Quotable — Ben McGrath

by M.C. Antil on December 6, 2010

Scott Boras: Knowledge is power, especially when concentrated

I stumbled upon a three-year old profile of Scott Boras in one of my back issues of the New Yorker.  It was written by Ben McGrath, who in addition to writing some of the more entertaining “Talk of the Town” pieces, also covers sports for the magazine.

McGrath wrote the following distillation of the power dynamic that exists on behalf of just about any of the super-agents, but particularly the guy many baseball front office execs call the Darth Vader of their sport: 

Agents benefit from what business-school types refer to as “information asymmetry,” because they are in touch with multiple teams, who are, in turn, forbidden to communicate with one another.  Controlling the flow of that information — between the teams, the media and the players — is an essential component of the Boras methodology.

McGrath then added:

Boras is not, according to people familiar with his bargaining style, a yeller but, rather, a calm and even cartoonish condescender; in converastion he comes across as someone who has never doubted his own dinner selection — although he would be happy to inform you of all the ways that you should doubt yours.

It’s ironic that I found McGrath’s story just this past week, because as Major League Baseball opens  its annual Winter Meetings today in Florida, there is a strong sense among many beat writers that rumors have been harder to come by of late. 

Why?  Because some industry observers feel that over the past few years baseball teams have been attempting to limit the leverage guys like Boras held over them by leaking free agent offers and other key info through unfiltered bloggers and often lazy, indiscriminate (and/or burned out) members of the baseball media.  (And do I really need to name names?)  

This year, however, certain national and beat writers have gotten the sense that the word is out that among the teams that they’ve all been dancing just a tad too close to the anti-trust fire.  And so as not to trigger a Justice Department investigation — or possibly worse, one sponsored by Players Union — many of those same writers believe that MLB teams have backed off the extent to which they’re willing to leak the terms of their various free agent offers.

Who said the baseball off-season wasn’t any fun, or didn’t hold any drama?

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