JUPITER, Fla. -- As you know, I'm here to help. Which is why I spent time with Florida closer Kevin Gregg seeking information to help shield him from the IRS.
See, here in the land of minimum wage (first you must realize all of baseball is Fantasy Land, which is how the Marlins' $17 million player payroll for 2008 pretty much qualifies as minimum wage), Gregg is the highest-salaried Marlin this season. He's scheduled to earn $2.5 million.
But that doesn't qualify him for some special club in which the highest-paid players from each team gather to have peeled grapes served to them. He isn't hanging with Alex Rodriguez and Barry Zito over the winter.
In fact, while Pedro Martinez (who isn't even the highest-paid Met) is driving some cherry-red Cadillac SUV that looks custom-built, Gregg is still tooling around at home (Corvallis, Ore.) in a 2004 Dodge 1,500 Quad cab.
"Nothing special," he says.
Memo to the IRS: See, don't read "highest paid" next to Gregg's name and allow your ears to start ringing. Make sure you hear the complete phrase, "highest-paid Marlin." Which is like being seated at the kids' table at a 50th wedding anniversary.
What else does being the highest-paid Marlin get Gregg?
Not an Armani suit.
"No, no," he says. "My most expensive suit probably cost a couple hundred bucks. Got it at Portobello's (in New York). Went in there and bought four suits, six shirts, six ties, some socks ... I think all of that was right at $1,000.
"I don't live a lavish life."
Gregg's salary is a nice raise over the $575,000 he made last year, earned by his becoming the Marlins' closer in '07 and converting 32 of 36 save opportunities.
He'll celebrate his 10th anniversary this year with his wife, Nicole. They have two children, daughter Ryann (6) and son Max (3). The Greggs did take a nice vacation during the off-season, though it wasn't an around-the-world junket. They went to Hawaii.
"We've talked about it for years," Gregg says. "We've never been on a vacation."
Nope, the richest Marlin (by 2008 salary standards, anyway, does not live a lavish life.
A good life, yes. But it's not exactly surf-n-turf every night.
"Oh, no -- I still eat macaroni and cheese and peanut-butter-and-jelly with my kids," Gregg quips.
Likes: What a nice guy Kevin Gregg is. Say one thing for the Marlins: You get to meet a lot of new guys every spring. ... Marlins pitcher Scott Olson good-naturedly tweaking Dontrelle Willis in absentia, saying, "Obviously, the loudest one of everybody is gone from last year." ... Sunday afternoon on I-95. Traffic is about as light as you'll ever see it. ... A Saturday night working in the hotel room with a pizza for dinner, a cold Mountain Dew, and a good college basketball game on the tube. Well, that final part didn't work Saturday as Indiana clobbered Michigan State. ... Bruce Springsteen's Girls in Their Summer Clothes from the Magic album. What a great song. ...
Dislikes: OK, this is small and whiny, but now Subway is serving pizza. Which I put in the same category of their toasted sandwiches. They're both simply things that bog down the usually overworked people behind the counter and hold up the line.
Sunblock day? Mostly. Temperatures in the 80s, but there was a morning shower and it clouded up later in the day.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"Well some say life
"Will beat you down
"Break your heart
"Steal your crown
"So I started out
"For God knows where
"But I guess I'll know
"When I get there"
-- Tom Petty, Learning to Fly