What $254 Million Means to the Fan

The irony that is Dallas…where the last time the Winter Meetings were held here Alex Rodriguez signed his bankrupting 10 year $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers and baseball people swore there would never be another contract of that magnitude. There couldn’t be.

Well, the Winter Meetings in Dallas happened again and the mammoth contract happened again. Albert Pujols spent the week teasing Miami, and all of baseball for that matter, then took his talents to the other South Beach and put his HOF signature on a 10 year $254 million contract with Arte Moreno and his Los Angeles Angels.

Say what you want about Albert Pujols leaving St. Louis, it does not affect you, and it does not affect me. April 2012 we will both be watching our favorite teams play baseball, hoping that is six months we will be rewarded with a playoff appearance and a hope for Baseball immortality. But, right now it is the offseason and it is painful. There is no baseball to escape to; there is no drama of the Major League season. So, it seems we as fans and followers of the game need to find a bane to criticize during these Winter Meetings, this Free Agent period.

Money is the easiest to bark about. As someone who works 60+ hours a week to bring home $5000-$7000 a month for my family I will never comprehend a 10 year $254 million contract. Never. I will probably never comprehend $400,000 as a minimum salary. So for me to criticize an owner for authorizing a mammoth contract is silly. I’m in no position to do that. There’s no chance a single person is worth that much money and that’s that.

As a fan, what I can criticize is the length of a contract and if my favorite team is acting “drunk” as Lynn Henning [of the DET News said yesterday on Twitter (referring to the Miami Marlins spending spree). As a fan, I can take a look at the “budget” and current salaries and say that there is no way you as an owner or General Manager are allowing my team to remain competitive.

For example, I am a diehard fan of the Detroit Tigers, I have been since I was a husky teenager in the 90’s (and before that, followed the team as much as a young boy with ADD could). My investment in this team is going to outlast several GM’s and maybe even a few owners. No, I don’t own the team, I don’t have professional knowledge of how to operate a baseball team, but I am a member of the team the organization caters to. I attend games, buy merchandise, spend countless hours researching team information, blogging, annoying my wife by ignoring her for baseball. That’s why we, the fans, can criticize an organization for signing players to ridiculous contracts.

I was able to do this in the pre-2005 days. Mike Illitch has allowed Dave Dombrowski has settled my nerves these past few years. The Detroit Tigers have a great mind running the structure of the organization right now. Thank you for that, DD.

But, on the same coin where you as a fan can complain about a ridiculous 6 year $106 million contract (for example) or even giving 10 years to a 32 year old 1st baseman (even if he is the best player in the game), you flip it over and say thank you.

As a fan, you take a look at Arte Moreno and say, yes, you are crazy for doing this, but you are making it fun to go to the ballpark. You are making it fun to watch the Los Angeles Angels. As a know-it-all blogger you say, look at what happened to the Rangers. They couldn’t sustain the Alex Rodriguez deal, what makes you think you’re going to find yourself in a different situation?

But, that’s what makes us watch. That’s what makes us follow the game: so we can look back and see where the mistakes were made and say whatever we want, because we are fans and we are bloggers and we don’t have to worry about PR, and the media, and competing with other teams, and sustaining market value, and all those shenanigans that the clubs have to deal with, and we can speak our minds, and it’s okay to do that.

  • Seth

    The Hilton Anatole was also the site of Manny Ramirez’s Red Sox deal. That place is ca-razy!

    • http://www.walkoffwoodward.com joshuaworn

      That was the biggest contract of all time back then as well. Granted, Pujols’ contract of 10/$254 is not the biggest of all time (A-Rods’s opted out extension of 10/$275 is), it is the largest originally signed FA deal.

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