Column: A-Rod's journey from unaffordable to unethical
Originally Published: November 2, 2007 7:10 p.m.
The man has no shame. Embarrassment is not a word in his vocabulary. He thinks only of himself. When Scott Boras announced that his client, Alex Rodriguez, was opting out of his contract with the Yankees, he proved once and for all that it's all about him, every time, all the time.There was no urgency to the announcement. A-Rod had up to 10 days after the end of the World Series to make his decision official. Yet Boras chose to make the announcement during the fourth game of the World Series, e-mailing his client's wishes to the news media while the game was in progress.Boras knew the consequences of his actions. The man has been called a lot of things over the years, but stupid isn't one of them. He knew the media would pick up the story immediately. Ken Rosenthal, FOX's in-game reporter, announced in the top of the eighth inning that he had spoken with Boras and relayed the announcement to the breathless millions around the world who had presumably tuned in to watch the Red Sox and the Rockies. FOX proceeded to devote nearly five minutes of in-game time to speculating on A-Rod's ultimate destination.There's a reason why MLB discourages - maybe prohibits - clubs from making announcements during the World Series. Baseball's premier event deserves to have the media spotlight on the games and the events surrounding the games. But Boras isn't subject to MLB's rules. He operates according to the Boras Rules. And his first rule is to do anything and everything that benefits Scott Boras.MLB issued a scathing denunciation of Boras' crass act, which was quickly followed by an apology from Boras. But if you think the apology was sincere, then you're still waiting for an appearance from the tooth fairy. Boras had every intention of doing exactly what he did: Shine the spotlight on himself.And Boras didn't do his client any favors with the timing of his announcement. A-Rod, already a pariah in several clubhouses around MLB, and a target of fans in nearly every ballpark in North America, gave up a guaranteed $72 million in the remaining three years of the 10-year, $252 million contract he signed with the Texas Rangers. He didn't bother to give the Yankees an opportunity to make a contract extension proposal, one that was expected to be in the range of five years and $140-150 million.The Yankees had been adamant that if A-Rod opted out of his contract, they would not pursue him as a free agent. They reiterated that stance after Boras' announcement. While it's always appropriate to have a top figure in mind when engaging in an auction, which is essentially what Boras has in mind for his client, it doesn't make much sense to announce your position in advance, as the Yankees did. Unless, of course, they really didn't want A-Rod in a Yankee uniform anymore, ala Joe Torre. And now Boras has neither a Yankee offer to shop around, nor the Yankees involved in a bidding war.There are some who believe that Boras will finally get his comeuppance in the A-Rod negotiation. That no club is willing and able to pay A-Rod the king's ransom he's looking for. Don't believe it.Boras would not have recommended that A-Rod opt out of his contract if he didn't already have at least one club in his pocket that would meet his demands. And he knows how to prepare for and conduct a negotiation, even when there is only one suitor. You have only to look at previous contracts signed by Boras' clients J.D. Drew and Dice-K Matsuzaka with the Red Sox, and A-Rod with the Rangers. A-Rod will get his money, and it says here there will be a number of clubs competing for his services.Money isn't the issue. Ethics is. In its simplest form, the definition of ethics is to "do the right thing." It's hard to believe that Boras did the right thing in this situation. Of course, there are those who think using the words "attorney" and "ethics" in the same sentence is the ultimate oxymoron. Boras' actions may have proven them right.(Jordan Kobritz is a former attorney, CPA, and Minor League Baseball team owner. He is an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Eastern New Mexico University and teaches the Business of Sports at the University of Wyoming. Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)