It’s not Hot Stove season until infamous sports agent Scott Boras unleashes his first tirade on Major League Baseball.
So mark it down. The offseason officially began Wednesday afternoon in Carlsbad, California, the host site of this year’s GM meetings.
It was there that Boras weighed in on a number of topics that have or will impact the landscape of MLB. Most notably, he continued crushing MLB’s non-competitive teams for “tanking,” blaming them for the league’s low attendance in 2018 and once again calling them a “cancer” to the league’s growth.
Sounds really pleasant, doesn’t it?
As always, Boras was upbeat when discussing his clients and his ideas to fix the league. On the other hand, he was downright pessimistic, bordering on ornery, when discussing what he feels is ailing the league.
It was, to put it mildly, classic Scott Boras.
To most, that means it was the continuation of a tired act. But given his position as baseball’s most powerful agent, it still carries weight, or at least it never fails to raise eyebrows. That’s why we’ll provide this quick rundown of what Boras is happy and sad about heading into the offseason.
Scott Boras blames MLB’s attendance decrease on tanking teams
Boras complaining about MLB’s “tanking problem” became his go-to rant last winter when the slow-developing free agent market impacted several of his clients. Now though, he feels he has more evidence to back him up. That being MLB’s attendance decrease in 2018.
Scott Boras’ State of the Union address is off and going. He has three pages of notes. He starts off by crushing MLB attendance and blaming it on teams being non-competitive. He said the Blue Jays are suffering from “Blue Flu” and the Marlins bring “the M-I-A to Miami.”
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 7, 2018
MLB saw its attendance fall below 70 million for the first time in 15 seasons in 2018. That’s certainly notable. The league saw the per-game average attendance drop 4%, going from 30,042 in 2017 to an average of 28,830 per game in 2018. That’s despite 13 teams seeing an increase in attendance.
The league blamed it on the brutal early season weather, which led to a record 28 postponements and 102 games played in temperatures under 50 degrees during April. In turn, that led to an increase of doubleheaders during the season.
Boras, though, was convinced tanking teams were the main culprit.
“We have a cancer” says Boras about a system in such things as the draft that rewards systemic losing. Said teams that try to win and say go from 65 to 75 wins should be rewarded.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 7, 2018
There’s undeniably some truth to it. There were several non-competitive teams that took the field without much star power or much chance to contend in 2018. That didn’t give fans much incentive to invest in their home team. In some cases though, those seats were taken by visiting fans, so it’s difficult to pinpoint how much impact “tanking” really had.
Perhaps giving teams incentives to reach win plateaus would help in some regard, but good luck sorting that system out.
On Brodie Van Wagenen being named Mets’ GM
"Philosophically, I've always rejected the notion" that an agent can become a GM, Scott Boras says.
Boras adds: "I've never talked to Brodie Van Wagenen in my life." He says when he meets with the Mets to negotiate this winter, he can talk to the Wilpons or other staffers.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) November 7, 2018
Boras isn’t the first and won’t be the last to question the ethics surrounding Van Wagenen’s hire. The inevitable first Boras-Brodie conversation is one we’d love to hear.
On Addison Russell’s status following domestic violence suspension
Russell was suspended for 40 games after MLB launched its own investigation into domestic violence allegations by Russell’s ex-wife. Even before that announcement on Oct. 3, there was a lot of speculation about what that means for Russell’s future not just with the Cubs, but in MLB.
Boras, though, doesn’t seem concerned.
I just gave a Russell update from Boras on ESPN 1000. If you missed it: Says he's in counseling and going through a process of rehabilitation. Expects him to return to Cubs unless/until he hears different.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) November 7, 2018
On Bryce Harper’s free agency
Scott Boras on Bryce Harper: “Certainly Harper’s bazaar has begun. It’s fashionable. It’s historical. It’s elite. Global certainly. And certainly it has inspirations that deal with great shoes and great hair.”
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 7, 2018
Yes, Boras has officially titled Harper’s free agency. That is taking branding to an entirely different level.
Of course, that was just Boras’ opening offseason act. There will be more to come at the Winter Meetings and beyond. Get ready to tune him out, or be prepared to be mad. It’s your choice.
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