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License to Deal: A Season on the Run with a Maverick Baseball Agent Hardcover – May 26, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Matt Sosnick co-runs a small California agency representing nine major league baseball players, including All-Star pitcher Dontrelle Willis. Crasnick, a baseball writer for ESPN.com, spent months at Sosnick's side, watching him work with clients and try to sign up new prospects. This in-depth profile is especially good at capturing the earnest but earthy young agent's contradictions: he feels so strongly about integrity that he can complain that a competitor's luring away of a player "doesn't add to the goodness or the kindness of the world," yet he plots pragmatically to pry loose some talent for his own roster. The story loses some focus when Crasnick elects to broaden the perspective, abandoning Sosnick and his players to check out the competition, including super-agent Scott Boras. But these outside views prove helpful, rounding out Sosnick's portrait to show the less flattering light in which others see him. The success of Michael Lewis's Moneyball has aroused interest in the behind-the-scenes financial maneuvers that decide who gets to play, and while this sympathetic look at the frequently maligned role of the agent can't quite match its predecessor's vitality, it should still attract moderate attention. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dontrelle Willis, an early-season favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award with the Florida Marlins, has a tattoo of the logo of his agents' company on his arm. License to Deal is the story of what those agents, Matt Sosnick and Paul Cobbe, have done to earn the support of Willis and their other clients. ESPN writer Jerry Crasnick, who accompanied Sosnick and Cobbe over the course of a year, paints a portrait of the sports-agent business that is fascinating but far from pretty. There's the monumental investment of time and money the agents pour into wooing potential clients around the country; the constant care and feeding of signees (from the scene of a serious accident in early 2003, Willis' first call was to Sosnick); and the brutal competition from larger, more glamorous agents (like Scott Boras), who regularly make off with the players of smaller agents like Sosnick and Cobbe. An excellent account of a critical but rarely explained component of major league baseball. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
License to Deal by Jerry Crasnick is sub-titled "A Season on the Run with a Maverick Baseball Agent". The agent is Matt Sosnick, whose most famous client is Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins. Crasnick paints Sosnick and his partner Paul Cobbe as good people and friends to their clients. All this in a field of sharks and wolves. Sosnick and Cobbe routinely try to keep their own clients from abandoning and jumping to other agents while the players are still in the minors or just starting out their careers in the majors. Crasnick makes Sosnick look like the victim. But as Crasnick shows (although he never explicitly states it), Sosnick-Cobbe have their own moments where they are rude, arrogant, aggressive and steal other agents' clients as well. The bottom line is this is a cut throat business and either all agents are victims or none of them are, because they all get screwed and all try to screw others too. Crasnick also writes about other agents and baseball deals in the book. There is a whole chapter on Scott Boras, as well as many other anecdotes and quotes from other agents and baseball management interspersed throughout the book.
Overall, Crasnick does a good job describing the life of agents. The middle-tier ones like Sosnick and Cobbe and the stars like Boras and Moorad (now in management with the Diamondbacks). I recommend this book for those that are interested in the business side of baseball.
The author attempts to paint this picture that you should feel bad for Matt and Paul as they go head to head against the likes of Scott Boras and other big time agents. Your typical David v. Goliath story ... while it is true that Matt and Paul are building their business from scratch, hence their brand, it is the American way to start a small business from nothing (as probably most of our ancestors did), begin by struggling big time, and over time establish a brand.
The book takes a few twists about how their relationship with certain ball players out weighs the services performed by other sports agents, and why the Sosnick / Cobbe franchise is "for a lifetime." Unfortuantely, the song gets old, and the author happily changes direction, but at the same time loses the general story line, providing a few history lessons of sports agents and scouts in the 50's / 60's.
If your purpose is to get inside the business side of the game, this book definitely does that. But the cost of having to read through the authors attempt of making the reader feel bad for two guys with millions in the bank outweighs how the business side of sports is run.