This is nuts! This is stupid! This is crazy! This is insane! This is ridiculous! We’ve heard them all. Heck, we’ve even said them all (with and without adjectives).
These are, of course, the first reactions whenever the Dodgers, or any team for that matter, sign a player or players for exorbitant amounts of money – whether of their own hand or by absorbing monster contracts from other teams.
Of course it nuts, stupid, crazy, insane, ridiculous to us ‘average Joes’ living in the middle class or on fixed incomes, but you know what? It ain’t our money!
It’s difficult, even impossible for us common folk to comprehend any baseball player making north of $20 million a year to play what is essentially a kids game. I mean no one is worth $25 million a year, right? The most influential man in the strongest nation in the free world doesn’t make a fraction of this amount. And while I will be among the very first to agree that baseball players are making way more money than they are worth, you have to put it all into perspective – something that many (if not most) old-school baseball fans seem to have a very difficult time doing.
Perhaps the best example of this perspective is a gallon of gasoline. When I got my very first driver’s license at age 16, a gallon of gasoline cost $0.29 (yes, twenty-nine cents). As we all painfully know, that same gallon of gasoline today costs nearly $5.00. Talk about nuts, stupid, crazy, insane, and ridiculous.
The point I am trying to make here is that as insane as we may think today’s baseball salaries are, it’s all relative to the times. And while this may sound trite or trivial, what’s the difference between spending $25 to watch Clayton Kershaw or Matt Kemp play a kids game and spending $25 (including popcorn and soda) to watch Daniel Craig or Denzel Washington on the big screen portraying a secret agent or a troubled airline pilot? The bottom line is that Clayton and Matt and Daniel and Denzel (and Oprah and Leno and Letterman, etc. etc.) are all in the entertainment business and are all making millions of dollars doing it – there really is no difference. Whether it’s Kemp making $20 million a year with the Dodgers or Daniel Craig making $20 million portraying James Bond, we spend our hard earned shekels to be entertained – period.
And here is further food for thought. When you consider that out of the millions of kids (literally) who aspire to become major league baseball players, there are only 750 of them – that’s it. Only the very best of the best make it to this level. I am reminded of the time when my good friend and former DodgerTalk host Josh Suchon (then a teenager) told Orel Hershiser that he was lucky to beat the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 World Series, to which Hershiser promptly replied “Oh yeah? Grab a bat.” Hershiser’s point, of course, is that if you think it is easy to be a major leaguer, then why aren’t you one?
Although there have already been several significant free agent signings and/or trades this off-season, the fact of the matter is that the actual ‘Hot Stove’ season hasn’t even begun yet – that won’t happen until the winter meetings in a couple of weeks. But something to keep in mind, and it’s a big something, is that the free agent market is relatively weak this off-season – especially for top-of-the-rotation starting pitchers. This is going to force teams (including the Dodgers) to not only think outside of the box, but to think outside of the bank. It means that club owners are going to have to find creative ways to acquire big name players and top-tier pitchers – including trading away some of their own high-dollar / long-term contract big name players; this in addition to their top prospects.
Regardless, the money that is going to be spent by MLB teams in the coming weeks is going to be astronomical and in some cases (even many cases) nuts, stupid, crazy, insane, and ridiculous. But here again, it ain’t our money. Just be grateful that the Dodgers now have owners with the means to spend astronomical amounts of money to acquire top MLB players (and sign international players); but please, quit beating that dead horse.