There is a universal lie told by a ton of superstars in sports. A lie so manipulative it makes Martha Stewart look like my nice sandwich-making, spoiling extraordinaire grandmother. It’s the infamous line after they sign a big time contract. “I just wanna win.” Excuse me while I get a bucket…
Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A….Rod. The pretty boy slugger is one of the best players in the history of the game, there is no doubt there. But let me throw some knowledge at you. After spending the 2000 season with the Seattle Mariners, where he earned a little over $4 million, the slugging shortstop shipped to where everything is bigger….including the contracts I guess. Rodriguez signed the infamous deal with the Texas Rangers and in the 2001 Pay-Rod earned $22 million. “I just wanna win.” *Eyes rolling*
But while Rodriguez was raking in the big bucks, the Rangers had just enough money to round up a pitching staff of journeymen and has-beens. There is Rick Helling, who went 12-11 with a 5.17 ERA. Doug Davis had a mind-blowing 11-10 record with a microscopic 4.45 ERA. Left-hander Darren Oliver finished with an even steven 11-11 record with a gorgeous 6.02 ERA. Pre-Detroit Tiger and Post-Perfect Game Kenny Rogers gambled his way to a 5-7 season with a good-looking 6.19 ERA. Rob Bell, the solid Number Five guy, finished 5-5 with a 7.18 ERA. Not too bad, huh? And you wonder why the Rangers finished 73-89 and in the basement of the American League West.
So if A-Rod was serious about “wanting to win,” maybe he could have loaned the Rangers a few million to spend on some better starting pitching. That would be fine for the young stud right? Since it would make them a better team. Instead of promoting the peanut guys after they hit most of their targets the game before. Mr. Clutch (2-for-300 when it counts isn’t too bad) is now having his agent Scott “Satan’s Right-hand Man” Boras demanding $30 million a year for the All-Star. Oh, funny how the total Championships A-Rod has won is sitting at zero.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, exhibit B. As in Bryant. This past season Kobe Bryant earned over $17 million. So why in the world is he demanding the Lakers to improve the team and if not, he wants out. First off, he had some help with a fella named O’Neal but he got the big man traded away so he could show he could win a title on his own. What a diva. Now Bryant is demanding help.
Here’s a dream conversation I would have with Bryant.
Me: Hey Kobe, why are you so pissed at the Lakers?
Kobe: ‘Cause I got no help, I’m sick of it. I need some better players on this team, because the most important thing to me is winning those titles man.
Me: Oh, how much did you make last year?
Kobe: Almost $18 mill.
Me: Well, why don’t you give some back to the Lakers so they have more money to get better players so you guys will be better.
Kobe: Uhhh….*makes noise out of the side of his mouth* oh sorry I gotta take this. Nice talking with you.
It was Forest Gump that said that men only need so much money, all the rest is just for showing off. You’re telling me that these guys wouldn’t be able to not only can get by (oh Latrell Spreewell, if it takes $15 million to put enough food on the table for your wife and kids, you may want to keep an eye out for childhood obesity) but have a complete life of luxury on $7 million a year? You get the cash, and a better team. Perfect right? “I just wanna win.” Oh, I feel like I just ate week old Taco Bell….
Let’s take a trip to Bizarro World of Professional Athletes. Former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, the one that lost his life defending the freedom that you and me have, made a salary move that would have Kobe and A-Rod yelling “What?!!?!” After a successful season, Tillman was set to be a free agent. The St. Louis Rams, who had won the Super Bowl the year before, offered him more money to trade in the wings for some horns. No dice. Tillman accepted a deal with the terrible Cardinals, for less money, out of loyalty to the team that got him into the NFL. Wow.
I got no problems with star players signing huge contracts. None whatsoever. But you can NOT say that winning is the most important thing in your life if your demanding 20 million.
The names Rodriguez and Bryant are interchangeable for just about any superstar in the league. They “want to win” but at zero sacrifice of their own. It is up to the team to figure out how to get enough help with a King Kong-size contract already on the books. They want to win, but at the press conference look into the eyes of the great beasts. You might just see dollar signs. “I just wanna win.” Bulllllllcrap.
Story by Jesse Severson