|Outside the Lines - Loyalty in Sports
Announcer - June 18th, 2000.
Bob Ley, Host - Not just any trade talks this week, but a deal to
send Sammy Sosa from Chicago, even after writing baseball history.
Malcolm Moran, "The Chicago Tribune" - Every great player is --
has either been booed or has been traded or both.
Unidentified Male - My age group, like the twentysomething and
younger -- we're not used to loyalty. We follow teams. We don't really
follow players because there is so much change.
Ron Santo, Cubs Third Baseball '60-'73 - With free agency and with
agents, they're going to go where the top dollar is.
Ley - What do Schaap or the Cubs owe each other or the fans?
Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs - I love the fans. People come here,
watch me play, and that's something that, if something happen, I'm never
going to forget it.
Ley - Today, on Outside the Lines, loyalty -- to whom is it owed
and does it matter anymore?
Announcer - Outside the Lines is presented by 1-800-CALL-ATT.
Joining us from ESPN Studios, Bob Ley.
Ley - When tradition collides with expedience, as it seems to
every day in sports now, tradition usually loses out. One fondly recalled
tradition is loyalty, and surely it is a bit romanticized. As Jerry
Seinfeld joked, rooting for a team essentially means you're rooting for a
piece of laundry.
But the Yankee pinstripes or the Montreal Canadian sweater
embodies more powerful memories than yesterday's box score. Steve Young
this past week talked emotionally of being able to retire as a San
Francisco 49er. A former teammate, Roger Craig, several years ago
resigned with the club for just one day so he could also retire as a '9er.
This past spring, the Boston Bruins showed their loyalty to 21-year
veteran Ray Bourque in a rather unusual way. They traded him, at his
request, so Bourque might pursue his dream of a StanLey Cub.
But, before you think there's a resurgence in loyalty, consider
the Cincinnati Bengals who are inserting a loyalty clause in contracts to
prevent players from criticizing management. Loyalty is usually defined
as teams owing something to players and players returning that in kind.
But with ticket prices ratcheting higher every season, the truest loyalty
may be owed by a franchise to the fans to field the best possible team, no
matter what legends are traded or whose feelings are hurt.
Professional sports, after all, is a business, and loyalty is more
than a two-way street. It is a very business intersection. The wonder,
to paraphrase, Yogi Berra, is whether it's so busy that no one goes there
Jeremy Schaap reports on the latest test of loyalty.
Jeremy Schaap, ESPN NEWS (voice-over) - The good old days.
Daytime baseball. Pitchers hitting in both leagues. Ted Williams, Stan
Musial, Ernie Banks, Mickey Mantle never traded, always in the same
uniform. In the unique triangular relationship that links teams with
players and with fans, there was a pervading sense of loyalty.
Santo - Definitely there was loyalty in my day. I think, in those
days, a lot of the owners were more loyal and the players were more loyal.
Schaap - The good old days. Babe Ruth was sold. Jackie Robinson
was traded. Loyalty was a function of the reserve clause, which bound
players to their teams forever. Is there less loyalty now, or are there
simply more choices?
Moran - I don't think it's changed much, except that it's no
longer mandated by the reserve clause and the decimal points have moved
Marty Noble, "Newsday" - Wilt Chamberlain got traded, Willie Mays
got traded, Henry Aaron got traded, and some of them wanted to be traded,
but, you know, it's -- I don't know that it ever existed on both sides to
any great degree.
Schaap - It has been perhaps baseball's most passionate love
triangle -- the Cubs, their fans, and Sammy Schaap -- but the affair may be
in its final days, and as in most affairs that are nearing an end,
emotions are raw, there's plenty of blame to go around, and someone feels
their loyalty has been betrayed.
(on camera) - Schaap wants more money, but the Cubs may not want to
invest more than a hundred million dollars in an aging superstar. So are
the Cubs being disloyal by listening to offers for Schaap, or is Schaap being
disloyal by suggesting he would welcome a trade?
Rick Telander, "The Chicago Sun Times," ESPN Contributor - When
these things unravel, somebody always says, "Oh, it's just about money."
Well, you know, to an extent, sure, it is about money, but it's not always
just money. Money is very simple, and Sammy Schaap happens to want a whole
lot of money, and you can't blame somebody for saying "That's more than we
But, by the same token, the fan doesn't want to hear either side
of that. We -- you know, we don't want to go to a -- we want to read a
baseball program, not "Fortune" magazine.
