- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
When the Texas Rangers signed free-agent first baseman Will Clark to a five-year, $30 million contract on Nov. 22, they gave up trying to re-sign free-agent first baseman Rafael Palmeiro. There's now a debate raging over whether the Rangers signed the right guy.
Palmeiro's 1993 numbers (.295 batting average, 37 home runs, 105 RBIs in 160 games) were far better than Clark's (.283, 14, 73 in 132 games), and Palmeiro has been the more productive player throughout the '90s. But this signing was about winning, not numbers. The Rangers need someone to teach leftfielder Juan Gonzalez that there's more to the game than winning home run titles. They need someone to show catcher Pudge Rodriguez that making the All-Star team and winning Gold Gloves isn't more important than making the playoffs. They need someone to push Jose Canseco, who is rehabilitating after major surgery on his right elbow last summer, into wanting to become a devastating hitter again.
Palmeiro will jump in a teammate's face from time to time, but Clark jumps with the best of them. Though his facial contortions and his histrionics on the field may be overly theatrical, Clark's intensity has helped him win at every level. Down the stretch in 1993, Clark played with a damaged right knee but almost carried (with Barry Bonds's help, of course) the San Francisco Giants to the National League West title.
Palmeiro wanted to stay in Texas, but when his agent, Jim Bronner, raised the price from $32.5 million for five years to almost $40 million for six years, the Rangers went after Clark. Palmeiro blasted the Rangers for signing a "mediocre" player, then inexcusably ripped his former Mississippi State teammate, saying Clark had "no class" and was a "lowlife." Palmeiro later apologized for the personal attack but still maintained that he is a better player. He's right. But it's time for the Rangers to find a leader. His name is Clark, not Palmeiro.
The last part of the PGA calendar has become a series of high-class tractor pulls, a sponsor-driven schlock smorgasbord contested in turquoise sweaters. During a one-week span earlier this month, Greg Norman played in the Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters in Japan, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in La Quinta, Calif., and his own Franklin Funds Shark Shootout in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He won the first two, pocketing winnings of $252,000 and $400,000, but his team finished sixth in the shoot-out, thus depriving him of a schlock slam.
The most objectionable of golf's trash-sport events is the Skins Game, a two-day, 18-hole event in which the rich get richer and the poor...well, the poor just don't get invited. Last weekend's Skins brought together Paul Azinger, Fred Couples, Arnold Palmer and Payne Stewart, who have collectively cashed more than $3.3 million in prize money this year, never mind endorsements. During the two days at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., Stewart earned $280,000 and Couples $260,000, while Azinger and Arnie came up empty.
This being America, each of these gentlemen is entitled to make whatever he can. But let's remember that real skins games match players who are down to their last C-notes, with the wife waiting back at the Red Roof Inn, station wagon loaded. Fake skins games match millionaires playing with other people's money.
There was no real drama at Bighorn, only a contrived theatricality. Yes, the winners do give some of their earnings to charity, but, basically, the skins purse is found money, another exercise for the accountants on Monday morning. For the "losers," there was no risk, therefore no true loss.