The New York Times has a great story about what Japanese players call “fight money” — financial rewards given to players who make big plays or play great games.
From the NY Times:
The system is simple: When a player shines in the eyes of his manager during a victory — by doing something like hitting a game-winning home run or pitching eight solid innings or stealing a base during a key moment — he is later rewarded with cash. Sometimes players are given cash for their cumulative statistics, like having the most victories on the team by the All-Star Game break.
Not every ball club in the 12-team league gives fight money, and no two teams’ systems are identical. But when fight money is used, its purpose is uniform — to provide extra motivation. “It’s like you’re the horse and they put a carrot in front of you and you try to go for it,” Igawa said through an interpreter last week. “It’s like bait.”
Fight money, whether it is given to one player or divided among many, usually amounts to no more than $5,000 a victory. In most cases, management supplies the funds. But Igawa said fight money sometimes came directly from his manager’s wallet. He added that he once had a manager who, in lieu of money, handed out expensive watches.
The best line in the piece comes from C.J. Nitkowski, an American player who’s now playing in Japan. Nitkowski, when asked if he thought the fight money would work in MLB, said, probably not.
“With salaries where they are right now,” Nitkowski said, “it’s ashtray change at best.”
It’s a shame the Times couldn’t find a major leaguer to go on record saying that the MLB should have fight money. I’d love it if Preston Wilson or Kerry Wood came out complaining that they weren’t properly motivated and fight money would help.
Actually, the single greatest thing that could ever happen is Carl Pavano coming out in favor of bringing fight money to the Yankees’ clubhouse. I can picture it now.
NYT: Should MLB teams use fight money?
Pavano: Yes! It’s not that I’m not motivated to pitch, but you know, my contract is guaranteed. Though, it’s not about the money. It’s a symbol. Plus, it would be great to have some bills on hand after the game for when I go to the strip clubs looking for the future Mrs. P, you know?”