Posts Tagged ‘free agency’

The LeBron Decision

LeBron James hanging up his Cavs jersey

It isn’t often that a player is accused of being selfish for taking less money in order to win championships. It isn’t often that a player is accused of being self-aggrandizing for holding a special that donates all proceeds to charity. It isn’t often that a player is accused of letting an entire city down after pretty much single-handedly leading his team to consecutive 60-win seasons.

But then again, LeBron James isn’t a normal basketball player, so comparing him to what “often” happens probably doesn’t make much sense.

There was something undeniably disappointing about the way LeBron’s decision played out yesterday. Maybe it was because of the slow, gradual, yet inevitable way it all played out: It went from possibly Miami, to probably Miami, to almost certainly Miami. By the time LeBron actually sat down for his interminable interview with Jim Gray, the outcome was all but certain, even if everyone was hoping that LeBron would justify our collective denial.

But it’s hard to see it being as disappointing if the gradually leaking information had all indicated that LeBron would return to Cleveland, or even that he would go to New York. No, there was something uniquely disappointing about LeBron signing with Miami, just one day after Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced their plans to play in South Beach.

So why, exactly, was this so disappointing? Was LeBron’s behavior really “selfish”? Did he really “betray” the city of Cleveland? Continue reading

The Value of Jeter, Part 2

Spring Training is underway now, which means fans and the media are gearing up for the 2010 MLB season. This season brings a lot of things: the return of Mark McGwire, another chance for the Mets’ doctors to practice, the long-awaited absence of Chip Caray. It also brings the end of Derek Jeter’s 10-year, $189 million contract.

Yesterday, Jeter addressed these concerns to the media for the first, and he says only, time this year. He didn’t really say anything new: He wants to stay with the Yankees, he’s always wanted to stay with the Yankees, he won’t talk about it again until the end of the season.

All indications, from both Jeter and Yankees GM Brian Cashman, are that Jeter will re-sign, and, as I’ve said before, he’ll probably do it quickly, since he is worth more to the Yankees than to any other team. But his new contract won’t be settled for at least seven months.

Why? Because the Yankees have a policy of not negotiating new contracts until a player’s old contract has ended.* In general, this policy makes sense, since it obviates any awkward mid-season negotiations and allows the team to factor in the production of the last full season when coming up with a contract offer. And since the Yankees have the resources to outspend any other bidder if they so choose, then the risk of losing a player on the open market is not that high. In Jeter’s case, though, this policy is probably a mistake. Continue reading

Athletes Are Bad People

ESPN ran two stories yesterday about Michael Crabtree and his contract situation. For those unfamiliar, Crabtree was selected tenth overall, by my own San Francisco 49ers, in last spring’s NFL Draft, but he has not, as of yet, signed with the team.

The dispute stems from the fact that the team feels that Crabtree should be paid like the second wide receiver taken in the draft (i.e. slightly less than what the first receiver selected, Darrius Heyward-Bey, got paid), which he was. Crabtree, however, feels like he should be paid like the best receiver taken in the draft, which he was.

Now, I don’t intend to dwell on this particular dispute, since Bill Simmons addressed it in his inaugural “Miller Lite Great Call of the Week,” and the only person criticizing Crabtree now is the less-than-respected Scoop Jackson.

But I think it’s interesting that someone like Crabtree can have his character and intelligence questioned for employing, essentially, his only bargaining tool. The fact that Crabtree is refusing to sign and play for the 49ers is being interpreted as a sign that his inner circle is nefarious and that he is not a “team player.”

This is a ridiculous double standard that athletes are held to. The contract rules that many athletes play under, particularly in the NFL, are incredibly unfair. Continue reading