Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Furcal Hooked By Ladder

Furcal has no axe to grind with the Dodgers...but the Braves might.

Credit both Josh Rawitch, VP of Communications, and Ned Colletti, General Manager, for stealing Rafael Furcal from under the Braves' noses, thanks to some observant attention to detail and some heady creative contract-writing, hinging upon a refurbished fire truck. From Yahoo Sports' Steve Henson:

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Heated would best describe the battle for veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal’s services after the 2008 season. The Atlanta Braves announced he’d agreed to sign with them, only to have the Los Angeles Dodgers swoop in at the last minute. Furcal re-signed with the Dodgers, leaving the Braves steamed.

Now it can be revealed what helped tip Furcal back to the West Coast.

A shiny red fire truck.

It was included in the deal as a contract perk, something useful Furcal could donate to his tiny rural hometown in the Dominican Republic, where his family still lives and many people depend on his largess in time of need.

Furcal has never pitched, but in Loma de Cabrera, he will be Fireman of the Year.

“A lot of poor people get killed in my hometown because they don’t have a fire truck,” Furcal said. “We’re doing something for this little town.” [...]

LA councilman Tom La Bonge helped organized the effort. The L.A. Fire Department donated the truck, which had been retired but still functioned, and the non-profit group called Los Bomberos – Spanish for The Firemen – restored and painted it. Furcal’s No. 15 is printed on the side.

The Dodgers are paying for the transport of the truck to Loma de Cabrera, and will send along a fireman who will teach the locals how to drive and service it. Oh, and the fun part: how to operate the siren. [...]

[Furcal's] love of firefighting was noticed by Dodgers public relations director Josh Rawitch, who mentioned it to general manager Ned Colletti during Furcal’s contract negotiations after the 2008 season. Colletti included the truck in discussions with Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer. Furcal was torn between signing with the Braves &ndash the team that first signed him in 1996 and for whom he played his first six years in the majors – or returning to the Dodgers.

The fire truck was the ideal perk. It spoke to something close to his heart. And it convinced him the Dodgers cared about him as a person, and about his hometown. The Braves thought they had a deal and were livid when Furcal changed his mind and signed a three-year, $30 million contract with L.A.

Braves president John Schuerholz was fire-breathing mad, describing the conduct of Kinzer “despicable” and “disgusting” and vowing never to deal with him again. No word if the fire truck can stop by the Braves’ Florida spring training site and douse those flames before reaching port and heading off to Loma de Cabrera.

Impressive perk, Dodgers. Well done.

photo: Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers


Steve Sax said...

all you broheimers, just hanging out waiting for 9am...