Column: For Mickelson, it's not easy being rich


Column: For Mickelson, it's not easy being rich

It's not always easy being rich, as Phil Mickelson reminded us the other day. There are taxes to pay - apparently lots of them - and the price of a tank of jet fuel seems to go up every day.

A million dollars a week just doesn't go as far as it used to, now that the wealthy are paying more in taxes. For Mickelson, things have gotten so bad that he's thinking of moving from California so the state doesn't get a cut of the $47 million that Golf Digest estimates he made last year.

Thankfully, it's not quite to the point where Tiger Woods and his buddies need to hold a car wash to raise money for Lefty. He has, after all, made an estimated $400 million in the last decade and even the greediest of tax collectors doesn't take it all.

And he does seem to realize - though a bit belatedly - that one thing rich people shouldn't do is complain to people who aren't rich about the taxes they have to pay. Mickelson was barely done moaning about the taxman the other day when he began a round of apologies that continued Wednesday at his hometown tournament in San Diego.

``I've made some dumb, dumb, mistakes, and, obviously, talking about this stuff was one of them,'' Mickelson said.

Not to worry. There are ways to stay put at home and still have enough left over for a few of the Five Guys hamburger franchises he loves so much.

Among them are:

WIN LESS: What good is winning when you have to pay so much of your earnings to the government? Sure, it goes against Mickelson's competitive instincts, but there's a good living to be made in the middle of the pack on the PGA Tour, where almost everyone is a millionaire. This week's winning payout at Torrey Pines is $1,080,000, but why deal with the anguish of giving so much of it away? Luckily Mickelson has already taken an important step in that direction by winning only two times since capturing the Masters three years ago.

THINK SILVER: Back in the days when the Tournament of Champions was held in Las Vegas and people still had silver dollars, the winner was paid every year with a wheelbarrow full of the coins. It might take a dump truck to hold enough silver dollars for today's huge purses, but imagine the fun Mickelson could have when the IRS comes by to take its share.

SMALLER PLANE: Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were always plane guys, and so is Mickelson. He saved enough to buy a jet of his own that seats 14, allowing him to do things like play in the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles and still be home in San Diego every night to tuck the kids in bed. But the Gulfstream 5 is a bit pricey at a reported $60 million, and it sucks up the gas. Maybe Mickelson could downsize to a used Cessna instead, or share a jet with Tiger. If all else fails, Southwest Airlines has a ton of flights out of San Diego every day, and his golf bag can fly free.

GIVE IT UP: Golf memberships are expensive, and Mickelson surely has more than one. But he's always seemed like a man of the people, so why not play golf at the local muni? The downside is six-hour rounds and greens with ruts in them as deep as the divots Mickelson takes with his 64-degree wedge. Still, it's a deal at 25 bucks or so a round, plus a few more for a pull cart.

MINOR LEAGUE: Who needs the Padres when you can have the Quakes? Sure, Mickelson's plans to own part of the San Diego Padres fell apart when his personal financial crisis hit, but that doesn't mean he's out of baseball altogether. Less than 100 miles up I-15 from his San Diego home are the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a minor league team that would be a perfect fit for Lefty, who once had a pitching tryout of sorts with the Toledo Mud Hens. Mickelson could trim player payroll by taking the mound himself every fifth day.

NO GIVEAWAYS: Mickelson has a habit of finding some cute kid every few holes and handing them a barely used ball. That's not only a waste of a perfectly good ball, but can get expensive. From now on just flash that goofy smile, give the kids a thumbs up, and move on to the next hole.

FIRE SALE: Mickelson has had his house outside of San Diego in Rancho Santa Fe on the market now for a year for $7.1 million. That's probably a fair price for a 9,500 square-foot complex perched on a hillside with a big putting green and swimming pool, but maybe it's time to start doing a little bargaining to free up some extra cash. The good news is interest rates are so low some lucky buyer can get a mortgage on the place for only $31,795 a month.

GET A NEW CPA: Mickelson's claim that he will be paying up to 62 percent of his income in taxes this year bears some scrutiny, even with higher federal and state rates for the wealthy. Consider that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney - whose net worth is estimated at $250 million - paid an average of 20.2 percent of his income the past 20 years in taxes, and you have to wonder about the math. Maybe Mickelson needs to take his money out of Five Guys and buy H&R Block instead.

Then again, maybe Mickelson should just be like Tiger. He's spent most of his career chasing Woods, so why not follow him to Florida, where Woods moved the day he turned pro so he didn't have to pay higher taxes in his native California.

As an added benefit it could finally get Mickelson an invitation to the Tavistock Cup, which features rich players from one elite country club facing off against rich players from another elite country club.

The beauty of that? No state tax on the winnings.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org orhttp://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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Adam Jones on playing in Japan: 'Keeping all my options open'

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Adam Jones on playing in Japan: 'Keeping all my options open'

Adam Jones isn't the player he used to be for much of his career with the Orioles, but he could certainly still contribute to an MLB team next year, right?

The Winter Meetings began Sunday and Jones has yet to sign with a team, and according to Ken Rosenthal, he could be going to Japan to play with the Orix Buffaloes on a multi-year deal. 

During an interview with MLB Network on Tuesday, Jones talked about his free agency and how he's approaching the next step in his career. 

“I’m keeping all my options open," Jones said. "I have a unique opportunity to do something different. I have a unique opportunity to take control of my own career."

Jones got into contact with Japan last year through his agent, whom he shares with Angels and Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. It would be a big move for his family, but Jones expressed excitement in the opportunity, hinting he's already preparing his wife with classic baseball cinema. 

