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Column: The battle of superstar vs. super agent

The Associated Press/<br>Kathy Willens<br>Alex Rodriguez ditched agent Scott Boras in time enough to save his locker at Yankee Stadium.

The Associated Press/<br>Kathy Willens<br>Alex Rodriguez ditched agent Scott Boras in time enough to save his locker at Yankee Stadium.

When super-agent Scott Boras gets around to penning his memoirs, you can rest assured that the events of the last few weeks will not be highlighted.First, Boras elected to upstage Game 4 of the World Series to announce to the breathless public that his marquee client, Alex Rodriguez, was opting out of his contract with the Yankees. Boras was roundly criticized for the timing of the move, which suggested that he - and A-Rod - were bigger than the game.Next, Boras refused to allow the Yankees to discuss a new contract with A-rod unless the team agreed to open the bidding at a minimum of $350 million over 10 years. Having just seen a $7 million annual subsidy - the portion of A-Rod's contract the Texas Rangers agreed to pay when the third baseman was traded to New York three years ago - evaporate into thin air, the Yankees understandably refused the ante.With the Yankees out of the bidding, other MLB clubs with the need and/or the resources to sign A-Rod played hard to get. Seeing no market for his services, A-Rod - heeding the advice of none other than financial guru Warren Buffett - ditched Boras and went back to the Yankees, hat in hand. Without the brash and bombastic Boras at his side, A-Rod and the Yankees agreed in principle to a 10-year, $275 million contract that, with incentives for breaking the all-time home run record, will reportedly exceed $300 million.Following closely on the heels of the A-Rod saga, Boras was also jettisoned by former Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers. Rogers had proclaimed all along that if he pitched in 2008, he wanted to do so in Detroit. But Boras convinced him to test the market in hopes of driving up the price to the Tigers. When it seemed the Tigers were headed in another direction in an effort to fill out their rotation, Rogers took a page out of A-Rod's book and informed Boras he was negotiating solo.For any normal agent, the double whammy would have been an embarrassment, surely a blow to the ego, or perhaps even a death knell for his career as an agent. But Boras isn't the normal agent. And the word embarrassment isn't part of his vocabulary. Compared to others of his ilk, Boras works harder, prepares better, negotiates tougher, and ultimately gets more money for his clients. That, of course, is Boras' job. But the scorched earth policy that Boras personifies - leaving a trail of devastation, bruised egos, and disgruntled negotiating partners - isn't part of an agent's job description.After Boras' public humiliation, baseball front offices could be heard celebrating from Boston to Los Angeles, Houston to Minneapolis. But the actions of A-Rod and Rogers are unlikely to initiate a return to the pre-'60's, when baseball executives refused to deal with agents. Such action is specifically prohibited by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players.The situations involving A-Rod and Rogers are unique compared to most MLB players. There was a limited market for A-Rod's services - beginning and ending, perhaps, with the Yankees - and Rogers was intent on returning to the Tigers or not at all. And it's not the first time in recent memory that players have negotiated contracts sans agents. Andruw Jones - another Boras client - negotiated his last contract with the Braves, and Curt Schilling has represented himself on a number of contracts.Most players can read the market in terms of overall dollars and length of contract, but even the most prepared player is no match for a GM and his phalanx of attorneys and accountants. That's why Boras was back on the scene to negotiate the intricacies of A-Rod's contract once the dollars and years had been agreed to. If a player is opposed to paying 4 percent to an agent, they can hire professionals - attorneys and accountants - at an hourly rate to review a contract's fine print.No one should feel sorry for Boras. The spin he ultimately weaves over the A-Rod fiasco will be designed to portray him in the finest light. And his share of A-Rod's new mega-deal - approximately $12 million - will go a long way toward soothing any ruffled feathers over being upstaged by Warren Buffett.(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 jkobritz@mindspring.com)
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