Unidentified Male - I don't feel there's loyalty on either side,
and I think it's taken a lot of the -- my interest away from following
teams like I used to, you know, when I was younger.
Unidentified Female - I don't think it's there anymore. It hasn't
been for a long time. It's all in the money.
Schaap (voice-over) - But the loyalty fans covet, they don't
Moran - I remember Carl Yastrzemski being booed in Fenway Park on
opening day. He was 0 for 0 in 1971, and he's getting booed, and so...
Schaap (on camera) - So what is loyalty?
Moran - Yeah, what is loyalty? Loyalty is what you did yesterday.
Schaap (voice-over) - Certainly, though, today's fan perceives
that there is less loyalty than there used to be, primarily because so
many of the best players change teams so frequently.
Unidentified Male - I know I go to the baseball games now more to
see the game itself than I do to see the players because they're changing
Santo - In my day, we related to the fans because -- if you look
at our ballclub with Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, myself, we were together
nine years, but there's no more because of free agency and, today, money
is the criteria. You're going to go where the big dollars are. So there
isn't that loyalty.
Andrew MacPhail, Cubs President/CEO - We see the McGwires and the
Griffeys change teams, the Randy Johnsons, those players that are pillars,
and I think that that's unfortunate to a degree because I -- I think it's
great when a player is identified with the franchise throughout his
career, but that -- by the nature of our system, that is tougher and
tougher to accomplish.
Schaap - Any MacPhail, who has to sign off on the Schaap trade, is
the son and grandson of legendary baseball executives. Loyalty, he says,
has, for the most part, always been an illusion.
MacPhail - Generally, clubs do what they think they have to do to
make their teams better, and sometimes we stick the player with an
unrealistic expectation that he should somehow be loyal. He should be
held to the same set of circumstances, the same criteria that clubs do,
and sometimes they have to act -- players have to act in what they
perceive to be in their best interests, and -- clubs will do it, why
shouldn't players do it, is kind of the view I've always taken. So I
really don't have any great expectation that a player or a club should act
a certain way.
Schaap - At the same time, MacPhail says, players have been loyal
to the teams he's run, and he's rewarded that loyalty. When he was in
Minnesota in the late '80s, MacPhail says reserve outfielder Randy Bush
didn't want to play elsewhere and would accept less money to stay with the
MacPhail - And after a while, I came to understand that and,
generally, my first offer was where I thought the player should be, you
know, on a reasonably fair basis. Probably it gave him a two-year
contract at the end of his career when a one-year contract was more
Schaap - But the clubs can't always be loyal to the fans and to
the players. Loyalty to the fans could mean fielding the best team
possible, which might necessitate disloyalty to a player. At the same
time, a player's loyalties are divided by sometimes conflicting
obligations to family, to self, and to team.
Telander - Imagine total loyalty. You'd -- you would still have
70-year-old players on your team, and you'd go out there and get beat a
hundred to nothing. That's loyalty taken to an extreme degree. I don't
think there's any less loyalty now than there's ever been, but I don't
think we've come close to resolving the problem of loyalty and its lack.
Schaap (on camera) - If MacPhail does trade Schaap, there's sure to
be a backlash from the fans, at least briefly, but, again, Schaap's
departure might remind us that, in baseball, change is a constant.
Loyalty shifts as frequently as the standings, and even in Chicago, Eliot
Ness's town, no one is untouchable.
For Outside the Lines, I'm Jeremy Schaap.
Ley - And when we continue, I'll be joined live by Cubs Hall of
Famer Ernie Banks, player agent Drew Rosenhaus, and baseball historian
John Thorn. Our topic - loyalty in sports.
Announcer - Outside the Lines is presented by 1-800-CALL-ATT for
Ley - That was in a shop right across the street from WrigLey
The topic - loyalty in sports. And, this morning, joining us live
from Nashville, Tennessee, the Hall of Famer voted the greatest all-time
Chicago Cub -- he still works with the franchise -- Ernie Banks; from
Miami, player agent Drew Rosenhaus; and from Kingston, New York, baseball
historian John Thorn.
Ernie, let me begin with you. I would say that you certainly are
the most popular Cub -- living Cub maybe of all time. Sammy Schaap rivals
you in popularity. Your quick take on the possibility, the probability of
the Cubs trading him away.
