Monday, July 16, 2007

It’s Alex Rodriguez’s Fault Teams Want To Pay Him A Lot

Gregg “I want to tinkle on Barry Bonds” Doyel has written an anti-A-Rod / anti-big salary column for his latest work. It’s here, and is titled, “Big deals mean raw deals for Joe fan.”

The number to kill all numbers is coming soon, and I wish to God I was talking about Barry Bonds and the number 756. Instead I'm talking about Alex Rodriguez and the number $35 million, which is the annual salary he and ruthless agent Scott Boras will pry from some team this offseason after A-Rod opts out of the final three years of his contract with the Yankees and becomes a free agent.

How exactly, will they “pry” $35 million a year from some team? Don’t you think the team will make a conscious decision here, with a lot of thought towards risks/rewards and ROI, both on the field and on their P&L? No? You think A-Rod and Boras will go into negotiations wearing ski masks and carrying semi-automatics?

A-Rod learned nothing from his last contract, that 10-year, $252 million monstrosity he stole from the Texas Rangers in 2001, when he doubled the previous record contract in U.S. sports history and -- congratulations! -- became universally despised for his shocking greed.

Again, stole? He stole the money? Texas willingly overpaid him and he was unbelievably good in Texas. It’s not his fault they also overpaid for sucky players too. Why did that make him greedy?

Oh wait, I forgot, a Scott Boras thug was holding Tom Hicks over a balcony by his ankles. That's why they signed him. Why did he give Hicks the Suge Knight / Vanilla Ice (alleged) treatment? Because they only wanted to pay A-Rod $249 million over 10 years. That greedy motherfucker Rodriguez wasn't having it. He said "I want my $250m bitch, and now you better give me another 2 cuz you insulted me, motherfucker." A-Rod is hard f'ing core.

A $35 million or even $40 million annual contract is coming. You can feel it in the air, like a bad storm. You can smell it, like a bad bowel movement. The perfect confluence of events is here: the great player having the career season ... the desperate team with too much money and not enough recent World Series titles ... and the brilliantly unscrupulous agent.

Okay, and whatever a team decides to pay A-Rod, that is their choice. They don’t have to sign him. Scott Boras and Rodriguez are doing nothing wrong here. If a team has too much money, why do you care what they do with it?

Like a bad bowel movement? First you want to “tinkle” on Barry Bonds, now you smell impending contracts like bowel movements. You are one weird fuck.

It's unavoidable. The Yankees already have given $28 million this season (pro-rated) to Roger Clemens, an old pitcher past his prime. A-Rod is on pace to hit .320 with 58 home runs, 160 runs and 165 RBI, which would merely be the best (clean) offensive season since the 1930s -- and he's just 31 years old.

Wow, that IS a hell of a year. It sure sounds like he should be worth a lot of money. JD Drew is $14 million/year, and you have a problem with double that for A-Rod? He’s literally double the production of a lot of $10-15 million/year players.

He could play at this level for another four or five seasons at least, and could play at an All-Star level until he is 40. If he stays healthy he will pass Ruth and Aaron and Bonds and not only become the all-time home run king, but put that record out of reach. He will sell tickets wherever he goes, he will raise the value of whatever television deal is in place for his franchise, and he will sell $125 jerseys like Ernie Banks once sold 12-cent baseball cards.

You are making a convincing argument for signing A-Rod for a $30 million/year contract.

Those are just some of the points Boras will hammer into the Yankees and any other team that joins the bidding for Rodriguez after this season, and if no other team joins the bidding, Boras will lie to the Yankees and make them believe otherwise.

Well lying isn’t a good thing, but it’s still the Yankees prerogative to determine if they want to spend the money. It’s not like Boras can say 10 teams are interested in A-Rod at that price tag. In fact, the Yankees are pretty smart guys, so they will probably know the market for A-Rod quite well.

Would I put it past Boras to promise a favor to another franchise down the road, a player delivered at a reasonable (for Boras) price, in exchange for that franchise pretending to get involved in the A-Rod bidding to pump up the price? Hell no I wouldn't put that scenario past Boras. He has a history of getting unwitting teams to bid against themselves.

Sounds like a smart guy. You feel bad for the Yankees? If the Yankees don’t have the money, or if they don’t want to spend it, then they won’t.

This guy is so shady, so good, that he'd pretend to have a terminal disease if he thought some team's sympathy would help him finagle a few extra bucks for a client. If you asked me to pick the more admirable form of life, Scott Boras or WWE president Vince McMahon, I'd ask to check the bottoms of their shoes in case a more palatable choice was squished underneath there.

Scott Boras may be shady, but I would pick him to represent me if I was a player. Do you remember the Barry Zito contract? The Giants did that to themselves. Any fan with half a brain could see that Zito was a middle of the rotation starter on a decline. Boras made him look like Steve Carlton and the Giants were stupid enough to bite. Shame on them, not Boras.

