It's that time of year again, folks, when Major League Baseball (or, our national pastime, as it is sometimes called), gears up with the players presently at spring training. The "boys of summer," most of whom have become millionaires several times over, are going through their so-called torturous conditioning and training in Florida and Arizona. There will be sore arms, hamstring pulls, flu symptoms and a variety of other ailments as spring training progresses toward opening day.
We seem to read and hear every day about teachers, firefighters, policemen and our own local autoworkers just making too much money and having pension plans that are too great. How could they? They must sacrifice!
We hear very little, though, of the boys of summer as they make their millions and pout if they don't get more millions. Where else could a shortstop who batted .270 and is 37 years old demand and get more than $15 million a year? These are supposed to be trying times for everybody. Isn't this supposed to be a game that is fun to play?
Of course, they have talent, as they can hit, run and field. But even if they get hurt, they still get paid their millions while missing a lot of work. Most laid-off or injured workers don't have that advantage. Many politicians say we must cut programs that simply help other people.
Do we ever hear of a cut in the ticket prices in the offices of major league baseball? Food prices are spiraling to an all-time high, as are our gasoline prices. So are concessions at the old ball yard. Believe it or not, attendance at major league games is also going up. Are politicians asking for cuts in the major leagues?
Don't you think that it is time for a salary cap in baseball? The NFL and the NBA do have salary caps. In 2010, 79 players in MLB were paid at least $10 million for their services of working March to or through October. The top 10 were as follows: 1. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees, $33 million; 2. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees, $24,285,714; 3. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, $22,600,000; 4. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, $20,625,000; 5. Johan Santana, New York Mets, $20,144,707; 6. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, $20,000,000; 7. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets, $19,401,569; 8. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies, $19,000,000; 9. Carlos Lee, Houston Astros, $19,000,000; 10. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs, $19,000,000.
In 1930, Babe Ruth made $80,000. As the story goes, he was asked why he made more than the President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. The Babe replied that he had a much better year than Hoover, who was mired in the Great Depression.
Attendance is up in baseball, coupled with giveaways, fireworks and rock band shows, which certainly help to attract more fans, and lead to more concessions consumed. What an evening for one costly baseball ticket.
We must be reminded that we have a great ballpark locally at our own Eastwood Field, home of our Mahoning Valley Scrappers? It is very economical to go and watch our local team in action. Ticket prices won't break you, nor will the concessions. You actually get to see some kids who are playing their hearts out to win without worrying about all their millions and endorsements, which may come at a later date. For now, they are performing in a great arena in a relaxed atmosphere for you and the Mahoning Valley.
The economy is bad at present as people are suffering in many ways during this recession. The latest employment figures are looking better and hopefully, for many, a ray of sunlight will shine through and help them find work to lessen their struggles. But for the major league ballplayer, by October they will be resting, enjoying life and counting their millions and nursing their injuries while waiting for the next spring training to come. Perhaps they will get another raise in pay. Another year will come and go.