By John Kruk
Page 2

Congratulations to Eli Manning. He's just become a member of one of the worst clubs in sports. No, not the Giants. The growing group of young athletes that make millions and call all the shots before they even step out on the field.

I'm picking on Eli here because what went down with the Mannings and the Chargers is just wrong. Who the hell is this kid to dictate where he's going to play? It's an honor to be paid to play a sport. He should have taken his Chargers hat and headed right to San Diego.

If there is some kind of feud between Marty Schottenheimer and the Manning family and he didn't want to play for that coach, then I would understand. But it doesn't look that way, so what is wrong with San Diego? Last time I looked the Giants weren't too good either. And what is wrong with the league for letting these guys do this? How are the bad teams ever going to make any money and get better if they can't build through the draft?

It used to be that you went where you were picked. Now it's all controlled by agents telling teams "No, don't draft my client, he doesn't want to play for you and you can't afford him."

Eli Manning
Eli Manning got his way, and now he's a Giant -- but is that right?

Now, football isn't the only place this happens. It's just the latest one to make the papers.

Don't forget about J.D. Drew refusing to play for the Phillies when they picked him. Guys like that affect the draft more than you know.

Every year you have third-round talent going in the first round. Why? Because the team can sign the guy. These GMs can't risk a first-round pick on a guy that may or may not report to the team. Yeah, that's pretty pathetic, but that's what's going through their head as they make picks.

It's a sad thing when a baseball team can't afford a high school player.

They need a system like the NBA has, where everyone in the first round gets paid pretty much the same for the first few years. And they need to do the same for all the rounds. Heck, when you get to the 15th round, you shouldn't get a thing. At that point you should be glad someone even knows your name. I got picked in the 5,000th round and they gave me $500. I thought I was rich.

The money isn't the only thing killing the draft in baseball. It's all the promises that agents have put into contracts that give players things they may or may not have deserved. You'd be surprised how many high school kids get contracts that state they get to go to big league camp every spring, they're on the 40-man roster, they're a September call-up, etc.

All this for guys who hit .500 against a bunch of 16 and 17-year-olds. Hell, I'm 43 years old and I can go out and hit .500 for a high school team tomorrow. I guess I'll be taking a break from this column in the fall -- I should be a September call-up by that point.

Whatever happened to earning your way up? Hey, if you're good, you play. Isn't it supposed to be that simple? Forget this crap about having it in writing. This is why I could never be a GM. I call the shots based on how you play, not because someone promised you a roster spot even though you lead the league in strikeouts.

With all these incentives, you have minor league rosters in chaos because the top brass keep some players around because of the money they have invested in them. There are tons of minor league teams out there loaded with former first, second and third-round picks that are in their fifth season. These guys aren't going anywhere because they're earning too much money. Once again, thank you agents.

Drew Henson
Drew Henson's hitting never came around -- now he's in the NFL.

You want a quick example? The Yankees were "waiting" for Drew Henson to break out and become the next third baseman in New York. Guess what? You can watch a guy at any level for a year and know if he can play. Some players, like pitchers, are eased into a certain workload -- but if a guy hits .200, I'm sorry, he's not going to hit .300 next year just because you've been patient.

Bottom line -- you earn your way onto a team. You earn your way to the next level with how you play. The way contracts are today? What's the point of half these kids playing. They should just take their money and retire.

By now, everyone knows that Moises Alou has let everyone know that he urinates on his hands to toughen them up so he doesn't have to wear batting gloves.

Hey, I hated wearing gloves. If you try swinging without them, you'll probably only crack your hands if you're lucky. What will probably happen is the pine tar and the rosin will rip off some of the skin from your hands.

Wear gloves, don't wear gloves. Take a leak on your hands, or not. I still have a few questions.

How the hell did this come up? Did his dad Felipe pass it down?

"OK, Moises -- you put your elbow like this. Here's how you follow through. Bend your knees like this. Oh, and by the way, when you're in the bathroom ..."

This one's for the Cubs -- if Moises hits one out, what do you do? High-five? I don't think so. Maybe a slap on the butt or the old point and nod from a few feet away.

I know that Jorge Posada came out and said the same thing, so all you guys without gloves better start confessing, because we all know now.

If Moises goes on a tear, you'll see a bunch of guys trying it but never admitting it.

Moises Alou
Moises Alou might get a lot more fist-bumps than handshakes from now on.

Bottom line, the fans always want that new insight into a player's routine. What do they eat on game day? What do they do to get ready to play? But this is a little more information than anyone wanted.

Like I said, those gloves suck -- but I'd wear them all day before I started taking a leak on my hands.

Here is something that I still don't understand.

I was watching something from the 2003 Academy Awards the other day. Didn't seem like anything special. All those shows are the same.

Then Harrison Ford presents the award for Best Director. And the Oscar goes to ... Roman Polanski for "The Pianist."

The place errupts in applause and they give this guy a standing ovation. Now, this isn't a big deal in Hollywood. These guys use every opportunity to fawn all over each other. But this one was a little different. See, Roman couldn't make it. Back in 1977, he had sex with a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson's house and, because he feared jail time, he fled the country.

We all know the story. If you don't, check out what The Smoking Gun has on this guy. He knows what he did and he should be in jail. The guy is a child molester.

Sorry you had to receive your award by FedEx, Roman.

That's not the point.

What the hell are all these Hollywood people doing cheering this guy on? I know these idiots have no sense of reality, but this guy is a special hero because he ran away from the law after abusing a little girl?

We all know that celebrities think they are above the law, but I didn't know that also meant you cheer known criminals because they're part of "the club."

I wonder when O.J. is going to get his standing O.

John Kruk is an analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight"