Buffett boosts A-Rod's bank balance

June, 29, 2010
6/29/10
7:34
PM ET
Hey, who knew that the Omaha Wizard created those silly bonuses in Alex Rodriguez's contract? Mark Feinsand:
    The incentive clauses were actually the creation of Warren Buffett, Rodriguez's billionaire friend who advised him during his negotiations with the Yankees. A-Rod had been seeking a $300 million deal, and after the Yankees had stated publicly that they would not negotiate with Rodriguez if he opted out of his contract, Hank Steinbrenner was insistent on keeping any new deal under that total in an attempt to save face.

    Buffett came up with the idea to link Rodriguez's home run chase with the contract, adding $30 million to the $275 mil the Yankees were willing to pay. As long as A-Rod reached his manifest destiny to become the sport's home run king, the deal would surpass the $300 million mark.

    "Hank loved it when he heard it," said a source close to Rodriguez. "This was a way for both sides to save face. It was, 'How can we get the deal done creatively and make both sides happy?'"

Does this belie Buffett's reputation as a down-home, down-to-earth sort of fellow?

Maybe not. Maybe only a down-to-earth sort of fellow would be star-struck enough to become so intimately involved with a fellow like Alex Rodriguez.

The bonuses, of course, are ridiculous. Or rather, meaningless. An extra $30 million over 10 years means nothing to the Yankees. It's a rounding error. According to Feinsand, "The language of the contract states that in order for A-Rod to collect each $6 million bonus, the team must designate each home run as a 'milestone event,' which triggers the marketing clause. Barring a second PED revelation or some other scandal, it's unlikely the Yankees would try to renege on the agreement."

Unlikely? How about impossible. "Milestone event" is a meaningless term. If Rodriguez hits his home runs he'll get his money, scandals or no scandals. Even if nobody cares. Which of course nobody will. Do you sell more tickets when A-Rod ties Willie Mays? When he ties Babe Ruth? Hank Aaron? Barry Bonds?

Well, maybe Bonds. Rodriguez gets $5 million for hitting No. 762, and another $5 million for No. 763. I suspect that those home runs will qualify as milestones, with live updates on TV and jam-packed ballparks.

Forget about the bonuses. A-Rod wanted his $300 million, and the Steinbrothers wanted to give him his $300 million without looking like rubes. That last part might not work out so well, but they gave it the ol' college try.

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