Scott Boras is being hailed again as an evil genius.
Forget the fact that Boras created so much of a frenzy around client Daisuke Matsuzaka that the Boston Red Sox posted $51.1 million simply to talk to the 26-year-old Japanese icon. And forget, too, that Boras got the Red Sox to offer Matsuzaka a six-year contract that could be worth as much as $60 million despite the fact that the right-hander with the mysterious array of pitches and even more mysterious fashion sense has never pitched in the major leagues.
What really has the baseball world aflutter is all the additional perks Boras was able to squeeze out of the Red Sox. Completely separate from the guaranteed money Matsuzaka will receive over the next six years, the Red Sox are also giving him a massage therapist and a physical therapist and an interpreter. Not to mention a personal assistant or accommodations for his wife or special housing and transportation -- including up to 90 flights between Japan and the United States. It's a pretty sweet package.
But are such perks really that rare for such a highly coveted player? Should Boras be getting so much credit? No and no. Athletes often receive extra benefits and favors from teams -- and it's been that way for a long time.
For instance, when Babe Ruth was given an $80,000 salary in 1930, making him better paid than President Hoover, the Yankees didn't stop there. In addition to the record contract, the team promised Ruth all of his bats would be weighted with actual donuts -- cream-filled donuts, to be specific -- to help him better enjoy his time in the on-deck circle. The Sultan of Swat was also granted diplomatic privileges in New York City due to his status as a sultan.
Two decades after Ruth's deal, St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck put 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel into a game in 1951 as a publicity stunt, giving Gaedel a one-day, $100 deal for the rights to exploit him. Veeck also offered Gaedel a lifetime membership in the Lollipop Guild, a pair of white gloves and an interview at Keebler, but was rebuffed.
Albert Belle was the first player in baseball history to make more than $10 million in a single season for his "services" thanks to the generosity of the Chicago White Sox. But he wouldn't sign on the dotted line until the White Sox agreed to two special requests. One, a giant container of Halloween candy was to be delivered to his front porch every afternoon, where it was to be lit with a spotlight so children all across the neighborhood could see it. And two, Belle wanted a high-powered BB gun with a scope.
As part of Ken Griffey Jr.'s nine-year, $116.5 million deal with the Reds, the team donates $1 million annually towards hamstring research, and an additional $1,000 for each game Griffey misses to injury. Total donations to date? $137 billion.
The Yankees currently provide Alex Rodriguez with an array of perks that are tacked onto his record 10-year, $252 million contract. Rodriguez takes weekly slap-fighting classes on the team's dime, and he has free use of a vacation home for the final three weeks of October every year. Also, all New York tabloids are delivered to the Rodriguez residence each day with the back page removed.
Teammate Derek Jeter does just as well with his 10-year, $189 million deal. Per the language of the contract, each day during the season the team's equipment manager is responsible for wringing out Jeter's underwear and jockstrap in order to acquire the essence of Jeter's cologne: Driven. That extract is then sent to the labs at Avon Products, where it is bottled and then shipped to stores and -- if your friends and family really love you -- this holiday season you may be lucky enough to spray some of it on your face.
But baseball isn't the only sport that fills player contracts with special benefits and services.
As part of Michael Vick's 10-year, $130 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons, the team also provides Vick with two e-mail addresses with unlimited space -- one under his real name and another for an alias of his choosing. Vick also has the right to retain the Falcons' team attorneys free of charge if he is ever charged in a coach-killing.
The Arizona Cardinals have long been known to give their players such swag as 10 percent-off coupons for all team apparel as well as free water on the sidelines. (Paper cups not provided.) Some veteran players don't even have to wash their own uniforms after games.
Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett, currently in the midst of a five-year contract extension worth $20 million per season, gets far more than just money. Minnesota executive Kevin McHale placed special language in his power forward's contract that says Garnett will always be viewed as the best player on the Timberwolves roster and that his status as such will never be challenged by the presence of any other talented players.
When Freddy Adu signed a deal worth more than $500,000 annually with D.C. United in 2003 as a 14-year-old, he received numerous perks as the biggest name in MLS. For one, he was allowed to skip one practice a week to play with his Power Rangers. Two, he would be picked up and dropped off for practices each day in a minivan so as to not miss out on an experience integral to growing up as an American soccer player.
New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro signed a 15-year, $67.5 million deal in the offseason that is chock-full of perks. Perhaps the most valuable one -- which will likely kick in very soon -- is free access to a psychiatrist once DiPietro realizes he's stuck playing for the Islanders for the next 15 years.
So is Scott Boras an evil genius for getting Matsuzaka all of those throw-ins on his contract? Not at all. As you can see, stuff like that has been happening for years. But Boras is most definitely evil, though. Just wait until Boston's new ace finds out his agent's take on all contracts is 95 percent. Or 85 percent and your soul. Whichever. It's Matsuzaka's call on that -- as Boras makes it a point to cater to his clients' wishes.
DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the award-winning sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He is also a regular contributor to ESPN the Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck" will be in stores soon.