In the 1987 Oliver Stone movie “Wall Street,” the character Gordon Gekko lectures to a crowd of business people, saying: “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right.”
When billionaire sports team owners are dealing with millionaire players, the numbers that are talked about are hard to comprehend to the average fan, who is actually a part of the formula for funding the enormous salaries being delved out today. The idea that someone who plays baseball is going to make, and not necessarily actually earn, $25 to $33 million dollars a year for 10 to 15 years, is mind boggling!
The news of the NY Metropolitans negotiating with their newly acquired shortstop, Francisco Lindor, for a contract extension that will give this 27-year old $325 million dollars over 10 years ($32.5 million per year) is not new to the baseball world nor is it new to any professional sport today. What is also not news is that it doesn’t seem to be enough money for this new darling of the loyal Mets fans or any other modern day professional athlete.
My question is, how much money is enough? How much do you need? How many cars, homes and gold around your neck do you really need? I live comfortably in a two bedroom house. I can only drive one car at a time so I only need one. That all works for me and millions of others. Ok, I get it, these guys are different and have special skills that put them at the top of their field. And yes, there are plenty of businesses and Wall Street people out there earning more than these athletes.
One of my more trusted baseball guys, Joe Sciandra, in reaction to this spending on baseball players, offered this opinion: “Ultimately it will destroy the game. You just can’t sustain this type of salary structure. There is only so much cost you can pass on to your fan base to absorb before that well runs dry.” I agree but I also know that the mega TV deals have afforded baseball organizations the luxury of what is an endless flow of money.
And let’s not look at Lindor as anything new here. I hear it from fans as well as non fans that will say: “Get as much as you can” and “If someone wants to give you a lot of money for what you work at, take it. Why not?”
The problem I have here, as far as it pertains to the future of a ball club, is that these contracts that come in the way of free agency or extensions, are long term. Very long term. The San Diego Padres 22-year old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 14-year contract, including a $10,000,000 signing bonus, $340,000,000 guaranteed, means he will be paid an annual average salary of $24,285,714. $10 million signing bonus? Why? Does he have some college loans to pay off? So he will be 36 years old when this contract runs out.
Lindor wants 12 years at close to $400 million and at 27-years old, he will be looking at possibly being paid a staggering $99 million dollars for his age 37, 38 and 39 years. These guys are shortstops not engineers working for NASA!
Is your head spinning yet with all these numbers? Let’s face it, these deals will become the forgotten ones when the next group of free agents take the stage next year. One filled with top shortstops like Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager and yes, Lindor if he doesn’t get what he wants this year from the Mets. They are all between the ages of 27 and 29. My guess is that the owners will be knocking each other over to get them signed to numbers that will blow us away. This list of amazingly gifted ballplayers will all become very wealthy.
Just remember this, they are not struggling to pay their bills as they have all been making more money than most of us for a number of years now. What were you making at 22 years old? Then again, you obviously couldn’t play shortstop in the big leagues.
Gordon Gekko was wrong, greed is not good. It is, for the lack of a better word, “Reality.”