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Scott Boras: The Ari Gold of baseball

By A. James Memmott

November 5, 2007 at 8:43am

Like any sport, baseball needs its villains.

And right now, there’s no better villain than Scott Boras, the California-based sports agent who has the audacity to seek and get really, really good contracts for his millionaire clients.

Boras, 55, is so hateful, it would seem, that he will even upstage the World Series.

While the last game between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies was being played last month, the word emerged that Boras client Alex Rodriguez was opting out of the last three years of his contract with the New York Yankees. In doing this, he was passing up $91 million to seek more money elsewhere.

The writers were appalled that Boras — the presumed leaker of the info — didn’t wait until after the Series ended to announce the news.

“At the very least, the decision to announce Rodriguez’ decision violated baseball etiquette in the worst possible way,” wrote Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald.

Casual observers might wonder how a game in which the players spit frequently and scratch themselves often can be seen to have etiquette.

And there are lawyers who might argue that Boras, who is a lawyer and a former minor league player, didn’t get where he is by being polite. So why start now?

Regardless, the fuss over Boras, sometimes called the most hated man in baseball, may obscure the fact that a lot of players think he is doing something right.

His company, Boras Corp., has so many clients on so many baseball teams that he may be the best-connected person in sports.

According to an Oct. 29 profile by Ben McGrath in the New Yorker, Boras Corp. represents 65 major-league players and about that many minor-league players.

For its services, the company gets 5 percent of the major leaguer’s salaries.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, a star player in Japan who signed with the Boston Red Sox last December, is a Boras client.

To get Matsuzaka, Boston first won bidding rights by paying $51.1 million. Then the Red Sox agreed to pay Matsuzaka $52 million over six years, a figure that could reach $60 million if Matsuzaka meets some benchmarks.

Boras also got pitcher Barry Zito $126 million for seven years from the San Francisco Giants in 2007.

And his bargaining brought outfielder Carlos Beltran $119 for seven years in 2005 from the New York Mets.

Many other Boras clients have done very well.

However, none has received the contract numbers Boras negotiated in 2000 for Rodriguez. The player signed a $252-million, 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers. (Rodriquez went to the Yankees in 2004 and the contract remained in force.)

According to reports, Boras now hopes to get Rodriguez, an extraordinary player who has had less than ordinary off-season performances, a 10-year, $350-million, contract from some team.

With the exception of Rodriguez, it’s usually Boras and not the players who are accused of greed after each of these contracts is announced.

And sometimes, too, it’s Boras, and not the team owners, who is blamed by fans for high ticket and concession prices.

Boras, though, would seem to be able to take the heat, believing he has a role to play. “There’s a balance that’s needed in the growing of the game,” he told a group of baseball bigwigs last year. “And I provide the balance on one side and you provide it on the other.”

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