SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
December 14, 1992
Giant Deal
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December 14, 1992


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Giant Deal

If, as baseball's owners complain, players' salaries are out of control, how come they keep giving more and more loot to the hired hands? And why are the about-to-be owners of the San Francisco Giants so eager to splurge? It was startling enough that the new Giant bosses came to terms last week with free-agent Barry Bonds on a six-year, $43 million deal that would be baseball's richest ever. Just as stunning was that they did it even before their purchase of the team had been formally approved.

The Giants' bold move distressed some old-line owners, who said they might have second thoughts about the sale of the club to such a profligate bunch. However, as SI went to press Monday night, it appeared likely that both deals, for the Giants and for Bonds, would go through. In any case, along with other recent free-agent splashes—the Houston Astros' lavishing $36.5 million on pitchers Doug Drabek and Greg Swindell, the Minnesota Twins' spending $30 million to keep Kirby Puckett, etc.—the Giants' generosity suggests that at least some baseball owners can well afford megabuck salaries.

Still, a $7 million-plus-a-year outlay for Bonds is risky. He's a splendid player, but he didn't bring the Pittsburgh Pirates a pennant, and he alone won't bring the pitching-poor Giants one, cither. And what about Will Clark, San Francisco's nonpareil first baseman? He can be a free agent after the 1993 season, and he can now expect a deal at least as rich as the one offered Bonds.

Bowled Over

It could have been so tidy, No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 4 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. And, sure enough, under the new bowl coalition, a scheme meant to maximize the chances for a national-championship game on New Year's Day, the Hurricanes and the Crimson Tide will meet in the Sugar and likely settle the who's-No.-l issue. But what if Miami and Alabama lie in a poorly played game? The meeting between the Aggies and the Seminoles decides matters, right?

Wrong. Although the coalition agreement doesn't expressly provide for match-ups other than No. 1 vs. No. 2, most football observers assumed that the spirit of the arrangement pretty much obligated the Cotton Bowl to weigh in with No. 3 vs. No. 4. So imagine the shock on Sunday when the Cotton announced it was pitting Texas A&M against No. 5 Notre Dame, thus relegating the Seminoles to a drab Orange Bowl meeting with No. 11 Nebraska. That reduced any chances Florida State and Texas A&M have of winning the title from slim to infinitesimal.

Jim Brock, the Cotton Bowl's executive director, said, "We did what we thought was best for our football game, and I'm not apologizing for it." But it's worth noting that the Cotton Bowl is being televised for the first time by NBC, which also owns the rights to Notre Dame's home games. And, of course, the Irish will be better showcased in the Cotton against Texas A&M than they would have been in the Orange against Nebraska—a game that, because it goes head-to-head with Miami-Alabama, figures to be a TV-ratings washout.

Pay Up

The International Amateur Athletic Federation, the world governing body for track and field, believes it should answer to no higher authority, but that didn't prevent a federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, from lowering the boom on the IAAF last week. Ruling in a lawsuit in which the IAAF didn't deign to be represented by counsel, U.S. District Judge Joseph Kinneary ordered the London-based organization to pay U.S. runner Butch Reynolds a cool $27.3 million—$6.8 million for lost income and the rest in punitive damages.

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