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Scott Boras: embodiment of the American Dream

Dec 3, 2009, 5:38 PM EDT

You think you got Scott Boras figured out? Think he’s the Antichrist?  If so, check out this profile of the Uber Agent from FanHouse’s Jeff Fletcher:

Boras, 57, grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Elk Grove, Calif., just outside of Sacramento. In this case “farm” isn’t just another word for “country.” It was an actual, working farm. Boras milked cows and drove a tractor. He said he learned early how important efficiency was, because it was only by doing his chores quickly and correctly that he could have the time to pursue his passion: baseball . . .

. . . Boras’ first office was a tiny little place in Pomona, a unspectacular, smoggy, community east of Los Angeles that Boras picked because it was located halfway between Dodger Stadium and Anaheim Stadium. The outside of his office was scrawled with graffiti from gangs.

Boras truly came from nothing and built his business through a lot of hard work.  He wasn’t gifted with clients via his dad’s golf buddies. He didn’t inherit a portfolio.  He gives tons to charities. He’s a family man. He has employees who have worked with him for years and years and they all speak well of him. And despite all of that, he’ll always be thought of as evil because he has demanded that billionaires give his mere millionaire clients a greater cut of the revenue they produce.  His clients are rich and famous, but in the world in which they operate, they are the little guy, relatively speaking. We almost always root for the little guy in this world, but not in baseball, and not when Boras is involved. Why?

Sure, his methods are sharp, make no mistake about it. Indeed, I’ve argued on multiple occasions that his representation of multiple free agents at the same position in the same offseason (e.g. Matt Holliday and Johnny Damon) is a conflict of interest.  But there’s more than one side to every story. When it comes to Boras, almost everything we read is negative.  It’s probably worth taking a look at the positive for once and giving him the same benefit of the doubt we’d give anyone else.

  1. The Rabbit - Dec 3, 2009 at 6:52 PM

    Once again, I agree with you. (Not much of a surprise there.)
    Your comments reminded me of Donald Trump who began his career in his daddy’s Manhattan real estate development business. If you consider the number of times Trump has declared bankruptcy or needed to renegotiate to avoid bankruptcy and the fact that the media still creates the perception he’s a “genius” (like LaRussa), perhaps Boras should hire Trump’s PR firm.
    Of course, he would actually have to care about public perception. Given his style and demeanor, that doesn’t seem to be a concern.

  2. Peteinfla - Dec 3, 2009 at 7:01 PM

    Ok, maybe he is not really the Devil, he only sold his soul to him. I am not ready to Cannonize him quite yet, even if he is a self made millionaire. Realizing that what I know about him is what I read, I still hate him. I hate the way he strong-arms teams, over inflates the values of his clients regardless of whether they are superstars or just oridnary players, and like you said there is the conflict of interest issue. And everytime I hear him talk, I am reminded of a guy in the old west selling snake-oil or hair tonic. Whenever I hear about a player leaving him, or a GM saying they won’t deal with him anymore, I can’t help but smile.

  3. Ryan - Dec 3, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    When was the last time you heard something bad about the other common agents? You almost never hear someone say “Arn Tellem / Sam Levinson really screwed us!” or “I can only think of Furcal / Braves last year.
    Scott Boras, like Don Fehr, is just one of those people who is only liked by those he directly serves, most likely because the people he serves are just like him; sharks who understand their commodity has a high value. I don’t think it’s any one aspect about him that upsets everyone, it’s the sum of all the parts. The obscene contracts, demands and client actions while in those contracts coupled with the frequent disingenuous comments to the media by him and his players just really gives him the total package of yuck.
    All that said, this game is run by a whole lot of people with a lot more business acumen and experience, they’ve all gamed their respective systems to get to where they are, so lets just grab a beer and turn on the game.

  4. Borass hater - Dec 3, 2009 at 7:48 PM

    Here is what makes Scott Boras such a loathsome asshole: He gouges billionaire owners with clients that he KNOWS are drug cheats, injured or just plain washed up. Who pays for this gouging? You & me, the fans. Every year. More & more. You can blame the owners for being quintessential suckers, but the other agents are clearly not as dispicable & dishonest as Borass.

  5. smsetnor - Dec 3, 2009 at 8:22 PM

    Supply and demand. Supply and demand. Stop going and watching and you’ll get what you want in lowered prices.

