- by Simon Andras
It's been a talking point for years in sports - are we paying athletes too much to do what they do? It's no secret, sports contracts have always been high when compared to other jobs, but they continue to get bigger and bigger - which begs the question - what is too much? Millions of dollars to catch, throw and hit balls is hard to fathom when the rest of us are working multiple jobs just to keep food on the table and the kids in school. But hey, they entertain us and I help pay their salaries by being a fan so I can't complain too much. While no sport is immune, for this post, let's look at baseball whose contracts seem to be exploding at exponential rates over the last decade.
What got me thinking about this topic was the recent announcement of Detroit Tigers' slugger Miguel Cabrera's insanely long and lucrative contract. Two figures are all you need to know - 10 years and 292 million dollars. That's a lot of money and a pretty long contract for a guy who is already 30. This contract wasn't only the biggest in Major League Baseball's long history, it was the biggest in the history of American sports. More than Peyton Manning, more than Kobe Bryant and even Lebron James - who publicly expressed his jealousy over such a massive contract. Sure, Miguel is good. But is he that good? Is anyone 292 million dollars good?
Right now, Cabrera is at the pinnacle of his career, by the time this contract is up, he'll be forty and still making the same 29 million a year. You obviously want to lock this guy up on your team right now, but most players will statistically start slowing down well before their 40th birthday. This is a huge, long term financial commitment by the Tigers organization.
Miguel Cabrera isn't the only one, there are a half dozen others who have signed long contracts for well over $200 million. If you expand the list to include the range between $130 and $200 million, there are about two dozen more. All this shows to me is that baseball needs to institute a salary cap and they need to do it now before you have average Joe asking for a decade long contract worth over $100 million for playing left field. I'm well aware that instituting a cap would change they way a lot of things operate in the league, but all other major sports do it and many of their organizations are making much more money than MLB clubs. There's some food for thought.
Will baseball ever get a cap? Probably not, and I know there are many who disagree with me about it being a necessity, but without a better system there will never be parity in the league. Then again, looking at the NBA and the NFL - those are not exactly the finest examples of parity. Perhaps, there is something else to blame.
As much as these contracts annoy people, we are the ones ultimately responsible for them. As fans, it's our money that goes to buying tickets, merchandise and other items that helps put money in the owner's pockets, and as a direct result, helping to fund these $200 million contracts. In essence, people can complain as much as they want, but until they stop watching and supporting the game nothing will change.
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What do you think - did Detroit just make one of the worst decisions ever? Is there something wrong with baseball contracts? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.