I don’t know why it was fed to me, but from the standpoint of it triggering enough reaction to where I felt like writing about it, I guess our AI overlords sure know how to get to each and every one of us. But I read this story about how baseball player Tony Kemp’s wife gave him an ultimatum after he was drafted, to make it to the big leagues in three years, and I’m just really annoyed by it.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of ultimatums in the first place, and feel that ultimatums in general are usually employed in lost cause situations, and I’m of the personality to where I most certainly don’t like the heavy pressures that usually are associated with ultimatums, to where they’re automatically detrimental to whatever cause for ultimatum there was in the first place.
So I feel for Tony Kemp despite not really knowing much about him at all, seeing as how I’m basically a casual baseball fan these days and I don’t know every 25-man roster of every team like I used to, because having to play under such an unreasonable and incredibly selfish clock to begin with probably wasn’t the most ideal of conditions to be starting a professional career with.
When a player is drafted, there’s still a gargantuan amount of luck and moving parts that all need to shift and move and fall into place perfectly for them to actually make it to the major leagues, and there are countless examples of baseball players throughout history who have performed well, and never made it to the big leagues. Even this year, was a story about a guy on the Pirates who had toiled in the minor leagues for 13 years before getting his first-ever opportunity to play in the major leagues. And even still, he only made it up on account of an injury, and was jettisoned back to the minor leagues as soon as the player returned.
The typical timeline for a player, and that’s if they play well, have the front office behind them, and have already been invested in, is usually like five years. They might get a September call-up before then, or a cup of coffee if someone is injured, but if everything goes well, players that are part of a team’s plan, usually still make it up in five for good. And that’s only if the parent ballclub isn’t trying to manipulate service time and playing chess with a player’s career in order to exploit loopholes in roster construction.
So for Tony Kemp’s wife to basically demand that Tony Kemp make it to the big leagues in three years, to me, comes off as extremely reckless, unreasonable, and because the underlying message was, because her career would have to go on hold, pretty selfish. Good on her for having her own career hopes and ambitions, but maybe don’t marry a ballplayer, much less slap a ridiculous ultimatum on him, because the pressure of such alone, could very well have blown up in their faces.
The only reason why this is a non-issue today is the fact that Tony Kemp miraculously did succeed at making it to the bigs in three years. And thankfully there wasn’t any intricate stipulations in his ultimatum with the wife about needing to actually stick in the major leagues, because after he came up in 2016, the Astros ping-ponged him back and forth to the minors multiple times over the next few years, but if I had to guess, since he was a part (at least on the 40-man roster) of the 2017 cheating champions squad, wifey probably got swept up in just how big of a deal it can be, even for a shuttle-bus player like Kemp was then.
Here’s what irks me though; Kemp’s wife was in broadcasting in some capacity up in Toronto, and her career was supposedly trending in a direction she wanted. Even if she stayed in broadcasting, what kind of ceiling would she capable of reaching? Probably not to the heights that even a baseball player of marginal talent could achieve, just by being the last guy on a 25-man roster. Money is not everything in life, but seeing as how the MLB minimum when Kemp was a rookie was still $475K, I’m willing to bet that ol’ Tony was going to be the primary breadwinner.
But the thing is that wifey basically gambled with his career, all because she was concerned about putting her career on hold. Like, there are ways to go about chasing dreams independently, without having to put unreasonable pressure on your partner, but that’s basically what happened with the Kemps, and that’s kind of why I got fired up over this topic in the first place.
Like I’m sure Kemp’s wife isn’t so torn up about giving up her career, seeing as how hubby has made over $8 million throughout his career, which is kind of surprising considering how mediocre of a talent he kind of is. He had one okay season in 2021, but he’s still a career .239 hitter with an OPS of .679, and has a career bWAR of 3.6 which is heavily weighted by his performance in 2021. And the way he’s playing in 2023, his major league career probably isn’t going to last much longer, but like I said, he’s made $8M in his career, and smart people have parlayed less into retirement and the good life.
If I’m a betting man though, a partner who rains on the parade of him getting drafted in the first place with ultimatums, is probably a partner that’s going to be crawling up his asshole once his major league career starts to fizzle, and he’s stashed in the minors of whomever is willing to keep him employed. Sucks because there are now kids involved, but that’s life in America, and everyone needs to take care of themselves so they can take care of the others that matter; with or without the unnecessary pressures of ultimatums.