It’s a good thing Yom Kippur is coming for all those involved in Pedro-gate. There are a lot of people on all sides who need to ask for forgiveness for their contributions.
Pedro-gate, for the uninformed, refers to the mess that became of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first selection in this year’s amateur draft. They took Pedro Alvarez, the third baseman out of Vanderbilt University with the No. 2 overall pick and it’s difficult to explain briefly what happened since. But here goes:
Alvarez, represented by super-agent Scott Boras, didn’t agree to a deal with the Pirates until right at the midnight signing deadline on Aug. 15. Except there were claims that it came after midnight by virtue of an extension given by Major League Baseball. Because that extension, the argument was made, was given without the permission of the Players Association, MLB broke the rules laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. So a grievance was filed and it looked like it was going to get uglier before it got better. Then, before the second day of hearings were supposed to get going, the Pirates came to a new agreement with Alvarez and Boras, coming together on a Major League deal worth $6.35 million in total (up from the $6 million straight bonus and the minor league deal originally agreed to).
Who’s to blame in all of this is still a little hard to sort out. But I’ll say this: I don’t think anyone is blameless. Yom Kippur is the Day of Repentance, a day for Jews to atone for sins committed in the past year and commitments to living better in the year to come. So it’s not so important to rank who needs to do the most apologizing, but here’s a list of the “Who” and “Why” from this controversy:
Scott Boras — It’s almost too easy to blame him for not just what went wrong here, but for a lot of the ills facing baseball and, truthfully, it’s not fair to put it all on his shoulders. In some ways, he’s just taken advantage of holes that have existed in the past, but this time, it goes too far, even for him. Yes, he ended up getting his player more money and he has a tendency to be made of Teflon, but what was the motive behind this? How much of it was because Buster Posey got $6.2 million from the Giants and Alvarez only got $6 million? This clearly wasn’t the first time negotiations had gone past midnight — it happened last year — so was he planning this from the get-go, another loophole to take advantage of? No one knows for sure, though I bet if Posey signed for $5.8 million, we wouldn’t have heard word one about the deadline extension. So for his greed, ego and for holding the game hostage, Scott Boras needs to ask for forgiveness.
Major League Baseball — What responsibility does the league play in all of this? Had they managed to call the Players Association to inform them of the desire to extend the deadline to allow some of these last-minute negotiations to play out, this all may have been avoided. It was certainly chaotic right at midnight on the 15th, and somewhat easy to understand that such a thing would be overlooked, but they should probably have the P.A.’s number on speed dial for such matters, don’t you think? That’s just minor, really, and agents like the one mentioned above deserve some of the blame for purposefully putting off any real negotiations until the 11th hour.
Pedro Alvarez — By every account, Alvarez is a smart, friendly, hard-working young man. The kind you want to build your organization around. So what happened? He stepped up to verbally agree — albeit after the deadline — to the Pirates deal. Then he stepped back and let his agent run the show and wreak havoc. He’s not the type to blindly follow, so that means that he fully understood what was going on. He’s stated since that Boras has stood by his side from the get-go and that he fully supported his agent’s efforts to get what was right and just. Those two things just don’t seem to equate, do they? This is the aspect of this that I’ve not been able to make heads or tails of. To borrow from another Jewish holiday – Passover — Alvarez doesn’t strike me as the son who was too simple to ask and he doesn’t seem to be the wicked son. In any case, he does have to take some responsibility for what went down. In some early interviews, he’s already tried to mend fences and if he keeps that up and plays the way he’s capable, all will eventually be forgiven. But for his role — whether it was direct or by simply stepping back and letting Boras orchestrate — he should ask for forgiveness, especially to the long-suffering Pirates fans.
Pittsburgh Pirates — Truthfully, I don’t blame the Pirates too much for what transpired, though I also don’t know exactly what happened on the night of the 15th. Despite the claims made by those filing the grievance, it does appear that president Frank Coonelly did not get special treatment because of his relationship with the Commissioner’s Office. All teams were given this extension. So I don’t feel the need to come down on them as hard as the others in this group. That being said, I’m not thrilled they gave in.
(Jonathan Mayo, The Chronicle’s sports columnist, also writes for MLB.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)