"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. (Sports Network) --
The man and his agent are looking for a quarter of a billion dollars! Now, let me say that again, slowly...a quarter of a billion dollars. Oh, it is over ten or twelve years? Excuse me. Silly me. That, of course, lessens the outrage. The Alex Rodriguez Free Agency Tour, in the style of others such as Reggie White conducted when he left the Philadelphia Eagles, might be winding down. Sports - all of them, baseball in particular, have lost their respective minds, thanks to fans and TV revenues.
Alex Rodriguez was unable to carry the Mariners to the World Series, although he came close. (Lyons/Allsport)
I doubt that Rodriguez is the most talented free agent ever, but he is assuredly the most hyped in recent memory. He is about to purchase some small Third World countries as his personal playgrounds...where he can build his own golf courses, batting cages, and offices for his agent.
Rodriguez cannot lead a baseball team to the World Series and assure their winning it, as has already been proven. No more than Alllen Iverson will take the Philadelphia 76ers to any Valhalla of the NBA in the years to come. Sports just do not work that way. Ask Patrick Ewing, Barry Sanders, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, Ray Borque, Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and a host of others. Kevin Brown was portrayed as superhuman just in time to convince the ailing Los Angeles Dodgers to part with $105 million over seven years. And we all know how much good that did them.
Toronto's Carlos Delgado gets $17 million a year, and when was the last time you saw the Jays in contention?
Rodriguez is 25 years old, a great shortstop and power hitter and is looking for $20 million per season over 10 or 12 years. Do you have any idea what that comes out to per at bat?
He and his agent, Scott Boras, who has given new meaning to the piranha definition and makes HBO's Arliss look like a philanthropic runaway, have asked for the proverbial kitchen sink. Not only that, they want the refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and full time help, perhaps Emeril to do all of their meals when he is not on Good Morning America.
The Rockies cannot spend any more or they will mortgage the entire state of Colorado. Atlanta is probably out of the running, the Rangers were never really in it, it is too cold in Chicago for him join the White Sox and Seattle is an odds on favorite to retain Rodriguez's services. I just do not see the Mets getting involved again. Seattle, who selected him with the first pick in the 1993 draft will, according to General Manager Pat Gillick, match any offer and keep their star player in town. Plus, from all reports, he likes playing there and is more than pleased with Lou Piniella.
Downside? The new stadium. Now players investigate how well they think they can do before they decide to go out and do it, sort of like Shaquille O'Neal asking for the baskets to be lowered. I don't think so. Safeco Field is a parking lot, nice and spacious, not hitter-friendly and certainly not conducive to someone focused more on breaking records than he is on winning games and going to the big show at the end of the season. Media types speaking of Rodriguez breaking Hank Aaron's all-time home run record over the next decade or so are a bit premature. He had 13 round trippers at home this season and 28 on the road. Not bad. But, he will have to do that day in and day out. Meanwhile, the fences get longer, the pitchers tougher and the walks more consistent.
Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter may be sharing the same New York spotlight.
And what about the rumors of the demands being made of teams considering Rodriguez? They come from his agent, Scott Boras, or so it is rumored, but the Mets, during negotiations with them, indicated that they wanted special personnel assigned to them, sort of like Nubian slaves and four bearers to bring him from the dugout to the field. The demand, or request, depending upon which side of the fence you may be sitting currently, was to have a marketing team designated to make sure that he, small "h" for now, had more exposure than the Big Apple's favorite son of late, Derek Jeter. Boras recanted and denied that indicating that he has a marketing team of his own in Atlanta, Impact Sports Marketing. As for the private jet to be put at Rodriguez's disposal lest he be forced to mix and mingle with the rabble making less than $10 million a season, it was pointed out that he already had arrangement with an aviation company for personal transportation. Hey, doesn't every 25-year-old athlete?
Kevin Brown's contract (remember him?) called for private flights to enable visits to or from his family in Georgia. That is probably where the idea originated. I can just see the next combatants in the World Series arriving like a fighter squadron and peeling off much like the Blue Angels to land at the parking lot outside the particular stadium where they will be playing. If they follow the Rodriguez model it is probably the only time they will actually meet and speak to one another off the playing field lest they crash into one another on landing.
Let us not forget the office space for Boras at Shea Stadium and the inquiry about building a new stadium. How about just leveling any city that he soon calls home and rebuilding it to his personal specs? It was also reported that he wanted to have a complete report on the minor league system and, as noted above, he had to have more billboards around town than Jeter. What about David Letterman...or HBO's Sex in the City-star Sarah Jessica Parker?
How far off base is Alex? Well, Mike Piazza came to the Mets in 1998 and got a contract for $91 million over seven years, or $13 million a year. Then came Al Leiter at $32 million for four years, or $8 million a year.
And how high has the bar been raised this week with the signing of Mike Hampton by the Colorado Rockies for $123.8 million over an 8-year period? Baseball has gone nuts! Incredibly, Hampton claimed it was not about the money, it was about his family and 5-year old starting school next year. Hmmmm, no schools elsewhere in America? And, with a dad earning $15,475,000 annually how tough will it be for young Michael Hampton to get a good education or his own school? By the way, he is moving his own dad, Mike Sr., from Tampa to Denver. I wonder if he needs help with the moving costs. Also, if Hampton hangs in through the contract, he gets $20 million in 2009 to allow for inflation or a possible recession. Hey, gotta keep all bases covered to make the mortgage payment. If the Rockies do not want him after the eight years they buy him out for $6 million, more than a team such as the Phillies has ever paid anyone for a season.
Few fans question the fielding ability of the 25-year old.
So, Rodriguez was last seen running the bases with Atlanta, Texas and Chicago White Sox in hot pursuit as well as the Mariners.
Lurking in the wings watching all of this is Manny Ramirez, yet to be heard from...but with Boston in hot pursuit and Cleveland with one more offer to put forth to keep their star attraction.
Then there is Denny Neagle for five years with Colorado as well, at $51.5 million with Darren Dreifort of the Dodgers their next target for about as much as Neagle got. Coors Field will not be kind to these fellows and don't expect to see them in the World Series any time soon.
Where will it all end? You gotta be kidding me! Yankee Stadium next Fall. What do you have to know?