Tuesday, November 4, 2008


FOOD PRICES are rising, stocks are down, the housing market has crashed and our 401k retirement plans are up the swanny.

So isn’t it good to know that one area remains 100 percent recession-proof: Sports, and in particular, baseball.

As we struggle to pay the mortgage and keep our heads above water, baseball players and their agents (take a bow Mr. Boras) are rubbing their hands with glee.

It’s time to fire up the hot stove. Out-of-contract players are filing for free agency and testing the market to see how high their value will go.

The more clubs interested the merrier. And the bidding war for the marquee players such as Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira is sure to be intense.

Estimates for the deal pitching ace Sabathia can expect range from five years at $125 million to a high of six years at $180 million.

Remember, only last winter the New York Yankees agreed to pay Alex Rodriguez $275 million over a ten-year period.

“The price of gasoline is up, so I’m up too,” Ramirez joked with reporters after his “loan team” the Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs.

Gas prices have actually been falling in recent weeks, but don’t expect Manny to settle for a regular deal.

Ramirez is 36…he will be 37 in May. Yet such is his stock that his agent, Scott Boras, will no doubt be looking for a five-year contract. 

Baseball players play Oliver Twist with owners

Wherever he goes, you can bet he’ll earn more than the $20 million a year he received in his last free-agent deal with the Boston Red Sox in 2000.

Of course, you know who ends up paying these inflated salaries in the long run? You and I. The fans.

And just as long as we’re prepared to do it, baseball players – like Oliver Twist – will continue to ask for more.

The American obsession with its favorite pastime shows no sign of waning. Attendance figures at Yankee Stadium were up for the fifth successive year in 2008. Total attendance amounted to 4,298,655 at an average of 53,070 a game.

Virtually every game is a sell-out, which is why the Yankees can charge between $500 and $2,500 for the best seats close to home plate at the new Yankee Stadium. At least they have opted against introducing Personal Seat Licences, a move that has angered many supporters of the Giants and Jets.

Of course, a career in sports can be short, especially for a football player. Baseball is a little less physically demanding.

You can’t blame the athletes for maximizing their earning potential. But you can blame the owners for agreeing to meet their demands.

I don’t want to be hypocritical. I’m a Yankees fan and I would love to see us sign Sabathia to improve our shaky starting rotation.

But the Tampa Bay Rays proved this year that you don’t have to have a $200 million-plus annual payroll to reach the World Series.

And at a time when decent people are losing their jobs through no fault of their own, please spare me the stories about greedy baseball players and their excessive wage demands. 


Anonymous said...

yankees don't have personal seat licenses.

Bruce Beckett said...

Thank you. I stand corrected and have amended the post accordingly.