  6. JBerardi - Dec 3, 2009 at 10:47 PM

    I still hate him. I hate the way he strong-arms teams, over inflates the values of his clients regardless of whether they are superstars or just oridnary players, and like you said there is the conflict of interest issue.

    The teams aren’t his clients. It’s not his job to negotiate a deal that’s fair for both sides. His job is to get the best possible contract for his client, period. Last I checked, the people he’s negotiating with are all consenting adults. If they overpay for a guy, that’s on them, not on Boras.

  7. aleskel - Dec 3, 2009 at 11:10 PM

    Of course, he also did this ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIcV6I7GiPo
    point: Boras

  8. peteinfla - Dec 4, 2009 at 12:08 AM

    I understand your point, and agree both that the owners can only blame themselves for being stupid, and Boras has a responsibility to his clients. That being said, it is the way he handles things that I find so offensive. The Manny/Dodgers circus, The Arod/Yankees situation, his objecting to leland benching a slumping Maglio Ordonez, advising Kyle Lohse to turn down a 3 year 21 million offer from the Phillies to sigh a 1 year 4.5 million deal with St.Louis a few years ago, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, … Look, I just can’t stand him, I don’t think he is good for baseball, but what do I know, I’m just a fan, right?

  9. Chris Simonds - Dec 4, 2009 at 6:05 AM

    I think Jeff Fletcher needs to do a series profiling some of the owners next. That would make Scott Boras look like a regular guy. It would also probably make me finally quit watching MLB. I really don’t like thinking too much about the kind of human beings who run pro sports. And this is not new. You think Jake Ruppert or Tom Yawkey or even Ban Johnson (or his enemies?) were nice?

  10. Sooper - Dec 4, 2009 at 8:38 AM

    You sure you’re done being a lawyer?

  11. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 4, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    Rehab is a long process, Sooper.

  12. Matthew - Dec 4, 2009 at 9:22 AM

    I dislike Boras for the reason that he makes ridiculous assertions regarding his clients. It’s one thing to get the best possible deal for your client, but it’s another when you start doing things like comparing an untested, just drafted J.D. Drew to Mickey Mantle or puts out binders with sections containing titles such as Better Than Future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.”
    It’s insulting to the intelligence of the fans, and it should come as no surprise then that some of us think he’s full of consolidated bovine manure.

  13. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 4, 2009 at 9:23 AM

    I see that. It is ridiculous. I kind of ignore that, though because it’s so patently ridiculous and you figure even he knows that. And really, when people truly hate on Boras, they rarely cite that stuff. They usually cite his results and the salaries he gets.
    But yes, I’ll grant that his claims along those lines are beyond ridiculous.

  14. Jeff Lewis - Dec 4, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    Boras annoys me in two ways. The first one, relatively minor, is that he makes ridiculous arguments. Comparing Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax or claiming that Beltre had the best season ever for a third baseman in ’04–these things really just insults our intelligence. Maybe lawyers have more of a tolerance for poor arguments because they hear them all the time, but I find that grating.
    Second, I agree that his conflicts of interest are unethical. He really seems to have an agenda (free agency for all) that he puts before his players. While that may be good for the players as a whole, it’s probably at the expense of the interests of some individual players.
    That said, I don’t think he’s bad for the sport. I’m pretty firmly on the side of the players versus the owners–mainly because the owners have acted so badly as recently as the 80′s. Plus the whole taxpayer/stadium extortion game doesn’t make the owners any more endearing.

  15. Ron - Dec 4, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    Word is that Stalin liked puppies. I still wouldn’t invite either one of them to Christmas dinner.

  16. Jamie - Dec 4, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    I don’t think he actually expects anyone to believe his ridiculous assertions. But I do think they are effective. When Brian Cashman (or whoever) gets done reading the 200 pp. dissertation “Why Matt Holliday is better than Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams, combined” he won’t be convinced of the main thesis, but he is very likely to be convinced that Matt Holliday is 2 years and $50 million better than Jason Bay. Which is Boras’ goal.

  17. John_Michael - Dec 4, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    For us regular workin’ folk, imagine if you could bring a representative in with you for your year end review. The purpose of the meeting would not only be to discuss your previous performance, but to negotiate what your compensation would be on a go-forward basis. Now, make a list of the top 5 people you’d want to accompany you to the meeting to argue on your behalf. If Scott Boras isn’t on the list, you’re kidding yourself.

