The Unsigned Superstars

by Rufus Terragon, Special to
April 15, 2008

It is tax day, which means – symbolically at least – a time to take an accounting of yourself.  In the baseball world, perhaps it is time to do a little accounting as well, as it seems some high profile players – like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Kenny Lofton, and Mike Piazza – are healthy and willing to play, and yet are nowhere to be found.

It was recently suggested by a staff member of this website that the reason these players do not currently find themselves on a major league roster is because these players are being blackballed.  In this one-page report, we take a look at this accusation to determine whether this is the likely, or even possible, explanation.

Could It All Be A Matter of Ego?  Each of these players has a list of possible reasons unique to him for why he is not currently taking coming to the park each day, but there is one tie that binds them all: Ego. This is professional baseball, after all, and these four players are four of the biggest stars of the past two decades.  At least with respect to Sosa and Bonds, the tales of ego are legendary, and while Lofton and Piazza are less notorious, there can be no doubt that a couple of future Hall of Famers are not going to be signed to minor-league wait-and-see deals.

Perhaps These Guys Don’t Belong on Major League Teams - It is not outside the realm of possibility that these guys – I hope you’re sitting down – just aren’t that good anymore.  Bonds will probably be able to take walks and hit homeruns until he makes Minnie Minoso look like spry, but he probably couldn’t field his position at DH at this point.  Sosa hasn’t been a legitimate major league hitter in three years, to say nothing of Piazza’s fractured tenure of the last five years.  At this point, Lofton would probably be a reserve at best.

Even If They Should Be Blackballed, Could They Be?  We’ll leave alone the fact that only Bonds among these four even has a reason to be blackballed at this point.  One has to wonder whether Major League Baseball teams are even capable of such action.  For the last twenty years, teams have had to bend over backwards to accommodate the salary demands of Major League Baseball players, and despite the fact that a suppression of player salaries would benefit everyone involved, the owners have continued out-bid each other because, in the end, doing so is incredibly lucrative.  There is not an owner in the game who wouldn’t set a fellow owner on fire if he thought he could make money doing it.

Final Word - At the end of the day, we only need two words to describe the reason why none of these guys are on a major league team: Matt Stairs.  Stairs is currently 40 years old, is playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, and last season hit 21 homeruns with an OPS over .900 in 125 games.  This season, he is making $1.625 million.  Simply put, it doesn’t take a conspiracy to convince teams not to spend good money on bad players.  If any of these guys could do what Stairs can do, and do it as cheaply as Stairs is doing it, they would be on a major league team right now.

This article was written by a guest contributor to You can be one as well. Mail your articles to