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A $19,000,040 mistake

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Denny Neagle... tisk, tisk, tisk.

It seems the Rockies overpaid lefty got himself in quite a pickle the other night when he made what appears to be a $19,000,040 mistake. You see, Denny got pulled over for speeding, and an inquisitive officer of the law ascertained that Mr. Neagle's female companion had been paid $40 for a service that is prohibited by Colorado state law.

I am only writing about this because the consequences of Neagle's actions may have a tremendous impact on the game of baseball, maybe even more signficant than the steroid story.

You see, aside from spending $40 on something he should not have, Denny stands to lose $19,000,000 in wages if his employer, the Colorado Rockies have their way.

Excerpt From: "Union wants to 'discuss' Rockies decision"
By: The Associated Press, ESPN.com, Mon. Dec 6, 2004

The Rockies terminated the oft-injured pitcher's contract Monday, three days after he was cited for solicitation.

"This decision is about an organization and the fans that support it," Rockies chairman Charles Monfort said. "Denny's pattern of behavior has not been consistent with what our organization represents."


Colorado cited section 7 (b) (1) of the Uniform Player Contract, which states the team can terminate the contract if a player shall "fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition."

I guarantee you the players association will fight this with all their strength, because the precedent could permit owners to get out of contractual 'mistakes' whenever a player does something boneheaded.

Example? The Yankees could decide to void Kevin Brown's contract after he punches a wall breaking his hand. After all, that is not very Sportsmanlike. (Trust me, my parents made me write essays on sportsmanship when I was in 4th grade because I got angry with my teacher for changing the rules of a game on 'grandparents' day.)

How about the Farns? Kicking that fan (the wind generating kind) wasn't so sportsmanly. Then of course there was Frankie Francisco of the Rangers who broke a fan's (the paying, cheering, and jeering kind) nose in Oakland this year, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Now if you are like me, you are saying... 'hey these are times when guys deserve to have their contracts voided, why are you defending them?' I'm not. I think baseball players should deal with the economics of life the way most of us do. If you lose your head at work and hit the customer over the head with A folding chair, you'd probably get fired, and never see another penny. The same should hold true in baseball.

However, only in rare instances have teams been able to void a player's contract, even if the player did something stupid. But, with the voiding of Aaron Boone's contract for playing basketball last off-season (and getting injured), and now the Rockies moving to cut ties with Neagle, it looks like Pandora's box is opening. Of course, George Steinbrenner of the Yankees is jumping on the bandwagon and looking to void Jason Giambi's contract after he admitted to using steroids.

For the owners, any step toward a system like football where contracts are much less guaranteed than they are currently in baseball, is a good step. If the owners have their way this offseason, the winter of 2004-2005 may be remembered more for the blow the player's association took, than the steroid scandal.

Posted by Byron at December 7, 2004 5:52 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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