Thursday, November 15, 2007

A-Rod, Boras, the Bombers -- the Days of their lives

Could Alex Rodriguez fire Scott Boras the sports agent who negotiated the biggest contract in sports history when Rodriguez signed a 10-year $250 million contract with the Texas Rangers in December 2000? In what might really be a case of Ripley’s Believe it or Not visiting the sports industry. reports emerging from the Big Apple suggest that Alex Rodriguez will resign with the Yankees in the next 48 hours. If Rodriguez decides to resign with the Yankees he will reportedly do so without Boras. The multi-year agreement according to will pay Rodriguez somewhere between $270 million and $290 million over the lifetime of the contract.

If A-Rod decides to talk to the Yankees without Boras he will do so either as a Major League Baseball player without an agent or he’ll have a new agent. According to the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement a player must be represented by an agent or can negotiate a contract as his own agent, but he cannot negotiate a contact with a MLB franchise while having an existing agreement with an agent.

"That clearly is a violation of the Basic Agreement," Michael Weiner, the general counsel of the players' union, told on Wednesday.

"Once a player designates an agent, a club cannot refuse to meet with that agent." (however as the Yankees made clear late Wednesday they haven’t closed any doors to Scott Boras)

The media field day began late Wednesday morning when Rodriguez posted the following ‘statement’ on his website:

The question then becomes what happens if the player and the agent agree the player will speak with the team? But how A-Rod’s Wednesday unfolded was interesting to say the least when it came to his future.

“After spending time with Cynthia and my family over these last few weeks, it became clear to me that I needed to make an attempt to engage the Yankees regarding my future with the organization.

“Prior to entering into serious negotiations with other clubs, I wanted the opportunity to share my thoughts directly with Yankees' ownership. We know there are other opportunities for us, but Cynthia and I have a foundation with the club that has brought us comfort, stability and happiness.

“As a result, I reached out to the Yankees through mutual friends and conveyed that message. I also understand that I had to respond to certain Yankees concerns, and I was receptive and understanding of that situation.

“Cynthia and I have since spoken directly with the Steinbrenner family. During these healthy discussions, both sides were able to share honest feelings and hopes with one another, and we expect to continue this dialogue with the Yankees over the next few days.”

The Yankees who expect to sign Rodriguez to a multi-year agreement possibly by the end of the day made it clear it was A-Rod who called the Yankees – not the other way around.

“He reached out to us through a third party,” Hank Steinbrenner told The New York Times. “He has expressed a desire to stay a Yankee. If we do a deal, it would reflect that, meaning he very much wants to stay a Yankee, even being willing to make certain sacrifices to do so.”

It isn’t clear what if any role Boras is playing in this drama – other than every major New York paper reporting Rodriguez is meeting with the Yankees and without Scott Boras. And the two sides are getting close to an agreement.

“I’m not sure it’s going to happen immediately, but it’s going to happen,” said a friend of Rodriguez’s, speaking on condition of anonymity because Rodriguez had not authorized him to speak publicly in a New York Times report.

“It’s a relief for Alex to know that the Yankees still want him, and now that he knows that, he’s going to work something out. Whatever they have to do to work it out, they’re going to do it. He was willing to eat crow, and he did.”

“There’s a strong possibility that he’ll come back, with the way the negotiations are now,” said another friend of Rodriguez’s, who spoke to The New York Times on condition of anonymity. “There are just a few minor things to figure out.”

In the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire”, after getting fired, sports agent Jerry Maguire is dumped by his girlfriend after he loses the projected number one pick in that year’s NFL draft (‘Frank "Cush" Cushman’) to the company who had just fired him. Boras doesn’t have to worry about losing his job or being stuck with one client and he won’t be rebuilding his reputation or his client base, but this wasn’t the news any sports agent would have wanted reported about one of his clients. If the reports are true, Wednesday November 14, 2007 will be one of the blackest days of Scott Boras’s amazing career.