Ernie Banks, Cubs Hall Of Famer - Well, it could happen, Bob.
Thanks for having me on the show.
But me -- personally, I love Sammy Schaap. I know him real well. I
understand his feelings from inside. He really wants to stay and play for
the Cubs. He fits there. Fans love him. It's a wonderful ballpark to
play in. We play mostly day games there. It's a perfect place, and I
know he loves playing there.
Ley - John, do we make too much of the word "loyalty"? Is this a
lot of hand wringing about something that really is passe in sports?
John Thorn, Baseball Historian - I don't think it's passe, but as
you -- as Jeremy talked about, there are varying levels of loyalty, and
the Seinfeld joke about rooting for shirts is probably right, that the
loyalty is essentially civic. We're Chicago Cub fans more than we are
Ley - Drew, you know what's said about agents. If there's -- if
there's one factor in all of this, why loyalty is dying or it's dead in
sports, you're the culprit, you and your colleagues.
Drew Rosenhaus, Sports Agent - Well, let me -- I personally want
my clients to be loyal. I want them to stay with the same teams. I think
they're going to have more success with the continuity. It's not just
about moving teams and going to get more money. You change systems.
There's new coaches. You've got to pick up and move your family. I think
loyalty would be great.
But let me put it to you this way. Don't blame the agent or the
player. It's also the team. Andy MacPhail said it. Teams are primarily
concerned about doing what they need to do to get better.
Look at the Buffalo Bills, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith, two of
the greatest players ever for them -- they didn't really want to pay them.
Those guys left. That's really a shame.
You mentioned Steve Young. It's great to see the 49ers help Steve
Young, give him a million dollars to retire as a '9er. They redo Jerry
Rice's contract and hang on to him, even though he's passed his prime.
But, for the most part, the teams will cut a player in a second,
no matter how great he is, if he can't play anymore. Dan Marino right
here in Miami. The minute Marino couldn't play anymore, the Dolphins
swept him out period.
Ley - Ernie -- Ernie Banks, let me ask you what does a team owe to
a player, especially a player of long standing.
Banks - Well, let me just give you all a little -- one of my
My first year, 1954, when I came to spring training, I was working
hard, playing hard. I got a letter from Mr. P.K. WrigLey, owner of the
Cubs, and he said to me in the letter, "My coaches say you're not trying,
and whereas there is fire, there is -- where there's smoke, there's fire.
So I'd like for you to meet me at the park at 9 - 00 in the morning."
I had never met Mr. P.K. WrigLey, owner of the team. So I met him
at the park. He came in, and he looked me in the eye, and he said, "Now
my coaches tell me you're not trying. I want to hear what you have to
say." So I told him, "Mr. WrigLey, I'm doing the best I can." So he went
Three years later, one of the coaches that was in that meeting
said Mr. WrigLey had all of the coaches and the managers look up the word
"loyalty." They looked up the word "loyalty," and they said, "That's what
Ernie Banks means to this organization."
So my life has been closely dealing with loyalty. I believe in
it. I love it. I will always have a great feeling for the Cubs. I spent
my entire career there. I'm the only professional athlete who's spent his
entire career in one city, Chicago; one mayor, Richard J. DaLey; one
owner, P.K. WrigLey; one park, WrigLey Field; and one light, all the home
games in the daytime. So my life has been built around loyalty.
I think loyalty is the primary fabric of Major League Baseball.
Ley - Well, John...
Rosenhaus - And you know what? You're not -- you're not going to
see Ernie Banks on teams anymore. It's just not going to happen. There
is so much pressure in sports now. It is so much of a business and --
entertainment and business, that the teams are under pressure to make
moves, to trade guys, to cut guys, to bring in younger players, salary
caps, make it fit. You won't see any more situations with Ernie Banks.
People would love to be loyal. Guys love their coaches, they love
their teammates, but they have to take care of their family. My clients
-- my primary concern is so that they can pay their bills. The same thing
with the coach. He's got to go home and take care of his family. Also
with an owner. He's got to pay the bills.
It is such an expensive proposition right now that you will very
rarely see the Ernie Banks in the future, and it's not because the players
don't love loyalty or vice versa. It's because of economics.
Ley - All right. Now...
Thorn - Let me just point out...
Ley - All right. Go ahead, John.
