Sports Illustrated‘s annual Fortune 50 list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes list is out and Major League Baseball is heavily represented. In fact, 36% of the athletes are baseballers — some better than others (looking at you, Barry Zito). And while I’m sad to see an star like Floyd Mayweather, Jr at the top, one who eschews real glory at the highest level for a comfortable place atop boxing mediocrity, I am glad that baseball players are makin’ that pay-puh. It makes me feel less suicidal when I pay $8 for a 16 oz beer.
Here’s a quick rundown of the highest paid American baseball players and their overall ranking among American athletes in parenthesis.
1. Alex Rodriguez (6)
Too bad for the Yankees A-Rod can’t be young and steroided like the good old days. His health is just going downhill from here.
2. Derek Jeter (9)
He can do no wrong. I would pay this man a bazillion dollars a year if I could. And since Albert left me, I have no problems admitting my 17-year Jeet man-crush.
3. Joe Mauer (12)
Really? 12th highest paid American athlete overall and third highest Major Leaguer? I would feel better about this if he could hit it over the Target Field fence once in a while.
4. Vernon Wells (17)
PSSSHH!!!! I just ruined my keyboard with a mouthful of coffee.
5. C.C. Sabathia (20)
Mo’ money, mo’ foooooooooooooooooood!
6. Mark Teixeira (21)
Nothing says $23 million a year like a YEEE-HAW JAW!
7. Prince Fielder (22)
I have a feeling if I make one more Prince Fielder fat joke then I’m going to be… eaten…
8. Adrian Gonzalez (25)
He may have lost his power stroke, but with $21 million a year I’m sure he’s strokin’ plenty of power.
9. Justin Verlander (28)
A man’s man, I would prefer to see Verlander at the very top of this list, or at the very least, have the opportunity to rifle a fastball at Mayweather’s head.
10. Cliff Lee (29)
Way to go, Phillies. You’re making Clifton Phifer look bad.
11. Ryan Howard (32)
While many of my Cardinal fan brethren choose to hate on Albert, I prefer to hate on Howard, the man who made signing Albert impossible.
12. Roy Halladay (35)
Way to go, Phillies. You bring in the best pitcher in baseball to get you over the hump then s*** the bed three years in a row.
13, 14, 15. Barry Zito, Carl Crawford, Albert Pujols (Tied for 36 overall)
One of these things is not like the other…
16. Josh Beckett (44)
Is it me or has he gained like 40 pounds since he was traded to the Red Sox?
17. Jake Peavy (45)
Up until this year, I thought dude was done. Yes, the crow I’ve been eating tastes bad.
18. A.J. Burnett (49)
Huh? How did A.J. get on this list? I’d like to know the same. He should’ve signed two contracts, one for each of his personalities. At least he’s been living up to it ever since his worst day ever.
Hate me ‘cuz I didn’t make the list, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.
Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.
And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS. Good thing Theo got out of town!
Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated.
If only front offices could act like the rest of the planet when it comes to doling out large sums on a contract basis, perhaps they could save themselves years of embarrassment and avoid the ear-piercing “we’re in rebuilding mode” verbiage.
The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better. Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more. The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!
If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder. This is FACT. But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been? I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.
There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers. So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?
In the real world, if you underperform, you’re gone. Period.
In the baseball world, the $100 million contract rarely works for both sides, yet teams keep handing them out; and then they wonder why there is backlash from the fans, media and baseball-politico bloggers who think very highly of themselves.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I had a dream. In this dream, I negotiated a contract where I would be paid beyond my useful years for doing absolutely nothing at all. Once any talent I had was completely gone, instead of living off my pension or social security, I would get paid a ridiculously large sum of money for my “personal services,” but only if I chose to accept it. I mean, you never know. It’s possible I wouldn’t want a million dollars a year and would say “no,” right?
But it was only a dream because MLB has set the precedent and there will be no more of the clauses that made Ryan Zimmerman and Albert Pujols very happy men. No bathing in champagne for me. No private islands in the Caribbean bought with my personal services clause.
No, I’ll have to chase my dreams elsewhere. Here, for instance.
No reader of this blog wonders about my feelings towards the Yankees. My opinions have been as unequivocally clear as they are opaque when it comes to my politics. But even I can still be surprised by the depths to which the Evil Empire will sink.
Now, admittedly I take this a little more personally because, despite my distaste for his team, Derek Jeter hails from the same part of southwest Michigan where I grew up. I won’t say I like the guy but I respect him as a baseball player and I respect anyone who can escape from that particular corner of hell. To go from the cornfields of Kalamazoo to dating Esquire’s sexiest woman alive, well, that means something.
In general, I support baseball’s modernization. Free agency, although
it means players move around a bit, hasn’t killed the game. But if this Steinbrenner ploy leads to Jeter
wearing something other than pinstripes? Even I think that’s wrong. However, if
it were to drive a wedge between him and Minka and somehow send her my
way, I guess I could get behind that.
Do you hear that scratching? No, it’s not the mice building a warm nest under your floor. It’s not the dog trying to get rid of those annoying fleas. It’s not even your roommate doing only god knows what while watching the NFL playoffs.
