Monday, March 19, 2012

Baseball, Money and Loyalty

The business side of baseball has always been about money, evidenced by the world series scandal involving the Chicago White Sox, aka Chicago Black Sox. Gambling had nothing to do with the "fix," it was only an avenue to the money.
When his career ends, Albert Pujos quite possibly may be considered the Greatest Baseball Player of All Times, and arguably is the best player in baseball at this period of time. There is little doubt if anyone deserves to be paid an enormous amount of money for playing, it is Albert.
When the media throws out dollar amounts of 200 million for a ten year contract, with or without a no-trade clause, or whatever other little tad bit they want to insert, I'm not fool enough to think that's the entire agreement. You can't purchase a $10,000 automobile without signing a half dozen papers, I'd reasonably assume a $200 million contract would be a little more complex.
I was born and bread in St. Louis and was sucking on a St. Louis Cardinal pacifier when I exited the hospital. As a kid when I cut myself, my blood was always a little redder than other kids', a sort of Cardinal red. So don't think this article is going to be a debate between the Cardinals and a player, it's not. It's an honest search for an answer to a question.
"When, or does, money stop being the only factor involved in baseball?"
We've already established Albert Pujos deserves to be the best paid player in baseball. The media reports there are 3 to 4 teams making contractual offers, Florida Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Anaheim Angles and of course the St. Louis Cardinals, all indicating the dollar amounts are quite similar.
Assuming their accuracy is close, why would a player hesitate to resign with the team that gave him the opportunity to play baseball and whose fans have adopted him and his family as their own? This is the situation which is driving me crazy.
If there was a 5 - 10 million dollar difference in contract offers, well... I might have to think real hard about where my loyalties lie. No matter how thankful I may be to an organization, my family and their well being comes first, period. But, how many millions does it take to have security? Much of that answer depends on what you're accustomed to, as a millionaire would prefer a billion dollars, but the minimum wage worker would be ecstatic with a million.
Making it to the major leagues is a long and difficult road and a player with a silver spoon in his mouth is no better off than a kid from the hood. Long bus rides, lousy motels and the constant fear of playing against someone better than you gnaws at you all the time.
So do you deserve big bucks when you prove you're the "best of the best"? Of course you do, but do you owe anything back, is the next question. Do you owe the organization which chose you out of 50,000 other players to give a chance, or the coaches you met along the way who taught you the finer points of the game, which made you just a little bit better than the next guy. What about the fans who flocked to see you play wearing $200 jerseys with your name on the back, trying to emulate you.
Does a ball club owe a player who makes them money, and does the player owe 100% effort for the money he's being paid? There's no debate here, of course. But where does money stop being the sole factor in determining where a player chooses to play? There has to be more involved than just money, isn't there?

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