  18. B - Dec 4, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    I actually like Boras. I think he’s great for the players, in general. I do think there are some fair criticisms of him – mostly, that his interests are not always aligned with the player he represents. I think Landon Powell is a good example of this – sometimes things Boras advises his clients to do may be in the best interests of the players/amateurs as a whole, but not necessarily the individual.
    That said, most of the stuff fans seem to hate him for is completely offbase:
    “I hate the way he strong-arms teams, over inflates the values of his clients regardless of whether they are superstars or just oridnary players”
    Um, that’s actually his job. That’s what his clients want him to do – get them as much money as possible. He’s a good negotiator – it may not be “playing nice”, but it’s what gets the job done.
    “He gouges billionaire owners with clients that he KNOWS are drug cheats, injured or just plain washed up. Who pays for this gouging? You & me, the fans.”
    First, you think those billionaires that made a ton of money off the same “drug cheats” didn’t know, or at least didn’t have enough information to have stron suspicions? Well, to quote former Marlins trainer Larry Starr:
    “I have notes from the Winter Meetings where the owners group and the players’ association sat in meetings with the team physicians and team trainers. I was there. And team physicians stood up and said, ‘Look, we need to do something about this [PED's]. We’ve got a problem here if we don’t do something about it.’ That was in 1988.”
    So…maybe Boras knew, maybe he didn’t, but maybe a lot of other people that made money off the “cheating” knew, too. What’s your point? Next, who pays for this “gauging” (nevermind the fact that the teams should know/look into this stuff before they choose to sign a player)? The owners pay for it. The fans do not. As someone else mentioned, it’s simple supply and demand – prices are set from fan demand. They are not adjusted upwards with a big signing, nor are they lowered in the absense of a big signing. Signing a Boras client has 0 effect on the prices fans pay.
    “I dislike Boras for the reason that he makes ridiculous assertions regarding his clients…It’s insulting to the intelligence of the fans”
    Well, these statements do serve a purpose, which is why he makes them. The purpose is not to appeal to fans. The purpose is to try to earn his clients more money – maybe, as Craig pointed out, it’s not to make you believe the statement but is to raise your opinion of the client somewhat, and then there’s fan pressure on the owner/GM. Maybe it’s to get the fans who really aren’t that intelligent to put pressure on the owner/GM. Maybe it’s to raise the owner/GM’s opinion of his client. It’s probably effective in a lot of little ways, but obviously nobody is going to completely believe what he says. Who cares, though – again, the purpose is to get the best payday for his client, and that is one of the strategies towards accomplishing such a feat. If it works, can you really blame Boras for it? I think you need to stop taking his statements at face value and just realize the purpose behind them, and you’ll find them a whole lot less offensive.
    So…repeating some stuff other people have said, long post, kudos to anyone that reads the whole thing. Overall there are some fair criticisms of Boras, but I just don’t understand why so much hatred is directed towards him. As the point of this post says – there are a lot of positives to see with Boras, and a lot of other people that don’t get the same level of hatred that do things similar or worse than Boras (like…pretty much the collective group of owners).
    Bottom line, the guy is good at his job, and if you realize his goals/motivations/purpose behind his statements and actions, I think most people will soften their stance some.

  19. B - Dec 4, 2009 at 11:28 AM

    Hmm…lost my paragraphs in translation. Well that’ll make it difficult to read.

  20. Jason - Dec 4, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    I met the guy once when I worked as a valet in San Diego. He was extremely nice and tipped well. Been a fan ever since.

  21. realbbbb - Dec 5, 2009 at 9:35 AM

    “His clients are rich and famous, but in the world in which they operate, they are the little guy, relatively speaking. We almost always root for the little guy in this world, but not in baseball, and not when Boras is involved.”
    Possibly the stupidest thing I have ever read. Alex Rodriguez makes more money than any other professional athlete (salary wise, not including endorsements). Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira are #2 and #4 in per year salary in MLB in 2009. All are Boras clients. To classify these people “the little guy” is the worst analogy I have ever seen.

  22. Craig Calcaterra - Dec 5, 2009 at 9:57 AM

    Compared to the billionaires that own their teams — the people with whom Boras negotiates, thus making the comparison apt — they make and are worth far less money.

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