Where was all this money for Alex Rodriguez?

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Whilst sifting through the sublime reports on the Robinson Canó situation, I particularly enjoyed this bit:

... which is relevant because Howard Lincoln was, and still is 13 years later, the President and CEO of the Seattle Mariners, who reportedly just offered Canó a contract very much like the deal Alex Rodriguez got from the Rangers.

Now, in Lincoln's defense, $25 million doesn't buy nearly what it used to. On the other hand, when Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers he was STILL ONLY 25 YEARS OLD. Canó is 31.

But it's not like profligacy or hypocrisy are anything new. When I read Lincoln's old rant, I flashed back even farther, to 1996. In '95, the owners had been forced to open spring training and allow the season to proceed, even without a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. There still wasn't a new CBA after the '96 season, but at least the players and owners were negotiating. One sticking point? The owners were holding out for a salary cap, supposedly to help the small-market franchises. One of the more vociferous proponents was White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who helped kill one proposal that didn't include a cap. Two weeks later, he gave Albert Belle a five-year, $55 million contract ... and then said, "We need some meaningful salary restraint and sharing of revenues, so everyone has a chance to compete."

Which didn't go over real well.

Belle had been a Cleveland Indian, of course. When he took Reinsdorf's millions, Indians GM John Hart said, "How any owner can come in and break the market like this when the industry is in so much trouble... With 25 of 28 teams losing money this year, Reinsdorf walks up to the podium and busts the market. That's something that he's going to have to live with."

The rest of Belle's career was bizarre. After a so-so '97, Belle just crushed the baseball in '98, which might have been his best season. His contract had made him baseball's highest-paid player, but by the end of the '98 season he wasn't one of baseball's three highest-paid players ... and he had a clause that allowed him to opt out of his deal if he wasn't one of the three highest-paid players. So he opted out, and again became baseball's highest-paid player by signing a five-year, $65 million deal with the Orioles. Is that the last time Peter Angelos did something like that? Belle's contract was a disaster of sorts. He hit well enough in his first season with the O's, but was terrible in the field. And in his second season, advancing osteoarthritis limited him terribly. And then he was finished. Belle played for only two years of that five-year deal. The Orioles did recoup much of their investment through insurance.

UPDATE: With the news that Canó is getting a contract very much like A-Rod's, we await Howard Lincoln's next public comments.

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