When Brian Boehringer Fired His Agent
Yesterday was a good day for me. The cold that'd been lingering for about 6 weeks seemed to finally have passed. Somehow, my financial portfolio gained 3%. And I had a very insightful conversation with Brian Boehringer. You remember Brian, don't you? He won a ring with the '96 Yankees, pitched for San Diego and got beat in the World Series by the '98 Yankees, was part of the Yankees organization 3 different times... Sure, he's got a funny last name. But I remember Brian well.
Here's interesting point #1 about Brian: He doesn't expect you to remember him. I made mention that I found an autographed 8x10 of him, wearing a White Sox uniform, available on the web for $46.25. On two different sites (I think it was the same 8x10 though). Brian's reaction? Don't spend your money on it. "It's not even worth a dollar." Bitter? Hurt? No. He said it in a funny, self-effacing way. "I knew where I stood in the pecking order." In other words, during his 10-year MLB career (1995-2004), Brian was not Randy Johnson. He wasn't Schilling or Clemens or Maddux or Rivera. He wasn't even David Wells. He was Brian Boehringer, bullpen guy with an ERA that was going to hover somewhere between 2.63 (at his best in '97) and 5.49 (after injury, at his worst in '03). He was comfortable with who he was. Still is. And nobody, not one clubhouse attendant or teammate (Doc Gooden's locker was right next to Brian's in '96) or manager ever made him feel like he didn't belong; like he wasn't part of the team.
Interesting point #2 about Brian: The guy who did make Brian feel inferior, the guy who allegedly gave Brian the short-shaft, was the one man who was supposed to be there for Brian - his agent, Bob Garber, of RMG Sports Management.
Interesting point #3 about Brian: According to Brian, Bob Garber (who also represents Mark Loretta and Russell Martin) didn't fulfill his fiduciary duty to Brian; meaning, he didn't put Brian's interests and needs above his own.
Coming off the 2002 season with Pittsburgh, Brian wanted to sign with St. Louis. He's from the area, wanted to live at home during the season and knew the Cardinals were always a competitive team. He instructed Bob to try to get a deal done.
Here's where it gets murky.
Mr. Garber told Brian the best he could get was an $850,000 deal with St. Louis. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was the only other team that was interested, to the tune of 2 years and $3.5 million. Brian took his agent's word and signed with the Pirates. Today, Brian says the deal was best for Bob Garber, not him. The deal Brian signed earned the most money that Bob Garber could have gotten, so he pushed that one on Brian.
The question I'm thinking of now is this: Why did Brian sign?
I think, in Brian's mind, it took him until 2 years later to realize he probably shouldn't have signed.
He lost 2005 to injury, but felt great going into spring training, 2006. Brian asked his agent to call around and get him any deal possible. According to Brian, he didn't do it. How does Brian know? He said he personally called and was able to secure his own deal with the Cubs after a conversation with Dusty Baker. When he spoke with teams, they told him nobody had called them about Brian Boehringer.
This is where Brian's bitterness begins. And, it was where he suddenly realized that while he was comfortable with his place in the clubhouse pecking order, he was not when it came to dealings with his agent.
By 2006, Brian was, to be blunt, washed up. He felt good but was on the other side of 35. His chance, his MLB time, was gone. And even though he knew deep down that he probably wasn't going to straddle a big league mound again, he still expected his agent to do what he said he was going to do. And, allegely, Bob Garber didn't.
Brian and his "pecking order" goes into another phase here.
Interesting point about Brian #4: He called the Players Union to complain. He said he was being poorly represented and Bob Garber should be punished.
The union didn't do anything. Why? Because he wasn't A-Rod. He wasn't Roy Oswalt (another RMG client). Brian Boehringer, in 2006, was nowhere near the player Johan Santana was turning out to be. Brian's status, which he feels shouldn't have mattered in this situation, was allegedly taken into account. "There's nothing we can do," the union said.
So Brian fired Bob Garber.
Brian is not bitter about how his career ended (mainly because of injury). He's not bitter that he was born Brian Boehringer and not Carsten Charles Sabathia. He fully appreciates his time in the game and is comfortable with the role he played on his ballclubs. But you don't have to ask him if he's bitter about anything; he'll bring it up on his own. He's bitter about how his agent allegedly misrepresented him. And he's bitter about how the relationship ended.
Brian said, "He never apologized. He never called me on the phone," after it was over. Brian mailed a letter to Bob Garber's office stating Mr. Garber no longer represented Brian Boehringer. And their relationship was over.
Brian now lives in St. Louis. He's got a great sense of humor and a refreshing ability to tell it like it is. He recently purchased a company called Southside Sports and is hosting a charity bowling event on January 10th to benefit his high school and junior college baseball programs. Former teammates Cecil Fielder, Tim Raines and Dwight Gooden are scheduled to attend.
Just don't expect to see Brian's former agent there. They haven't spoken in years.
I am attempting to get comment from Bob Garber for his side of the story. If I get anything, you'll be sure to read it here.