It's not like Rodriguez will need nefariousness to get the contract to end all contracts. In the past week alone, sports owners seem to have lost their collective minds.

Okay, good, now we’re talking. Why don’t you write a column on how dumb it is for teams to sign $100 million+ long-term guaranteed deals. Why is it in the fault of the players or agents?

In the NBA, the idiot in charge of the Magic gave a six-year, $118 million contract to an underachieving role player named Rashard Lewis.

The Lewis contract is terrible, but he’s not a role player. Steve Kerr was a role player.

Deleted: 3 paragraphs on recent contracts in sports that he doesn’t like. Not sure what the point is.

After this season, Alex Rodriguez will break the bank, and my fear -- or my hope -- is that his new contract will break baseball and then perhaps all of professional sports.

Spoiler alert: It won’t.

Fernando Alonso makes $40 million a year to drive an F1 car. Alex Rodriguez making $30 or $35 million really isn’t that big a deal at this point.

Maybe it will take $35 or $40 million per year to an athlete, any athlete, for sports fans to finally have enough with rising salaries and the rising ticket and apparel prices that come as an added bonus. Boycott a game. Embarrass a team by forcing it to play in front of 150 spectators.

I don’t have a problem with ticket prices/apparel prices. First, I don’t wear much “apparel”, because I’m not a dork. I’m mostly content to watch games on TV. The free markets will bear this out. If the ticket prices are *too* high, then people won’t go. I live in the most expensive baseball market in the country (I think). I paid $25 to park my car for a Red Sox game on Saturday, and $31 on 3 beers, a sausage and a hot dog. The place was sold out. Lots were full. There were lines for the concessions every time. The demand is there. The Red Sox are running a business. I don’t see a problem with this. I would only have a problem with ticket prices if no one was going. Because, what's the point? If teams are selling out with high ticket prices, well there's clearly a market.

Send a message to the Yankees or Magic or Colts or Indians or any of the other out-of-touch franchises: The everyday families who fund those franchises are struggling to buy homes and send kids to college and fill up their gas tank on a weekly basis, and we simply will not tolerate any more Monopoly contracts.

Every day families really don’t fund the franchises. It’s the corporate sponsors and businesses who advertise in the park, and who pay for luxury boxes and a lot of club seats/season tickets. Jane and John Smith with 2.3 kids aren’t footing the bill. The advertisers in the ballpark and on the YES network (or NESN), the corporate boxes, and the season ticket holders (generally not your poorer families) are footing the bill, mostly. Since I don’t see the financials this is more guesswork than anything, but I bet I’m closer than you are to the truth. I think working families play a role (if they attend games, of course), but it's not like the working class is paying Manny Ramirez's salary instead of putting food on the table.

You seem incredibly naïve. If Will Ferrell makes $25 million on his next movie, and it’s supposed to be awesome, will you pay to see it? You have the choice here. If you are unhappy with the product, or the salaries, then don’t go to games and don’t watch them on TV. What kind of chip is in your computer? Intel? Last year their CEO had a compensation package of about $10 million. The COO of Apple last year had a total comp package of $13 million. In 2005 Drew Barrymore made $22 million. These are not outliers, just totally random examples. You want an outlier? Keanu Reaves made over $150 million from the Matrix movies. Seriously, this is reality. You want another one? The CEO of Sally Mae had a total compensation package of almost $40 million in 2006. Get over it. Why shouldn’t one of the best baseball players ever, in a sport that makes a ton of money, accept all that a team will pay him?

I don’t even want to think about what Chris Berman makes.

It's not like Rodriguez will deliver a championship, either. He hasn't won a World Series. He hasn't even been to a World Series. This isn't the NBA, where one player can get it done. Give Michael Jordan $35 million a year, as the Chicago Bulls once did, and you have just won yourself an NBA championship. Give A-Rod $35 million and you have just ... given A-Rod $35 million. The championship is optional and maybe even irrelevant.

The championship is optional? Damn it, Chicago Cubs, why haven’t you chosen the “Championship Option” all these years? I don’t understand that last sentence at all.

Any fan base that thinks it’s the responsibility of their favorite team to deliver them a championship is unrealistic and stupid. I hope for a competitive team; a good product on the field.

Give A-Rod $35 million and what you have done, however, is given star-struck fans justification to spend $100 or $200 to come to the ballpark for one night. Why are baseball tickets so expensive in New York? Because A-Rod makes $35 million. Why will he make $35 million? Because tickets are so expensive. It's a vicious cycle.

