Baseball players play for money not love of game

Published: December 4, 2015

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

MATTHEW DEFRENZA

Forum Editor

The logo of the Boston Red Sox and pitcher David Price’s new team, which agreed to pay him $217 million over seven years. Forum editor Matthew DeFrenza argues the astronomical contracts encourage players to play for the money and not “the love of the game.”

I am about as avid a baseball fan as they come, but the contracts that players are being paid are simply becoming ridiculous.

The latest lottery winner, David Price, has supposedly been signed to the Boston Red Sox this week, for a whopping $217 million over seven years; all for playing a game.

Baseball players used to be perfectly normal guys, compensated, but not insanely wealthy. The best ball players were, at best, well off.

Ty Cobb, arguably one of the best baseball players of all-time, was the highest paid player in the Major Leagues in 1920, earning a whopping $20,000, or the equivalent of $237,838 in modern buying power. Joe Dimaggio was the first baseball player to earn $100,000 in a season, or the equivalent of $999,319 in modern buying power. Nolan Ryan was the first player to break a million dollars of salary in a single year, the equivalent of $2,886,383 in modern dollars. Every player on that list was a Hall of Fame player, a superstar and a face of the league during their respective times. Their contracts were astronomical in their own time, but pale in comparison to modern contracts.

Naturally, inflation over time prompts for continually increasing contracts, but salaries have been growing at an exponential rate

David Price is a tremendously talented baseball player, there is no denying that, but the salaries doled out across the board are simply insane. Every offseason seems to generate the new “highest-paid” player at any given position. Free agency creates mercenary-esque players, going to the team offering the highest contract. David Price is being paid roughly 31 million a year, granted contracts are usually either front or back loaded, making him one of the highest paid athletes in the MLB.

As a fan, it is deplorable to see players leave a team for a better payday. The mantra of “for the love of the game” goes out the window, with many players simply in search of a contract to make them rich. More deplorable still is the concept of a “contract year,” which essentially means the season before the player is scheduled to hit free agency. This is often when a player has the best season of his career, prompting a team to sign them to an astronomical contract. But I cannot denounce the athletes for cashing in on their opportunity for wealth, nor the teams for doing what they must to improve their team.

It is most likely a moot point, athletes will never willingly take pay cuts and salaries will never decrease; and I cannot say that I blame them. However, it begs me to ask if they even love the game that they play, or if they merely see an opportunity, which they exploit and capitalize on.

I will continue my unwavering support of the sport of baseball, but I cannot help but wish to watch players who love the game of baseball as much as I can, rather than athletes that love to be compensated for playing a game.

Contact the writer: matthew.defrenza@scranton.edu

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