You can add veteran lefty Kenny Rogers to Alonzo Mourning and Jim Jackson on the list of pro sportsmen refuse to honor their contractual obligations. The Dallas Fort-Worth Star Telegram’s Jim Reeves isn’t amused.
Just what you wanted to hear on the eve of spring training, that your 18-game winner from last season has a gun stuck in your ribs and is saying, “Show me the money, or else.”
I’d like to say this isn’t the Kenny Rogers I know, the baseball warrior who busts his hump every time he steps onto the field; the soft-spoken guy from the strawberry fields of Plant City, Fla., who has the guts and guile of a burglar.
But maybe it is. This isn’t the first time Kenny has had contract problems with the Rangers. He can be stubborn — even pig-headed, some might say — when it comes to a contract. He’s walked out before.
But this would be dead wrong. Nothing more, nothing less.
Rogers might deserve more than the $3.5 million he’s scheduled to make this year. But that’s not the point.
A deal is a deal.
Last off-season, when Rogers was looking for work, he all but begged the Rangers to give him a two-year contract. At 39, the Rangers were thinking one-year deal. But Kenny — and agent Scott Boras, naturally — kept insisting on the extra year. Not knowing how he might pitch in 2004, Rogers desperately wanted the extra security.
General manager John Hart didn’t want to do it, but assistant GM Grady Fuson and owner Tom Hicks eventually caved in and gave Kenny the extra year.
It turned out to be a very wise move. Rogers responded with a career-high 18 wins, a 4.76 ERA and almost 212 innings. No so coincidentally, however, he also had the fourth-highest run support in the league at 6.85 runs per game.
Rogers turned out to be a tremendous bargain for the Rangers and, barring his arm falling off, he should be again this season.
But now Kenny wants his cake and some ice cream, too.
Did I mention that his agent is Scott Boras?
I call it poetic justice, actually. With Boras’ client Chan Ho Park basically stealing $13 million a year from the Rangers, they deserve to catch a break somewhere.