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Friday, June 11, 2004
Updated: December 6, 9:43 AM ET
What's wrong with the MLB draft

By John Kruk
Page 2

I hate June. And it's for one reason and one reason only: the "amateur" draft.

The Padres had the No. 1 pick going into the draft earlier this week, and all the experts and analysts had them picking pitcher Jered Weaver or SS Stephen Drew. They didn't.

Why? One word -- signability.

The draft has become a ridiculous game between GMs, players and agents. It's all about who wants to go where, who will go where and -- most importantly -- for how much.

The worst team should have access to the best players. That's why the draft is set up the way it is. But of course, like most other things in the game, it's been totally screwed up by the agents.

Padres GM Kevin Towers told us he wasn't going to touch Weaver, or any of Scott Boras' other clients. They just don't want to deal with the guy. Not at this level, anyway.

Now that brings up a pretty damn good question: Is Boras doing right by his clients?

According to him, he is. He claims that despite falling to the middle of the first round, his clients will still get first-pick money. Yeah? Then we have a problem, because that means this draft is a joke.

If these kids are half as smart as they think they are, maybe they should tell their agents to back off the demand for the Mark Prior money so they can just go play.

But we all know they won't. A couple years ago, there was one guy in the draft from South Carolina. He dropped to the 16th round or something like that. I guess word got out about his "signability."

Well, the Dodgers took a chance and finally picked him up. They gave him a call to welcome him to the family, and were basically told that if they weren't offering first-round money, then 'see you later.'

Hey, diva, face some real pitching, then we'll talk. I don't need to see your highlight reel, where you're hitting 400-foot homers off 15-year-olds. This guy probably hasn't even held a wooden bat in his life.

I've said it before, but bear with me: You should never be a millionaire before you even step on the field.

Does a guy coming out of medical school get paid millions up front because he's going to be a great surgeon? No way. He's got to earn it like everyone else.

Jered Weaver
Jered Weaver ended up being the 12th pick, selected by Anaheim.
What the hell is going on with these kids? Maybe they have too many agents in their ear.

That's another thing. Isn't this the amateur draft? What the hell are all these kids doing with agents? They call them advisors, but I've got news for you -- they're agents. You think Boras is giving his advice for free? You think that when Weaver signs, Boras isn't getting his 5 percent? If you do, you're crazy.

Hell, if I were a coach facing Weaver in the Super Regionals (Weaver's Long Beach State team plays Arizona for the right to advance to the College World Series this weekend), I'd call the NCAA. How can these guys be eligible when someone is negotiating a contract for them?

By the time the College World Series ends, the starting pitcher might be worth more money than the umps and coaching staffs, combined. All for something they might do.

I know high school and college kids leave early for the NBA and the NFL. But most of them don't play right away. Sure, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony played right away, but what about the rest? Where are they while they get ready for their pro careers?

I'll tell you where: They're practicing with an NBA team every day. They're being coached by an NBA coach every day. They're not in some minor league system. They're at the highest level in the game. Same with the NFL.

Say what you want about the talent in college baseball and American Legion leagues. It isn't MLB. Not even close.

You wonder why they say a kid isn't coachable. Why he's a clubhouse cancer? Well, if you tell a kid at 18 that he is going to be the greatest player in the game, and if you give him millions of dollars, do you honestly think he's going to listen to anyone?

I've been in dugouts in the minors where bad players are getting chewed out by a manager, and the player asks, "Hey, how much did you get paid last year?"

Oh, right. I forgot. When you get millions of dollars, you also get a brain. I can't believe I forgot that.

From sports to Hollywood, you have teenagers who are millionaires. So of course, now they know things like proper fundamentals, proper conditioning, how to hit a curve and what we should do to cure cancer and save the rain forests.

On behalf of all non-multimillionaires out there, I want to thank you guys for sharing with us dumb folk.

I don't know when these kids are going to learn. Potential is about the future. Someone needs to tell these kids that we're living in the present.

INTERLEAGUE CHAOS
Roger Clemens
Kruk would have loved to have faced The Rocket, Roger Clemens.
Well, June also means something else. It means it's time for interleague play.

Here's an idea I thought I'd never warm up to -- and I'm still not completely sold. It definitely has its flaws. But now that I'm not playing, I wish I'd had the chance to be in more interleague games because of all the questions I get.

It's always, "Hey, Kruk, did you play against this guy, or face that guy?" When you're playing, you don't care about any of those guys. You just want to beat whomever you are facing. But when you're not playing, then you begin to wonder what it would have been like. I would have loved to play against George Brett or Billy Buckner. Not to mention Roger Clemens. It would have been great to face Clemens just once.

