Large Item Pickup Day

Dave · May 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The part of North Carolina that I live in is a pretty interesting mix. Wake Forest University is one of the more uppity schools in the country, and the combination of rich white college kids with the old money homes that surround the area make the town feel more well off than your traditional southern town. However, there are days when the area reminds me very quickly that I now live in the south. Today is one of those days.

It’s officially called “Large Item Pickup Day”. It’s my neighborhood’s turn to have the city come by and collect items that are too large for us to haul away, but that we don’t want around the house anymore. It’s a pretty nice service, actually. Between appliances and furniture, it seems like something big and heavy gets replaced every year, and not having to try to borrow a friend’s truck to take it to the dump is pretty convenient. You just hang onto whatever you don’t want until your neighborhood’s turn comes along, and then you put your large items by the curb and the city takes them away.

At least, in theory, the city comes by and takes stuff away. In reality, Large Item Pickup Weekend is one of the most hilarious, insane, can’t-believe-what-you’re-watching activities of the year. Before the cities trucks ever make it around to collect your items, people come to see what they can grab first. And by people, I mean the cast members of Deliverance. And by collect, I mean “grab as much useless junk as they can haul”. Generally, within 15 to 20 minutes of putting something out at your curb, a man in a truck (with a low probability of wearing a shirt and a very high probability of smoking) will have stopped, loaded up the whole pile, and driven away. Sometimes, he’ll have a partner who will pick through your junk, deciding which of the things you want to discard isn’t good enough for his home, but in the end, they usually take everything.

A few years ago, I was helping a friend by taking his stuff from his garage to his curb the day before Large Item Pickup Day, since he was under the weather. I took the first thing (a broken kiddie pool, I believe) to the curb, walked back to the garage, grabbed the second thing, and by the time I got back to the curb, the first thing was already gone. These people are like hawks. Hawks of trash.

Today, when observing the folks who deemed my crap nice enough to load up in their remarkably nice truck (perhaps if they spent a little less on their trucks they wouldn’t need my broken screen door?), I had an epiphany – the Mariners constructed their roster using the baseball version of Large Item Pickup Day.

The rest of baseball left Mike Sweeney, Milton Bradley, Ian Snell, Jesus Colome, Josh Wilson, Josh Bard, and Ryan Langerhans on the curb this winter. That’s 28 percent of the current active roster that no one else wanted, and we’re not even counting Griffey (who wouldn’t have gotten another job had the Mariners not brought him back), though we probably should. Essentially 1/3 of the roster the M’s are running out on a daily basis are rejects from other organizations who have either cleared waivers recently or would clear waivers without a problem. The Mariners, in their shiny new truck, went around the league and rounded out their roster with discards.

There can be value in things left at the curb. Today, I put out a bookshelf/armoire/dresser thing that my wife hated and we didn’t have room for, but it was in pretty good shape and I probably could have gotten $30 or $40 for it had I put it in on Craigslist. It has some value, and the fine (marginally clothed) people who took it got a good deal with that free piece of furniture. But they had to pick up a lot of crap to get to that relative diamond in the rough, and when they get home, they’re going to have to find places to put all their junk (and my armoire). There’s a pretty decent chance they’d have been better off just buying an armoire on craigslist and not have to sort through and store the rest of the crap they left with too.

And that’s kind of how dumpster diving in baseball works as well. You can do it effectively to fill out a couple of roster spots and take some gambles on guys – if it works, great, if not, you just dump them and try someone else. But when your starting catcher, starting shortstop, starting left-fielder, starting DH platoon, fifth man in the rotation, and your long reliever are all guys that you picked up on the curb, well, then you just have too much crap on the roster. And when you can’t cut bait on experiments gone wrong because it will upset the clubhouse or cause you bad P.R., then you have no business owning that particular large item in the first place.

If the Mariners want to make up the significant hole they’ve dug themselves, they’ll have to stop hoping to find a marginally useful free armoire, go to the store, and buy something that actually makes the place look nice. Or, in this roster’s case, buy a few somethings in a hurry, or you might as well starting preparing for the garage sale in July when you sell off everything that was too nice to leave at the curb.


65 Responses to “Large Item Pickup Day”

  1. mln on May 24th, 2010 1:23 pm

    The Mariners as dumpster divers. LoL.

    Next time, they should probably stick to shopping on Craigslist or eBay.

  2. georgmi on May 24th, 2010 1:35 pm

    They’re shopping on eBay, but they keep getting sniped.

  3. jking12 on May 24th, 2010 2:33 pm


    Have you ever been to a Wake basketball game?