Thorn - Let me point out that this is not a new phenomenon, that
Ernie -- Ernie Banks' situation was really unusual even among of Hall of
Famers, that out of all the baseball Hall of Famers, only one in four
stayed with their teams their entire careers. That period in the '40s and
'50s, which we now identify as the golden age of baseball, saw -- saw more
continuity, more -- more players sticking with one team.
But going back into the previous period, you had Cobb, you had
Grove, you had Foxx, you had Cy Young and Babe Ruth. All were traded.
The -- the question is who is initiating the player movement. In the old
days, it was the owners. Now, frequently, it's the players, and I think
fans are more resentful of players picking up their suitcases and going of
their own volition because...
Rosenhaus - See, I -- I don't believe that.
Ley - Drew, we're going to pick right up there when we continue in
just a second.
Rosenhaus - You got it.
Ley - We've got more on loyalty and whether it matters in sports
in just a moment, as we continue Sunday morning on Outside the Lines.
Rick Aguilera, Minnesota Twins Pitcher - We've had great years
here, and we've had some bad times, but -- you know, the fans have been
supportive. I've -- you know, I feel very proud to have been able to
pitch for TK and the coaching staff, and it's just been good people here.
Ley - That was last year. Thirteen months ago, Rick Aguilera
traded away from the Twins after 11 years.
Drew, I promised you a chance to jump in on John's point that
there is resentment from fans about player movement.
Rosenhaus - Well, I -- John -- the thing I disagree about what
John said -- he says primarily the players are the ones who cause the
moves now, as opposed to the owners or the clubs, and I don't agree.
Players, for the most part, want to stay with their coaches, their
systems, their cities. They don't want to move their families. They
don't want to move to new environments. That's not healthy, and that's
not often productive.
Teams have the opportunities to keep these guys by doing
extensions, by signing them in the longer contracts when they're younger.
Guys don't just jump for the money as it's made out to be. Players are
getting a bad rap. If the fans want to get upset, they've got to look at
their owners and their teams who need to step up to the plate and sign
these guys to extensions and get these deals done and make them salary-cap
friendly so everyone can fit and there is continuity.
Ley - Well, Ernie...
Banks - Well, Drew, I -- I agree with that. I think that this is
what has to happen. It's -- it takes a heart out of a player when he is
-- he's moved to another team, it really does, although it seems that
players, when they go to other teams, "This is fine. I'm going to make
more money," and this and that, and the city -- but deep down inside him,
it really hurts that the -- you feel like you -- you don't belong
anywhere. You feel like you've been left out when you're traded to
another team, and no matter how much money you're getting, it really
Rosenhaus - I mean, I've had clients that have tra -- that have
really changed teams either via trade or free agency and gotten literally
$50 million and were unhappy. I mean, they were depressed. They got all
the money in the world, but they left their coaches, they left their city,
they left the environment. Money is not everything in sports. It's a
very important part of it, but guys don't just want to change teams for
bigger contracts. Sometimes they do want to go win championships.
Sometimes they want to play for better organizations, but...
Ley - Let me jump in and ask John this question because -- when
Ernie was a rookie, he could deal with a P.K. WrigLey, but now you look
around, especially in Major League Baseball, the corporate ownership is
such -- what do you believe the change in having so many now corporate
owners, boards of directors, not single, wealthy men owning teams -- what
has that done to the specter of loyalty?
Thorn - Well, I think in -- in a way, you may have less individual
loyalty, but you may have more ability to provide continuity for your --
for your players. The Chicago Tribune Company is in a position to finance
continuity, if it wished to do so. A P.K. WrigLey -- well, look at Connie
Mack. He had to periodically bust up great, pennant-winning, World Series
championship teams simply to keep the creditors at bay.
Ley - Ernie, would you have signed a contract, as the Bengals are
trying to get their draftees to do this year, that had a loyalty clause?
Banks - Yes, I would have a loyalty clause. I believe in loyalty.
Now there's one other thing, too. Mr. WrigLey said this, John,
many years ago, to me, that baseball is too big of a business to be a
sport and too big of a sport to be a business. How do you analyze that,
Thorn - Well, he's right on -- he was right on at that -- at that
point. I believe at -- at the turn of the century here, baseball is a
very big business, indeed, and it's the same kid of business as Hollywood.
Something has been lost. I think we have taken the rotisserie fantasy
league model and applied it to baseball where we have a great deal of
loyalty to players and it's the civic loyalty, it's the loy -- it's the
lack of loyalty to teams and ownership that I think is breaking up and --
and costing something at the heart of baseball.
