Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ready, Set, Sports: the Intern Edition

My lovely intern, Olivia Hornshaw, recently wrote a column about salaries in the MLB. I have posted it below with my edits. Enjoy!

"Money, money everywhere..."

What makes a person want to play sports professionally? Is it their love of the game? the fact that they've discovered they're good at something? What drives a person to put themselves through the stress of playing day in and day out?

For many, the love of the game has morphed into something truly awful: a love of salaries and the feuds that ensue. Overpaid athletes are the worst aspect of professional sports. It turns once legitimately talented players into absolute crybabies. Major League Baseball is an excellent example of this.

Take New York Yankees third baseman, Alex Rodriguez. Though I can't stand the man, I have to admit, he is quite talented. And he knows it, too. He's proven to many other players in baseball that if you run your mouth long enough, you'll eventually get what you want.

Last year, just after the Yankees season came to an abrupt ending, A-Rod opted out of his remaining three years left with the Yankees. His agent, Scott Boras, has always been a mastermind at negotiating large contracts. By December, A-Rod had a contract worth $275 million for ten years, and an additional $30 million if he broke the all-time home run record as a Yankee. Apparently, whiners do get what they want.

Moving from one third baseman to another, Miguel Cabrera is next on the hit list. Cabrera was sent to the Tigers in what many people thought was a blockbuster deal: six minor league players for two major league players. It turned out to be one of the worst decision the Tigers made all season.

After acquiring said third baseman, the Tigers needed to negotiate a contract that ensured Cabrera would stay with the Tigers, but also gave him everything he was looking for. He held out and held out, until he finally got what he was after: a whopping $153.3 million contract, keeping him here until the year 2015.

Unfortunately, the season was disappointing for the promising third-baseman-turned-first-baseman. David Dombrowski has to be kicking himself right now. Think of how much money he wasted on Cabrera, which could have been better spent acquiring a new pitchers for next season. Athletes who whine long enough and receive enough early hipe have team owners trained like circus elephants.

But the bottom line is, these players would be worth it if they really did perform. The unfortunate part is that, more often than not, they don't. If you're going to whine about how much money you think you deserve to be paid, you better be able to produce. If you can't produce, your value as a player will go down, not to mention your reputation professionally.

Part of the problem is probably a lack of incentive. Players who are signed onto big-time contracts don't have to work for it anymore. Large salaries only encourage players to loaf around, performing well below what they'd be capable of otherwise. Because the money is already theirs, and no one can take that away. Plus other players on the team end up feeling under appreciated because they aren't receiving the same large paychecks. So the team suffers, too.

The whole situation is a total turnoff for fans. Underachieving teams lead to major drops in attendance at games, which typically ends with the original hotshots relocating to somewhere else. So, really, the team is back where they started with nothing to show for it.

And what are the fans left with? Another waiting period for your team to rise once again. Two years ago the Tigers had what looked like a World Series winning team. Give Dombrowski two off seasons and a pocket full of money, and he can manage to screw up what was once a good thing. Now Tigers fans are disappointed once again.

Perhaps current salary caps don't quite squelch the disparity they were intended to fix. Perhaps the MLB and its owners should take a look at Wall Street and learning something: the spending is bound to come back at you, and not in a positive way.


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