Tue Nov 22 09:46pm EST
Back in late September, Dan Lozano told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that being the agent for Albert Pujols(notes) and other baseball stars meant always feeling like he was wearing "a target on my back."
Though its inspiration might have been murky at the time it was originally read, the article now reads like a man setting up for a mud-slinging battle he knows is soon coming. Lozano's clients are trotted out to reaffirm their support before it's ever needed. The 44-year-old offers answers to unanswered questions before they're even asked.
Two months later, it all makes sense as the huge dirt bomb finally landed — boy, did it ever — on Lozano's reputation via the virtual pages of Deadspin. In a Barry Petchesky article entitled the "King of Sleaze," Lozano's character and business practices are called into question through a number of documents and photos that were sent to Deadspin's offices by an anonymous source, likely another agent if Lozano's claims and our natural instincts are correct.
We think we know who sent out the package, and if we're right it's someone with no love lost for Lozano. But the claims are verifiable, and with confirmation from multiple sources who have known Lozano for decades, they're impossible to dismiss as just the fanciful products of a vengeful mind. The mailing pointed the way toward allegations of whoring and harassment and a skeeviness in financial matters that goes beyond what's usual for the species (of sports agent).
The whole post is something straight out of "Entourage" had that show ever been interesting, and the claims against Lozano, who also represents players like Jimmy Rollins(notes), Michael Young(notes), Carlos Beltran(notes) and Brian Wilson(notes), are too numerous to list in bullet points here. You really have to go read the whole dirty thing.
They also probably don't belong on anything that can be considered a family website. From allegations that Lozano personally took prostitutes for, uh, "test drives" before hiring them for his clients to claims that his financial troubles led Pujols to sign a below-market extension with the Cardinals in 2004, it goes straight past the world of PG-13 and into X-rated territory.
It's the type of stuff that you might have surmised after reading the original USA Today article, only to quickly dismiss it because it was too lurid. And yet somehow it includes all of that while also shining a light on Alex Rodriguez's(notes) involvement — of course A-Rod would figure into this — before it's all over.
Matt Sebek of Joe Sports Fan's comment after reading this report was "Speechless. I have no speech" and I have to confess to having a similar feeling afterward. It's no breaking news that a sports agent may have resorted to some unsavory tactics to lure and sign clients, but the fact that it's Albert Pujols' agent as the St. Louis Cardinals superstar prepares to chase what could be the richest deal in baseball history? That makes it a lot more interesting.
There's no coincidence, of course, in the timing of this attack. Pujols always portrays himself as a pious family man and the revelations that Lozano may be the exact opposite of the weekly church attendee he told the Pujols family he was is clearly designed to get some sort of response. Namely, to cause Pujols to end the relationship he's held with Lozano since 2000 and seek representation for his big new contract elsewhere.
Only time will tell if Pujols will show that to be the case, but it's worth noting that he told Nightengale in September that these types of allegations are nothing new and that he'd continue standing by Lozano. (Jimmy Rollins, who's also up for a new deal, also said something similar):
"I've heard all of the dirt about Danny from agents for the last 10 years, all trying to sign me," Pujols said. "They're wasting their time. Danny has been an open book. To me, he's the best agent in the business, and I trust him with my life."
That may be. But in the cutthroat world of multimillion-dollar contracts, someone out there wants to see if Pujols is really a man of his word.