Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No More End Of Season Honors For Baseball Players With Bonus Clauses

Excellent. In a pretty brilliant move, the Baseball Writers Association of America has done an end run around both short-sighted management and the players themselves. They adroitly passed a simple rule. Starting in 2013, if a player has a bonus clause in his contract for winning the MVP, Cy Young, or Rookie of the Year award, they will be automatically ineligble to win that award. The most bizarre example was Curt Schilling getting $1 mil bonus simply for receiving a single third place vote in the Cy Young competition. Naturally, good Christian that he is, Schilling blasted the baseball writers for being hacks who don't know what they're talking about or having personal axes to grind rather than taking a step back and realizing the absurd greed and distortion of such a bonus. He also doesn't tackle the main issue: bonus clauses and their purpose. He says he donates his own bonus to charity, which is lovely. But that's beside the point. What is wrong with sportswriters trying to separate their end of the year honors from gaudy salaries of players -- trying to keep the awards pure? If they wanted more power and attention and more chances to interfere with the game like Schilling insists, then they would LOVE the connection between their votes and the money players get. What better way to punish a player you hate or reward a player who always talks to you?

I wish it were possible to do the same for the Gold Glove and other awards, but at least it gets sports writers out of the unseemly business of inflating salaries rather than the pure desire to simply reward excellence. It also puts the spotlihgt on these bonuses in general -- al of which I find insulting and bad for the game in an era of multi-million dollar salaries for all but the rookiest of rookies and lower rung talent that would never garner a bonus anyway.

One agent saw collusion between management and players, saying it would hurt the middle level and low level guys -- that would be the players who virtually never win these rewards and usually don't have the clout to get such bonuses included in their contracts the first time around. I HATE bonus clauses. Derek Jeter should get every penny he can from the Steinbrenners when negotiating his contract. But asking for an extra $1 mil if he wins the Gold Glove is stupid. What, $16 mil isn't incentive enough to play hard? Giving a manager a bonus for X number of games won (like Torre had at the 90, 95 and 100 games won level, apparently) is dangerous and shortsighted. No good can come of it. And A-Rod's clearly illegal gerrymandering to get bonuses for personal stats - which is supposed to be a no-no -- should be stamped out by Selig, not condoned by giving it a different name.

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