A labored, slanted, but worthwhile discussion of the often bizarre financial dealings of baseball, by a major player in the evolution of free agency and escalating salaries. Sports superagent Hendricks has been witness to three owner ``lockouts'' and four strikes since he began his career as an agent in 1970. Not surprisingly, he views the hard-won 1977 Basic Agreement as unfair to his clients. That agreement allowed players to become free agents after completing six years in the major leagues. But, including minor league service, it means ``eight to 10 years before they [can] obtain freedom.'' Only 30%, he notes, ever complete the six seasons. Hendricks also takes a close look at the collusion suits against the owners in the mid-1980s, which resulted in tortured mathematics (as evidenced here) to compensate players for lost income. He traces the owners' collusion to a meeting (like a ``Mafia summit'') at the 1985 World Series between then-commissioner Peter Ueberroth and Lee McPhail, outgoing chairman of the Players Relations Committee. The book is most interesting when Hendricks looks at the role of personality in the game, as with former Commissioner Fay Vincent, who stubbornly refused to be a rubber stamp for the owners. Vincent's proposal for realigning the National League, his confrontation with New York Yankees ownership, and his intervention in the collective bargaining process earned him respect but cost him his job. Hendricks's negotiations with the Boston Red Sox on behalf of pitcher Roger Clemens, gaining him a record-setting $21.5 million contract, bring some life to a text replete with charts, numbers, and legalese. He also addresses the impending players' strike that threatens the second half of the 1994 season. Tenaciously dull writing, but essential for anyone wishing to understand the business of baseball and how it got that way.
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