Agent of power

In baseball, only the commissioner wields more clout than Scott Boras

August 15, 2007|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun Reporter

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.-- --The steel and glass building located off an innocuous side street in this bustling Southern California beach town is, in many ways, like the man who owns it.

Observe the sloping architecture, see the emblazoned B on the windowless, tomb-like door and know this place is different - it's a combination of baseball museum and sleek modern office.

There are the life-sized banners of major league stars hanging from the rafters and baseballs, some autographed, stacked 10 feet high in the middle of the lobby.

There are replica Gold Gloves and Most Valuable Player trophies adjacent to a gleaming employee dining room, complete with stainless steel appliances, flat-screen televisions and a stadium-worthy electronic ticker that continuously scrolls updated baseball scores.

It's a one-of-a-kind building designed by someone equally unique, a hard-charging, relentless attorney and ex-minor league infielder who can be considered a pariah and innovator all in the same breath.

This is the headquarters of the Boras Corp., and since renovations were completed in September, it's where baseball super-agent Scott Boras calls home. In a sense, this metal edifice is the epicenter of baseball in mid-August. It's where Boras, cell phone and BlackBerry constantly in hand, is advising his group of about a dozen drafted amateurs throughout the country - including Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters, whom the Orioles selected fifth overall - as tonight's midnight signing deadline nears.

Boras has already secured a mind-numbing $7 million bonus from the Detroit Tigers for high school pitcher Rick Porcello, the 27th pick in June's draft, and he's angling for a big league contract worth about $11 million for Wieters. The Orioles have bristled at a sum that would be about five times the $2.25 million suggested by the commissioner's office for the fifth pick, and, consequently, the sides look headed for an impasse. If there is no agreement by 11:59 tonight, Wieters will return to school and the Orioles will lose his negotiating rights.

So for many baseball fans and executives, Boras would be better suited inside a towering, Transylvanian castle with continuous storm clouds looming and lightning bolts zapping overhead than his posh new digs - he was, after all, once referred to in a national magazine as the most hated man in baseball.

But step into his multimillion-dollar building, which is completely paid for because he says debt can compromise an agent's focus, and the dark clouds dissipate. It's exceptionally casual inside. Employees wear jeans, and breakfasts and lunches are catered every day on the boss' dime.

Boras, who grew up on a farm near Sacramento, Calif., listening to baseball on the radio while doing his chores, dreamed of being a lasting part of the game. Now 54, married and the father of three teenage children, he's probably the sport's most powerful figure next to commissioner Bud Selig.

Sitting in his renovated offices, he's direct and friendly, defending his reputation and his empire without ever altering his conversational tone.

"We are only known for the money part. An agent is quote-unquote about money," Boras said this week. "The truth of the matter is 70 percent of what we do has to do with preparing and evolving and growing the people we work for."

This is whom he works for: baseball players, no one else. He represents about 150 major and minor league players, including some of the game's biggest and wealthiest stars, such as the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, San Diego Padres' Greg Maddux and Atlanta Braves' Mark Teixeira.

Surely, it's his reputation for consistently securing landmark deals - such as Rodriguez's unprecedented $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers in 2000 - that has helped build his impressive stable. But loyal clients say they stay because of the personal services and detailed attention he provides. The Boras Corp. has about 75 employees in four separate branches: negotiation and core business; sports training and fitness; off-field marketing; and personal and business management.

The range of services spans from structuring workouts to counseling with one of two on-staff sports psychologists to providing money-management education. It's a one-stop shop for an athlete's self-improvement.

"He's got everything," Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said. "He goes over different statistical stuff. They'll look at film if you want to. If you are going well, they'll talk to you about what you are thinking. ... Ultimately, it's all to help."

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