Randy Johnson is a phenomenal talent and an even more impressive story. At 41, he still strikes fear in the heart of opposing hitters. His latest contract will take him to age 44. He will be pitching for the New York Yankees, where he may well be the last piece in George Steinbrenner’s championship puzzle.
So what, you may ask, is the problem? Well, it’s the ridiculously outsized salaries that professional athletes feel is their due. Yes, Randy Johnson is one of the most formidable and intimidating pitchers of all time. Five years after he retires, he should easily be elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. That being said, no athlete, not even one as special as Randy Johnson is worth $16 million per year.
When you find a cure for cancer, create world peace, or eliminate infant mortality, then yes, I would have absolutely no problem with paying you $16 million per year. Why? Because you will have earned it by contributing something of lasting value to mankind. An athlete cannot, under any circumstances, meet this criteria.
I know that I’m pissing into the wind, but how much is enough? Is Carlos Beltran worth seven years at more than $100 million? Is Alex Rodriguz worth 10 years at $252 million? I don’t know how that sort of excess can be justified for men who play a children’s game. They contribute nothing of tangible and lasting value. Is the entertainment they provide worth such outsized, difficult to fathom sums? Not from where I sit.
These obscene salaries are nothing if not symbolic of how skewed our priorities really are. Don’t get me wrong; I still enjoy sports, but how I am supposed to relate to an athlete who makes more by putting his protective cup on than I do in an entire year?
It will be a great day when teachers, nurses, and statesmen make millions and George Stenibrenner has to hold a bake sale to sign a shortstop….