Overall, interleague play has been great for the fans. They seem to love it. But like I said, there are flaws in the system.

You think the Mets gets excited every year that they have to face the Yankees? Sure, they want to compete, but it takes on a different tone when one of their division rivals like the Phillies gets to play Detroit.

How about the A's? Back when the schedule came out, they were probably psyched to get to play the Reds. But the Reds have been playing extremely well. How about the teams that had to face the Royals and the White Sox? Man, those teams have reversed fortunes.

With the exception of a few teams that are good every year, it's a crap-shoot.

MLB says the competition will even itself out over a few years. A few years? What about the teams that are built to win now? They don't have that kind of time.

Look at the Mets again. What if they lose five-of-six to the Yankees, and then lose the wild-card slot by a game? They're not thinking about a few years from now. They're thinking about how they got screwed right now.

So they need to find a way to fix it, and who knows what that is? That's why I'm not the commissioner.

But the fans do love it. The ratings and attendance are up for some reason. They can't seem to get enough of it.

Well, the Royals-Expos series ... that's probably enough.

YOU CAN'T SPELL CLASS WITH "THE WB"
You guys hear about this show on The WB called "Superstar U.S.A."?

Here's the deal. Basically, it's a rip-off of "American Idol" with one small catch: These people aren't playing for anything. And they don't know it.

That's right. The show is one big joke, and it's being played on the people in the "contest." See, these singers stink, and everyone seems to know it but them.

The show builds them up, tells them they're great, gives them makeovers and tells them they're going to be superstars. But in the end, The WB is making millions on the shortcomings of others.

Wow, real classy bunch over there.

I haven't seen it, and I won't. Why is it good TV to humiliate someone in front of America?

I guess they forgot about that Jenny Jones thing a few years ago. You know, the episode where the guy revealed his surprise crush on some other guy. After the show, there was another surprise. The guy who revealed his crush was shot to death by the other dude. Why? Because he felt he was embarrassed on national television.

William Hung
Don't hate on William Hung -- that boy's gettin' paid!
This show has been on for a few weeks, and I'm telling you: They're going to crush those kids.

That's a pretty tough deal to put these kids through. If you think the contestants are dumb and deserve it, then you've obviously never seen the first few episodes of "American Idol."

Those shows are full of ticked-off people. They can't sing to save their lives, and they end up in tears when the judges tell them they stink. Yeah, well, good for the judges. End it there. Don't parade these people around on TV and tell them they're great.

William Hung, that guy is terrible, but guess what? The joke is on you, because he's making money. The "Superstar U.S.A." kids aren't making a dime -- and they won't.

You know what a great show would be? Let's see some of these judges take an on-air whupping. No, not just some verbal thrashing. I'm talking about bringing that big football dude, Matt, back from "Idol" and letting him toss Simon around for a while. Hell, I'd watch that. You think those judges would be so cocky after that?

Seriously, just think for a second what's going to happen to these kids. Look at the stress all the people went through on "Idol" or "The Apprentice" -- and they were actually playing for something!

Man, what's next with reality TV? How far are we going to go?

All these "finding love" shows like "The Bachelor"? I don't feel bad for any of those people. I feel bad for the families of those people.

I'm sure dads everywhere would love to see their daughters make out with some dude on national television right after they've watched that same guy make out with about 20 other girls. Yeah, real proud.

Now, these girls seem nice enough. They seem like they come from good families. But they all must have some J-Lo in them -- meaning, how can you be hot and have everything going for you, but no guy wants to stick around with you for very long.

Oh, and a special congratulations to Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Well done, Marc: Divorced on Tuesday; married on Saturday.

Jennifer Lopez
J-Lo's got a new man ... again.
What's the over-under on that one lasting? Seven months? Eight?

What's going to happen when she goes and makes a movie? Or when he goes on tour? Right, that'll be a monogamous relationship.

It seems J-Lo either gets engaged to or marries every guy she spends any time with. She probably has a collection of diamonds at home that would choke Smarty Jones -- not that he needs any help with that.

Look at the mix of her guys. Talk about a truly global person.

You got gangsta rapper P. Diddy, backup dancer Cris Judd, all-American boy Ben Affleck and now Latin crooner Marc Anthony.

Seriously, would you ever look at P. Diddy and Ben Affleck and say, "Yes, those two guys will date the same person."

That girl needs to find someone out of entertainment altogether.

Thing is, that's her problem. She can't stand to be with someone who might be prettier or more popular than she is. But she can't stand to be with someone who isn't popular, either.

Oh, well. Just another tough day in the life of J-Lo.

John Kruk is an analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight."