Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bleachers Brew: Word (on DeAndre Jordan not going to the Mavs and others)

by rick olivares

I am going to start by saying that this week’s column is in reaction to DeAndre Jordan reneging on a handshake that he would sign with the Dallas Mavericks and some media pundits defending the move by saying that people have a right to change their minds.

First of all, of course people do have a right to change their minds. 

And second, to counter that argument by saying that sports team owners also renege on their word by trading players when they say they won’t makes it okay.

That last point first. Two wrongs do not make a right. Whether I make comparisons that are in the apples or oranges category it is still not right.

Here are some points to mull on:
So words are no longer binding?
Is an oral promise considered a contractual guarantee that carries weight?
If one side backs out on this oral contract, what are the ramifications for either side?

I will keep it first to a sports context then try to cite examples outside that realm.

When one makes an oral promise or commits to an oral agreement, there are expectations that follow. These impact one’s decision-making. In sports, do you now limit your choices instead of looking around? What budgets are appropriated for this? What other deals are shaped because of this? What other commitments are made to make good on this whether by luring other players, letting go of certain contracts, or similar?

When an oral agreement is broken there are lost opportunities and they impact lives in so many ways.

Prior to the 2014 NBA Draft, several teams were high on Croatian forward Dario Saric. The 20-year old from Sibenik has a stash of awards under his belt and looked to taken in the first half of the draft. In fact, he worked out with a lot of NBA teams. Speculation had it that Denver was going to select him with the 11th overall pick. However, Saric signed a contract with Turkish squad Anadolu Efes days before the draft. Did he get a promise from a NBA team that kept him out of the draft for that year? The Orlando Magic nevertheless picked him 12th overall but traded his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers. At the time of the draft, Saric said that he was going to stay in Europe.

It is thought that Saric didn’t want to play for bottom feeders like Orlando (23-59) and Philadelphia (19-63) that finished last in the Southwest and Atlantic Divisions the previous season. That season, the previous one where Golden State ended up as NBA champions, saw Philly slide up one notch versus the woefully bad New York Knicks with an 18-64 slate while Orlando remained road kill with 25-57.

Whether Saric would have helped either squad is anyone’s guess. He could have been a nice building block or maybe not at all. 
Here is something about that management side being unable to keep to their word. This is when Spanish striker Fernando Torres left Liverpool to sign with rival Chelsea in 2011. Duncan White, a columnist for The Telegraph was able to speak with Torres and he wrote, "He (Torres) had claimed he would not play for another club in England but changed his mind when Liverpool not only failed to recruit the players that would have allowed them to compete for trophies but sold the influential Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and Javier Mascherano to Barcelona. 

“I said that at that moment, I didn’t think I would play for another club — because at that moment Liverpool were giving me what they promised ... but not now,” Torres said. “I think one of the important points is in my first two seasons at the club, they played in the semi-finals of Champions League and finished second in the Premier League very close to Manchester United. Then we were very, very close to being one of the top teams for a long time because everyone was together and everyone was moving in the right direction. But when you let Alonso and Mascherano leave, that is a clear message. It was important, not so much for me, but for the club.”

On a non-sports note, here is something that came in from the news wire Saturday, July 11 evening at 8:38pm Southeast Asia time: "A European official at the Greek bailout talks says creditors want "more specific and binding commitments" from the Greek government that it will stick to its reform promises. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to talk publicly, says there's a general feeling in the room that the Greek proposals are "too little, too late" and as such, more proof of the government's commitment to follow through is required.”

The key words there are “stick to its reform promises.”

Before you can say, “put it in writing” consider this: An oral agreement does carry weight as you can prove it in court. if it is an oral agreement, if possible, have a few witnesses on hand. It helps in backing up any story.

If there aren’t any witnesses, one should immediately work on validating that such an agreement took place by either committing in on paper, an email trail with the said person acknowledge it. 

The reason oral contracts and verbal agreements are often looked warily upon is that they tend to present difficulties when it comes to enforcement. Said a lawyer, "Contracts that are clearly written and executed are easier to present as evidence in court than the testimony of the contractual parties. It is also challenging to dispel contract defects when they are not in writing. When oral contracts are taken to court, there is always a risk of one of the parties lying about the terms of the agreement. In some cases, all parties may choose to be dishonest about the terms of the contract and thus create a legal impasse for the courts.

Sure there isn’t a law that says you cannot change your mind. But there are consequences to these. Hopefully, people act more sensibly and responsibly when making decisions. 

Now someone circle that first meeting between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers for next NBA season.

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