I watched Jeff Kent’s tearful, endless retirement press conference last Thursday afternoon while on a flight between Austin and New York, waiting patiently for the thank-you to Barry Bonds that never came. While Dangle couldn’t acknowledge the role Bonds played in shaping the most inflated numbers of the former’s career, he did manage to remind the public he wasn’t a baseball fan in a somewhat unfocused address that was more awkward and creepy than genuinely moving.
Amongst those unimpressed with Kent’s outpouring, naturally, was longtime sparring partner T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times, whose farewell to “some lip-biting, mustache-soaked sob sister” posed the question, “the cold shoulder lives his entire baseball life, every other macho sentence beginning, “I don’t care what anyone thinks,” and so now we’re supposed to care what Kent has to say?”. From the January 25, Times :
The whole thing is out of whack, sports at its lost perspective worst, the wrong guy blubbering at the microphone and the line extending from here to New York now with folks more deserving than Kent of such attention.
Where’s the spotlight and appreciative crowd for SteveDilbeck, the Los Angeles Daily News sports columnist, who like so many others in recent weeks has been told they will no longer be paid to do what they do so well?
Kent is 40, and although he maximized his God-given talent to play baseball, the Dodgers paid him $9 million last season on top of millions already earned. Now he will oversee the golf country club and three motorcycle shops he owns until he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame.
And he’s trying not to cry.
Dilbeck, as upbeat and engaging as Kent is sour and aloof, is married, father of three, including a son requiring shots for diabetes every day, and now at age 56 looking for work in an industry hellbent on becoming extinct.
Kent controls his fate to the end, while an unseen bottom line changes the course of Dilbeck’s life. But, oh, how we care about our athletes, what they are feeling and what might be next for them.
The second baseman earns $55,555 for each Dodgers game, which means two games into the year he’s probably earned more than Dilbeck. And some might argue Dilbeck was more on top of his game than Kent last year.
No question Kent was as bright as they come, a wonderful departure from Gary Matthews Jr. and Kevin Brown, the stern demeanor a mask to hide the beating heart, but in the end not enough to disguise the brooding contempt he had for folks who did not look, act or think like him.