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Friday, November 02, 2007

Is Boras Boorish?

Read this and you might think so.

Buster Olney reports that Team A-Rod told the Yankees before L'Affaire Opt-Out (brought to you at the heart of Game 7 of the World Series) that A-Rod told the Yankees that he wasn't going to talk with them unless they presented him with a package worth $350 million.

What does A-Rod want to do with all that money, buy the International League? How about a Wii from a retail establishment?

Heck, he probably could buy the International League and the American Association, and maybe even a few National Hockey League teams to boot.

Now, before you pin the tail on Scott Boras, and, yes, that's a fun thing to do, remember this: it takes two to tango, or, in this case, ask for a ransom from the empire that King George built in New York. Boras might be very aggressive, and his announcement tactics during the World Series summon all kinds of unprintables, but he wouldn't have done any of this if it were against the wishes of his client. And what his client did spoke volumes -- A-Rod basically said, "Hey, it's about being the 'It' baseball player. Championships? Who's talking about championships? It's all about me."

Yes, he will put people in the seats, and, yes, he could help you win a championship. A-Rod isn't an awful guy, and you haven't heard that he's bad in the clubhouse. He hasn't excelled in the post-season, and he'll command so much money that all but the super-wealthy or daring teams cannot afford him. By asking for as much money as he is, he's sending a mixed message. First, he's saying, "I'm worth all that," and it's arguable that he should be the most highly paid position player and, ergo, the most highly paid player. But how highly? Second, he's saying that it's his team's problem about making the economics work to bring home a contending team -- and not his. Third, (okay, there's at least a third), he might be saying that he doesn't care if he plays on a contender ever again, because he could well end up in San Francisco, which is years away from contending. Compare him to Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, and, well, if you're a baseball purist you might fall ill.

Blame Boras? Aggressive people attract aggressive agents, dignified people hire dignified ones, that's the way the world works. Boras certainly doesn't help baseball's image, but in the long-term we won't remember him. We'll remember A-Rod, and A-Rod might want to think about the legacy that he's leaving, other than that as the most highly paid player ever.

Don't think, though, that all players are united in their views of A-Rod. Many will support his quest for the biggest contract possible, because that contract will up the average and bring in more money for them. As for what might go on in his clubhouse, true, there will be guys who will resent a gap between his contract and everyone else's. But they're the same guys who might bristle if others were to question their free agent deal after having a good (and perhaps the player's only good) season in a walk year. What's the difference between a relatively anonymous lefty set-up man who had a good three months for a contending team and gets a four-year $20 million deal and A-Rod, outside of the pure dollars? Both might be overpaid, but the market sets what they'll get, and they will have ended up in the right place at the right time. Most players realize that.

The A-Rod watch goes on.


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