Somebody wants to work for the Dodgers.
Saturday an estimated 4,500 people showed up for a job fair at Dodger Stadium. There, people could apply to hand out Dodger Dogs, direct people to seats, try to keep drunk fans from rushing out onto the field and a host of other jobs. All of these jobs just last during the season and will pay around $10 an hour, give or take.
A freshly pressed gray suit clinging to his small frame, a weathered leather folder wedged firmly in his hand, Willie Hunter stood elegantly among the sweating masses filling the darkened concourse.
Unlike others in the news recently, he doesn't need $55 million to work for the Dodgers.
He'll do it for $10.90 an hour.
"I'll be the water boy, I'll sell hot dogs, I'll do whatever they ask," the security guard said softly. "They're cutting my hours, I have six young children, I need to take care of my family."
In the increasingly bitter public give-and-take between Frank McCourt and Scott Boras/Manny Ramirez, this is the backdrop. There are tens of thousands Willie Hunters out there, people who used to buy a few Dodger tickets a year and sit in the cheap seats with their families. Except this season they can’t even afford those.
It’s a reality all of us live in, and it makes Ramirez look like a callous, unrealistic superstar. It makes Frank McCourt look like a money-grubbing billionaire (although as a guy whose money came from real estate, his net worth has to be down). It makes the rest of us sick.
But in the end, Manny can’t win, because he is the one turning down $45 million as not enough. He will lose the love of the fans he had last year. Doesn’t matter about the deferred money, doesn’t matter what you think he’s worth to the team. When thousands are lined up to steal Hunter’s job at $10.90 an hour, Ramirez cannot win the public relations battle.