God, athletes and money

by Andrea Elizabeth

Josh Hamilton, last year’s red hot batter for the Rangers, is pleased with the results of his negotiations with the club over his salary. They just agreed to give him $24 million in the next two years. It seems to me like incredible hubris to ask for that much. Here’s how he defends it: “The talks, they’ve obviously gotten better,” Hamilton said Monday. “Like I’ve said before, it’s not just about me and what I’m going to get, but it’s about the guys coming after me and doing the same things for those guys that the guys in front of me did. The biggest thing is just being fair.”

Nolan Ryan and co. just spent millions of their own dollars buying the indebted Rangers last summer. A large part of the debt was due to A-Rod’s outrageous promised salary. He still gets boo-ed when he comes back to Texas. I guess this all goes back to the infamous player strikes back in ’94 which canceled the last part of the season, including the playoffs and the World Series, which hadn’t happened since 1904.

The dispute was played out with a backdrop of years of hostility and mistrust between the two sides. What arguably stood in the way of a compromise settlement was the absence of an official commissioner ever since the owners forced Fay Vincent to resign in September 1992. Vincent described the situation this way:

“The Union basically doesn’t trust the Ownership because collusion was a $280 million theft by Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf of that money from the players. I mean, they rigged the signing of free agents. They got caught. They paid $280 million to the players. And I think that’s polluted labor relations in baseball ever since it happened. I think it’s the reason Fehr has no trust in Selig.”[1]

So because of a couple of high up crooks, now all the players have license to ask for the sky, no matter if a team can afford it or not. My feeling is that the players probably had a pretty nice life before the strike, even though Bud and Jerry had a nicer one, comparatively speaking. Their actions make them seem jealous of crooks. But the fact that there are hundreds of millions of dollars available for the most intimidating person or group points to a different problem to me. The high cost of tickets. Rangers regular season fans will pay from $7 for the players to look like ants, to $425 to see the best games over the batter’s shoulder. Since the Rangers went to the World Series last year, the stadium will probably be a lot fuller this year, and ticket prices have risen. I’ve heard they’re getting a large (not by Cowboys’ standards) LCD screen this year, the first major improvement since George W. built the new stadium which opened in ’94, right before the strike.

When I was a kid I sat in the nosebleed section of the old stadium, and enjoyed the game as a fan. When I was a single mother I went to the new stadium with some church friends who had company seats in the nice section. Too bad I wasn’t into the Rangers at that time to appreciate them to their fullest. I thought the new stadium was very nice, but not necessary. What do I know? George and I took the kids to a game a few years ago and I mostly enjoyed the crowd dynamics from the upper levels. The wave is cool. The players were too small and I wasn’t into the Rangers then either. Now that they’re a winning team, I’m thinking about going again, as I have become interested due to their recent success. Fickle me. George’s childhood passion was baseball, but for the Pirates. He’s liked the Rangers for a while, for some reason. He kind of likes the Cowboys, but mostly he’s a Steeler’s unhappy fan since Sunday. He may like the Rangers better than the Pirates since he moved down here. I’ll have to ask.

I’m at the point now where I’ll probably want better seats than the outfield high up bleachers. I’m more into analyzing every move, than just what the count is, as I was when I was a kid. With modern technology, that is more democratically available with a large screen, but to me it’s weird to go to a stadium to watch the game that way. At least they can do the wave. Anyway, to fill the stadium you have to have a winning team, and so the better players will demand the bigger bucks. Perhaps the profits are more equitably distributed now between the players and the owners, but it’s still such an outrageous amount of money. Apparently it’s based on supply and demand. The supply of good players is rare, and demand is high, so the price is high. Now we’re getting into capitalism.

I believe valuable things should be rare and achieved by much effort. This goes along with Orthodox who believe in running the race for the prize. Seems to me prizes are set by the owners of the game. Strikes and revolutions seem like activities of whiners for the most part, but I’ll not negate the abuse that usually instigates them, as I’ve already talked about above. I just wish people were happier with less. The desire for more never ends.

What’s to keep the possessors of rare talents from heaping up exorbitant rewards available in mass markets? A lot of them end up being huge contributors of charities. Still, you know they are skimming off the top. But that’s as it was in the Bible when Jesus talked about the widow’s mite. The less you have, the more the sacrifice. I don’t see that it can be helped. It seems to me individuals should learn to control their greed, but I’ll not hold my breath for that to happen, even in my lazy, gluttonous self. I think George would think me a better wife if I bought us some Ranger tickets than gouged the eyes out of some potatoes.

Well, I didn’t get to God, except for sideways about the widow’s mite. I wanted to talk about highly paid praying players who think themselves examples, (h/t Ochlophobist). I’ll just say maybe they are and maybe they aren’t as I don’t know where the Spirit isn’t. I think God may smile on their prayers and give them some favorable winds from time to time, but I don’t think he’s on one side’s team over another because of what he said to Joshua.