Stop The Madness
by Greg Sullivan
Thank you, Steve Phillips.
Thank you for slowing down the
A-Rod express. I was ready to give up hope and
just accept the fact that baseball was
tailspinning into a fiery hell in a plane piloted
by Scott Boras. But now the flight, at least
temporarily, is back on track and cruising along
comfortably, while the rest of the sports world
holds its collective breath, waiting for some
stooge to meet the shortstop's demands.
And someone will - you know
someone will. Just like you knew
somebody would give Kevin Brown $100 million,
everybody knows that A-Rod will get $200
million. There's no doubt about it. If anyone
deserves it, it's A-Rod, but it's not even the
money that is raising eyebrows. A-Rod needs his
own office in the clubhouse. A-Rod needs his own
concession stands in the stadium to sell A-Rod
paraphanelia. A-Rod needs his own plane to fly
his family in from all over. A-Rod needs to be
marketed as the next Michael Jordan, the next
What's going on here? When did
this become acceptable? Is this what Boras wants
to be remembered as? What A-Rod wants to be
For love of the game, I hope
Let me clear the air about a
few things: 1) I hate agents, and 2) I admire
A-Rod. From everything I've seen, he's what Peter
Gammons might refer to as a "wonderful human
being." He's only two years older than me,
but he can do just about anything in the game of
baseball better than just about anyone
in the game of baseball, and he's always been
humble about his situation. Until now.
Ask yourself this - would Derek
Jeter or Nomar Garciaparra ask for their own
office in Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park? How
about Ken Griffey Jr. or Mark McGwire, the two
closest things to a Jordan or a Tiger that there
are in baseball today? I would have to say no in
all four instances, and the reason why is simple:
none of these players are trying to artificially
anoint themself as the face of baseball.
Alex Rodriguez is, with a
little help from his buddy Scott, and it makes me
When you hear the name Tiger
Woods, what do you think of? Most likely you
think of record-breaking performances at Major
tournaments, seemingly impossible shots that
actually make golf highlights fun to watch,
marketing millions, and titles, titles, titles.
Michael Jordan? Clutch last second shots,
show-stopping dunks, marketing millions, and
titles, titles, titles. A-Rod? Unheard of power
for a middle infielder, exceptional range to go
with a howitzer of an arm, the potential for
marketing millions, and, um, an appearance in the
There's something missing here,
don't you think?
Tiger is making his name by
winning golf tournaments, seemingly at will,
wherever he goes. He has brought golf to a
non-white audience in the same way that Wayne
Greztky brought hockey to an American audience.
He has put the PGA back on the map. And he has
done it all without the help of a private jet or
prematurely comparing himself to a legend.
Jordan made his name by winning
everything in sight, from scoring titles to MVP
awards to six champioships in eight years. He
made Chicago a basketball town and carried the
NBA after Bird and Magic retired. The league and
the sport aren't the same without him on the
court. He built his legend with big plays, not
big contracts and special perks.
A-Rod has a .309 career batting
average and has only played 160 games or more in
a season once.
Okay, that's not fair. I can't
take anything away from the kid - he's an
incredible player, and he's one
of the biggest names in baseball. But he's not the
biggest name - in fact, the beauty of baseball is
that there isn't just one player that can be the
face of the entire league. McGwire and Sosa,
Maddux and Glavine, Pedro and Randy, Nomar,
Jeter, and A-Rod - baseball just isn't an
individual sport like others can be, and A-Rod
can't be the de facto ambassador for the sport.
And that's what bothers me
about this "$20 million a year for 12 years
with a plane, an office, and our own little
merchandising thing" thing. You can treat
people as individuals in separate circumstances
in other sports, but it just doesn't work in
baseball. Everyone has to be on the same page,
and sit in the same room before and after the
game, or it just doesn't work.
Need some proof? Look at John
Rocker in Atlanta, Carl Everett in Boston, and
Rickey Henderson anywhere. Hell, look no further
than Kevin Brown, whose seven-year, $105 million,
contract started this ugly ball rolling. Brown
has pitched well, but what of the Dodgers?
Underacheivers ever since he came to town.
Oh, and by the way, Brown is a
So I ask, once and for all -
would you give A-Rod what he wants? Some GMs,
including the aforementioned Mets boss Steve
Phillips, have said no. And when you think about
it, the Mets need A-Rod more than anyone else in
baseball. They have a shortstop who couldn't hit
in Denver, play in the biggest market in
baseball, are coming off of a World Series
appearance, would love to add another twist to
their rivalry with the Yankees, and play in a
city that loves controversy.
But amidst all of that,
Phillips said no, because he realizes that
baseball is a team game and can not be won by one
player. Given the rift that A-Rod's presence
could cause in a clubhouse that already includes
superstars Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, and Edgardo
Alfonzo, the Mets resources would be better spent
on pitching and an outfielder, preferably one who
wants to be part of the team, not part of his
agent's ego trip.
So I implore the brains behind
the operations in Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, and
Colorado. Follow the lead of the Mets. Let A-Rod
pen his own legend before you treat him as if
it's already written. And if he proves that he
can be That Guy, then you can think about what
might have been.
But trust me, it wouldn't have
been - not in this game.