade. “You’re talking to a guy who’s used to eating at Bob’s Big Boy.”
“I’d love to see their wine list,” snarked the waiter.
“I’m sure Bob’s has its charms,” Pomade said.
I asked Pomade what was good, but to him everything was “to die for.” When they brought out my entree I knew why they called it “foie gras raviolo” – and not “ravioli,” because the dish they brought had one lonely micro-dumpling not big enough to feed a mouse.
But I realized I wasn’t there to eat. I was there to be impressed.
During dinner, Rick and Pomade mostly talked about food and pointed out celebrities in the room – “Hey, there’s Al Roker!”
Pomade saved his spiel until dessert. “Ric, I just wanted to tell you: You are one brave hombre. I mean, in my job I get so many pitches – why, I’ve probably caught more pitches than you”—
“I doubt it,” I said.
“Most of them suck. Some are good, even great, but won’t sell. Others are great and might sell, except three other people are doing the same book. But when Rick brought your story to me, I could see ‘bestseller’ and ‘movie deal’ written all over it.”
“Well, Rick took a few liberties—”
“Just to serve the narrative,” Rick cut me off and gave me a “shut up” smile.
“If we can expand your story a bit, maybe frame it with your tales of a hardscrabble life in the minor league gulag, a sort of baseball ‘On the Road,’ a cross between Lone Survivor and “Motorcycle Diaries” … well, I think we’ll have a home run. Don’t you think, Rick with a ‘k’?”
I had no idea what Pomade was talking about. I liked a good book now and then – which is another reason I was considered a bit of an oddball in the baseball world – but usually it was a mystery or self-help, something to keep me thinking positive.
“I think we could easily get a six-figure advance. Who knows, maybe even high six. And my colleague in our media division thinks he can sell the movie rights. Not to mention a trade paperback, foreign rights, maybe even a video game.”
“Petra Petrovich the supermodel, Leopoldo Flagrante the movie star,” Rick went on. They got their own sports academy, shoot their own videos --”
“Rick’s right. We’re a global presence,” Pomade said.
“So the deal is: You and Rick agree to collaborate on the book and we’ll start coordinating a media strategy immediately,” said Pomade. “You know, strike while the iron is hot.”
They looked at me expectantly. “Do you have any questions?” Pomade asked. By now the resentment I felt about having my life hijacked for the personal gain of these barracudas, mixed with my rage and sadness over Kara’s latest vanishing act, made me feel ready to explode. I wanted to tell these rip-off artists to stuff their deals where even a proctologist couldn’t find them. I mean, I was seething, dudes.
Rick said, “Somethin’ the matter, buddy?”
“Is there anything we can do?” said Pomade.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Can you get me a girl?”
Rick doubled over in fake laughter, his right arm jabbing me in the shoulder. Pomade’s face broke into a wide, self-satisfied smile, as if he’d just won the marathon.
“I think that can be arranged,” he said.