November 4, 2007

Scott Boras: The Extortionist

The October 29, 2007 issue of The New Yorker has a near 10,000-word feature on Scott Boras, written by Ben McGrath and entitled "The Extortionist".

You can read it here.

34 comments:

L-girl said...

I look forward to reading that. Ben McGrath is a really good writer. His father is Charles (Chip) McGrath, who for a long time was the editor of the NY Times Book Review, and who also writes really interesting sports-related stuff.

Damn nepotism. Wish I could get some.

chief said...

For anyone needing the reminder, McGrath is also the author of the great New Yorker articles about Manny (in April of this year) and Wakefield (in 2004).

Amy said...

Does the NYer ever have articles that have fewer than 10,000 words!? BTW, they had a good profile of Manny several months ago (maybe even longer). Even my mother (who is not a Red Sox fan) found it very enjoyable.

9casey said...

Extortion is illegal, what Scot Boras does is genuis...because there is always someday waiting to bite on the other end......

e.e. said...

Genius? Boris is a scumbag, and a disgrace to the wonderful game of baseball. I cannot stand his pompousness, or how he has driven up players salaries so far out of control that the concept of a 'player' no longer exists for a child who might adore the game. There are no players under the Boris fold, but rather, greedy figureheads who have lost thier character and integrity... who will wear any team shirt you put before them so long as the price THE highest price.
Why bother loving the 'player'?
Sad.
Genius? Please.
Greed is not genius, greed is greed.
Boras makes my skin crawl.

redsock said...

how he has driven up players salaries so far out of control

Because we all know that whatever Boras asks for, the owners are forced to pay it no matter what.

that the concept of a 'player' no longer exists for a child who might adore the game

WHO WILL THINK OF THE CHILDREN????

Paluka said...

The idea that one person could drive up player's salaries on his own is ludicrous. Player's salaries go higher and higher because rich Americans are willing to pay more and more to enjoy the game of baseball. George Steinbrenner is a billionaire- shouldn't the owners have to pay the players if they want to make that sort of money?

L-girl said...

BTW, they had a good profile of Manny several months ago (maybe even longer).

Same author. See Chief's comment, above yours. Excellent story, too.

L-girl said...

Extortion is illegal, what Scot Boras does is genuis...because there is always someday waiting to bite on the other end......

Exactly right. He does his job better than anyone else. Pure genius.

e.e. has a bit of growing up to do, methinks.

L-girl said...

Has anyone noticed that the players' paychecks do not bounce? I guess that means their employers can afford their salaries.

And something tells me the employers live rather nicely themselves.

redsock said...

There are no players under the Boris fold, but rather, greedy figureheads who have lost thier character and integrity... who will wear any team shirt you put before them so long as the price THE highest price.

Like Jason Varitek, for example.

L-girl said...

that the concept of a 'player' no longer exists for a child who might adore the game

What does this even mean??? A child who watches the game doesn't know what a player is? The player who makes too much money (by e.e.'s standards) isn't actually playing the game? Children must be taught not to cheer for rich people? Seriously. What does this mean?

Colin said...

Relax guys. Sometimes the New Yorker gets infiltrated by pseudo-intellectual dreck. You have to take it with a grain of salt. Redsock's reply with Varitek is an excellent counter to the claims the article has.

Scott Boras is an agent and remember agents are not exactly the pinnacles of integrity like Pres. Bush/Rumfeld/Cheney e.g. Jason Varitek is a stand-up guy but luckily Boras doesn't rub off on a guy like him.

L-girl said...

Sometimes the New Yorker gets infiltrated by pseudo-intellectual dreck. You have to take it with a grain of salt. Redsock's reply with Varitek is an excellent counter to the claims the article has.

Pseudo-intellectual dreck? McGrath is a terrific writer, hardly a pseudo-intellectual, and the article is nothing of the kind.

Our replies (including RS's re Varitek) are to the commenter e.e.

Amy said...

I saw Chief's post after I had posted mine (the moderator's delay strikes again!). I hadn't read the Wakefield article, so thanks for the link!

On high salaries, they are a bit crazy, given what ordinary hard working people earn in this country. But it's a free market, so this just shows where we place our priorities. Supply and demand, and all the Econ 101 stuff. Obviously, our society places a lot more value on sports stars and movie stars, a lot less on teachers, social workers, doctors, lawyers---all of whom make far less than baseball players and other celebrities. That says more about all of us than it does about just owners and players.

L-girl said...

(the moderator's delay strikes again!)

Oops :)

Obviously, our society places a lot more value on sports stars and movie stars

True.

I always wonder why people complain so much about baseball players' salaries, why it's such an enormous issue, but rarely (if ever) have I heard anyone complain about what famous actors earn for blockbuster movies.

IMO, ML players work much harder, are much better at what they do (relative to the talent pool at large), and have much, much shorter careers.

Stars of blockbuster movies are much more likely to have been selected by fame, name recognition and past success, strictly based on box office draw, while hundreds of equally talented actors are passed over. They command enormous salaries, and the product is often a piece of shlock.

The movie stars and the baseball stars are both entertainers. Why the outrage over one and not a peep over the other?

