Alex, Tom and a deal with the Devil
Let's be real honest here. Alex Rodriguez is not Satan. But his agent, Scott Boras, might be. And Texas Rangers' owner Tom Hicks isn't the worst businessman in the world, just the worst businessman in baseball.
Never has there been an baseball offseason like this one. With many Boston Red Sox fans just arising from their postseason failure hangovers, their team has decided to go on a spending spree that makes MTV's Rich Girls look like certifiable amateurs.
So far, the Red Sox have signed starting pitcher Curt Schilling and closer Keith Foulke for an amount of money that would make even Paris Hilton blush. But the real news has been the saga surrounding the possibility of signing the reigning American League MVP in Rodriguez and the subsequent trade of current Red Sox shortstop and all-star Nomar Garciaparra.
This whole situation makes me as nauseous as riding the Tilt-a-Whirl with a stomach full of Pronto Pups. And if Rodriguez does sign with the Sox, people might have to find some of that magic powder they spread around to clean up hurl.
There has nevet been a bigger plague to Major League Baseball than Rodriguez and his agent Boras, who I like to refer to as a blood-thirsty angel of death, Satan, Lucifer or the Devil.
Yes, Rodriguez is the best player in baseball. His video game-like statistics are rewriting record books with every year he plays. But the one record number that stands out above all else concerning Rodriguez is his $250 million contract. Of course, that kind of number is always going to stick out. With $250 million, you could buy yourself a nice little place to retire, like maybe Fiji.
For the past four years, Rodriguez has been toiling away with hapless Texas Rangers, putting up his Playstation numbers and losing game after game. To many baseball fans it is a sweet irony that the best player is not just on a losing team, but the worst team in the league.
Regardless of what Rodriguez, Boras or Hicks think, they all deserve it. It was Rodriguez, who left a good situation in Seattle, it was Boras who shopped Rodriguez to teams with contract demands higher than most teams' payrolls, and Hicks who was dumb enough to agree to it all.
At the time four years ago, the market price for the future hall of fame shortstop was close to $15 million a year for 10 years, which would still have been the highest professional sports contract ever.
But that wasn't good enough for Rodriguez or Boras. They politely waved goodbye to Seattle and its more-than-fair contract offer and decided to fish around for a bigger catch.
They landed either a whale or the world's biggest sucker in Hicks. Instead of bettering the market value of Rodriguez by offering a few million more, he decided to better the offer by $10 million more. Who taught this guy business? Martha Stewart?
If this ridiculous deal wasn't vomit-inducing enough, the press conference made me want to drink a truckload of Pepto Bismol.
There was A-Rod trying on a Rangers hat and jersey, telling the world that he believed the Rangers would be World Series contenders in a few years. Yeah, sure Alex, and girls don't love you for your money and looks, but rather for what an incredible personality you have.
It only got worse. Hicks told reporters that A-Rod was the future of baseball in Texas and it was only the beginning of a lasting relationship between Rodriguez and the Rangers. Sure it was. Julia Roberts has had relationships last longer than this.
But the worst came when Boras said, straight-faced, that Rodriguez signing with the Rangers wasn't about the money. A sports agent telling anyone that something isn't about the money, is worse than guys telling girls they read Playboy just for the articles. It's a lie, and a bad lie at that.
Of course it was completely about the money. How else could Rodriguez justify leaving the Mariners - a playoff caliber team - for the Rangers - a team whose biggest highlight that season was that its first baseman became baseball's first spokesman for Viagra.
Now Rodriguez, Boras and Hicks all want out. Rodriguez has whined loudly that he just wants to play for a winner. All that money must have made him forget that he played for a winner before selling his soul to Boras. Hey Alex, what happened to those World Series expectations?
I'll tell you what happened; the team crumbled under the weight of his massive, ego-driven contract. For $25 million a year, most major league teams could get three quality players. Instead, the Rangers get one very great player, who unfortunately can't pitch and play shortstop.
Hicks suddenly had an epiphany that maybe paying one guy this much money isn't working out too well. But Hicks being the brilliant businessman he is, will take Manny Ramirez and his $178 million dollar contract instead. At least Rodriguez is a great player - Ramirez just believes he's a great player.
And where are the Red Sox in all of this. They are playing the role of George Steinbrenner, spitting in the face of their all-star shortstop Garciaparra and openly courting Rodriguez. It's like going to the high school prom with the second-best looking girl in the school and dropping her just because the best looking girl in school doesn't like her date. It's childish impetuousness and stupidity.
Garciaparra really has done nothing to deserve this treatment. Yes, he turned down a contract extension earlier in the year, but there is no single player in the Red Sox organization that has come to represent it better. He plays hard, he plays hurt and he produces. But it still isn't good enough for the Red Sox, who are stuck in this spitting contest with the Yankees.
With the Rodriguez deal labeled 'dead', an under-appreciated Garciaparra could remain in Boston. He will most likely leave at the end of the season when he's a free agent. Who can blame him?
But I believe that the players' union, the commissioner and the two teams will work things out. Rodriguez will go to Boston, Ramirez to Texas and Garciaparra most likely to Chicago.
Rodriguez will be happy, Hicks will be happy and most important of all, the devil will still get paid.