You pull up to a 7/11 in your Bentley, get out, walk in, grab a candy bar and bring it up to the register. The kid behind the register recognizes you as one of the wealthiest men in the world and says, “That’ll be 100 bucks.”
Of course, you could easily whip out your wallet, peel off a C note and pay the guy. But you know he’s gouging you because you’re filthy rich. So you tell him what he can do with his $100 candy bar and you split.
Now replace the kid behind the counter with Scott Boras, and the anonymous multi-billionaire with George Steinbrenner, and that approximates the situation that erupted recently involving Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees.
Boras told a New York newspaper that he expects A-Rod to attract a contract worth in the neighborhood of $35 million per season if he opts out of his current deal, which he is expected to do. For that kind of money, it had better be one darned good candy bar.
The situation is complicated, depending on which Boras blast and which tabloid report you believe. Boras also said, under A-Rod’s current deal, there are stipulations that would pay the superstar about $32 million per season in 2009 and 2010 anyway.
What Boras is saying, roughly translated: C’mon, guys. He’s already getting $32 million. What’s another $3 million per? It’s chicken feed, really. You can pay it out of petty cash.
So while everybody is arguing about $32 million versus $35 million, Boras has made them all forget that nobody else in baseball makes more than A-Rod’s 2007 salary that is estimated at between $22 million and $27 million (depending on the source and how it’s calculated). Boras is taking a number that is completely out of whack and slowly getting everybody used to it.
You can pretty much bet the house, or at least the guest house, that A-Rod will play the rest of his career in a Yankees uniform. This is the little dance they always do when agent and club are trying to set parameters on an upcoming deal. Boras will ask for a salary for his client that is larger than the budget of the Pentagon. The Yankees will counter by stating they’re willing to make a new deal now, but won’t be pawns in a negotiating strategy.
Eventually, they’ll all have a big steak dinner together, hash it out, and come to a new agreement.
But is A-Rod worth it? Is he worth $35 million or more per season?
Usually, I’m in favor of a player getting whatever he can. I believe a player is worth what the market will bear. And, apparently, Boras shares my belief. He just thinks the market is teeming with eager suitors, while I believe it’s more like window shopping where customers peruse but don’t purchase.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
The reality of A-Rod’s value is a little more sobering than the hype.
It’s true, he’s a stud in the lineup. This year he’s hitting .312, with 31 home runs and 87 RBIs. But he’s doing it during a relatively meaningless season in which it became obvious early on that the Yankees just weren’t going to be in the playoff picture; in that regard, his current tear isn’t much different than the sparking stats he put up while a member of the bottom-dwelling Texas Rangers.
And it’s naive to think that a player of A-Rod’s caliber is immune to such tawdry pursuits as a salary drive. Like many players before him, A-Rod is bearing down in direct relation to how clearly he can see record-breaking dollar signs in the distance.
Don’t forget 2006. There was no salary drive. And there were indeed playoff hopes. A-Rod responded with still-admirable numbers for most players — .290 average, 35 homers, 121 RBI — but hardly $35 million-per-year mega-superstar numbers. He was much shakier in last year’s playoffs, with just one hit in 14 at-bats. In the 2005 postseason, he was only slightly better: two hits in 15 at-bats.
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