Single page view By Tim Keown
Page 2

Most of the money stuff in sports shouldn't bother anyone. There's nothing worse than hearing some doddering old crank rail on about how much money some pissant utility infielder makes when Ted Williams couldn't crack a hundred grand. It's tiresome, and it's pointless and it's not your money anyway.

But damn, have you seen the money they've been throwing around the past week?

The Red Sox paid $51.1 million for the rights to talk to a Japanese pitcher whose best pitch is a concoction nobody's ever thrown. The money didn't even go to Daisuke Matsuzaka; it was a toll paid to the Seibu Lions.

Daisuke Matsuzaka
AP Photo / Jae C. Hong
Daisuke Matsuzaka will have even more to smile about once agent Scott Boras procures megamillions from the Red Sox.

When the real negotiations begin, when the Red Sox sit down with Scott Boras, don't you think that $51.1 million is going to cause the opening numbers to be somewhere in the almost-A-Rod range? Can't you hear Boras now? "You paid more than $50 million just to talk to the guy, so the price of seeing him pitch starts at $20 million a year." The Matsuzaka business is just the beginning of the crazed spending. The Cubs, who apparently believe spending money will at least make them feel better, agreed to pay Alfonso Soriano $136 million for the next eight years.

The Dodgers paid more than $18 million for two more years of Nomar Garciaparra and are in the process of chasing it with $45 million over five years for the right to watch Juan Pierre play center field.

Chew on that for a minute, because it might be the most amazing one: $9 million a year for a singles-hitting leadoff man with a good glove, a poor arm and sporadic knowledge of the strike zone. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said Pierre is a guy "with great qualities as a human being." Sounds like Gandhi, and he couldn't drive the ball into the gaps, either.

If Pierre loses a step and a half at some point over the next five years, he'll become a late-model Omar Moreno. In more modern terms, the Dodgers will be paying $9 million for an outfield version of Neifi Perez, only without the glitzy power numbers.

So the next time you hear your team's management complain about the public's refusal to grant tax money for a new stadium, remember this week. The next time your owner complains about his finances and preaches prudence and budget restraint, think about this week.

Oh, I know what you're thinking – the teams spending the most money are the teams in the biggest markets with the biggest revenues. Don't be fooled, though. If there's $45 million out there for Juan Pierre – and God bless him for getting it – and $51.1 million for the right to pay Matsuzaka even more money, they're all making money. Some more than others, but there's more than enough for all of them.

Except Ted Williams, dammit, the best there ever was.

This Week's List

• And probably a pool, and a spa, and a really sweet koi pond: One way to look at it is, Alfonso Soriano just bought Carlos Lee a bigger house.

• Speaking of who-owes-whom, this guy's demands better be up to a private island: Greg Anderson, back to jail.

• It's better than the Pac-10, where the officiating has become so routinely bad nobody bothers to expect otherwise: The Big 12 officials admitted they blew a call that cost Missouri the game Saturday against Iowa State.



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