The possibility exists (at least the precedent with Boras has been set) where one of Boras’ clients managed to negotiate a multi-year contract without Scott Boras while retaining Boras as his agent. According to a report in The New York Times:i In 2001, Andruw Jones, reached an impasse in negotiations with the Atlanta Braves. Jones called General Manager John Schuerholz and arranged a meeting. With his father advising him, Jones worked out a six-year, $75 million deal, yet retained Boras as his agent.

Hank Steinbrenner told’s Buster Onley there was no time frame for the negotiations and that it was up Rodriguez to decide whether he wants Boras to participate in talks (suggesting the Yankees are looking at the bigger picture when it comes to completely alienating themselves from Scott Boras the most powerful man in MLB).

"It doesn't really matter," Steinbrenner said. "No matter who's in the room, I'm going to go to a certain point in negotiations and that's it."

The New York media is and will be having a field day – all at A-Rod’s expense. The New York Knicks may have fined Stephon Marbury $180,000 Wednesday after Marbury walked away before the Knicks game Tuesday night (Marbury returned to the Knicks Wednesday) but that story pales in comparison to how the New York press began spinning A-Rod’s tales of woe Wednesday.

“Even if Alex Rodriguez prostrates himself in front of the Yankees’ owners — which he just might have done yesterday — that does not mean they have to take him back.

“Even if he fires his agent, Scott Boras, or plays him in a cage, that does not mean the Yankees should want A-Rod back.

“Rodriguez had a monster season, but the Yankees could not get out of the first round of the playoffs, yet again. He is an enigmatic figure in their clubhouse, clearly not a player who improves his team” the normally staid George Vecsey wrote in Thursday’s New York Times.

“The Yankees should imitate Vince Lombardi, when his Super Bowl-winning center, Jim Ringo, had the audacity to hire an agent for salary negotiations. According to legend, Lombardi left his office for a few minutes and came back and informed Ringo that he would have to negotiate with the Eagles, because he had just been traded. Ringo and Lombardi denied that scene, but Ringo did hire an agent, and he did get traded, in very short order.

“Nowadays, of course, athletes have every right to hire an agent, but they need to be aware of the impact. Boras went too far, and Rodriguez did not seem to understand any of the implications of putting the squeeze on the Yankees. Whatever vision of El Dorado Boras painted, the response from other clubs has been underwhelming.”

Vecsey is mild and the New York Times staff is tame compared to the writers for The New York Daily News and the New York Post. Tabloid journalism is alive and well in the Big Apple. Nothing escapes the sports departments from New York’s tabloids.

And if you’re looking for reaction from unnamed sources – the New York Daily News offered this from a series of unnamed sources.

"Alex is going to be back with the Yankees," the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been made public. "The Yankees don't have a choice. How are they going to compete without Alex? They need him back."

"Alex likes to be the center of the universe," the source said. "He wants to be a part of the Stadium going down and the opening of the new one. It's not about money. It's about his face being everywhere. This is the only stage that can guarantee that."

"Most of this is about Alex trying to salvage his image," said another source close to the negotiations. "He's upset over the way this whole thing has played out and the way he's being portrayed now, because of Boras."

What makes The New York Daily News reporting anything when it comes to Alex Rodriguez and his wife Cynthia – the paper this summer ran a picture that featured a profane and probably expensive little white tank top to a Yankees game last July, an eye-opener for the kiddies, telling the world off quite graphically as the New York Times noted today. Just more fuel for the firestorm A-Rod’s pending return will create.

It now appears if nothing else not only did Scott Boras overplay his hand when it came to understanding A-Rod’s value was in the marketplace but his initial strategy that Rodriguez would opt-out of his contract during game four of the 2007 World Series was another mistake . Boras’ suggestion that A-Rod would only meet with the Yankees if the Yankees where prepared to pay A-Rod at least $350 million over the lifetime of the agreement where a gross miscalculation on his part as an agent. Regardless of what happens next, yesterday wasn’t a good day for Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited and used in this Insider Report: The New York Times, The New York Daily News,

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