It's time to talk contracts once again
by Alan Schwarz
December 7, 2004
NEW YORK—Having just researched and written almost all four pages of this issue's Contracts Blowout, I have been pickled in the stuff for several weeks. Enough to get a little tipsy and blurt out a few thoughts I otherwise might keep to myself.
Particularly this time of year, contract talk always concerns money, money, money . . . whether in the form of buyouts, options or discounts for no-trade clauses. But it seems to me the covenant between player and team could be about far more—if we only tweaked the Uniform Player Contract a bit.
Herewith follows an Addendum to every player's contract that only a lawyer would find unreasonable.
1.(a) Both now, during and through its conclusion, Player shall not use words such as, but not limited to, "underpaid," "security" or "respect" to derisively describe this contract.
1.(b) Both now, during and through its conclusion, Club shall acknowledge that no gun was held to its head while signing this contract.
2.(a) Player agrees that he will run hard to first base upon hitting any ball, even if it's kind of right at the shortstop.
2.(b) Club agrees to never sign Neifi Perez.
3.(a) Club agrees to encourage and assist Major League Baseball's recent efforts to assemble umpiring crews that are familiar with the rule-book strike zone and, when one makes what appears to be an errant decision, aren't too proud to convene to actually get it right.
3.(b) Player agrees to not complain, bitch, moan, carp, whine, grouse or otherwise bellyache about every strike call with which he does not agree.
Assignment of Contract
4. Player represents that he understands how this contract effectively sells to Club his right to choose his employer; no "demand" for a trade to another club will be allowed or acted upon. Conversely, should club decide to entertain its option of trading Player, neither he (nor his agent) shall hamper any such talks by making remarks such as, "Re-sign there? I'd rather play in Albuquerque."
5.(a) Just in case he forgets they're against U.S. federal law, Player agrees not to swallow, inject or otherwise slather upon himself in the form of a cream steroids, human growth hormone or any other illegal performance-enhancing substance known today or later invented. This is not just to ensure the competitive fairness of the game on the field, but because taking these substances, as well as ending same, poses health risks that inherently violate "first-class physical condition" clause in 3(a) of UPC.
5.(b) Should he be convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while intoxicated, Player shall not dismiss such behavior as a "mistake." Locking your keys in your car is a mistake. Driving it drunk is a volitional crime.
6. Club agrees during television broadcasts not to allow rightsholder placement of computer-generated billboards behind home plate, at least until technology improves to the point where batters no longer look like they're disappearing into "Desperate Housewives" logo.
7.(a) Player agrees not to wear excessive arm guards, elbow protection or suit of armor when batting. He also shall occasionally wash his batting helmet, even if he plays for the Red Sox.
7.(b) Club agrees to not, in shameless licensing maneuver, adorn Player caps with any side-stitched logo, including but not limited to "All-Star Game 2005," "I Live For This" and "Washington Opening Day—We Finally Got Around To It."
8.(a) Player represents that he has read "A Whole Different Ballgame" by Marvin Miller and "The Way It Is" by Curt Flood so he understands how players didn't always have it so good.
8.(b) Club represents that its owner, president, general manager and other top baseball operations officials have read entire history, including all testimony, of 1980s Collusion cases so that they understand why Don Fehr hasn't trusted them since.
9. Whether levied by Club or Major League Baseball, Player agrees to actually consider why he received suspension before appealing same.
10.(a) Club agrees to not, whether to Player, his agent, the Players Association or the public, use accounting gymnastics to contort its overall operating profit or loss. This includes, but is not limited to, clubs owned by media companies grossly underpricing the value of their television contracts.
10.(b) Player agrees that, while he has earned his salary and other contract provisions bargained herein, he probably makes in six months what most teachers earn in a lifetime.
You can reach Alan Schwarz by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.