"I made her watch 'Mr. Baseball,'" he said with a laugh. "She was rolling the entire time."

The fact remains that Jones is still worthy of a spot on a major-league team. Last season in Arizona, Jones played 137 games, posted a .260/.313/.414 slash line with 16 home runs and 67 RBI. 

Along with his veteran leadership in the clubhouse, Jones could provide a positive presence to any team, especially his hometown Padres led by former teammate Manny Machado. 

"I've just had an admiration for [Machado]," Jones said. "It would be great, a lot of my friends, family that would love it here."

Perhaps the Padres can get something done to not only reunite two former Oriole greats, but to make sure Jones doesn't play baseball in any other league besides the one we have here. 


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The Stephen trade means Boyd now has a job, but not yet a home

The Stephen trade means Boyd now has a job, but not yet a home

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Capitals have seen their fair share of roster shuffling this season with injuries and suspensions all throughout the season. In fact, Monday’s game was the first game of the season in which the team had its full lineup available. Nobody has been more affected by that shuffling that Travis Boyd, who has found himself caught between Washington and Hershey.

Now, it certainly appears as if he has finally earned himself a full-time NHL role, it just took trading away a friend to get it.

“It's not been an easy start to the year for him going through time in Hershey,” head coach Todd Reirden said. “To me, he's shown me a lot of mental toughness and that's what I think I've seen him grow with. He takes each day for what it's worth and try to make the most out of it that he can.”

The 2018-19 season was Boyd’s first full NHL season. He only played in 53 games, however, as he struggled to perform consistently and stay in the lineup. A player who had excelled at virtually every level in his hockey career began worrying so much about being taken out of the lineup, it took away from his game.

“Last year you get so caught up in what do I have to do to stay in the lineup?” Boyd said. “And you try and go out there and play a game where you don't screw up but all of a sudden when you start doing that, you end up not really even playing your game. And you're thinking the whole game and you're going out there, you're so worried about turning that puck over that you're not going to try to even make that play.”

As the team signed multiple players in the offseason to fill roles that Boyd could have filled, it became clear that his performance last season was not good enough. With Washington’s cap situation, the writing was on the wall as the season approached.

When Evgeny Kuznetsov (and his cap hit) returned from an early suspension, Boyd was reassigned to the Hershey Bears.

“A lot of guys would be like, I'm getting the short end of the stick here, this isn't fair,” Reirden said. “And sometimes it's not, but you have a choice to make whether you want to respond with the right way or the wrong way and he's made the choice to respond the proper way.”

Going back to the AHL after a season in the NHL can be tough for a player. Not everyone responds positively. Boyd, however, did. In four games with Hershey, Boyd scored four goals and two assists. With injuries continuing to crop up throughout the season, Boyd was a frequent call-up. Through the first two months of the season, Boyd cycled between Washington and Hershey, which has brought its own challenges on and off the ice.

“It's been pretty tough mentally just having that uncertainty as in not knowing 100-percent where you're going to be,” Boyd said. “Just kind of, I guess, doesn't let you get comfortable in one place.”

“Especially the family part of it too, having an apartment in Hershey and being in a hotel here,” he added. “Our daughter's been in school in Hershey. I feel bad for [girlfriend Kelsey DeGonda] and my daughter Hayden because they've got no say over it at all. It's tough trying to get her going in school and trying to get somewhere we can call home.”

Despite what was a tumultuous few weeks, Boyd seemed to find the one thing he had been looking for all of last season: Consistency.

“When I finally got a chance to play up here I basically said OK, well what's the worst they could do? Send me back down?” he said. “So I'm going to go out here and I'm going to try every single chance I get to go out there and show why I belong here and that's going out there and making plays when it's there and ultimately going out there and playing a free game and playing confidently.”

“When he's been in or out of the lineup or he's been in Hershey, he's made the choice to improve and grow his game so that when he does get the chance he's able to have success, and I think his performance has followed along with it,” Reirden said.

Boyd played so well the past few weeks that suddenly a Caps team that could not afford to keep Boyd on the roster at the start of the season, could not afford to take him off. But with the team getting healthy again at the start of December, cap space again began to be an issue. If Boyd was going to stay, someone else had to go.

On Dec. 2, the shoe dropped and Chandler Stephenson was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Upon hearing the news, Boyd had mixed feelings. The team had virtually traded away a player just to keep him, but it meant pushing a friend out.

“Especially Chandler who I've been with since my first year in Hershey too,” Boyd said. “Obviously you want to win that kind of battle and you want to be the guy who comes out on top and everything like that, but that's the business side and that's the side that you really don't have any control over.”

“It's sad to see Chandler go. I've been with him, this is my fifth year being on a team with him. He's a good buddy of mine and I wish him nothing but the best in Vegas.”

The other reality of this move is that while it certainly appears that he now has a full-time job in Washington, he now must compete for playing time.

Right now, Boyd appears to be the 13th forward and will likely be a healthy scratch until Reirden decides to shake up the lines or if there is an injury. He has to continue to be productive with the limited opportunities he is given or he could soon find himself again on the outside looking in yet again to young prospects such as Beck Malenstyn.

But the journey Boyd has been on this season will motivate him to keep pushing, not just for him, but for his family.

Boyd is still searching for a home and he is determined to make sure that home is in Washington, not Hershey.

”It's been tough,” he said. “It's been a mental grind for sure. Hopefully moving forward here we can get some confirmation and get some comfort level, hopefully get a place and start to make it our home for the rest of the year.”