Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Life of a Minor Leaguer: Agents

Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world.  If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off.  ~Bill Veeck

Who out there besides me cannot stand when they hear the name Scott Boras? Seriously, just the thought of him and his multi million dollar player contracts is enough to make me nauseous. He prods and pokes, threatens and chokes, until he has squeezed every dollar out of every organization he runs across.  Is he good at his job? Maybe. It depends on what you define an agent's job as. He is good (maybe the best) at negotiating to a stand still, then waiting. He knows that his client is a commodity that has a value, and his job (as he clearly has demonstrated) is to raise that value as high as it can go...not matter the cost. 

Personally, my definition of a good agent is someone who can be the middle man between you and some entity (the organization, endorsements, fans, etc.) making the interaction as peaceful and painless as possible for BOTH sides, not just the player's. Unfortunately, my definition of an agent is a dying occupation. Instead of having someone who is proficient in diplomacy, you see agents skilled in strategic warfare, willing and ready to pounce on and kill any unsuspecting prey. 

Baseball is a business, I understand. But first and foremost it is a game! I appreciate and respect those within the game who fight to preserve that at all costs. Agents nowadays are widening the gap between players and teams, players and fans, even players and their own families. With the expectations of enormous contracts, teams aren't as willing to keep guys around for long periods of time forcing these players (wives and kids too) to bounce around from team to team begging for whoever will give them that extra 100k. It's an ugly reality. As my good friend Robert Lang put it, "Take a little less. Stay where you are. and win a freaking World Series like they used too." Amen Robert, Amen.

So here's my situation...I'm in single A, I'm not negotiating any contracts, I'm not pushing for arbitration, I'm playing baseball. I am fully capable of calling a Mizuno rep. and negotiating my own equipment deal. I don't need help "wooing" people...C'mon I worked at Booster. And when that time comes for me to sit face to face with a General Manager to discuss the terms of my modest contract, i'll do what everyone else does, Outsource someone who does it better than I do, pay him for his work, then tell him "thanks, I'll call you when I need you again." Having an agent is like having a loud obnoxious bully on retainer for when you need to push someone around in the schoolyard. You know what Boras, thanks, but i'm good on my own.