Long Term Deals, Short Term Memories

I question the reasonability of Peter Gammons’ take on the feelings behind Nomar’s bitterness, particularly this nugget:

To partly understand his stance on his contract — before one says, “if he so loved Boston, why did he turn down $60M for four years?” — remember that he played under value with the creative contract Dan Duquette signed him to, while A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Ramirez and others went to salary levels that he will never see because of market correction.

Hmm. So Nomar’s bitter because he got overpaid early in his career, then missed a salary inflation period that was beyond absurd, and for that he holds the Sox accountable because they continued to offer him more money per annum than even Miguel Tejada, a younger and healthier player, got this past offseason. I don’t see how this rationalizes Nomar’s bitterness, in any way. Nomar and Tellem signed the 6 year deal with Duquette in a mutual decision. Players who sign long-term deals early in their career are risking missing the top of the market in order to lock in a deal; it was done with the Indians a while ago, the Rangers did it with Blalock and Teixeira, I believe, and it’s a mutually beneficial situation, for the most part. Neither his earlier contract nor his missing the big paydays of Jeter and A-Rod because he was already locked in justify any amount of bitterness on Nomar’s part. This take by Gammons, if it accurately reflects Nomar’s feelings, is another indication of why it is very hard to take sides when players and management get in sorry tiffs. Neither side is ever able to sublimate their greed or ego, and the fans have to bear the brunt of their mania.

or this one:

Once Mo Vaughn left, Nomar was the No. 1 everyday show in town, a spotlight that he did not want. He enjoyed the roar of the crowd and some of the notoriety, but he could not deal with what he perceived to be the media and club responsibilities that went with it. He’s not Jeter. He’s not Mia Hamm, who accepted the responsibility for an entire sport. He’s Nomar Garciaparra.

OK, Nomar, you don’t want to be Jeter, and be the public face of the franchise? Then you will, in all liklihood, never ever get “Jeter money”. Baseball, as are all sports nowadays (especially nowadays), are part of the entertainment business, and part of a player’s paycheck and worth is based simply on sheer marketability, on being a PR ambassador for both the team and the sport. So if you decide you can’t take, or don’t want, the spotlight, it’s your prerogative, Nomar. I imagine if Julia Roberts refused to go on any press junkets promoting her movies, then her movies would draw less at the box office, and that economics would go to work, reducing Roberts’ relative salary. The same is true with sports. No PR work? Teams discount for that, it’s very simple.

It’s absolutely acceptable to not want to be the ringleader, to not want to be the public face of a franchise. But that decision comes with a price, and just as a team should be expected to pay when a player assumes these responsibilities, so too should a player understand that refusing these responsibilities has an implication.

3 comments… add one
  • this whole thing has been done to freakin’ death, but i’m glad at least one person agrees w/ me that nomar was the asshole in this situation, not the management.

    beth August 9, 2004, 2:05 pm
  • Just to be clear, I don’t think Nomar is solely to blame. I think both management and the player share it. But players are remarkably thin-skinned, and their agents are hardly honest with them, as far as I can tell. I am plenty sick of hearing about this incident, as you say, but when Peter Gammons prints an entire column on why Nomar felt the way he did it’s important to point out the inconistencies and fantasies related to those feelings.

    SF August 9, 2004, 2:11 pm
  • I’m in full agreement with SF here, but would like to point out the flip side of this argument, which is generally skipped over when comparing team salaries. Because NY is a bigger market the players here have a right to more money. So it’s not just that the Yankees have a bigger pot to deal from, it’s that working here is inherently more profitable—ie, the players deserve more for playing here than they do playing elsewhere.

    YF August 9, 2004, 5:24 pm

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.