  4. Diehard on May 24th, 2010 2:35 pm

    GMZ went cheap on the offense and took gambles on a bunch of guys and none have worked out this year. Hope he learns from this and starts getting come quality guys to anchor this lineup before he goes looking for bargains at the curb in the future.

  5. scott19 on May 24th, 2010 3:09 pm

    It’s hard to believe that Eric Byrnes hasn’t been mentioned yet.

    You’ll find him these days down at Play It Again Sports right next to all the softball gear! 🙂

  6. MKT on May 24th, 2010 3:09 pm

    Great post.

    In most Los Angeles area neighborhoods and towns, every week is LIPD: you simply call in advance and tell them that in addition to your usual trash, you have a large item, and the Bureau of Sanitation or whoever picks it up.

    Recycling is also we-do-it-all-for-you. After experimenting with pre-sorted recycling, the way most cities do it, most LA-area towns now simply say dump all your recyclables (not including electronics) into a single container. All the stuff gets put onto a conveyor belt where employees (I suspect these are unskilled workers making minimum wage, of whom there are plenty in LA) do the sorting.

    Given that California is as tax-averse as most other states, I’m a bit surprised at the high level of service provided by the trash and recycling departments. Quite possibly, they discovered that Southern Californians are incompetent at sorting their own recyclables, and dump stuff on the curb regardless, so the towns realized they better provide the service.

    Back to baseball: the once-a-year LIPD is like the baseball off-season, where you know that every year there will be a chance to pick up cheap free agents cast off by other teams. LA’s year-round LIP is more like the search for international free agents. You don’t know when and where you’ll find them, you just have to go scouting all over the place to find the 17-year old fireballing pitcher, or the 17-year old armoire.

  7. StankeyGrammasBroglio on May 24th, 2010 3:57 pm

    Wak and Z aren’t dummies. They do not elect, as a matter of choice, to sit in the hotseat for weeks while something named Junior stinks in their clubhouse. My conspiracy theory says that they are forced to keep him by the Nippon-Seattle ownership.
    By the way, this was a very well written and pleasureful post. Thanks.

  8. Shanfan on May 24th, 2010 4:38 pm

    Excellent, hilarious writing, Dave, and a good analogy. God bless the cooters for their contribution to recycling. Z needs to make sure he’s cruising the nicer neighborhoods when picking up large items and stay away from the ghettos of Washington, Oakland, San Diego, Pittsburgh, etc. But that’s still better than Bavasi, who would put nice pieces out on the curb and then go pay somebody else for their crap.

  9. droppedrod on May 24th, 2010 4:54 pm

    Excellent analogy and a great post . . .

    It doesn’t happen only in North Carolina though. I once put 25 bags of cement mix I had left over from an ill-conceived home improvement project on the curb in Ballard with a free sign. They had been in the rain for 10 months and half were solid blocks. None the less, someone took them within 30 minutes.

    Why do I mention this? Because sometimes the only utility is that something is cheap or free. Z got a little too enamored with his success on some dumpster diving last year and this year’s roster is the result. Hopefully he has learned that some things are on the curb for a reason.

  10. peterp16 on May 24th, 2010 6:17 pm

    Living in a nice part of Tacoma (yes, they do exist), I don’t have the equivalent of LIPD. I found something that works as well, and doesn’t even require a special day. I can put something out on a well-traveled corner a half-block away with a “free” sign on it, just in case anyone had any hesitation whatsoever, and the item would vanish within a few hours. My last drop-off included some overgrown plants from the yard, rootballs and all. Hmmm — maybe if the Ms attached a sign to the backs of a couple of unproductive players and left ’em on Edgar Martinez Drive it would work the same way — gone before the end of the homestand. Why wait until July 31st to do something…

  11. badperson_ny on May 24th, 2010 8:26 pm

    I’m sure this has been covered before, but in looking at the upcoming schedule…two series with the Angels, one with the twins, one with texas…if the m’s don’t turn it on now through the first week of june or so, they’re done, right?

  12. Rick L on May 25th, 2010 6:37 am

    buy something that actually makes the place look nice.

    Like who?

  13. rcc on May 25th, 2010 11:18 am

    Great read Dave. I chuckled at the imagery you created. Speaking of pick ups….whatever happened to Chris Doyle Snelling? If he is still playing what about picking him up?

  14. ferocious_gentleman on May 25th, 2010 1:02 pm

    So does the city actually end up collecting anything, or does periodically lifting the ban on curbside junk sort of work itself out without sending out the truck(s)? Are there verified sightings of the official collection vehicle(s)?

  15. MKT on August 9th, 2010 1:17 pm

    A late addendum: Winston-Salem, NC’s “bulky item pickup day” makes it way into the New York Times.

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