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License to Deal: A Season on the Run with a Maverick Baseball Agent Hardcover – May 26, 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (May 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594860246
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594860249
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a wonderful read for any baseball fan who wants to learn of the intricacies of the business. However, it is much more than that. It is a novelistic portrait of a fascinating, Gatsby-esque character, the young baseball agent, Matt Sosnik. It describes his struggles to succeed while retaining his integrity and his basic human qualities, his capacity for honesty and true friendship in a cutthroat world. It is a wonderfully drawn portrait of the unlikely friendship between Matt, a white, Jewish, introspective entrepreneur and Dontrelle Willis, a black, gifted pitching prodigy. We come to understand the way each influences the other and along the way we get to see how frequently basic human relationships are undermined by the quest for fame and fortune. Yet in the end the Sosnik-Willis relationship seems to remain strong. The book is also novelistic in the way we see the central character, Sosnik, maturing as he struggles with his own inner demons. Crasnik has written an engrossing, often funny account of people we come to care for deeply.
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Format: Hardcover
After the movie Jarry Maguire the role of the sports agent became famous even though the movie was pure fiction. In reality, this is a business anyone can enter. There are no licensensing or special educational requirements.

In reality though, it isn't all that easy. How do you get started? How do you first find a promising young star and second, convince him that you can do as good a job as one of the bigger, much better known agencies? How do you even go about convincing the young athelete that you can do a better job for him than he can do for himself, and save your fees?

This is the story of Matt Sosnick, a west coast businessman who decides to change his career from the high tech industry to being a sports agent. For several months the author a baseball insider worked with Mr. Sosnick, watching, following him around the country to provide the first real insiders view of the glamorous world of the sports agent. After reading the book, you come to believe that it's not so glamerous after all. It looks like a lot of hard work.

Filled with insider details, this is a very interesting book.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite the fact that the book seems quickly written and is organized rather poorly, Jerry Crasnick offers a fascinating study of the sports agent's life. "License to Deal" causes one to root for the up-and-coming agents and against the behemoths, like Scott Boras, that control so many of the top free agents in baseball.

After reading the book, I have a new understanding of the business behind baseball and the battle for new prospects still developing in the farm systems and high schools. In recent months, Sosnick was in the L.A. media surrounding the signing of Luke Hochevar, the Dodgers' top pick this year. Hochevar's negotiations with the Dodgers were strained when he switched from Matt Sosnick's agency to Scott Boras in mid stream. (See the excellent article in "Baseball America" by John Manuel and Kevin Goldstein on September 9, 2005.)

I highly recommend this book for its fascinating portrayal of Matt Sosnick and his agency.
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Format: Hardcover
It's hard to wonder what life would be like if your day job involved working with professional athletes on a daily basis. For Matt Sosnick and Paul Cobbe, their day job became more than a full time job (it was 24-7). Two upper class white males from the west coast follow their dream and enter into the big shark tank of sports business. What makes this book entertaining, as a 20 something white male myself, is that I found humor in the variety of anecdotal references of "small time guys" with a trust fund, living out their dream, and doing it the old fashion way (with honor, respect, and buddying up with the client). Who by the way, know very very little about the game 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.
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Format: Hardcover
As some one who is very familiar with the agent business which is at the heart of Mr. Crasnick's book, I appreciate how interstingly and thoughtfully he has explored the topic. By focusing on young agents trying to enter the business he has found a perfect vehicle to let his readers understand the emotions of the business from the elation in landing a new client to the depression of having another , more experienced agent steal his clients. One can sense the commitment made by these young agents to their players as well as their naivete in expecting that such a commitment woujld be sufficient to retain those players as clients. Crasnick also does a nice job in exploring the relationships, both positive and negative, that exist between agents and major league organizations. For one of the first times, an author has focused a non-condescending, literary light on the essence of the agent business, allowing the public to better understand an agent's role both as an influence on the financial aspects of his client's career as well as the development of that career. It's a must read for anyone thinking about entering the business and an enjoyable read for any baseball fan.
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