Tagged: Boston Red Sox

Evaluating Your Investments

I read an article today by Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com about the process by which the Boston Red Sox scouted Carl Crawford both on and off the field before signing him to a $142 million contract this winter. Carl was quoted as saying he was “creeped out a little bit” by Sox GM Theo Epstein monitoring his off-field activities from time to time. 

“I thought that was a little weird,” Crawford said Tuesday. “I guess that’s what they have to do when they’re making that kind of investment.” – courtesy ESPN.com – Gordon Edes

This is an excellent example of what sports has become, not only in the modern era of large contracts, but in the global media era of what it’s like to be a professional athlete. 
Granted $142 million is a lot of money, and that shouldn’t be given out lightly. There are a lot of factors a team has to consider before signing anyone, even the best players, to large contracts – how healthy will they be over the life of the contract? Has their play been getting better or worse over the last couple seasons? How do they match up against the best teams in the division? – just to name a few.
But now, teams have to consider what a player does off the field just as thoroughly as they do on the field. In the new ‘TMZ’ world where people are obsessed with every move a celebrity makes, it seems a player can’t go out for a relaxing evening with friends without it making Sports Center. 
So on the one hand, I can’t blame the Red Sox at all for a least testing the waters on how Crawford spends his time away from baseball. If he has a tendency to party or get into trouble, it could mean a lot of bad press for the organization. If you’re going to invest that kind of money, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s just good business.
But on the other hand, it kind of disturbs me that its come to this. Athletes have always been held to a higher standard, and all because kids look up to them. But now they’re held to an even higher standard because adults and the media are obsessed with them. Being in the spotlight is part of what comes with being in their position, but this goes way past that. This goes past having to answer to sports writers when you have a bad game, or to answer to angry mom’s when you chew tobacco on live TV. No, this is as close as it’s ever come to sacrificing your right to be a human being, in exchange to play baseball. 
It seems now that we’re only okay with athletes making millions if they’re never allowed to enjoy it.
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Solutions Oriented

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There’s
nothing I hate more than hearing someone rant and rave about a problem they are
having yet they are unwilling to do anything to fix it. I have a simple life
philosophy: “If you have a problem,
either do something about it or shut up.”
Sounds harsh and cynical but it’s
kept me sane.

Looking back
on my last few entries I realize that I’m beginning to rant. My collective
opinions are warranted but not much more than a big “shame on you” to much of
the baseball world. So by my own principles, I must come up with a solution or
shut up until I have something else to talk about; which brings me to another
good life philosophy: “Judge me not by
your standards, judge me by my own.”

I should
write a book.

So the big
problem I see right now in Major League Baseball is how out of control players
salaries have been. The Yanks spent a quarter-billion on two pitchers, Raul
Ibanez is getting $10mil a year and the Boston Red Sox are calling Scott Boras’
bluff on a phantom $195 million offer.

I have
always defended higher salaries in all of pro sports. On average, a
professional athlete makes $200,000 or so a year (check me on that, I’m almost
definitely wrong). So while it seems every athlete is making millions, that
figure is only reserved for the elite. Besides, an athlete only plays 10, 15
maybe 20 years if he stays healthy. 8-12 years, I think, can be considered a
good career. That’s a lot shorter than the careers you and I will have, and we’ll
be paying far less in medical expenses. Finally, as far as superstars are
concerned, organizations are making millions be marketing their names, so why
shouldn’t they get a good chunk of that revenue?

My solution
however, would avoid a good amount of inflation that has driven up prices. It
would be a system much like that of golf and Hollywood, where you earn your
paycheck more than you do in baseball. It seems that every winter the top free
agent wants more than the top free agent got the year before, even if last year’s
top gun was much better.

Sound
familiar Matt Ryan?

A Hollywood
actor’s salary is mostly determined by how long he has been in the biz and how
well his movies have done. Newcomers like Shia LeBouf and that kid from Juno are
making a few hundred thousand to maybe a couple million which Brad Pitt and
Johnny Depp are making 25 to 30 million per movie. Sounds semi-elitist but no
one has complained so far. (except maybe Tom Cruise, but he only has himself to
blame)

So let’s say
that the free agent signing period looks a little different from now on.
Players will still only be allowed to negotiate with their current team first
before testing the market, but their worth will be determined a little
differently.

I call it the “Free
Agent Value System.”

Hit 30 homeruns in a season? That’s $250,000!

Have an ERA under 3.00? Nice! $500,000!

Been with one franchise for 10 years! Kudos! $1,000,000!

MVP? WOW! $5,000,000!

The league
will have a set of accomplishments that determines a player’s “value.”
Essentially, the market will be turned into a giant EBAY website: the value
system determines its worth (not what the agent says it is) and negotiations begin there.

Of course,
the highest bidder won’t be guaranteed a victory, but it would allow more teams
to be in the running. Look at it this way: Have you heard the names Tampa Bay
Rays, Cincinnati Reds or Kansas City Royals very much this off-season? Didn’t
think so.

Is the
system perfect? No, but it’s interesting to think about. It spreads opportunity
around without spreading money around, and it levels the playing field without
simply instituting a salary-cap. It also works both sides of the plate,
so-to-speak. It will bring down salaries for some but raise salaries for
others, so it may be easier to get the players union on board. It does,
however, change the playing field for agents (awwww, poor babies) who now have
to get a little more creative.

What do you
think?

Hometown Heroes

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Growing up, my goal in life was
to be a major league baseball player. Apparently, though, there’s this rule
that says you have to be good to make it to the majors. Rats… Missed it by THAT
much.

 

As I grew older, however, and the
dream of being a big-league ball player became more and more real (in my mind,
at least), I could only think of a handful of teams I wanted to play for. The
motivation behind this list had nothing to do with money, either.

 

I am no professional athlete and,
barring some kind of miracle, I will never know what it’s like to earn $1
million dollars in one year. But this is the time of year where the guys who did make it to the big leagues are
trying to figure out just how many millions of dollars they want to earn for
the next few years at least.

 

This phenomenon will always blow
my mind.

 

What goes through a man like Mark
Teixeira’s mind when deciding between a handful of teams, all of which are
offering millions upon millions? What is his motivation? How do you decide?

 

tex.jpg

When I look at free agency, I try
to figure out who will go where. Sometimes, you hear the term “hometown club”
thrown around as if it is some kind of X-Factor in a deal. It happens all the
time. I remember hearing reports about CC Sabathia possibly being lured by the
Dodgers and Angels. The reason? He is from southern California. Where did he end
up? New York who offered the big contract.

 

Now I’m hearing that Tex is
receiving an offer from the Baltimore Orioles who play not so far from Severna
Park, Maryland where he grew up. Is this something that will motivate him to
sign with the O’s? Or will he ultimately end up in Boston where he is offered
something ridiculous like $200 million?

 

If I was a ball player, and I was
offered two contracts: (6yrs/$60million from Philadelphia and 8yrs/$150million
from New York) I would pick the Phillies, hands-down, no hesitation. To me, it’s
a no brainer. I would take less money to play for the team I grew up loving
over a truck-load of money and a pool full of green jell-o from either New York
team.

 

moyer.JPG

I don’t understand how more
players are not motivated by this same sense of hometown pride. During the
world series, it was well documented that Jamie Moyer grew up a Phillies fan
and was overjoyed by the opportunity to pitch for them in the world series, to
the extent that he started game 3 despite suffering from the stomach flu the
day before.

 

Am I the only crazy one here? Or
has free agency become about nothing but dollars and cents?