Thursday, February 10, 2005


Murray Chass has some serious inside baseball reporting today. The whole thing's worth a read, but here are the key sentences:

"A person with knowledge of [Giambi's] contract said that before they signed off on his seven-year, $120 million deal, the Yankees acquiesced to Giambi's request and removed all references to steroids from the guarantee language routinely included in contracts.

"They wanted Giambi badly enough that they relinquished the right to suspend him or stop payment on the contract or terminate the contract or convert it into a nonguaranteed contract if he was found to use steroids."

As far as I know, this is the first time this has been reported. Is that right? If so, it's stunning that it took the sports media 2+ months (since the grand jury testimony leaking) to find this out and/or report it.


  1. Classic NYPost headline:


  2. I am always skeptical about tags like "someone with intimate knowledge" or "someone close to the organization", etc..

    I feel that this is a tool that writers use that allows them to give their theories without saying directly "Giambi did steroids and the Yankees were ok with that...".

    I will say a lot of things about the Yankees, and a lot of things about Steinbrenner. But George already got the heave-ho once. I can't imagine that he'd knowingly remove clauses from a contract about an illegal substance because someone insisted on it (basically saying "I DO STEROIDS")...especially with the tremendous backlash it would have on his organization.

  3. Yeah, I'm with Matt on being suspicious of "someone with knowledge." But in this case, Murray Chass is a big name writer at a paper that has had more than a scandal or two on reporting less than verified facts. Chass has a lot to lose and would be called out very quickly if there is not even the least bit of truth to it.

    We'll see if the other tabloids jump on the story.

    Funny thing was as I read the first two paragraphs of the quote, the *exact* thought popped into my head - why did we not learn about this sooner. Forget even since the grand jury testimony - it has been well over a year since the steroid *story* has been all over the place.

    Could be that only a very, very few number of people know about this and that the Yankees decided to leak it now. Even that seems doubtful. At a minimum, the player, the team, the league and all their lawyers have seen the contract.

    And as for the Boss, I don't see him getting in any trouble for this. I'm sure its not his name on the contract - one thing the Olney book said was the boss has gotten good about distancing himself from baseball operations so that he has someone to blame when things go poorly. Plus, we don't really want him gone - sure he's been lucky in a few deals lately, but its just a matter of time before he goes and gets another Mondesi.

  4. Just heard an excerpt from an ESPN radio interview with Cashman.

    "The story that's out there today is how way back when, when this was done. That steroids was like, it was almost like, a private conversation between a player, his agent and the NY Yankees that steroids agreement (this part was a little garbled). oh, you can't have that in there because, well you don't want to say because but its obvious oh and we'll turn our head, stick their head in the sand, still invest all this money
    and say, yeah we'll just take it out. It will be our little quiet secret. That's a lot of BS. Its hogwash. Its not true. And, again, common sense, is a little bit there. You don't invest this kind of money unless, uh, you know, if that was the case you would back off and walk away."

    And yes, it did sound that choppy. Usually Cashman is smooth, but didn't sound so in that interview.

    Someone is not telling the truth.

  5. Listening to Cashman's comments, I didn't hear a flat-out denial. He said no steroid-specific language was excised, but didn't address a more general drug clause. Plus he kept referring to "common sense". Stuff like "common sense would dictate that this is ridiculous..." etc. Um, Brian, we're talking about George Steinbrenner here. "Common sense" has nothing to do with anything.

    What someone should ask Cashman is why then have they not voided his contract -- if the standard Yankee contract has a prohibition for steroids, and they didn't excise it, then surely there's a CHANCE a court or arbitrator would agree with them and they would save $100 million or whatever.

  6. You know, the more I think about it, the more I think that's it. If the language in the standard Yankee contract is as strong as everyone in the organization brags it is, then they'd have NO PROBLEM getting their $82M back. The fact that Giambi's still a Yankee is damn strong evidence that there's no steroid language in the contract.

    In retrospect, it's just so obvious...we didn't need Murray Chass to report this.

  7. Jesse,

    In your original post, you stated you were surprised that this (the specific exclusion of steriods) had not been rported on earlier. My guess here is that the standard players contract says NOTHING about steroids. If it did we would have heard about this a lont time ago. And if you think about it, the union would not let steroids into the standard contract, because they are not against the rules (at the time).

    We heard a lot about the clauses that stated he had to be able to perform and keep himself in shape or the morals clause but there is not much likelihood of those helping the Yankees void the contract. If there were a standard steroid clause, someone would have jumped on that sooner. These contracts are not top secret and it would be very easy for someone to get a copy of one.

    Regardless, the union would argue that all drug-related offenses would be referred to Article 28, Attachment 18 of the CBA (the drug policy), which states first-time offenders aren't named or disciplined but merely sent for treatment.

    There may be no real story here after all.

  8. I don't think I agree. If there was no steroid-specific language in there to begin with, that's the first thing that would've come out of Cashman's mouth. He wouldn't have stammered about common sense and so forth, and simply would've said "because of the desires of the Players' Union, that was never part of the standard contract prior to 2003", immediately switching to focus away from the Yankees and toward the MLBPA -- as well as to Chass.

  9. Well I can't seem to find a clear cut answer to all of this.

    The best that I can tell is that the player contract has some specific clauses, none of which specifically relate to steroids.

    Look at this story by Jayson Stark. There are lots of discussions about physical condition and the morals clause, but no specific mention of steroids. If there were a pragraph on steroids, I'm pretty sure they would have talked about it.

    So the issue of steroids is actually addressed in the collective bargaining agreement. The standard players contract makes reference to all matters covered by the CBA (and this makes sense because if a player signs a contract in say 2001 and then there is a new CBA in 2003, you would want the new provisions to be incorporated into the old contract. Hopefully that makes sense.

    See this link - it is collective bargaining agreement - refer to page 168 for where they get into steroids. And again it says that a player caught the first time is only subject to treatment (anonymously).

    I think the Cashman stammering comes from something else. I'm not sure what. It would seem unthinkable that they could add a clause that voids certain provisions of the CBA. I doubt the league or the union would go for that. Perhaps Cash was stammering since he knows the Giambi used steroids.

    The CBA has some good stuff in there. When on the road, players receive $76.5 per day for food. Not bad.