The Boras Factor

Some fans and team officials think hes the devil. His player clients think hes an angel. Everyone agrees that super agent Scott Boras has changed baseballbut for better or worse? And what does he want now?

In the eighth inning, newly acquired Dodgers center fielder Juan Pierre drops a deep fly to right center. A run scores, then another, putting the Giants up 5-3. "Well, well, well," says Boras, cackling and looking over at Stillwell, enjoying a moment of what might be considered payback. "J.D. Drew would've caught that ball," he says confidently, leaving no doubt that he has not forgotten the off-season controversy. "You just don't let Greg Maddux leave your building, and you sign J.D. Drew," he says.

Boras' self-assurance doesn't end with personnel decisions. He believes teams like the Dodgers, in not owning the entirety of all advertising and TV revenues generated at the ballpark, are behind the curve. That's because McCourt bought the team in 2004 for $430 million, about half of what the organization was worth, and left Fox with the TV rights for 15 years. "[McCourt] can just raise parking prices for the next 12 years and he'll be fine," Boras quips. "Then he can buy the TV rights to his franchise."

And then Boras makes an interesting, perhaps even Freudian, comment: "If I was commissioner of baseball, I wouldn't allow a single dime of TV revenue to leave the stadium." If I was commissioner of baseball . . .

Scott Boras. Photo by Jennie Warren
Scott Boras. Photo by Jennie Warren

Meanwhile, the Dodgers are down to their last at-bat. They score once more, making it 5-4, but Garciaparra strikes out to end the game. As disappointed fans head for the exits, Boras is still enthusiastically pondering the future of baseball: He says he wants MLB to scrap the current World Series format and adopt a nine-game series in one designated city per year—the way it was played in the early 20th century. He's talked to owners and says some see nothing but upside.

"The TV and advertising and marketing revenue would explode," he says. "Places that might never have a World Series could compete for the location like they do for the Olympics. Nine games would allow a greater chance for the best team, and not just the hottest team, to win. It would be like the Super Bowl, but better. I sent a letter to the commissioner's office two weeks ago asking them to consider it."

He hasn't yet heard back from MLB commissioner Bud Selig. But it's not hard to see Boras pushing the idea into the mainstream for debate with or without Selig's support. (Sure enough, two weeks later, Bloomberg News picked up the story.) As for detractors or traditionalists who might complain that too much tinkering with baseball's format is bad for the game, he says, "That's the beauty of this idea: It's the way the game was played in 1903. Does it get any more traditional?

"I find that if you are going to promulgate change," says the unofficial commissioner of baseball, "it's good to have history on your side."

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