FIRE JOE MORGAN: Pay-Rod: It's a Pun!


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Monday, July 16, 2007


Pay-Rod: It's a Pun!

The dudes over at have been letting me down recently. And by "letting me down," I mean: not writing like boneheads. Fortunately, Michael Ventre comes through today, in an analogy-laden piece about how the Yankees shouldn't re-sign Alex Rodriguez for lots of money.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a multi-billionaire, and you have a craving for a candy bar. And let’s just say for purposes of argument that your butler, chauffeur and personal assistant all have the day off.

I love imagination games! I am with you so far.

You pull up to a 7/11 in your Bentley, get out, walk in, grab a candy bar and bring it up to the register. The kid behind the register recognizes you as one of the wealthiest men in the world and says, “That’ll be 100 bucks.”

Ooh -- I know this one. I say, "No -- the pricetag says "55 cents." And I win the game!

Of course, you could easily whip out your wallet, peel off a C note and pay the guy. But you know he’s gouging you because you’re filthy rich. So you tell him what he can do with his $100 candy bar and you split.

Or, I could offer him 55 cents, and if he refuses, tell him I will report him to the Better Business Bureau. Am I playing this game right?

Now replace the kid behind the counter with Scott Boras, and the anonymous multi-billionaire with George Steinbrenner, and that approximates the situation that erupted recently involving Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees.

Oh. Wait a second. You failed to inform me that this candy bar is the very very best candy bar in the entire realm of candy bars. You didn't mention that it was in its prime, like, shelf life, in terms of freshness. And you also didn't tell me that I already own this candy bar, and that another 7/11 in Texas is subsidizing this candy bar -- paying me, in this analogy, like $25 or something to defray the cost of it. (This happened because the store owner in Texas is big, dumb, and fat, and loved the candy bar so much that seven years ago he agreed to pay $252 million for it when no one else was even offering more than like $160m. But that is neither here nor there.)

You also failed to mention that this candy bar isn't just something I will eat. It is a magical candy bar that will also make me a lot of money, because it is so awesome that people will come from miles around to pay money just to sniff it. Or whatever. The analogy is running out of steam.

Boras told a New York newspaper that he expects A-Rod to attract a contract worth in the neighborhood of $35 million per season if he opts out of his current deal, which he is expected to do. For that kind of money, it had better be one darned good candy bar.

It is. It is a super super good candy bar. You can tell how good it is based on its performance versus other candy bars:

New York Fun-Tastical Chocolate Factory Product Performance:

Pay-Rod Bar: 31 Nougats, 1.058 Macadamia Nut Ratio
Japanese Sugar Candy Explosion: 14 Nougats, .853 MNR
Posadalmond Smile Lemon Surprise: 10 Nougats, .924 MNR
Jeterrific Calm-Eyed Choco-Bunny: 7 Nougats, .882 MNR

No other New York candy bar has more than 7 nougats, or an MNR higher than .751. This chocolate bar is extremely important to this chocolate factory.

The situation is complicated,

And packed with peanuts!

depending on which Boras blast and which tabloid report you believe. Boras also said, under A-Rod’s current deal, there are stipulations that would pay the superstar about $32 million per season in 2009 and 2010 anyway.

Oh. So, wait a second. You're telling me -- to revisit the analogy at the beginning -- that I might be on the hook for this candy bar to the tune of like $94 anyway? That, plus the subsidy, and the yummy, Most Valuable Sweet Treat-winning composition of the candy bar, makes the original situation you posed, um, misleading? Wrong? Bad? What's the right word?

What Boras is saying, roughly translated: C’mon, guys. He’s already getting $32 million. What’s another $3 million per? It’s chicken feed, really. You can pay it out of petty cash.

Well, again, it's not that much, if they can extend him. The Texas 7/11 is paying you a decent chunk of that.

So while everybody is arguing about $32 million versus $35 million, Boras has made them all forget that nobody else in baseball makes more than A-Rod’s 2007 salary that is estimated at between $22 million and $27 million (depending on the source and how it’s calculated). Boras is taking a number that is completely out of whack and slowly getting everybody used to it.

Is it out of whack? Ichiro just got 5/90+. ARod is definitely better than Ichiro. And remember -- the original contract, that Tom Hicks signed in 2000, gave him this escalator to $32m or $1m more than the highest paid guy, or whatever it is. Don't blame Boras. Blame Hicks, if you blame anyone.

Supposedly, the Cubs and Red Sox will be willing to meet A-Rod’s price. Yet where is that information coming from? It smells like a Boras plant. I’m surprised we haven’t heard that the L.A. Galaxy wants to sign A-Rod to play next to David Beckham, or that MGM wants him to be the new James Bond. When Boras is finished, the hot rumor will be that A-Rod is about to merge with Google.

What does any of this have to do with candy?

Also, I am guessing that with the money the Sox, Giants, and Angels have coming off the books in the next couple years, there would be at least a few teams willing to do 6/190 or something. Especially if they thought ARod could go back to SS.