Baseball tickets are expensive in certain cities because that’s what the market will bear. Why does A-Rod make $25 million/year? Because 1 owner was dumb enough to outbid the next highest bidder by more than $50 million. If the owner of a team with poor ticket sales wants to charge what the Red Sox charge, well then he’s screwed. Again, this is not A-Rod’s fault, or the Yankees fault. The Yankees have the money, so why not spend it on high priced players? The goal is to put a good team on the field, so that your fans will want to pay to watch them. Ask a Yankees fan if they’d rather be rooting for a perpetual .500 team that doesn’t make the postseason, but the tickets would be 75% of the price. I think they’ll take the high priced tickets and high priced talent. Never feel bad for Yankees fans or Red Sox fans because of the ticket prices. They don’t have to go.

True, if the average player made $1 million then teams would not need to charge as much to generate enough revenue to cover the payroll. But what makes you think they wouldn’t charge just as much and pocket the profits? These are businesses, remember. They will charge what the fans will pay.

I won’t really go into his crazy assertion that is A-Rod alone that has driven up ticket prices in New York.

In Seattle, the Mariners gave Ichiro Suzuki $90 million for the next five years, one of the richest contracts in U.S. sports history, for a player who turns 34 in October. At $18 million, Ichiro would make more in a single season than all of the 2006 Florida Marlins combined, which might be why Marlins president David Samson predicted in an interview with Miami radio station 790 AM that Ichiro's new contract "will take down the sport. ... It's the end of the world as we know it."

Now I’m not the biggest Ichiro fan, but can someone walk me through how Hampton, Zito, Soriano, Kevin Brown, Vernon Wells etc. etc. etc. were okay but this is the contract that will sink the ship? Also, the hyperbole of the week awards goes to David Samson.

If only.

I don’t think you like sports.


mbarnett said...

2 relevant issues not addressed by Doyle or the Good Guy: the role of the Players' Association in keeping salaries high, and the issue of how the use of taxpayer $$$ to build ballparks should create SOME onus for MLB teams to keep ticket prices reasonable for the average fan. The use of public funds to benefit a private enterprise belies the "free market" argument, and should make that enterprise accountable to the public to some degree.

Responses to other Good Guy comments:

"First, I don’t wear much “apparel”, because I’m not a dork."

This is faulty reasoning. The first half may be true but in no way substantiates the claim in the 2nd part of the sentence, which happens to be patently untrue.

"I don’t even want to think about what Chris Berman makes."

According to this site, it's between $600K and $1M. Though I found a similar estimate on a page that appeared to be from 1998, so that could be really outdated.

Jeff said...

On the 2 relevant issues:

In mentioning the PA, you’re talking about all baseball salaries, broadly. I’m talking about the impending doom (in tinkle guy’s head) that comes from paying Alex Rodriguez $30 or $35 million per. He acts like A-Rod is stealing money. No one has to sign him. If $30 million is too much for the teams, no one should sign him. A-Rod is doing nothing wrong by asking them to pay him that much. He’s not saying that he’s going to hold out for more money in the middle of an existing contract, and he’s not doing anything that he doesn’t have the right to do.

On the ballpark point, I don’t think that public funds should be used on stadiums, so I can’t argue with the point, broadly. But free market rules still apply in places like Boston. If the tickets are cheaper and the demand is high, then they will be scarcer to come by as the price drops, since there are even more able buyers. It’s very difficult to get Red Sox tickets from the box office or Ticketmaster (even at today’s prices). If you want to buy them, and you’re not connected or lucky, then you often have to pay a ticket broker. Ticket broker prices (or stubhub, or ebay) are tied to the market value of the tickets, not the face value. Many consumers end up in the same place. The FMV of the ticket prices is helped by the high face value, but the driver is what people are willing to pay for them. This goes back to my point that I’d only be upset by high ticket prices if the place doesn’t draw many fans to begin with. Because that’s just silly.

I actually think the above paragraph may only apply to a couple ballparks anyway. Many ballparks have very reasonable pricing to begin with and don’t sell out every night. The pricing is more reasonable when compared to other pro leagues and other forms of entertainment, such as concerts or amusement parks. Ticket costs are very high in some places, but those tend to be places where the demand is high.

Chris W said...

In re: to his Texas contract too, what is almost always ignored is the fact that the Rangers had a 250 million dollar tv deal offered CONTINGENT on signing A-Rod (to appeal to the large hispanic audience in the DFW area).

That is, as a condition of the 250 mil. deal (iirc) they had to sign A-rod.

So pretty much they broke even, if you consider increased ticket sales and having the best SS in baseball for, essentially free, breaking even (I acknowledge that they probably would have signed a lesser TV deal lacking the ARod deal, so this is slightly probably would have been in the mid to high 100 millions, so essetially , the increase in TV revenue was probably about 50-100 mil, which means the net hit of A-Rod's contract was about 150-200 million).

However, now that you consider that they still have that television deal, PLUS they are only paying a partial amount of A-Rod's salary for the duration, it really doesn't seem like such a "robbery" on A-Rod's part, does it?