Not that Mike Hampton would ever have been considered a mental giant, but surely he must have learned how to read a road map in his mutilated pitching career. Surely somewhere along the way he must have learned that there is something of honor in gratitude, but then we are dealing with the world of professional athletes, in which ingratitude is a prevailing trait.
Thus, it should not have been a surprise when the news arrived Monday that Hampton had told the Atlanta Braves that he would not be pitching for them next season. He has decided to jump to the Houston Astros, for whom he had pitched earlier in his career. Hampton explained that he wanted to be nearer his children. Poor dummox, he only has to check a map to learn that Houston is 1,188 from Paradise Valley, closer than Atlanta, but hardly close. He and his two sons had been about that distance apart the last three seasons, most of which Hampton spent on the Braves roster, drawing a fat salary and enjoying all the privileges of a productive player at team expense.
The past six seasons the Braves have paid Hampton $48.5M, including three seasons during which he never threw an official pitch. His career record looks like a casualty list from a train wreck, one “On Disabled List” entry after another and two major surgeries. Still, he was a load on the Braves pay roll, and they carried him with all the privileges that go with it.
Surely, when the time came he would give them a chance to regain some of the value they lost in him. He did come back last mid-season, but was of little value to the team. In his six seasons his record was 35-24 for 509 innings of work, which comes out to $750,000 per start, and $1.39 million per win, adding in that part of his total $78.5M contract that was paid by Colorado and Florida. That dates back to the season in which he signed a $121M contract with Colorado, failed to produce, was traded to Florida and set out on this merry-go-round.
So, living on the fat of the land, contributing nothing, what more could be expected of this All-American casualty?! They say he is currently involved in divorce proceedings. Too bad the Braves weren’t able to file suit themselves, citing non-support.