Is it because baseball is called a "game," so fans mistakenly think it's similar to the softball games they play on weekends? Is it the constant media focus on salaries (by jealous writers)?

I have some ideas on why this might be, but I still wonder about it.

redsock said...

Criticizing Scott Boras for getting the best deal (or the most money) for his clients is like criticizing Manny Ramirez for having a high slugging percentage against various pitchers.

It's his job. It's what he is supposed to do.

When Manny clubs a ton of extra base hits against guys like CC Sabathia, no one whines and moans that "the concept of a pitcher no longer exists for a child who might adore the game".

Amy said...

The movie stars and the baseball stars are both entertainers. Why the outrage over one and not a peep over the other?

It's a good question. My guess? People devalue services that are based on physical skill as compared to mental skill, e.g., why are those who perform manual labor paid less than those who work in service industries? Acting is considered more of an intellectual pursuit than is sports.

Also, perhaps some racism. A greater percentage of athletes are members of minority groups than are actors.

Those, at least, are my theories.

e.e. said...

oh pleeeeeeease.
I-girl, get a GRIP.

redsock said...

What about me?

I think I was just as dismissive of your comments. Why don't I have to get a grip?

L-girl said...

oh pleeeeeeease.
I-girl, get a GRIP.


I'm well gripped. To what do you refer?

The thing about this site, e.e.? People may disagree with you. May ask you to back up your claims. May laugh at silly cliches and ask for facts.

If you plan to hang out here, I advise you to get used to it.

My name is L-girl, btw - a common mistake, as blogger lower-cases everything.

I am also a JoS moderator. Just FYI.

L-girl said...

Criticizing Scott Boras for getting the best deal (or the most money) for his clients is like criticizing Manny Ramirez for having a high slugging percentage against various pitchers.

It's his job. It's what he is supposed to do.


Good point, too often ignored!

What about me?

I think I was just as dismissive of your comments. Why don't I have to get a grip?


Same old pattern.

* * * *

Amy, very good theories, interesting and astute (as per usual).

e.e. said...

ok,
I've been blogging a long time and know the ropes about the commenting. I just usually don't comment often.
I don't care if people disagree with me, but really, I have a right to my opinion just as much as anyone else. I also don't usually chastise other commenters ... i.e., "e.e. has a bit of growing up to do, methinks..."
l-girl, and 9-casey, just because Boras is good at his job doesn't make it RIGHT. It's too bad there's always "somebody waiting at the other end." It's unfortunate that when someone is too great at his job, such as Boras, it can often lead to an excess of power and skill which can often have detrimental results. Yeah, Varitek appears to be a classy guy, indeed an excellent counter to the claims of the article. But where indeed had Boras led J. Damon, and A-Rod?
His marketing sword has given them all the money in the world. But are they happy???
And what I mean about the game of baseball and the lessons to be taught to children is just that - not to love the game for the money, but to love the game for the sake of the GAME. There are many heroes in the game of baseball that have been lost to the media and the public - - it's too bad the focus is not more on the person instead of how much he makes.
When my friend's son goes to practice his pitching in little league, he says he wants to learn to pitch like Beckett... there is no mention of making a million dollars like A-Rod. THIS is what I am talking about.
And I also agree that movie stars, etc make way too much money as well, but the article was about Boras and baseball, not movie stars.
I agree with this: "...says more about all of us than it does about just owners and players."
What family can go see a ballgame at Fenway Park for less than $50.00?? It's out of control.
BTW, all three New Yorker articles were very good, and thanks for the heads up on them. I appreciated the links to them.

redsock said...

"The great trouble with baseball today is that most of the players are in the game for the money and that's it. Not for the love of it, the excitement of it, the thrill of it."

Guess who said that?
























Ty Cobb -- in 1925!

This is not a modern problem -- certainly not a Boras problem -- if indeed, it is a problem. I don't think it is.

Once again, baseball gets singled out for this bizarre responsibility of teaching children the values of life.

Why not criticize the movies, the publishing industry, or hockey, or whatever for failing to teach children to love the job for the sake of the job and not money?

Why does baseball -- out of all the jobs in the entire world -- get singled out this unique bashing?

redsock said...

But where indeed had Boras led J. Damon, and A-Rod?
His marketing sword has given them all the money in the world. But are they happy???


Who cares? ... Really, do you truly care if Johnny Damon is happy?

He is a grown man and he made a decision about where he wanted to work. Period.

Why does everyone act like Boras has a gun to the player's head demanding he sign what Boras wants him to sign?

When my friend's son goes to practice his pitching in little league, he says he wants to learn to pitch like Beckett... there is no mention of making a million dollars like A-Rod. THIS is what I am talking about.

That's because he's a kid. Playing freakin' Little League!!

I guarantee you that many -- if not all -- older kids who have a great shot at getting drafted, signed and playing professional baseball have thought about the possible financal end of it.

Come on, you cannot be that naive.

e.e. said...

lol.... great quote. Oh, trust me, I am not singling out baseball. But again, the article WAS about baseball, hence my focus.
Kids love baseball. Not that they don't love all the other sports, mind you, but it IS one of the most popular. So, "this bizarre responsibility of teaching children the values of life..." just ends up being a part of it, a part of baseball. How can it possibly be avoided? The kids are INTO it, just like we adults are. Yeah, good values should be taught at other venues, at other discussions...I 100% agree... but we were talking baseball and salaries and Boras and so forth.. weren't we?

