Vincent Young Should Learn from Bagwell Situation

By Joe Booker
Updated: January 27, 2006

TEXAS—Vincent Young should pay close attention to the Houston Astros and Jeff Bagwell situation. He should learn that professional sports is a business. He should get as much as he can while he is hot. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

Jeff Bagwell has been an icon in Houston for 15 years. He signed a five-year $85 million contract that expires after the 2006 season. He wants to continue playing. The Astros don’t feel that he can play at the level that is expected and will attempt to collect on a $15 million insurance policy they took out on him. There will not be a winner in the Astros and Bagwell feud.

Astros owner Drayton McLane and Bagwell became close friends. McLane once had a locker in the team’s club house between Bagwell and Craig Biggio. It is funny how money can change ones’ feelings toward the other. Bagwell will get his money. McLane wants his back—at least some of it. For McLane and Bagwell—these are the best of times and these are the worst of times.

Don’t feel sorry for Bagwell, because he will have deep pockets regardless if he plays another inning of professional baseball. Don’t feel sorry for McLane if he has to shell out $17 million. McLane is a multi-billionaire.

Vincent Young must realize that sometime in his career there will be best of times and worst of times. Vincent must not be caught by surprise.

Vincent Young is the most celebrated athlete that Houston has ever had. He will be rewarded for his extra-ordinary talent. He must keep in mind that sports is a fun game—it is also a business and he must treat it like a business. Vincent must realize that as long as he can perform at a high level, he will be the darling of the fans and city he plays for. He can’t afford to slip. Fans can be very frigid. They will support you when you are on top, but they will leave you standing when you fall.

He should not take it personally if the Texans don’t take him with the first pick. The Texans, as all sports teams, treat the draft as a business. They will take the player that they fill will meet their immediate needs. This is not a knock on Vincent. This has nothing to do with his talent. He will get his money—if it is with the Texans, Saints or Titans. We just pray it is not with the Saints.

Vincent must realize that everyone does not go out on their own terms like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. The great Willie Mays, the pride of the then New York Giants was traded when he could no longer play like the Mays of old. They shipped him off to the New York Mets. Michael Jordan, who many considers the greatest NBA player ever– was let go as a front-office employer by the Washington Wizards.

When Jordan could no longer thrill fans with his dazzling court performances, he became indispensable. Yes, even “You’re Heirs (the name Michael was often called by the media), became indispensable.

Former baseball star Dick Allen once told me that he would get as much money from owners as he could, because he didn’t feel—because of his behavior—that he would get a job in baseball after his career ended. Allen was paid well. He also got a job as a batting coach after he retired. Not everyone can be as lucky as Allen.

Vincent must realize that fans love his talent—that’s why they are called fans. He should not take it personal if he is ever booed. I don’t know how he could handle being booed. Vincent Young has never been booed—counting his days at Dowling Middle School, Madison High School and at the University of Texas. He must realize that fans will cheer you on one play and boo you on the next play.

When I got my first head coaching job a fan told me—“coach we are with you win or tie.” Vincent must realize that some fans will be with him only if he wins. Ties don’t always count.

Just win Vincent, win.