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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hard times for hard ball

OK, it's official. We're in a recession. Just ask the president of the Atlanta Braves, who just signed free agent pitcher Derek Lowe to a four-year, $60 million contract.

"I've also never seen the economy this bad, either," Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz said. "I don't think anyone has seen the economy this bad since the Great Depression.

"You have to have the money to spend it. We're not selling tickets like we have in the past, and we're not selling advertising like we have in the past. It makes a difference."

Why it's so bad that poor Manny is out there starving, waiting for someone to come along and plunk down bazillions to put up with his antics in exchange for aging bat skills.

And there are certainly hard times in New York, epicenter of the financial meltdown. Just ask CC Sabithia (7 years, $161 million). Or Mark Teixeira (8 years, $180 million);. Or poor A.J. Burnett (a bargain at 5 years-$82.5 million.) The full list of signings is here.

What this lavish spending ensures is that some dad is going to need to plunk down a week's unemployment check to take his kids to a game, park, and buy the $3.75 bottle of water. Make that two weeks in some states.

If we were ever staring at a bizarro world this is it. The financial world has melted down and Wall Street is taking Main Street to the poor farm. Yet we are still paying men astronomical sums to play a little boy's game -- and to hold out if they don't get what they feel they "deserve."

Remember Red Sox second baseman Jody Reed's horrible tale of being "insulted" because they team only offer him $1.9 million in arbitration?

Better yet, remember Jody Reed?

Athletes argue their skills are limited to a short period of time and they risk injury that could end the gravy train at any second. They need to train constantly (like Roger Clemens).

My skills are not limitless. I risk injury every day commuting to an 8-hour a day job and I need to constantly improve my knowledge to do the job better. I am fairly compensated for my labors. And I don't come close to making 1-1,000,000th the amount of cash these guys make.

I also don't shoot myself in the leg in a nightclub or drive drunk.

We've been all over the Wall Street Masters of the Universe who made millions by wreaking havoc on our lives. That criticism is justified.

But how about some thought to the boys of summer (and fall and winter) and their enabling bosses who continue to heap lavish salaries on them while raising ticket prices to pay the contracts and then look for public help to build a new stadium. And get taxpayers to pay for the naming rights.

And don't get me started on "amateur" athletics like college football.

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

The owners of pro baseball could maintain salaries at the current level, and lower ticket & concession prices, and still make a handsome profit.

Perhaps the main reason people complain about the players' income is the owners keep their income secret.

January 18, 2009 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention our current President used to be one of those baseball owners, who drew lavish subsidies.

January 18, 2009 8:39 AM  

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