"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. (Sports Network) --
OK, I was wrong. Alex Rodriguez signed with Texas. I thought that the Rangers were never really in it but that is what I thought about George W. Believing in something as sacrosanct as one's word brings to mind "Read my lips!" and the hereditary nature of that, created by his father and instilled in his siblings...i.e., say "A" and do "B." That expanded, of course, to GWB's brother in Florida, the vote person. You remember Jeb, the disciple of Joseph Stalin, who was heard to say years ago, "It does not matter who votes that counts, it is who counts the votes."
Rangers' owner Tom Hicks shook the foundation of the sports world after his blockbuster deal with A-Rod. (Lyons/Allsport)
An ex disc jockey, Tom Hicks, whose ego pales in comparison to the President non-elect that will be bringing his oil and cowboy show to the nation's capital soon, has turned the baseball world upside down in much the same fashion that Florida upended a presidential election by acting as if he were one of those oil zillionaires sending blank checks to the ranch. The richest prize in professional sports found its way to Texas in similar style to the richest prize in politics. Fraught with insanity and confusion. The addition of Alex Rodriguez to the lineup does not insure, by any stretch of the imagination, that Texas will now elevate itself to World Series status.
Hicks paid the 25-year old shortstop more than 18 of the 30 major league franchises are worth, according to Forbes magazine. Think about that, and then call your local radio sports talk show. It is a good starting point.
No special perks, they reported. Darn! Lousy deal. No jet, office, secretary day and night, approval of team-mates, building a private locker room, massages between innings or massive billboards around the state, maybe even on the White House lawn in D.C. And he still signed?!?!? What a guy! Whoops! He has an out clause after seven years that virtually guarantees he will be the highest-paid position player in the sport throughout the life of the contract. So, if a Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle clone happens along, they will be deemed not as good as Rodriguez even if the Rangers fail every season. I wonder whose lips Hicks was reading when he came up with this deal?
Mike Hampton is probably considering filing for relief or getting a part time job in Colorado cleaning skis at one of the posh resorts in the off season. Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves, ringing in with $126 million over six years, is likely considering baseball as a new career. How can any of these guys now make ends meet? It boggles the mind.
With a President such as Bush, who makes Dan Quayle look like a Rhodes Scholar (at least Quayle had journeyed outside of the U.S. a few times in his life and could handle simple sentences), is it any wonder that some Texas mentalities are as vacuous as the size of the state? This might be the season for giving, but they just broke Santa's sleigh.
President-elect George W. Bush
Get out your calculator. Rodriguez will make $25.2 million annually, more than $8 million higher than that of Toronto's Carlos Delgado at $17 million per season. Manny Ramirez chimed in with an eight-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, who could not best the Yankees with a fighter squadron, at $160 million.
The 54-year-old Hicks, made his fortune ($52 billion) in leveraged buyouts. He bought the Rangers (guess who owned them when he made out the check?) for $250 million in 1998, which is $2 million less than he committed to the man that the media types like to call A-Rod. Let's presume, for the moment, that Rodriguez is the reincarnation of Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Mays, Williams, Cobb, DiMaggio and a few other dozen or so greats of the game, his contract says that must be the highest-paid position player in the final two years by getting $5 million or $1 million more than the next highest paid player's salary, whichever is greater. If Texas opts not to pay him that amount he can become a free agent or play for his $27 million yearly salary...or just buy his own planet in the solar system.
The U.S. Supreme Court embarrassed itself beyond repair. Major League Baseball is heading into a different sort of bankruptcy. The highest court in the land bankrupted their reputation. Our nation's sport, or what was once the holder of that title, is heading into fiscal irresponsibility and, as usual, the fans will suffer. Hicks thinks he has purchased a World Series. Not! They won the American League West three times in four years and then finished last in the Division, 20 games under .500 in 2000. Now they have Andres Galarraga, Ken Caminiti, reliever Mark Petkovsek and you know who. But the starting pitching staff continues to flounder with the worst earned run average in the majors, 5.52, last season. So, now they will lose games, 15-10. Swell.
The U.S. Supreme Court has taken ridicule for its' position.
Doug Melvine, their GM, firmly believes that they have improved their pitching by getting a second rate staff more runs with the likes of: Rusty Greer, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex, Rafael Palmeiro, Galarraga and Caminiti.
Texas was not the number one choice as Scott Boras, his agent, would like us all to think. There was Atlanta and Seattle. It was all money and not any good ol' boy Texas barbecue unless it was the one where they burned money to smoke the beef.
All of these spiraling salaries are crippling the game. No doubt about that. The competitive balance of the league is in disarray. The grand old game is headed for collapse. Baseball is in crisis and their egos, dwarfing that of Rodriguez and our political types, are blinding them. The best thing for baseball right now would be for it to follow the demise of the dot com's and see some clubs just close down. That would be a wake-up call.
What will Derek Jeter possibly be looking for? He is eligible for salary arbitration soon. It would be great if he asked for a contract to be the highest paid player in baseball since he is not bound by what the Rangers did. Then we can just watch the insanity, for the heck of it, make what happened in the latest laughable election look almost reasonable (nah, forget I said that). Jeter is too nice a guy to do this but it would be great if he and the Yankees did, just to make the point, force the Rangers to up the ante to an impossible amount and then withdrew what they did in the name of reason.
Look for Hicks to have the most expensive seats and hot dogs in baseball. He has a $550 million 15-year deal with Fox Sports for regional telecasts of the Rangers and Stars. Speak of leverage. He just threatened to create his own regional sports channel and Fox caved in. Texas gets $19 million from the new multi-billion dollar baseball contract with national TV. The stadium's naming rights are for sale at an anemic $100 million. Sponsorships, higher advertising fees, more season ticket holders, merchandise sales...will not do it. And the insurance policies for Rodriguez and his teammates, in case of injury, cost millions annually. That comes under risk.
Rodriguez has tipped the scales and set a pattern that will hurt baseball infinitely more than will help it. Just like what the Supreme Court did has hurt this country more than helped it. Forbes now says that the Rangers are worth $294 million but I do not have any friends ready to buy, do you? Hicks made that $52 billion in leveraged buyouts so this is chump change to him. But, who will really be the eventual chumps here...the sport, fans, owners, and other players?
We've witnessed enormous folly and embarrassment in recent weeks at two formerly hallowed institutions...the U.S. Supreme Court and Major League Baseball. Will we survive two such calamities? You gotta be kidding!