Blessed is the life of the anonymous Major League middle reliever. You work six months of a year, spend half of your team's games shooting the shit in the bullpen, and make as much money as the president.
But the key is to not get too good. Because then people start noticing when you get sued by your business manager, or a warrant is put out for your arrest. And those Facebook photos displaying your Eminem-esque panache for the old double-gauged one-fingered salute are suddenly blog fodder.
Twenty-seven-year-old Florida Marlins middle reliever Renyel Pinto had a career year in 2009, keeping his ERA to a very impressive 3.23 over 73 appearances. With his slightly rotund build and an afro mushrooming out from under his baseball hat, he's one of the more conspicuous members of the Marlins' bullpen. But outside of Landshark Stadium, Pinto's been a master of evasion.
On May 30, the Venezuelan pitcher was tooling his white 2007 Infiniti SUV, pimped-out with gigantic subwoofers in the trunk, through Hallandale when cops pulled him over and discovered he didn't have a valid driver's license. He was ordered to appear in Broward County court on June 16, but when you spend as much time flipping off the camera while lying in hammocks as Pinto does, you really can't be be expected to alter your schedule. When he didn't show up, his driving privileges were suspended and a warrant was issued for his arrest, with a $2,000 bond. He hasn't been nabbed yet.
But that's just how Pinto rolls, baby, as his scorned business manager can attest. According to a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County on September 4, the reliever breached his contract with Coral Springs-based Pro-Management Resources Inc. when he "failed to pay" a one-and-a-half-percent cut of his $400,000 salary. The company's CEO, Tony Chirlcosta, declined to comment on the lawsuit, but according to records filed in court, the total owed comes to $6,000. Your average big leaguer could lose that type of cash between between his trophy wife's fake breasts.
On September 12, the morning before he pitched a scoreless inning against the Washington Nationals, Pinto was served with papers at his luxury condo apartment in Hallandale Beach. Big surprise here: he never responded to the suit. On October 23, Pro-Management was awarded a default judgment for the entire amount owed. But by then, Pinto was presumably wherever it is that ballplayers go in the offseason- some tacky Shangri-la where every blond is platinum and the trees sprout Affliction t-shirts.
Pinto hasn't responded to questions sent to his personal e-mail account. And he denied Riptide's Facebook friend request.