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An Offer You Can’t Refuse

I have a proposition for you.  It’s like one of my heroes said, it’s an offer you can’t refuse.

You stand next to a 17-inch wide rubber platter, holding a 36-inch long cylinder of ash or maple in your hands.  Another, much more athletic individual stands precisely 60 feet and 6 inches away from you, and throws a baseball in your general direction as hard as he can.  When it crosses that 17” plate, the baseball will be traveling between 85 and 100 miles per hour.  The ball may or may not hit you.  You will almost certainly not hit the ball.  (A major league hitter can connect with it one time out of three if he’s very good; what makes you think you can do better than that?) Don’t worry, it will be over in about 2.3 seconds.

For your troubles, I will now award you $11,628.  Before taxes, of course.  What a deal!  You get 11-large to stand there and get a baseball thrown at you. Once.  And for every additional time you stand there and have that ball thrown at you, I’ll give you another $11,628.  How long would you stand there?  How many pitches would you confront for that money?Image

Well, if your name happens to be Miguel Cabrera, and my name happens to be the Detroit Tigers, you will come to the plate 675 times, and stand there look
ing at 2,500 pitches between now and October. At $11,628 per pitch, I will give you $29 million dollars. And to sweeten the deal, we will do this, you and I, for the next 10 years. Deal?

You’d smile too.

This is not a fantasy, except for the part that you are not the one collecting that cash, and I am not the one doling it out.  This is simply one way to view the $292,000,000, 10-year contract the Tigers “inflicted” on Miguel Cabrera this week.  Here are a few other fun ways to look at this princely sum.

  • A typical ball game lasts 3 hours.  Miggy shows up to work: he has played in an average of 157 of the 162 games in a season since he came to the American League from the Miami (nee Florida) Marlins in 2008.  So he makes $61,571.13 per hour.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  You, on the other hand, would have to work 8,500 hours to earn what Miggy does in a single hour.  That’s 4 years, chum.
  • Cabrera is a third-baseman, mostly.  He averages having 1,026 balls hit at him every year.  Do the math: that’s $28,265 per fielding chance.  He also makes 8 errors per year.  He would probably refund the Tigers the $226,000 he got for those particular misplayed chances, but the union contract won’t let him.  So you places yer bets and you takes yer chances.
  • The Detroit Tigers drew 3,083,397 fans to Comerica Park in 2013 to see their Central Division winning team.  And, Cabrera’s 2014 salary of $29,000,000 represents an $8,000,000 raise from 2013.  So each fan needs to pony up another $2.59 to cover the additional labor cost.  Put another way, the Tigers need to sell a million more $8.00 beers. Shouldn’t be too hard when you think of it that way.

“Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest
of the 
public must be increased in some way. If one or the other does not
happen, bankruptcy stares every team in the face.”  

— Chicago White Stockings owner Albert Spalding, 1881. 

The more things change, the more they say the same.

 Sources: www.baseball-reference.com, www.SI.com, www.sportingcharts.com

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