Some players get a watch when a veteran who joins the team takes their jersey number. Daniel McCutchen got a college fund.
Ballplayers do this kind of thing a lot, I know, where an incoming guy will do some absurd favor for an incumbent wearing a coveted jersey number. But I observe that this is an especially warped example, roundly described as a sweet gesture by the relevant sports bloggers, of first-world phenomena.
The newcomer is starting pitcher A. J. Burnett, a nice-enough guy, apparently, who the Pirates took on for some peculiar reason in a salary-dump trade with the Yankees. The incumbent is Daniel McCutchen — not to be confused with the budding star (and much more interesting) Andrew McCutchen — a middling, 29-year-old middle reliever in his third season. The context is that Burnett has earned well more than $80 million in his career, and McCutchen was paid nearly half a million dollars, just in 2010. I ask, How sweet is the story of one overpaid ballplayer’s dropping a few dollars into the already-swollen pockets of another still-overpaid ballplayer?
“Eighteen years from now,” McCutchen said (his daughter is not born yet), “we’ll see what the market is.”
Eighteen years from now, if we have to step over upturned hot tubs and the burned shells of sports cars to finish a Where Are They Now article on Daniel McCutchen, we will at least know that Burnett did his part. (I add, truculently, that I wish Burnett did more of his part when he was in the Bronx [thanks for Game 2, though, O.K.? Seriously.]).