SportsProf

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Settlement Achieved on 2004 World Series Ball

You probably remember this one -- the guy who made the last putout in the 2004 World Series for the Boston Red Sox was 1B Doug Mientkiewicz. After catching a throw from closer Keith Foulke, Mientkiewicz elected to keep the ball. After all, he caught it, and he joked that the ball would help fund his retirement.

The Red Sox, though, weren't amused. They wanted the ball and argued that it belonged to them because, well, Mientkiewicz worked for them. Mientkiewicz, though, didn't budge, even if he did loan the ball to the BoSox for a year while the dispute was ongoing.

Now the parties have done the right thing. Mientkiewicz donated the ball to the Hall of Fame, and he will not get a dime for it. All baseball fans will get to see this piece of baseball history.

If you think about it, the BoSox really won. The ball will be on display for baseball fans (okay, so it won't be on display at Fenway Park), and the team didn't have to pay a dime for it. The team still is in Boston, and it's a good team. Meanwhile, Mientkiewicz now toils for the Kansas City Royals, the Irkutsk of Major League outposts.

Sounds like something out of Greek mythology. Take something from your employer, where title is in doubt, and end up on the periphery. Sure, there are many worse jobs for a lot less money, but I'm sure that the combined home-game atmospheres for 81 dates in K.C. fails to equal that of one three-game series in front of the Green Monster. Now, it could well be that the BoSox have a built-in edge here, because they can keep re-shaping their team and making sure it's competitive, while all Mientkiewicz can do is age and watch his skills deteriorate.

Then again, he deserves some kudos for having done the right thing. After all, what really matters amidst all of this is not the ball the contributed to the last out, but the wonderful efforts of the Boston players to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS to win that series and then knock the St. Louis Cardinals silly in four straight in the World Series. Oh, sure, there will be those who covet game-worn jerseys, used bats and balls, but for those who participated, being there was what really mattered.

Doug Mientkiewicz figured this out and should be applauded for it.

So perhaps he's a winner in all of this too.

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