David Wright is offering to take Barry Zito on a tour of New York to show him what a great place it is.
Whenever the Mets are trying to sign someone there’s always this talk about players or owners or general managers wanting to take the player on a tour of New York to show them what a great or what a normal place it is (depending on the player, some apparently want great and some prefer normal). What is this about?
Rusty Staub helped us to hook Keith Hernandez by taking him on such a tour, showing him how wonderful the restaurants were, how terrific Broadway was, how beautiful the women were (I recall reading this somewhere but I am uncertain exactly what was involved in this last bit of the tour). Keith had played in the National League for several years at this point. He had been to New York. Presumably he had heard of the place and might have had some idea of what it had to offer. Could this have been the first time he was learning that there were great restaurants in New York or great theatre or, indeed, beautiful women? How does a tour of these things hook anybody? How dumb do you have to be to get hooked by a tour like this when you are trying to make a decision about where to sign a multi-million dollar contract and spend several years of your life?
Zito has probably been to New York before. There’s an American League team in New York, isn’t there? I forget.
Some players, usually with families, are thought to be afraid of New York. So guys like Tom Glavine are given the “don’t be afraid, your families will be safe” tour. Like many people from outside the city, a lot of ballplayers have only visited New York in December to see the Radio City Holiday Show and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. They believe, astoundingly, that the city is always as bizarre and insane as it is on those few blocks around the goddamn tree and the Rockettes and the windows at this time of year. So they need to be convinced of something Phil Simms once said: that once you get outside of the craziness of the city itself, the New York metropolitan area is really not that much different from anywhere else. Phil, alas, is absolutely right. But it seems that a lot of people and a lot of baseball players think this is a good thing. They think that if you get away from all the hustle and bustle and raise kids in the normal America that begins right outside the city, the kids will not be corrupted, the kids will not be in danger. People who think this either have never been adolescents in American suburbs or they have forgotten what it was like.
I’ve read that Zito is considered something of an eccentric (yoga, incense, dyed his hair blue once). His apartment doesn’t have furniture, only foldable lawn chairs. Why, please, does a guy like this need 16 million dollars a year? New York is a city that has always welcomed eccentrics. Zito could live in Greenwich Village, and unlike most eccentrics, he could afford to. He likes music. There’s a lot of great music in New York. And then there are the beautiful women. If he marries one, he can move to Connecticut and have kids. New York has everything he needs. There’s no need for him to go anywhere else.