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MLB: "Scott Boras is living in fantasy land"

Nov 19, 2009, 10:11 AM EDT

Not that you didn’t know that already (remember how Oliver Perez was the next Sandy Koufax?).  But now MLB brass is coming right out and saying it:

Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred responded strongly to revenue sharing figures thrown out by Scott Boras at last week’s general managers’ meetings indicating that Boras’s numbers “have no basis in reality” and that Boras is living in “fantasy land.”

Here Manfred is referring to Boras’ comments last week that there are Major League teams who receive $80 million from a baseball central fund and just pocket it rather than put it into payroll to make the teams better.

Given his penchant for exaggeration, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Boras’ actual numbers are off.  But the thing is, he’s not wrong about the dynamic. Teams do take revenue sharing money and stash it or use it to pay down debt from their initial purchase of the team.  There really is a strategy among some owners to maximize franchise value — which is where their money comes from — as opposed to maximizing wins and season-to-season revenue.  Running a losing team with low gate is still a great deal as long as the team is low on debt, there’s a nice, owner-friendly stadium deal in place, and as long as MLB central will never let a franchise truly crater.

So maybe Boras’ $80 million figure is “fantasy land.”  But even if were, say, $40 million, it doesn’t make him wrong.

  1. Joey B - Nov 19, 2009 at 10:36 AM

    The way I see it, it’s a two-way street. It could well be that the FL owner is pocketing $millions from what the big market teams send him, rather than spending it. But I can also see the logic of not putting a better team on the field if no one wants to come to the park. Why buy a Picasso for your museum if no one will come to see it?

  2. Dan Whitney - Nov 19, 2009 at 10:41 AM

    Wouldn’t it be nice if MLB deigned to explain exactly how Boras was wrong, where he is close and where he is wildly off-target? MLB only wants to talk revenue specifics when crying poor, like the Indians when trading Lee and Martinez this summer.

  3. Wells - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:17 AM

    I feel a bit crazy saying this, but it gets harder to hate Boras. The man plays a good game and by all accounts does well by his clients. If he succeeds at anything, it’s taking money from the owners and putting it in the pockets of the players and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. He’s right on, too, with this revenue sharing knock, even if his figures are a little high. I’m liking Boras more and more, I must admit.

  4. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    The only thing wrong with your arguement is that all of this cost us, the baseball viewing public the millions he gets for his clients. Yes, we pay for it all. if the owners have to pay out all the moolah, then we pay for it in incrfeased costs of EVERYTHING

  5. Wells - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    I’m confused by your comment: would you suggest artificially deflating/capping player salaries because stingy owners want to pass the costs along? It’s a bit of a worker’s rights argument that each worker deserves a large portion of the wealth that they create, and this principle shouldn’t stop as the numbers escalate. Baseball has among the major sports the lowest percentage of revenue going to the people on the field: this seems wrong. Not that Boras is fighting the good fight, necessarily, but I think he’s on the right side of the divide.

  6. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 12:12 PM

    Stop talking about econ 101 and talk common sense. Who can afford to go to a ball game today? Why is the cost of DTV and Cable going up from the low cost in the early years to over a hundred dollars today? I can’t go to a ball game today with the family because of the outrageous prices they charge. As for T-V, I can not pay for the increasing cost of the cable or DTV because of the costs of the sports channels. You are speaking about wage disputes between millionaires and billionaires. Who cares? They are both running us out of the pro sports venues. I will stick with H.S. & college stuff and reading about the pro sports in the papers and on line as long as they exist. If it is on “free” T-V I may watch it, but not pay for the cost of the sports packages.
    Fast Eddy

  7. Wells - Nov 19, 2009 at 12:16 PM

    Common sense tells me that Boras getting $15m for Strasburg and $9m for Ackley isn’t causing a professional baseball game to be prohibitively expensive and if you buy into that line of reasoning, you’ve fallen for the owner’s tricks. This has been the story throughout the history of baseball and will continue to be. The poor owners under such wild and unrealistic demands by players who wish to earn a portion of what they create.

  8. Jason - Nov 19, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    Have to agree with Wells on this one. Lower player salaries just mean bigger profits for the billionaire owners. Prices are set by what people are willing to pay.

  9. Mike - Nov 19, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    Fast Eddy,
    You make alot of valid points and the reason why ticket prices have soared in recent years isn’t just salaries of players but the fact that owners who’s sport team plays in a big markets especially want as many seats available to big wigs as possible. All these teams are getting millions of dollars a year from tv contracts so they want the average fan to pay for the nfl ticket/mlb package. While the price contiues to go up every year it’s still cheaper than what you would pay to see those games in person. They want to make sure they have as many tickets available to coporate america and rich celebs so they can justify charging 1000 a ticket to sit behind home plate. The problem is with the economy crashing and many people either out of work or not making nearly the amount of money they were, many cant afford to pay those prices.

  10. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    Everyone knows that the cost of salaries is the largest expense in running a business, especially in sports. The salaries of the players has dictated the increasing salaries from the manages to the training staff and even to the umps & grounds keepers. Everyone is paid more, even the owners. The owners take 40 years ago was a larger percentage of the total revenue, however it is much higher today in dollar terms, because in running a business, you are not likely to make less than the employees. Otherwise, why go into the business? A wage argument between billionaires and millionaires means nothing to me. What they have both done to this game is appalling and there is an end somewhere in sight. I just don’t know if we are close or not. In the meantime, I can’t afford to pay the cost of the sports packages and go to a game costing $60. or more for a decent seat.

  11. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Nov 19, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    What they have both done to this game is appalling and there is an end somewhere in sight. I just don’t know if we are close or not. In the meantime, I can’t afford to pay the cost of the sports packages and go to a game costing $60. or more for a decent seat.