That scratching sound is various agents and GM’s tearing apart and reassembling contracts in order to steal your favorite players away and make that new jersey you bought last season immediately irrelevant.
However, I hope that you won’t think ill of these players and curse them for being the wh0res that they are. Remember, like our friend GOB (pronounced Jobe) Bluth told us, they’re really just illusions. Even if they really do seem like tricks.
-Photo via Skull Swap
Poor Barry Zito. People are really tearing him apart — as is expected because he has been awful — but sometimes the human in me can’t help but empathize. Despite my sympathies, Bochy’s plan is to yank him from the rotation and send him to the bullpen so he can ‘work things out’.
If I’m Barry Zito, I’m loving this.
How great would it be if I went to work tomorrow and my boss said: “Jeff, you’re doing a lousy job, so we’re going to allow you to not work so hard, lighten your stress, workload, etc. so you only have to work every couple of days or so in non-pressure situations. Oh, and don’t worry, we’ll still pay you the salary you get paid now.”
Eureka! Sign me up, Boss! I’ll show up and sit on my ^ss for the first two thirds of the work day, practice making shaving cream pies and chew on sunflower seeds. Just holler when you need me and make sure that the money is still in the bank.
Yes, I’m being silly. I know that Zito probably hates Zito’s performance more than anyone else ever could. But honestly, I wish things were so “awful” in my life that I got a guaranteed 100 million dollars coming my way whether I do good work ever again or not.
Though I previously alluded to a theory that Zito’s poor performance is perhaps rooted in his propensity for courting high-profile, high-maintenance divas, I am beginning to wonder if this isn’t just another deserved consequence of dealing with the Devil himself (in this case, the Devil is Scott Boras, not Ann Coulter, though she is still the Devil too). Seven years and $126 million? That’s a lot of dough. Yet Major League teams are still willing to take on (and pay for) the inherent risks associated with any Scott Boras deal. The J.D. Drews, Adrian Beltres and Carlos Beltrans of the world have been laughing all the way to the bank while not really living up to expectations, or their contracts. So it seems that Zito may just be another chapter in this ongoing saga of moral quandaries teams face when dealing with the Devil. I wonder if Boras represents Chinese speaking white dudes with an affinity for Asian antiquities?
On a lighter note, to quell the idea that I am a blatant misogynist proposed by a recent nameless commenter on a previous post, let me just say that, for me, it was hard not to notice that Zito’s troubles started shortly after his frolic with Lizzie McGuire. I’m a guy. I analyze. That’s what I do. And, generally speaking, I’m arrogant, but not rude. I love my mother and enjoy spraying women’s perfume in department stores when no one is looking. So sue me.
To prove that I am indeed a fun-filled philogynist at heart, I have included some lovely pictures of Barry’s most famously attractive paramours. It’s hard to argue with beauty — or attitude.
While it’s great fun and all, looking at these pretty ladies forces me to face a moral quandary of my own; therefore, I will say goodbye, for now, so I can come to terms with the situation. In the meantime, please don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
How many other 28 year-old pitching stars would waive their first two years of free agency eligibility during the prime of their lives? How many other stars would take less money than they know they’ll be offered down the road in order to stay in the city, with the team, that they love? That’s exactly what Adam Wainwright did in signing his new four-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday. The current cornerstone of the Cardinals pitching staff and phenom stopper during the Redbirds’ 2006 World Series Championship run is proof that ballplayers who are humble and realize just how lucky they are to be playing baseball for a living really do exist.
"I get to do it in St. Louis, where the fans are the greatest in the
game, and I love the city and my wife loves the city, and that’s what’s
most important to us," he said. "We’re going to be there for,
hopefully, a long, long time, and a long time after this contract. My
wife is very, very excited about this deal, and I look forward to
raising our daughter there. It’s just a great situation for both
parties, I think."
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not one to say that ballplayers should be making less money. Not at all. I think they do deserve what they’re worth in regards to the overall revenues of the game and I think baseball is much better off with free agency. But it’s just nice to know that some players are satisfied with 2 million a year as opposed to 22 million.
And believe me, Adam is getting paid. He won’t be making a salt miner’s salary, that’s for sure. But if he just held out for two more years it’s almost guaranteed that he’d be getting big bank offers for his services, probably from teams like the Evil Empire.
Waino likes the Cardinals organization. He likes St. Louis. His wife likes St. Louis, too. He actually consulted his wife! Wow! What a guy! I won’t go as far as my sister has and declare that he is the most attractive man in baseball, but I will give him mad props (*cliche warning) for being a breath of fresh air.
Speaking of mad props, I want to take a second and commend some of the superior blogging going on at MLB by everyday joes like myself. These fellas continue to draw me in with their superior reporting/pontificating/lampooning: Cardinals Kingdom, by Brady, is a must for Redbirds fans, especially those interested in minor league developments. Paul at Prince of New York repeatedly impresses with his unique insight and well-researched ideas that tackle all angles of the game (buy his book here). And Matt at Diamondhacks is witty, funny, edgy, brave and downright hilarious with his atypical style of genius. I read these every day. You should too.
And please don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.