Saturday, October 5, 2013

Will Someone Please Execute My Buyout Clause?

The San Francisco Giants' baseball team just exercised a buyout clause on pitcher Barry Zito, for which they paid $7 million. His seven-year, $126 million contract had run out, with options all around, but the team chose to buy him out of the contract altogether. Which means, "Mm, just go away, please." Breaking Good, in other words. You don't really have to be a baseball person for this.

Barry Zito seemed to be a really good guy, but he hadn't pitched as well as management had anticipated. How his Giants career works out to dollars-per-pitch, per-team-win, per-whatever, I know not, but the contract paid him eighteen megabucks-plus per year to underwhelm the National League.

The Giants exercised their option and paid him $7 million to, in essence, not do anything except just go away. Sports platitudes and niceties uttered all around. Exeunt, Stage Left.

To which I say, I will totally go away for seven mill. Exercise my buyout clause, and now. I  might even cut a deal. I'll go Barry Zito one  better and swear on a stack of bibles that I won't pitch for any other team. Zito didn't do that.

Who will execute my buyout clause, one might ask. Fair enough.

Since moving to Colorado, I've been casting around for something to *do,* by which I mean providing an answer to the quintessentially American question, "What do you *do*?" No one ever asks what you are or what you think, except in San Francisco, where that's all anyone asks about (except which neighborhood you live in).

What I want to *do* is imitate a buzzard. I'm okay at it, and I even put it on my LinkedIn profile as a skill (I'm still waiting for a recommendation on it, though). But buzzard imitation doesn't seem to count for much in the *do* world.

In planning the move to Colorado, I'd pretty much assumed I'd be getting my real estate broker's license, because that's what I *did* in Oregon. Life in the Front Range of the Rockies would be just one more lateral arabesque in the danse de la vie that begins on one's first day of school, or the day when one is impressed into door-to-door service selling magazine subscriptions for one's extra-curricular activity.

The Denver real estate brokers we encountered made sure my plan wouldn't happen. The first two or three did the give-question-as-answer routine, as in:

Moi: "We're looking for a flat close-in, maybe Highlands, maybe Five Points."
Broker: "Oh, so you're looking to be near downtown?"
Moi: "We just moved here from Portland and would like the stuff we like most to be in walking distance."
Broker: "So you want to stay out of the suburbs, huh?"

This is a classic sales routine designed to turn contacts into marks, uh, clients. A  bunch of us new licensees had learned it at Remax. I knew the song, and wouldn't dance.

Then we found a short sale property. The listing agent advertised himself as a "short sale expert," and after investigation, we made an offer. As the weeks passed, it became clear that I knew more about the property than the listing agent did, and we killed the transaction. The upside was that the whole Denver Metro real estate movie was one in which I did not wish to star.

Okay, all that really happened and everything, but at best, it's the precipitate reason I decided not to get my Colorado real estate broker's license. The real reason is that I was never very good at it anyway. There are two parts of real estate sales: Real Estate, and Sales. After thirty-five years on the private side, I knew a lot about the former and not much about the latter, and the latter is what counted most, the former not much at all.

Which kind of makes me the Barry Zito of Remax.

Then, this happened:
Gazillions of dollars for Remax!
Luck, as we've all been preached to, isn't Fate. Luck occurs when Preparation meets Opportunity. And I wanna tellya, I've prepared. So here's the deal, Remax: Invoke, exercise or do whatever you need to do to my buyout clause, and I promise to never, ever sell real estate for you or any other brokerage. And you got, maybe, $220 million for your IPO, compared to Barry Zito's $126 million contract. His clause generated seven megabucks, so I'll go quietly into that good night for just one megabuck. That's a steal, Remax.

All of which gets back to the problem at hand, namely, what am I going to *do*? Well, when Remax exercises its right to my buyout clause, I can do whatever I want:

Me imitating a buzzard

I could quote legendary New Pisa restaurant owner Dante Benedetti here, but I won't. Instead I'll just say, "So it goes" (Kurt Vonnegut). You don't need to be a baseball person for that, either.

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