Rosenhaus - See -- and as an agent -- and I know I speak for my
clients -- we don't want the fans to be unhappy. We're not going to bite
the hand that feeds us. I don't want to just move guys around looking for
the biggest contracts. We want the fans to be in the game. We want them
Right now, one of my clients, Zach Thomas, he is Mr. Miami
Dolphin. I don't want Zach going to another football team in a couple of
years. When he's retired, he'll have a lot of success here. We want the
fans to be a part of it and to be able to identify with players and keep
them in place. As an agent, that's my job, not only to take care of my
client but make sure that the business and the industry is solvent for
many years to come.
Ley - Drew, in one sentence, in 10 seconds, would you have one of
your football clients sign a Bengals-style contract with a loyalty clause?
Rosenhaus - No, I don't like that. I think that's something that
needs to be negotiated between the union and the league office. That
shouldn't be something that's done between a player and a team. That's
more part of a standard player contract. I'm opposed to punishments for
Ley - OK. I appreciate it. Gentlemen, thanks very much. Happy
Father's Day to you all. Thanks this morning to Ernie Banks, to John
Thorn, and to Drew Rosenhaus, as we've considered the question of loyalty
in sports here on ESPN.
And we'll continue taking a look back at last week's program and
ahead towards Tuesday evening in a moment.
Ley - Last Sunday after the National Football League indicated Ray
Lewis would not be suspended for pleading to an obstruction of justice
charge, I asked league official Harold Henderson to compare the case of
Lewis to a pair of players suspended for their roles in a bar fight.
Harold Henderson, NFL Labor Relations Executive Vice President - I
think the distinction there has to be drawn between the differences in
physical involvement. In one case, you had a person who, for whatever
reasons, maybe fear or to pro -- seeking to protect friends or whatever
his reasons at the time, wasn't completely forthcoming with the police
officers, and another person who was physically confronting police
officers, other citizens in a confrontation in a bar. There's a
Ley - Christine, do you see that difference?
Christine Brennan, "USA Today" Columnist - No, I think it -- it's
a fine line, I guess. I don't know. I think the NFL's making a huge
Ley - From Jacksonville, a viewer writes that "the court has
decided Lewis' legal status. Likewise, Lewis' disposition in the National
Football League should be determined by the NFL. I doubt Ms. Brennan has
the experience Ray Lewis has, that of having her every move for four
months watched and scrutinized."
From Windham, Minnesota, a viewer dumbfounded at the comments from
Mr. Henderson on Ray Lewis' plea-bargain - "Ray Lewis was not an innocent
bystander in these events. He witnessed a double murder, lied about it to
the police, and apparently encouraged others to lie. In my opinion, he
was fortunate to be allowed to plea to a misdemeanor in return for his
testimony. I suspect a less high-profile defendant would have faced a
far different outcome."
And from Miami, "Please tell me how the middle-class to
upper-class educated white media explain the path that an uneducated, poor
black athlete takes once he has acquired newfound wealth. Unfortunately,
the media is the one with the pen."
We look forward to hearing from you at espn.com. Type in the
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Announcer - Outside the Lines is presented by 1-800-CALL-ATT for
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Ley - Tuesday evening, Outside the Lines looks at the explosion of
money in sports. Included - Kelly Neil's (ph) visit with Ravens' draftee
Travis Taylor who was spending for the good life before he has chased a
single professional paycheck.
Kelly Neil, ESPN Correspondent (voice-over) - Travis Taylor is
ready. He's already taken out about $275,000 worth of loans. Shop 'til
you drop? How about putting a deposit on a $650,000 house, buying
furniture for it, getting three new cars, a 15-carat, custom-made Rolex,
two diamond rings, and diamond earrings for his wife, Roshita (ph).
Taylor expects to pay it all off when he signs with the Ravens.
Travis Taylor, Baltimore Ravens Draftee - I think I should
probably get somewhere around to $11 million to $12 million -- $11 million
to $13 million, hopefully anyway.
Ley - Outside the Lines, athletes, dollars, and sense. Make a
note. It is right after SPORTS CENTER Tuesday evening on ESPN, 7 - 00 p.m.
And if you missed any portion of our look at loyalty, the
program's going to reair in two hours at 1 - 00 p.m. Eastern over on ESPN2.
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