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19 Weird Clauses in Baseball Contracts

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Baseball contracts aren't just about money. They're also about bonus clauses and sweet, sweet perks. Here's a list of some of the more creative, generous or ludicrous perks players have received.

1. Bobby Bonilla Finally Gets Paid

Hey, New York Mets fans, think things couldn't get any worse? Next year former outfielder Bobby Bonilla goes back on the payroll at the ripe old age of 48. A little back-story: In 1999 Bonilla returned to the Mets for a second stint at Shea following his borderline disastrous free-agent signing in 1992.

Bonilla wasn't any better the second time around, so the Mets waived him in 2000. The problem was that the team still owed Bonilla $5.9 million in guaranteed salary. Bonilla's agents worked out a deal with the Mets where he would defer the salary if the team would pay him $1,193,248.20 every July 1 from 2011 to 2035. Not a bad deal for someone who was so bad the team basically paid him to go away.

2. Support for Rollie Fingers' 'stache

rollie.jpgFormer A's owner Charlie Finley never thought of a gimmick he wouldn't try, including a mechanical rabbit that delivered fresh balls to the umpire and hiring a 13-year-old MC Hammer as his "Executive V.P." In 1972, Finley offered his players cash for growing a mustache by Father's Day, thereby giving birth to reliever Fingers' trademark handlebar "˜stache. The A's went on to win the World Series that season, and Fingers' contract for 1973 contained a $300 bonus for growing the mustache as well as $100 for the purchase of mustache wax.

3. Charlie Kerfeld's Tasty Bonus

After a spectacular rookie season in 1986, the rotund reliever who always pitched in his lucky Jetsons t-shirt needed a new contract. Kerfeld asked for $110,037.37, matching his number 37 jersey, to pitch in 1987. On top of that, he received 37 boxes of orange Jell-O in the deal. The Astros would soon regret this delicious bonus, though; Kerfeld, who was famously caught eating ribs in the dugout that season, would battle weight and injury problems and get sent down to the minors.

4. The Red Sox Buy John Lackey Insurance

The Boston Red Sox made a big free-agent splash this winter by signing starting pitcher John Lackey to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal. Signing pitchers to long-term contracts is a tricky venture due to the possibility of injury, but the Red Sox managed to give themselves a little peace of mind. If Lackey misses any significant time due to surgery on a pre-existing elbow injury during the first five years of the contract, the Red Sox gain a club option for the 2015 season in which Lackey would have to pitch for the Major League minimum salary.

5. George Brett Becomes a Landlord

The contract extension George Brett signed with the Kansas City Royals in 1984 must have been one of the stranger deals in MLB history. The club agreed to give Brett the bat he used in the infamous 1983 "Pine Tar Game" as part of the pact, but that wasn't the only odd perk. The contract also gave him part ownership of an apartment complex in Memphis.

At the time, Avron Fogelman co-owned the Royals. Fogelman had made his fortune as a lawyer and real estate baron in Memphis, so when the team needed a little extra incentive to get Brett to sign, they offered the third baseman a piece of one of Fogelman's developments. Brett's agent/brother Bobby negotiated the deal; he referred to the 1,100-apartment complex as "a nice little kicker." Brett received a guaranteed cash flow of $1 million from the development and retained the right to sell his 10-percent stake to the Royals for $2 million.

Fogelman's Royals used the trick a couple more times when they signed reliever Dan Quisenberry and outfielder Willie Wilson to similar deals that gave them stakes in the 700-apartment Stewart's Ferry development in Nashville. (Quiz got 24.5 percent of the development, while Wilson got 9.5 percent.) Fogelman later told the New York Times that he might have given up too much in the hastily negotiated deals.

6. Barry Bonds Gets a Legal Deal

All player contracts are full of legal jargon, but Barry Bonds' 2007 deal with the San Francisco Giants contained a different kind of legalese. In the wake of Bonds' ongoing problems with the law, the club negotiated a deal that would allow the Giants to release Bonds or convert his contract to a non-guaranteed deal if he came under indictment for a crime. Moreover, the club contractually severed its relationship with Bonds' personal trainers and wrote in the deal that said trainers were no longer allowed in team facilities.

7. Roy Oswalt's Big Toy

Before Oswalt made a start in the 2005 National League Championship Series, Astros owner Drayton McLane promised to make the ace's dreams come true if he won, specifically his life goal of bulldozer ownership. After Oswalt dominated the Cardinals to send Houston to its first-ever World Series, McLane came through with a Caterpillar D6N XL. Since Major League Baseball requires high-dollar gifts be disclosed, Oswalt signed an addendum to his contract, a "bulldozer clause," authorizing the club to give him his new toy.

8. Daisuke Matsuzaka's Lucky Number

Dice-K's deal with the Red Sox included a plethora of strange or excessive clauses including housing allowances and a personal masseuse. But the oddest is that he was contractually guaranteed the jersey number 18.

9. Kevin Brown, Los Angeles Dodgers

The seven-year, $105 million deal Brown signed after the 1998 season guaranteed twelve round trip private jet trips from L.A. to his hometown in Macon, Georgia, for his family, sparing his children from cruel flight attendants' taunts about their dad being overpaid.

