Willie Sutton vs Willie Sutton

Watching the heavyweight tugging match over Manny Ramirez between superagent Scott Boras and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is like watching a fight between Willie Sutton and, well, Willie Sutton.

For you kids, Willie Sutton was the noted bank  robber in the mid 20th century who, apprehended one time (as he usually was) was asked, Willie, why you rob banks? His classic and understated response was Well, that's where the money is.

Boras has been after the money, always has been. That's his raison  d'être, his reason for existence. Up until the national  default, he did really well. Now needing a new trick or a new venture, Boras has come up short as he is like a gun loaded with only one bullet, a bullet already spent. Boras trouble is, he's trying to get money out of the Dodgers Frank McCourt.

Everybody knows McCourt exploded onto or, depending upon  your sense of history, stumbled into baseball on the back of thousands of highly leveraged parking lots in Boston.

He always had a rep of doing a whole lot with very little, so baseball's owners, figuring he was one of them, let him buy the Dodgers with no money down, kind of like the millions of homeowners who were given homes over the last 15 years.

Down payment, forget that, we don't need any. Records? Just sign. Credit rating? We aren't really going to ask.

Here  is where the match gets  a little tricky, boys and girls. It turns out Big Bucks Boras maybe knows a little more about money  than he has let on.

He is asking for real money. Money now. As if the American dollar had much value left.

Boras figures promise of money next year or the next just might not  be worth as much as it is right now. Boras has demonstrated a dislike for Monopoly money.

And Boras probably has a more down to earth view of a Frank McCourt promise of I will pay you tomorrow  than you and I.

Both Boras and  McCourt have apparent Massachusetts connections,  Boras with a kind of Harvard concept of economics whereas McCourt seems to have a degree from the Barney Frank University.

The  real problem is one both Boras and McCourt are facing. It's like the old t.v. commercial where the little lady asked the $24 question: where is the beef. Fact is, the beef may not be there. 

Boras is reluctant to accept a soybean substitute and McCourt might not be able to find a lender to advance him money he might not be able to pay back later (the banks already having been burned, mostly by self immolation, are getting a little itching about being burned at the stake with any more mistakes).

Several lifetimes ago, we served as an aide to U.S. Sen. R. Vance Hartke, D-IN, the ranking Democrat on both the Senate  Finance AND Commerce Committees. As such, he was on daily if not weekly communications with Pierre Renfrent and Elliot Janeway, the leading economists of the day.

We frequently had to listen to orations from both. It was then that we discovered one of the greatest secrets of Washington, i.e., there are very few people, if any, who really knows what a dollar means, few if any economists, fewer yet who reside and pretend to work in Washington.

The one thing the Senator and the economists knew was that there were few  journalists (a  prideful bunch indeed) and NO sportswriters really equipped to write about money.

That is why we, the  baseball fans, rubes all, have been  mislead by all the writing about the Boras-McCourt tussle. Now the Boras McCourt heavyweight prizefight is going into the 12th round and both corners have told their fighters they need to pull out all the stops if they want to pull out a last round victory.

So Boras has resulted in spilling the beans on the details, i.e., McCourt ain't talking about real money, and McCourt has responded with claiming he was fouled, has dropped to one knee, and is taking a much needed rest from the action while the referee  is no-place and the crowd is booing (whom they are  booing is open to question,  probably everybody).

Baseball's commissioner, quick to take credit for good things, even quicker to show his thin (and growing thinner) skin when things hit a snag, is absolutely nowhere to be  seen.

Player boss Donald Fehr is equally silent, shaking in his boots that a Boras loss could quickly  become an industry side epidemic. We aren't really talking about the bubble bursting here for it has long ago burst.

Meanwhile, one Manny Ramirez is now fewer than 60 days away from his 37th birthday, which in most sports outside golf, is not such a good thing.

Boras, probably knowing the nations economy ain't going to get a whole lot better  until Manny is much, much older, wants hi s/their money NOW. McCourt has already been sliced and diced to a fair thee well, the gold in Arizona turning out to be a long term deal rather than an immediate gusher.

Forget about mentioning the name of Ned Colletti in this fight, it's between the agent and the owner.

The thing to look for is this: is anybody telling the truth? Do either of the combatants know what the truth is? would either be willing to be honest about it? Are their any writers free to tell us what really is going on? 

What would Willy Sutton do? Would he still be robbing banks? Would he, a relatively honest thief, be still going into banks? Maybe Old Willie would be robbing votes rather than banks, as that is where  people can print money where there isn't any left.

Just maybe the Boras McCourt fight will end with no real winner, just like King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans in 280 and 279 B.C. After the latter battle the armies separated and Pyrrhus said "one more such victory will utterly undo me."

Hence the phrase, a Pyrrhic (pronounced pir-rik) Victory meaning that everybody lost so much that there was only losers left with no victor at all.

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