    While this may be true, it has absolutely nothing to do with player salaries. As Keith Law mentions in the link I’ll provide below, it’s simply supply and demand. If you want to go to a Yankees game, you have to pay the prices that they determine. The more who want to go, the more they raise ticket prices. It’s that simple.
    Another way to look at it, if your assertion were true, then wouldn’t owners slash prices when they cut payroll? When has that ever happened?
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=708

  12. Joey B - Nov 19, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    “I just don’t know if we are close or not. In the meantime, I can’t afford to pay the cost of the sports packages and go to a game costing $60. or more for a decent seat.”
    I go to Yankee Stadium, known to be fairly expensive, and my tickets cost $20 each. A $60 ticket is a lot more than decent. I’m not sure where you go to watch a game, but there is almost certainly less expensive tickets than $60.
    And your problem is economics anyway. Until 2009, attendance continued to climb for MLB. If they were overcharging, and seats went empty, they’d lower their price, like every other business does. You not being to afford a ticket is more a reflection of someone else can more easily afford it. If a ticket costs $60, it is only because someone else is willing to pay it.

  13. Joey B - Nov 19, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    “Baseball has among the major sports the lowest percentage of revenue going to the people on the field: this seems wrong. Not that Boras is fighting the good fight, necessarily, but I think he’s on the right side of the divide.”
    The reason why BB is lower is because the players’ union turned down a revenue sharing deal with MLB. At the time, the players’ salaries were growing faster than BB revenues. So instead of declaring victory and making a reasonable accommodation, the PU thought they’d get even more. Since then, salary growth, while still high, has moderated, and MLB revenues have gone through the roof.
    And Boras isn’t on the right side of the divide anymore than he was on the wrong side of the divide when he got $70M for Drew. His job is to get his client the most money he can. He doesn’t give a rat’s a$$ about the owners or the fans, nor should he. At the end of the day, the model doesn’t change whether it’s the MLB and the PU, or if it’s Manny at the local deli. Both sides want the best deal. If Manny does great work, the owner will pay him. If he doesn’t, Rory down the block will.

  14. Old Gator - Nov 19, 2009 at 2:08 PM

    This peripheral Feesh fan must be living in something pretty damned close to Boras’ “fantasy land,” because however much Jeffrey Loria and his chihuahua-in-law are shovelling into the money vault, they ain’t ploughing it into player salaries. Even so, based on some of the things he’s been saying about his clients lately, I’d have to think that what Boras is living in is more like an immunodeficiency bubble.

  15. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 2:15 PM

    Sorry, but I get nose bleeds easily. Even in Cinti., the $15 seats are a little high up. Any reserved seat a mid level is at least $60.

  16. Jeff - Nov 19, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    In baseball, players only receive 51% of the revenues. That is lower than the NFL 58% or the NBA 56%.
    The owners have subscribed to the Wall Street principle (most anyways): every year they try to make a bigger profit.
    So if you’re pissed about ticket prices, talk about the owners. Don’t blame the players, they make less of the total pie than a lot of other industries.

  17. Joey B - Nov 19, 2009 at 2:43 PM

    “Sorry, but I get nose bleeds easily. Even in Cinti., the $15 seats are a little high up. Any reserved seat a mid level is at least $60.”
    Well, then that’s that. You won’t find me overly sympathetic that the biggest problem with BB is that you can’t afford premium seats. I can’t afford a Porsche, so I drive a more affordable car.

  18. GBS - Nov 19, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/cin/ticketing/cin_ticketing_gabp_seatingviews.jsp
    Infield box seats, lower level, just off-center from behind home plate, $42.
    I miss the $5 Top-Six seats myself, but you’re overstating things a bit, Fast Eddy. And how much for a ticket to an NFL, NHL or NBA game? Quite a bit more than for MLB.

  19. CommonNow - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    JOEYB – wow. Do you really believe that a winning team doesn’t attract fans? If you take a losing team and make it a winning team would that not attact fans? Are not those fans good for MLB as a whole?
    All aside BORAS is an AZ Hole who is running the game into the ground – either the owners will stop paying the salaries and the league will suffer, or the prices will continue to rise and the fans will stop attending.

  20. Joey B - Nov 19, 2009 at 4:44 PM

    “Infield box seats, lower level, just off-center from behind home plate, $42.
    I miss the $5 Top-Six seats myself, but you’re overstating things a bit, Fast Eddy. And how much for a ticket to an NFL, NHL or NBA game? Quite a bit more than for MLB.”
    I kind of assumed that he was just making stuff up to whine. I mean, when I’m paying $20 at ground zero of ticket inflation, and I know that the the tickets for main boxes near the foul line only go for $45, then it was virtually guaranteed that he was lying. Actually, except for Fenway Park, and that mostly related to the small size, you can decent seats at almost any park

  21. Joey B - Nov 19, 2009 at 4:52 PM

    “JOEYB – wow. Do you really believe that a winning team doesn’t attract fans? If you take a losing team and make it a winning team would that not attact fans? Are not those fans good for MLB as a whole?
    All aside BORAS is an AZ Hole who is running the game into the ground – either the owners will stop paying the salaries and the league will suffer, or the prices will continue to rise and the fans will stop attending.”
    1-Florida has won two WS, generally plays good ball, and no one goes there. TB was absolutely heroic last year, but for a late-season series against the RS, the only fans there were RS fans. And how many fans attending Oakland games, even back when they were winning 90+ each year? If the fans don’t show up, why would the owner shell out money for better players?
    2-If the owners stop paying huge moneym how will the league suffer?

  22. The Day The Earth Stood Still - Dec 29, 2009 at 8:39 PM

    What’s happend? I have to keep Refreshing the page to even be able to view the post can someone fix this issue please?

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