The Lunacy of it All
The Lunacy of it All
It was a beautiful day in Los Angeles on February 27th, 2010. The sun shined brightly through the plate glass windows and into the lobby of the office building. The black limousine pulled to the curb and the driver opened the back door and waited. The three people in the back seat got out of the car and walked into the building. They gave their names to a security guard then were escorted to a ground floor elevator, which would take them to the top executive level. The heavy polished mahogany doors swung open. Ms. Oshi Tarihanzo a young lawyer from Tokyo, Jerome Weisberg a middle-aged accountant from San Francisco, and Bob Johnson a 40 year old sports agent from New York confidently walked into the room. Ms. Tarihanzo wore a dark blue pinned striped suit. Her skirt fell just below her knees. In one hand she carried a leather briefcase, the other a cell phone. The accountant also wore a dark green crumpled suit with a white shirt. Sticking out of his jacket pocket were a pair of spectacles. He looked rather untidy and held his laptop close to his chest. Bob Johnson, wore a tailor made gray suit. The gray and white shirt, with his initials on the collar, complemented the Rolex watch on his wrist. They were in Los Angeles for one reason. To negotiate, and finalize, the working contract of their client Tommy Tanaka, a 26-year-old baseball player from Japan.
“ Goodmorning. We’re here to see Mr. Martinez.”
“ Ah yes, they have been expecting you. Please follow Me.” the receptionist replied.
She led them into a large conference room. The carpet was thick and red in color. Hanging on one of the walls was the team logo. It was large and made of polished brass in the shape of the state of California. It had a crack running north to south almost cutting it in two pieces. This was the corporate office of the Los Angeles Earthquakes. Already in the room were Mr. Hector Martinez, representing the team’s owner, and five of his associates. They introduced themselves to each other then sat down on opposite sides of a long wooden conference table. Mr. Martinez opened the conversation.
“ I know you’ve been talking with the people from New York, but we want to encourage you to have an open mind and listen to what we are offering before you make your final decision” he told them.
“ Of course we’ll listen, that’s what we’re here for.” Bob replied.
“ Since our last meeting we’ve reconsidered your proposal and are willing to go a little further. We sure do want your client to play baseball for us so how about a five year deal worth $250 million, plus a $50 million dollar signing bonus.” said Martinez as he anxiously sat back in his plush leather chair.
Silence filled the air and the only thing that could be heard was the second hand of an antique clock ticking from the corner of the room. Bob looked at his Rolex and then sat back in his chair.
“ Mr. Martinez, I thought we were here to discuss this sensibly. Your offer is still a little on the low side. You only came up $10 mill on the signing bonus and threw in a fifth year. Let’s be reasonable, my client can’t live in the lifestyle he is accustomed to with that offer. He has a family and needs to make sure he has enough money to retire when he’s thirty-one.” said Bob.
After a brief pause a frowning Mr. Martinez replied.
“ If he invests it wisely he can scrape by. After all it’s only for working 8 months a year. He can get other work during the 4 months he’s on vacation can’t he?”
Ms. Tarihanzo took notes, while Weisberg worked on his laptop. The screen began blinking and calculating various formulas as he anxiously kept close to the spreadsheet on the screen. He paused then whispered something into her ear. She quietly listened, said nothing, then picked up her cell phone and began dialing Tokyo. As she talked quietly on the cell phone Bob began his counter offer.
“ Look, the $250 million is too low a figure. How about we consider $300 million for five years, and lower the signing bonus to $40 million. Also we get a twenty-five percent stake in merchandizing anything with his name on it. Autographs would be extra of course. Plus he needs his own limo and private plane at his disposal at all times.” said Bob
“ Twenty-five percent is too high. We would have to increase our ticket prices again if we did that. Ten percent is more reasonable.”
“ Look, just pass it onto the fans, they complain about prices all the time but in the end they all cave in and pay anyway. If you increase your prices then you will be able to cover it. What is it now $125 for a general admittance ticket?” asked Bob.
