Some people say that sports develop character. Others, more realistically, contend that sports simply reveal character. Nothing reveals character quite like giving a team of major league ballplayers a lot of postseason loot to divide among themselves and their allies. The Basic Agreement between the Players Association and management specifies that 60% of the gate receipts from the first four World Series games and from the first four of each league championship series makes up the players' pool. Every player on a club's roster from June 1 to the end of the regular season automatically receives a full share if his team qualifies for the pool. Only these players can attend a shares meeting and vote on who else will get full shares, partial shares and cash grants.
Last year the pool was $11,969,881. Under baseball's current allocation system, 36% of that went to the team that won the World Series, the Dodgers; 27% to the team they beat, the A's; 25% was divided between the playoff losers (the Mets and the Red Sox); 9.5% was divided between the four teams that finished second in each division; and 2.5% was split four ways among the teams that finished third (five ways in 1988, because the Brewers and the Blue Jays tied in the American League East). How the Dodgers' money was allocated was known only to the voting players and the commissioner's office until the Dodgers beat the A's 5-2 in Game 5 to win the Series.
As the winners celebrated in the Los Angeles locker room, relief pitcher Jesse Orosco yelled over to Todd Maulding, the Dodgers' bullpen catcher, "Todd, what's it feel like to be $108,000 richer?" That was how Maulding, who makes $22,000 catching and pitching batting practice and warming up pitchers, found out that he had been cut in for a full share—worth $108,664.88—of the Dodgers' postseason winnings.
Maulding ran to the dugout to find his wife, Beth, who was waiting for the clubhouse celebration to end. After that, Maulding doesn't remember too much. "I didn't know you could get drunk without drinking," he says. "It was like hitting the lottery."
On the advice of Mike Scioscia and Orel Hershiser, Maulding bought a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Rancho Cucamonga, a town 55 miles east of Dodger Stadium. "My wife and I refer to it as the 24-Man House," says Maulding. "It's the players' money. This was a special gift from the players."
Maulding was the grateful beneficiary of a share-and-share-alike mood when the players voted, but the Dodgers' current second baseman, former Yankee Willie Randolph, has seen enough shares meetings during his 15-year career to be leery of the process. "You get to see who your friends are really quick," says Randolph. "A lot of the younger players like to argue back and forth. Sometimes it's humorous and you have fun with it. And sometimes you look across the room and go, 'Wow! That's cold!' "
First baseman Pedro Guerrero found out just how cold it can get in Los Angeles at Series time. Guerrero had been with the Dodgers through three quarters of the 1988 season before being traded to St. Louis for pitcher John Tudor. Guerrero was voted a half share. Tudor, who pitched in nine games for the Dodgers, received a three-quarters share. "What ticked me off is they gave John Tudor more than they gave me," says Guerrero. "A lot of them voted like that just because they're——, because they didn't like me."
O.K., Pete, but how do you really feel? "I told [the Dodgers] if you want your money back, I'll give it back," says Guerrero. "I've got more than all you guys put together."
The players on teams with a chance to finish third or higher in their division vote on shares in late September or early October and then submit a list to the commissioner's office before the playoffs begin. The player representative runs the meeting. Generally, voting is done by a show of hands; majority wins. "Actually, you don't really vote," says San Diego outfielder Tony Gwynn. "A guy says a name and a couple of guys say, 'Screw him,' and a couple say, 'No, he deserves it.' Whoever makes the loudest noise wins."
"Ninety-five percent of it is cut and dry," says Dodger player rep Dave Anderson. The tough decisions are what to do with players who were with a team part of the season, either bouncing back and forth between the bigs and the bushes or coming to or leaving the club as part of a trade. Typically, length of service will determine a share. If a rookie is up half the season, he will get a half share.