Friday, February 08, 2013

Who gets paid what?

A rant I posted in response to a Facebook post wherein the writer announced that the recent salary increase given to Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez had made him hate baseball.

I've never understood all this rooting for management in baseball. It's unique to sports, especially baseball. No one is going to post that they hate computer software because Google pays a top software designer 20 million, or they hate Hollywood because Leonardo diCaprio gets 20 mil for Blood Diamond.
But baseball owners are so historically stupid -- they're the one group of capitalists who have led the fight to denigrate their own product, because they hated free agency so much...they preferred the old indentured servitude system where a Ralph Kiner had to accept a pay cut after leading the league in home runs, because he had nowhere else to go. What other business would have done this? Can you imagine, in the same era, a movie studio advertising BATMAN -- starring Jack Nicholson, who got paid $6 million plus a percentage, and boy, did that ham ever not deserve it?
Putting this in historical perspective again, at the same time that baseball owners were waging a PR campaign against their own product, a Broadway producer who understood publicity, Sonny Werblin, took over the Jets, and immediately paid a young college quarterback, Joe Namath, twice what the competitive rate at the time was. And instead of bitching and moaning about the salary, Werblin played it up -- built a positive PR campaign around it. Result -- the AFL shot up in the awareness of fans and players, and became a gold mine. This was around the same time that Lamar Hunt of the Hunt oil family was losing a million dollars a year with the Houston Oilers. A shocked sportswriter -- probably one of those in the pocket of baseball management -- reported this to daddy H. L. Hunt, who said "Uh-oh. At that rate, he'll only be able to run the team for another 200 years."
Seattle's ownership made what looks to be a smart business decision. They've made their fan base feel proud by locking up the team's best and most popular player. They've shown that they're serious about building a winning team, and that will make the Mariners a more attractive proposition to other free agents. And are you really going to root for those owners who've taken the luxury tax established by baseball to give small market teams a chance to compete, and put it in their own pockets?

1 comment:

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