“ It’s $130 a ticket at the moment Sir.” someone interjected.
“ So add a surcharge like you do with everything else. You can always increase the price of a hotdog from $15 to say $18 or up the beer to $20 a glass can’t you?” Bob suggested.
Martinez sat back in his chair to think. Perhaps he could raise the price of beer, but they had already raised the hot dog prices twice this past year. He threw his pen onto the table and leaned forward.
“ The $300 million is too high. Lets drop it to $275 million for 5 years, a $30 million signing bonus instead, but we’ll throw in a Hollywood movie contract so he can make action movies during the off season.” he offered.
“ I like the Hollywood idea, he could be the next big action star. But we still insist on the $300 million. If you want to drop it to $275 mill then we would have to ask for sole ownership in your Taco franchises at the stadium. Or how about setting up Sushi bars in all the luxury boxes?” Bob asked.
“NO! We can’t do that. The Taco franchise is too profitable and as for the Sushi bar idea, we would have to renovate to make room next to the Fresh-Air bottle franchise. Look, we know your client has a contract with PIKE Sneakers, Ballings Gloves, and a vitamin company, which totals an extra $175 million a year in income. His new computer game “ Swinging with Tonaka” is already on the market and bringing him extra income. Just that alone is more money then the President takes home. Said an angry Martinez.
“ Yes but the President can’t throw a baseball 100 miles an hour can he? All right how about $280 million for 4 years, a signing bonus of $30 million, plus the jet and limo, and ten percent of all merchandise sold at the stadium. The Hollywood contract is workable, but as a good gesture on your part it would be a good idea to set him up with his own record label.” said Bob.
“ Record label? Yes that can be arranged. But now you’re talking four years and not five. Let’s take a break, I have to talk with the owner before I do anything else. I’ll be right back.”
Martinez left the conference room while Bob helped himself to a glass of water. Across the table the lawyers discussed their golf game. Ten minutes later Martinez came back and sat down. He handed Bob a piece of paper then threw his pen on the table and sat back to wait for Bob to read it.
It said $300 million for 5 years, a $25 million signing bonus, 10 percent of all franchising, the corporate jet and limo, the record label, and finally the Hollywood film contract. The words Final Offer were underlined.
Bob passed it to Weisberg and Tarihanso and they both read it. Jerome closed the lid on his laptop and removed his eyeglasses. Oshi Tarihanso said something into her cell phone then closed the cover and smiled. They both looked at Bob and nodded, but didn’t say a word.
“ Gentleman this deal seems more workable to us now, but we must of course confer with our client first. He couldn’t be here with us today because of the sexual harassment lawsuit he’s involved in. A verdict was due yesterday, but due to outsourcing of the jury it takes time to video- conference from New Deli. Don’t believe a word the newspapers say. Its all lies.” said Bob.
They gathered their papers together, then shook hands. The limousine waited downstairs to take them to the airport.
“ I hope you will consider our offer. He really should be playing here in Los Angeles at Exxon-Sheik Mohammad Stadium. We would hate to see him playing in New York at Wall-Mart Park or even Google Stadium in Chicago. Thank you all for coming and please get back to us as soon as possible. We would love to have Tommy Tanaka in a Quake uniform next year.” said Martinez
They shook hands then left the office. The three of them rode the elevator to the lobby. Outside the building, and double parked, was the long black limousine with the motor running.
“ That went pretty well I think. I’ll tell me wife to order that BMW for our 16 year old son now,” said Bob
“ Yes it did. His tax situation will be fine, I’ll write most of it off. He can relocate to Monte Carlo where he won’t have to pay any tax at all, then just travel back and forth in the corporate jet.” said Jerome.
“ I’ll return to Tokyo and explain the details. I’m sure he will want to sign the papers as soon as possible. It’s a good thing we didn’t take that New York offer. What would he do with the Empire State Building anyway?” said Oshi Tarihanzo as she put her cell phone into her Gucci pocketbook.