Earlier in the week, as some of the uncouth, unwashed masses went on and took in the Baltimore-Washington makeup game at Nats Park, I decided to get my learn on and headed on down to the Smithsonian Institute of Free, Old, and Occasionally Cool Things and Stuff* to take in one of their evening seminars: The Most Powerful Man in Baseball? An Evening with Superagent Scott Boras. Boras, as many of you probably know, is the agent to many baseball luminaries and Stephen Strasburg, and is often seen as Public Enemy Numero Uno when it comes to baseball’s purported decline, given his meddling in…I don’t know, exactly.
To be honest, I’ve always admired the guy, as he has done a lot of things that I have done (or wanted to do) in my life and has done so with aplomb after coming from a fairly disadvantaged background. A former minor leaguer with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, after his playing days were over, he went on to pursue graduate studies in not only pharmaceutical sciences, but also in law, securing degrees in those disciplines from the University of Pacific, whose name is as oxymoronic as it gets, but I digress.
OK, fine, you’ve egged me on. Stockton is a turd. There, I said it. GREAT thrift stores, but yeah…pass.
Enough rambling about who Boras is, biographically—if you don’t know all the details, wiki up. More importantly, what did I learn by sitting at the feet of Boras, along with D.C. baseball stalwarts Phil Wood and Adam Kilgore?
Because my brain is feeble and my recollection of what I did an hour ago, let alone four days ago, is fuzzy, my apologies in advance for the cryptic crib notes and for the potentially bouncing format. Also, let it be known that Boras is a lawyer and as such, can ramble on and on and on in response to a question and NEVER FUCKING ANSWER IT. He’s a bang up lawyer in this respect. Caveat emptor.
His relationship with George Steinbrenner was contentious, but steeped in both parties’ desire to win.
- Given the average age of the crowd was roughly 203984390, there were a lot of questions asked about the good ol’ days, especially the Yankees. OK. Either way, he had a lot of respect for Steinbrenner and had his share of passionate calls and chats from King George through the years, especially about Bernie Williams, whom ol’ George didn’t take a shining to at the start. Winning can change a man.
He doesn’t like the draft as now constructed
- He feels that it really hurts player and organization alike, with the notion that any artificial dampening of the market is a bad thing. Forgive my lack of basic economics chops, so I will probably explain this in a very ham-handed way, but essentially, the money and the value that is applied to a player these days is wrong and it all goes to the basic premise that the player determines the market value. Thinking about some of the more esoteric aspects of sabermetric valuation of a player monetarily and the assignment of dollars to wins above replacement, I can appreciate how crazy this whole concept is, trying to slot money to particular picks and draft rounds. If Joe Bloggs is worth eleventy billion dollars, let him get it; let a team willing to give it to him do as such. Of course, that means more money for Boras if he does represent Bloggs, but it makes sense that the framing of the draft is archaic. Consider Bloggs’ Cuban counterpart, Jose Bloggas, can come in and actually get said eleventy billion smackers, just adds to the frustration of Boras and how he can operate. And his main raison d’être?
He works very hard for his clients to get them their fair value and feels that in doing so, will make players and the game the best they/it can be
- Here, Boras made a few references to clients—Greg Maddux, Jered Weaver, and Prince Fielder come to mind—and their mindsets going into free agency and signing contracts, but to paraphrase, Boras does his homework and then some to make sure the number he has in his head for his players is the correct one now, tomorrow, and five years from now. As such, he leans heavily on statistics and people who know the numbers and can make projections, which leads us to…
He has his own database(s) and even his own proprietary stats to measure and evaluate talent
- Not a huge surprise, but hey, Scott, if you’re reading this…call me!
The next uncharted frontiers in baseball are injury analytics and what pharmaceutical agents can be used to improve player health and performance
- I know it’s crazy that a guy with a pharmacy background would be interested in what we can use SAFELY AND LEGALLY to improve player health, with the secondary perk of improved performance. Again, he goes back to taking care of his client and their health, both physically and financially. A question was also posed about sports psychology and its role in his activities and he kinda lawyered the answer, talking about his playing days and telling a story about Stan Musial (or some other Cardinal old-timer) and never answering the question. Reading between the lines, yes, he probably uses it. And again, Scott, if you’re reading…*makes universal hand gesture for ‘call me’*
- No real hot takes on Peter Angelos and he did a great job of extinguishing the majority of the flaming torches (thoughtfully provided by the Smithsonian!**) at the ready at the mention of anything Baltimore, MASN, or Angelos related. But here’s a couple of thoughts: they are both Greek lawyers, so yeah, you can guess their relationship is one of respect at the least; also, Boras made a point to show Angelos in a light that showed his earlier ways of being heavy-handed with the team and the decision-making processes were history, so again, an even-keeled, lawyer answer and discussion, with some pearls of wisdom there if you *really* dig.
- Someone asked his thought on the Redskins name. This was the first goddamn question the audience asked (albeit, on an index card, so who knows if the order got shuffled to the moderator’s liking). One of the most polarizing and influential people in baseball in the last 50 years and you ask this question. I honestly lost all senses in a fit of rage and disillusion for a few seconds, so I didn’t hear his whole answer, but again—LAWYA’!—he answered with a measured response, putting the decision in the respective tribe(s) hands.
And the last take home message?
No matter who’s playing, Boras always wins.
- His influence and reach in the game is such that he always wins out. A silly story to (sort of) prove this point; he mentioned getting to the Nats-Orioles game, as he had a few clients playing; I want to say the number of Boras clients on both teams sums up to about 12-14 players. Two of those players are each team’s respective closer. Nats win? Boras wins. O’s win? Boras, yet again, wins. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Where you there? Did I miss something? I know I did, since the seminar lasted two hours, but hopefully, this provides a taste of what Boras’ thoughts are on the game. Either way, the more we understand his rhyme and reason, the better attuned we will be to the idiosyncrasies of the game; in the end, we become better fans. Then, we all win.
*may or may not be official name
** may or may not be true