This is a few days old, but what an interesting tale. The sad story of Brien Taylor, from high school phenom to Exhibit #1 of "What happens if your draft pick is a bust":
He was 6-foot-4 and not fat and not skinny. He looked like a man. He swaggered like one, too, when he was on that mound, all presence and intimidation and fear. Batters started the walk to the plate with a chrysalis in their stomach, and by the time they saw that fastball, it metamorphosed into a full-on butterfly. Lord, that fastball. They swear it tickled 85 when he was 12, and Willie "Ray" Taylor, his daddy and catcher, remembers the sting when it caught the mitt's heel. Like a thousand bees at once.More than a tale of woe, it's an fascinating review of how the Yanks tried to lowball Taylor compared to Todd Van Poppel, with accusations of racism tossed in, and how this changed the tactics for agents thereafter.
"I've been through 28 drafts," Scott Boras says, "and Brien Taylor, still to this day, is the best high school pitcher I've seen in my life."
The offer was also $900,000 less in guaranteed money than Todd Van Poppel, the ballyhooed Texas right-hander, had signed for in the previous draft.Ya know what, I believe her completely, and you know I rarely believe people who claim it's not about the money...
"They had the attitude that these poor black people from the South were stupid and didn't know any better," Bettie says. "And we were. But, let me tell you, we learn quick."
From June 3, the day the Yankees chose Taylor, Bettie drew the line of demarcation: Pay him Van Poppel money or he's going to college. The Yankees raised their offer to $650,000. She said no.
"When I went in, I told them what I wanted," Bettie says. "And I wasn't going to budge from that."
Along came Boras, who Bettie had read about. She knew he wrangled the Van Poppel deal, and she was going to need help. Major League Baseball had sent in a representative to kindly ask the Taylors to accept the Yankees' offer. The scene resembled a mafia sitdown, and Bettie wouldn't have been surprised if a dead fish showed up on her windshield.
Single-handedly she was changing how baseball did business, empowering the players who, for so long, had been stunted by a rigid bonus structure.
"It was not about the money for me," Bettie says. "I told them what I expected, and it was a matter of respect and equality and pride."
We can only wonder what might have been had he not turned his shoulder into spaghetti.