A’s prospect Grant Desme made headlines back in January for abruptly quitting baseball to join the priesthood and when Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News caught up with him earlier this week the 24-year-old former outfielder said: “I didn’t even realize it was Opening Day.”
“I know it’s hard for some people to understand, and I don’t think there’s any perfect way to explain it because it’s such a personal choice,” he said. “All I can say is that when God speaks to you, it gets your attention.” As he became emotional while speaking to a San Jose Catholic professional group Thursday about his decision, one thing was clear: He doesn’t miss baseball. …
Desme says he was conflicted when he accepted the St. Michael’s invitation. “I saw everything that I might do in baseball pass before my eyes,” he said. But he came to view his baseball success as a final test–this is what you will be giving up. It wasn’t the only test. “Once you start considering the priesthood, the most beautiful Catholic women start showing up,” Desme said. “That made my decision interesting.”
It never occurred to me that someone could join the priesthood for the chicks, but I’m never one to rule out any options. Anyway, instead of kicking off his season at Triple-A, here’s what Desme is up to:
St. Michael’s is a community of 70 members who live like monks. The process of becoming an ordained priest in the order takes about 10 years. When he arrives, Desme will give up all the trappings of modern life. He won’t be allowed to use a cell phone or the Internet, watch television, listen to the radio, read a newspaper or go home during the first two years.
He will join the other abbey members as they spend about three hours a day singing their prayers in Gregorian chant. “I’m just trying to learn how to read music now,” said Desme, conceding he doesn’t have much of a singing voice.
The whole article is definitely worth reading, particularly if you’re like me and don’t really understand (or at least can’t comprehend) Desme’s decision.
Earlier, Craig wrote about the latest in the Mets’ search for a new general manager. Their list has been pared down to three candidates: Chaim Bloom (Rays senior VP of baseball operations), Doug Melvin (Brewers senior advisor), and agent Brodie Van Wagenen (of Creative Artists Agency).
It’s a diverse list, for sure, which makes one wonder what process allowed them to arrive at these final three candidates. Bloom is new school, Melvin is older-school, and Van Wagenen is… just inexperienced. Van Wagenen in particular is an interesting candidate as he has spent years advocating on his clients’ behalf. As a GM, he would do the exact opposite: he would try to take advantage of his players whenever possible, like every other GM in baseball does (e.g. manipulating service time).
Per Mike Puma of the New York Post, agent Scott Boras thinks there would be a conflict of interest if an agent were to become a GM. Boras, in fact, says he has turned down opportunities to lead front offices. But there is no verbiage saying that an agent must divest himself of his business interests before taking a job in a front office. Dave Stewart and Jeff Moorad are two examples of agents who later went onto the ownership side of the business. Stewart, in fact, moved into the front office after retiring and held various roles in with various organizations until he started Sports Management Partners (renamed Stewart Management Partners). He transferred control of the agency to Dave Henderson before he joined the Diamondbacks’ front office near the end of the 2014 season.
Ownership and labor are in constant conflict, even when things seem peaceful. Ownership wants to extract as much labor as possible as cheaply as possible. Labor wants to be paid for their work as much as possible. Their goals contradict each other and yet they need each other. While not required, usually being deeply on one side or the other — as agents and GM’s are — speaks to one’s personal ethos about the eternal tug-of-war. That Van Wagenen is so eager to switch sides speaks, perhaps, to opportunism. I would be, at minimum, unsettled if I were a client of Wan Wagenen’s at CAA. How might he use the sensitive information he was privy to as an agent to his advantage as a GM?
We have seen the analytics wave take over front offices around baseball. As ownership looks for ever more ways to pocket more cash, Van Wagenen’s candidacy may signal an upcoming wave of agents transitioning into front office roles. Hopefully that doesn’t become the case. There may be no one better equipped to take advantage of labor than someone experienced on that side of the battlefield.