Sigh. It's not being naive. Wishful thinking, perhaps, that things were simpler today.

L-girl said...

I don't care if people disagree with me, but really, I have a right to my opinion just as much as anyone else. I also don't usually chastise other commenters

oh pleeeeeeease.
I-girl, get a GRIP.


I guess you made an exception for me. Funny how that works.

e.e., most fans agree with your views on agents and players' salaries. It's by far the majority opinion, stoked daily by the sports media.

Here, there are people who challenge that view, and the whole "what's wrong with baseball" hand-wringing mentality.

I think these majority views are silly and immature, hence my comment about growing up to do. If that offended you, I apologize.

Still, I find it interesting that you only told me to get a grip. We're used to that around here, too.

Amy said...

Why does everyone act like Boras has a gun to the player's head demanding he sign what Boras wants him to sign?

Plus no one makes them hire Boras either. They hire him for a reason. Schilling chose not to have an agent; that may something about him as well.

ee, fwiw, I yearn for a romantic ideal of baseball (and everything else also) where money is not as important. So I understand your feelings. But it never was the reality, and it never will be.

redsock said...

"this bizarre responsibility of teaching children the values of life..." just ends up being a part of it, a part of baseball. How can it possibly be avoided? The kids are INTO it, just like we adults are.

I'm more obsessed with baseball now than I ever was as a kid, but I don't look to it for directions on how to live my life. No one else should either -- of any age.

And I think kids are smart enough not to do so. It's mainly crusty old sportswriters who feed the myth that kids are blank slates that these evil baseball players and agents are scribbling on.

You know the type -- the sportswriters that are so tuned into the zeitgeist, their popular culture references are Rubik's Cubes and the Village People.

Wishful thinking, perhaps, that things were simpler today.

Things were never simple -- the talk of greedy players and the proposal of a salary cap in the 1890s shows us that -- so I don't think it's gonna happen now.

Amy said...

On baseball and children, just one comment. We try to instill in children through sports programs that teamwork is important, that it is not about the individual player, but about the team. We tell them that if they do well but their team does not, their individual success will not mean as much. We also teach them to try their hardest, but to be good sports if they lose.

Of course, we also tell them to resolve disagreements with words, not fists; not to judge people by the color of their skin; to take care of those in need; not to litter or waste resources.

I am sure kids are confused when they see professional athletes "deserting" a team for money or professional athletes in fights on the field. But then...aren't they also confused by needless wars, racism, poverty, and the destruction of our environment?

Sure, it would be nice if adults practiced what they preach to their children. But we don't, so they have that cognitive dissonance throughout their childhoods. And then they grow up and repeat all the same mistakes.

Sad but true. Always has been, likely always will be.

9casey said...

Jesus Christ ..I missed all this ....amazing that people always get so ticked that people who have the abiltiy to play baseball actually make millions to play it.....who cares it's not even in a realm i can even think about.....

And for the children , if I once tell my son or daughter , hey watch that guy play baseball he respects the game ,the friggin game .please some one shoot me.....

I don't know Alex Rodriguez from a whole in the wall, but to judge him on how much more money he makes than me , and assume he has no values and cares about nothing else, makes me the one with low values and selfesteem, doesn't it..

People don't bith about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates ....BILLIONAIRES...when there products all require a good chunk of your paycheck....But to spend 400.00 dollars at the ballpark once a year ...unthinkable?

But the day Scott Boras comes knocking on my door and says he want to represent on of my kids....shit, where do we sign.....

It's just money.......


e.e said:
l-girl, and 9-casey, just because Boras is good at his job doesn't make it RIGHT. It's too bad there's always "somebody waiting at the other end." It's unfortunate that when someone is too great at his job, such as Boras, it can often lead to an excess of power and skill which can often have detrimental results.

Detrimental to who?

It's unfortunate that when someone is too great at his job?

WHAT????

L-girl said...

I don't know Alex Rodriguez from a whole in the wall, but to judge him on how much more money he makes than me , and assume he has no values and cares about nothing else, makes me the one with low values and selfesteem, doesn't it..

Good point!!!!

People don't bith about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates
....BILLIONAIRES...when there products all require a good chunk of your paycheck....But to spend 400.00 dollars at the ballpark once a year ...unthinkable?


More excellent points.

What's more, is the cause of high ticket prices actually players' salaries? We don't know, because we never see what the teams are taking in, what their actual profits are.

But the day Scott Boras comes knocking on my door and says he want to represent on of my kids....shit, where do we sign.....

I know - the hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

Thanks 9C. Now get a grip. :)

L-girl said...

I don't know if anyone's reading this thread anymore, but I just read McGrath's story. It was really good.

I also wanted to recommend Roger Angell's tribute to Joe Torre. Very nice.

Amy said...

That was a nice tribute to Torre. I always have enjoyed Roger Angell's baseball writing. Thanks for the link.