There’s nothing like a 141-day battle where the sides land pretty much right where they started from to give you a headache. Try as I might, the logic that Frank McCourt, the Dodgers, Scott Boras, and Manny Ramirez have engaged over the last four months makes anything that was tied to the Dayton Peace Accords look simple.
For one thing, it’s a strange day when a ballclub can turn Scott Boras into a sympathetic figure. It’s quite another when the structure of the contract that was haggled over makes one scratch their head.
Ostensibly, the contract that finally was reached between Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers isn’t terribly different than what was presented back when this drawn-out saga started: two-years, $45 million. It's the wrinkles in the agreement that make this a head-scratcher, and here’s why.
The Dodgers dragged the agreement process out over deferring salary. To be exact, the contract is over five-years, with Ramirez receiving $10 million in each of the first four years and $5 million in the final season.
All I could think of was Jerry Colangelo.
The heel-digging by the Dodgers on this aspect of the contract is where one moves into the land of lunacy. It makes no sense.
The Dodgers are not the Diamondbacks (hence, my Colangelo reference), or the Royals, or the Indians, or clubs that might find themselves structuring backloaded agreements with deferments due to low revenues.
Here are the Dodgers revenues, along with their valuation ranking as reported by Forbes over the last five years.
|Dodger Revenues 2004-2008 |
|Rank ||Year ||Revenues |
|4 ||2008 ||$224,000,000 |
|4 ||2007 ||$211,000,000 |
|4 ||2006 ||$189,000,000 |
|4 ||2005 ||$166,000,000 |
|4 ||2004 ||$154,000,000 |
So, the war that was the Manny Ramirez contract was declared when a club ranked as one of baseball’s top revenue makers; one of the league’s most highly attended; one of the league’s most valuable franchises, was acting like they’re a cash-starved operation. Why the backloading with deferments?
Maybe this was a matter of principle. Maybe the Dodgers, like all the other owners in MLB over the last 30+ years, want to simply get some digs in on the players after years of being shoved around by the MLBPA and the agents. There are few good answers as to why this deal hung around with a bad smell and took on the face of a petty torment (see the Dodgers’ late night press release).
The Dodgers knew that they needed Manny. He brought fannies to the seats the likes of which the Dodgers haven’t seen since Fernandomania. The Dodgers reported late on the Friday after they brought Ramirez into the fold on Aug. 1 that they sold the highest volume of tickets in the club’s history in a 24 hour period during the regular season. More than 30,000 tickets were sold during that 24 hour period after the Dodgers made the acquisition of Ramirez on Aug. 1 at 1 p.m. PST.
The Dodgers also knew that they had the one and only offer out there, as apparently, other clubs were unwilling to jump into the fray (although the Giants made it seem as though they were interested, there was never a serious offer on the table).
So, it’s all smiles today.
“I’m baaack,” Ramirez said with a broad smile.
“Manny just wants me to be myself, so I’m gonna be myself,” said Frank McCourt at today’s press conference.
How I wish Frank McCourt would have acted like somebody else the other 141 days before the lunacy took place. Maybe he and the Dodgers can explain how I can get four months of my life back.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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