Saturday, April 19, 2014
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The Inner Edge: Academic Advice

There is one name in baseball that is synonymous with conning organizations into agreeing to long-term, overinflated contractual prices that are well over players’ market values:

The one-and-only Scott Boras.

Boras, commonly referred to as the “Napolean Bonaparte” of Major League Baseball, is to blame for MLB contracts skyrocketing substantially within the last 28 years.

More impressively, Boras was the sole proprietor in coaxing the Yankees into what was arguably the worst contract in the history of baseball: Alex Rodriguez’s 10 year, $275 million dollar deal. How Boras was successful in feeding the Yankees a load of crap convincing enough to secure A-rod’s 10-year contract is beyond me.

No wonder small market organizations try avoiding the silver-tongued devil at all costs.

Although Boras is defined by his ability to milk money out of teams with his aggressive attitude and uncanny ability to spit-fire convincing BS, he can remarkably offer up a bit of good advice.

Right-handed pitcher Mark Appel was expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLB draft. After Appel dropped to No. 8 and was offered a $3.8 million contract by the Pirates, he turned to advisor Scott Boras for guidance. Boras, factoring in Appel’s own views and aspirations, urged him to stray away from the Pirates and to continue his education, which is exactly what Appel ended up doing.

Appel turned down the $3.8 million in order to finish his degree at Stanford University and hopes to lead the Cardinals to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., as a senior this year.

Appel’s decision sparked a bit of controversy among fans, who critiqued him for “pushing his major-league career back a year.” But Appel doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t understand how people can say that I can’t keep working and keep getting better at Stanford,” Appel said. “It might be a different situation and scenario than a minor-league team, but I still have the opportunities to improve my game, get better, to just grow as a baseball player and a teammate and prepare myself for the next level.’’

If Appel continues posting stats consistent with last year’s performance (he went 10–2 with a 2.56 ERA and struck out 130 batters over 123 innings), he will have no trouble securing a contract come June.

The only real difference between signing with an organization this year instead of last is that Appel will enter the Majors with a degree in both management sciences and engineering under his belt — not just a 95-mph fastball.

Why don’t all college athletes value education as much as players like Appel?

Honestly, it’s because they have no reason to.

Deciding to spend a few more semesters enrolled in college — voluntarily suffering through some requirement-filler credits — doesn’t hold any value for players who will never have to so much as glance at a calculator again in their lifetime.

It’s refreshing to see that there are still athletes out there that cherish a good education even when presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.

With his value of education, his dedication to Stanford and resilience towards critics, Appel serves as a breath of fresh air to both collegiate-level sports and the nature of today’s salary-driven athletes.

The fact that Appel is so passionate about his Stanford baseball family is inspiring in itself.

That’s how college baseball players should be. Dedicated to working towards the chance to compete in the College World Series as a team, and not just a group of individuals consistently skipping out and going pro the first chance they get.

Because Appel decided to stay loyal to his university, Stanford fans obviously don’t have any outstanding issues with him. But Pirates fans don’t seem quite as understanding and have mustered up some dislike toward him.

Typical that Pirates fans would be offended that Appel chose to further his education and support his current team, as opposed to sailing straight into the Majors sporting yellow and black. ‘’If they’re going to boo me, then so be it,’’ Appel said. ‘’I’d love to sit down and have a meal with them after the game.’’

Classic Scott Boras crack right there.

Maybe he’s a decent role model after all.

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