Dieting for Dollars

Now here's a way to lose some weight. Curt Schilling just signed a new one-year contract with the Red Sox that includes a $2 million weight clause, along with $8 million in base salary. If Schilling stays in shape and meets weight goals at six different weigh-ins during the year, he'll get the extra money. Screw Weight Watchers. This is the proper way to lose weight. Give me $2 million, and I'll be happy to go on the treadmill. I might even lay off the ice cream too.
The Red Sox already have a somewhat lame reality show called "Sox Appeal," where fans go on dates at the ballpark and look for that special somebody. All the Sox need to do now is film Schilling's weigh-ins, and they'll instantly have another reality show on their hands. Schilling's not shy of the camera, after all, though for his sake I hope they don't call it "The Biggest Loser."

Not surprisingly, some of Schilling's critics are giving him a hard time over this. Shouldn't he be able to stay in shape without getting paid extra? Isn't that, like, his job? In some ways, it's like getting a bonus for showing up at work on time. Wait, scratch that. The contract already includes incentives for the number of innings he pitches. (He'll get an extra $375,000 for every ten innings he pitches past 130, which means it's going to be even tougher to get him to come out of a game.)

This weight clause is instead like getting a bonus for not staying out all night and coming in to work exhausted. It's sort of like if you got a 25% bonus if you managed to stay awake at your desk all day, which on some days would be very much warranted.

Having said all this, I don't really see the harm. I like the contract. Schilling, who suggested the weight clause himself, has addressed a serious concern of the Red Sox, albeit in a creative way. If Schilling is in top shape, then he will likely be a much better pitcher, and the Red Sox will be happy to give out the extra money, or as happy as one can be when writing a $2 million check. Besides, if they start to regret the deal, they can always leave some Twinkies out around the clubhouse.

"No, no, Mirabelli! Those are for Schilling!"

I love it that Schilling is his own agent, because he always has these interesting contract clauses. First, there was the clause that gave him an extra guaranteed year on his contract, if the Red Sox won the World Series. (Admit it, Sox fans. You weren't too worried about the ramifications of that one when he signed it.) And now we have the Jenny Craig clause.

In another interesting twist, the contract also includes free daycare for all home games. I love it that a guy who is making $8 million a year before taxes (and dieting) is asking for free daycare. I would think he might be able to afford that on his own. Then again, say my friends who are parents, have you seen the cost of daycare lately?

I wonder how the Red Sox will play this. Do they give him the daycare a millionaire would expect? Or do they just stick the kids in a room, and make Manny Ramirez look after them whenever he can't play? This, of course, begs the question of whether Manny's contract also includes a daycare clause and whether the daycare is for him or his kids.

As Schilling revealed on his blog, he also receives $1 million for any Cy Young vote (first, second, or third place). It's going to be mighty suspicious, if Schilling ends up getting just one third-place vote next year. All he has to do is trade some of the food he's not allowed to eat to one of the reporters in exchange for a Cy Young vote. Depending on the reporter, one of them might just go for it.

Honestly, I hope interesting contract clauses like this become the norm. Hey, maybe Schilling's next contract will include a no-blogging clause. That would make a lot of his critics happy. Manny Ramirez could get a bonus if he remembers to show up for Schilling's daycare. And then there's Jonathan Papelbon. Somebody give that man a bonus whenever he remembers to wear pants.

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