10. Need Yankees Tickets? Call A-Rod


When it comes to baseball's biggest free agent deals, it's not uncommon for teams to throw in a suite or a set of premium tickets to home games as part of the contract. Nothing comes free at the new Yankee Stadium, though, not even if you're the team's biggest star. The 10-year contract Alex Rodriguez signed in December 2007 guarantees him $275 million in cash, but he doesn't get any free tickets. Instead, he gets the option of purchasing four Legends Suite or comparable season tickets each year. Fellow Bronx Bomber Mark Teixeira is also contractually allowed to purchase eight of the Yankees' choicest season tickets each year.

11. Ichiro Won't Be Homeless

One would think a guy making a guaranteed $17 million a year wouldn't be too worried about keeping a roof over his head. Not Ichiro Suzuki, though. The Seattle Mariners star outfielder signed a five-year contract extension in July 2007 that included, among other perks, four round-trip airline tickets to Japan each year and the services of an interpreter and trainer throughout the season. It also included a housing allowance for each year of the deal. While the numbers themselves aren't eye-popping—the allowance ranges from $32,000 to $36,000 a year over the life of the deal—kudos to Ichiro for getting someone else to pay his rent.

12. Curt Schilling Stays Skinny

By the end of his storied career, outspoken hurler Curt Schilling had started to get a bit doughy. When the Boston Red Sox re-signed him to a one-year deal with $8 million before the 2008 season, it included a clause in which Schilling could pick up an extra $2 million if he made weight at six random weigh-ins over the course of the season. Schilling picked up a $333,333 check each time he didn't tip the scales too far.

13. Horse Play for Troy Glaus

Arizona inked the slugging third baseman signed for four years and $45 million in December 2004. As part of the deal, Glaus received $250,000 annually for "personal business expenses," namely the cost of his wife Ann's equestrian training and equipment. Although Glaus bashed 37 homers for the Snakes in 2005, he also tied for the major-league lead in errors by a third baseman with 24. Despite Mrs. Glaus' surely improving performance in the steeplechase, Glaus had to hoof it to Toronto when he was traded barely a year after signing.

14. Suns Tix for Randy Johnson

When the Big Unit signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998, team owner Jerry Colangelo also threw in a pair of partial season tickets for the Phoenix Suns to lure in the lanky lefty. Seems like Johnson could have afforded his own tickets, but to be fair, when you're making $52 million over four years, it's hard to get scalpers to fall for "Can you take twenty for the pair? I swear it's all I've got, dude."

15. Carlos Beltran's Tennis Ball Launcher

beltran.jpgBeltran's mammoth seven-year, $119 million deal from January 2005 showed that he had all of baseball's five tools but lacked a conditioned ocular enhancer: a gadget that throws numbered, colored tennis balls over 150 mph to help players pick up the speed of a pitched ball. There's a clause in the contract requiring that the Mets lease the machine and retain an operator for it.

16. Billy Beane Gets a Piece of the A's

When lauded general manager Billy Beane signed a three-year extension with the Oakland Athletics in 2002, he negotiated a clause that would allow him to opt out of the deal if the team were sold. Sure enough, in April 2005, a new ownership group headed by real estate developer Lew Wolff bought the team. Rather than opting out and leaving the team, Beane jumped at the opportunity to negotiate another four-year extension that would take him through the 2012 season. This deal came with more than just cash, though; Wolff also set Beane up as a minority owner with a 4% share of the club.

17. Brad Lidge: Silver Slugger?

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When the Houston Astros (sound familiar?) re-signed Brad Lidge in January 2007, the reliever got an incentive clause promising $25,000 for winning a Silver Slugger, given annually to the top hitter at each position. Lidge probably didn't consider this easy money; as a relief pitcher, he had only been to the plate seven times in his five-season career and hadn't seen an at-bat since 2004. Despite an erratic season on the mound, Lidge was the model of consistency at the plate in 2007, mostly because he never had an at-bat. Houston finished 13th in the National League in runs scored that year, though, so maybe letting Lidge take some hacks would have been worth a try.

18. A.J. Burnett's Family Rides in Style

Lots of players have free-plane-ticket perks written into their contracts, but some feel that air travel really lacks that fun we're-going-to-the-prom feeling you can only get from a long limo ride. When flamethrower A.J. Burnett signed with Toronto as a free agent in December 2005, he required that his wife receive eight round-trip limo rides from his home in Maryland to Toronto each season. That's around nine hours in a limo each way, which is enough time to move the little divider between you and the driver up and down roughly 3,500 times.

19. Michael Jordan Pulls in Cash in the Minors


Michael Jordan's abrupt departure from basketball to play minor league baseball following the Chicago Bulls' 1993 championship campaign struck a number of observers as odd. How could Jordan quit playing hoops and leave all of that money on the table?

As it turns out, His Airness was losing less cash than we all thought. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf also owned the Chicago White Sox, the team Jordan was playing for in the minors. Even though Jordan was technically retired from basketball, Reinsdorf paid Jordan his $4 million salaries for the Bulls seasons he missed.

Big thanks to the always awesome Cot's Baseball Contracts for help with the baseball deals. Bobby Bonilla image courtesy of DickPerez.com.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]

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