It’s true, [ARod is] a stud in the lineup. This year he’s hitting .312, with 31 home runs and 87 RBIs. But he’s doing it during a relatively meaningless season in which it became obvious early on that the Yankees just weren’t going to be in the playoff picture;

Oh buh-ruther.

First off, the Yankees are still in the playoff picture. They play their next like 30 games against the DRays, the Royals, the Fordham JV Team, and the Washington Generals. Second, and more importantly, how can you write this sentence and believe it is good? That's the real question. If it weren't for ARod, the Yankees would, to paraphrase Johnny Damon a while ago, be about 25 games back. They'd be nowheresville. They would stink to high heaven. He is -- and now I will actually quote Joe Morgan, just for kicks -- carrying this team.

in that regard, his current tear isn’t much different than the sparking stats he put up while a member of the bottom-dwelling Texas Rangers.

Explain to me what he is supposed to do differently than what he has done. How can he make his team any better than he is making it? Seriously, man. Explain this. I defy you to explain this. Should he have pitched for Chan Ho Park? Should be be the Yankees' 8th-inning bridge guy to Rivera? What do you want him to do?

When he has been on good teams, like the 2000 Mariners and the Yankees the past two years, he has put up fantastic numbers. When he has been on crappy teams, like this year's Yankees, he has put up fantastic numbers. What do you want him to do?

Don’t forget 2006. There was no salary drive. And there were indeed playoff hopes. A-Rod responded with still-admirable numbers for most players — .290 average, 35 homers, 121 RBI — but hardly $35 million-per-year mega-superstar numbers.

You are calling ARod out for having that season. Really. Really. His WARP3 that year was 7.3, and if he had been playing SS, instead of adjusting to third because Captain Selfless refused to move, it might have been in the 10's. And there was no salary drive in 2005, either, by the way, or 2004, 2003, or 2002, or 2001, and in those five years he was worth 63 wins to his teams.

He was much shakier in last year’s playoffs, with just one hit in 14 at-bats. In the 2005 postseason, he was only slightly better: two hits in 15 at-bats.

So. Just so I understand you.

7100 career AB with a .963 OPS and 495 HR -- which played a huge role in getting his teams get to the playoffs six times -- are less important than 29 AB over two years.

Go here. Scroll down to the Postseason Hitting area. Look at his overall numbers. Look at the fact that in 3 LCS he has a 1.025 OPS. Then -- and I want you, and all of your ilk to listen to me very closely -- never ever write drivel like that again.

At the moment, it appears his mental approach to the game is sound. But A-Rod is one of the sports world’s leading neurotics. Remember those patches of inferior play last season, followed by public discussions of his own fragile mental state?

Yes. And that definitely affected his play this year. He's at .284/.314/.339, with zero home runs. Oh no wait -- that's Juan Pierre. ARod is murdering the baseball every single day and has more than twice as many home runs as anyone else on his team.

It’s courageous for anybody to seek counseling while going through depression or difficult times. Yet he seems to be a completely different person this year. Unless he had a remarkable breakthrough after a visit to Jiffy Shrink, what that tells me is that the promise of money and stature keeps him focused, whereas the traditionally foremost reason to motivate an athlete — winning a championship — is a distant second or third.

Now, this might seem like a wild and completely unfounded accusation, but remember: Michael Ventre is a licensed psychologist. He got his MD/PhD from Stanford in 1996, and has been a practicing Clinical Psychologist in the New York area ever since. He is also the author of several books on athletes and their psychological motivations, including: Money or Success? The Athletic Mind in the 21st Century and Running in Place: The Scourge of Large Contracts and the Quest to Keep Athletes Motivated for Team Success. So he knows exactly what is motivating ARod.

I realize it takes an entire team, not one man, to win a title.

Do you? Honestly -- do you?

Pitching is more important than hitting. But after this, his 14th major league season, he never will have played in a World Series, let alone won one.

In the 2000 ALCS against the Yankees he went 9-22 with 2 HR. What a choking asshole. (I cannot believe how many times I have had to write a version of this sentence on this blog.)

Maybe it is because he just hasn’t been on a team that had enough talent.

Huh. There's a thought.

Or maybe it’s because he has been, but he didn’t infuse his team with the kind of leadership qualities that picks everybody up and keeps them moving forward determinedly through good times and bad.

Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God

Any team that signs A-Rod should also have extra room in the cargo hold for his baggage. If it isn’t a “Stray-Rod” front page with a stripper, it might be a gentle feud with a teammate (in the past two years it was Derek Jeter; at A-Rod’s next stop, who knows?), or another obscene message on his wife’s shirt, or fending off criticism when he does stuff perceived as Little Leaguesque like trying to knock the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in 2004, or yelling to distract an opponent like he did this season against Toronto.

He's done some stupid stuff. He's also hit 495 HR and he's 31.

He isn’t a bum. He’s arguably the best player in baseball. He’s worth the money he’s making. But is he worth a lot more than that? Is he worth $35 million per season, or more?

He'll be making $32m regardless, in a couple years. So, by definition, he is.

I'm hungry.

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