Stupid Money(ball)

A couple of weeks ago, right fielder Bryce Harper icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 scored a 13-year, $330 million dollar contract icon-external-link-12x12 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He will earn a $10 million dollar salary this season and will receive a $20 million dollar signing bonus. For the 2020 through 2028 seasons, he will earn a $26 million dollar annual salary. For the 2029 through 2031 seasons, he will earn a $22 million dollar annual salary. He also gets full no-trade protection, which means he doesn’t have to worry about waking up one morning to the phone ringing with news that he is now living and working in another random U.S. city.

He also gets bonuses:
+$50,000 for each All-Star appearance
+$50,000 each time he earns a Gold Glove award
+$50,000 each time he earns a Silver Slugger award
+$50,000 each time he earns a League Championship MVP award
+$100,000 each time he earns a World Series MVP award
+$500,000 each time he earns a league MVP award

This is the largest contract in baseball history. Also this year, Manny Machado icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 signed a 10-year $300 million dollar contract with the San Diego Padres, which is arguably an equivalent or better deal. Last year, Giancarlo Stanton icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 signed a 13-year $325 million dollar contract with the Florida Marlins. While these are the most egregious examples, there are many more of these types of contracts in Major League Baseball.

By comparison, 99 years ago—in 1919—Babe Ruth icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 signed a three-year contract with the Boston Red Sox for $25,000. When accounting for inflation, this contract would be worth just $367,870.68, which is $1,237,129.32 less than the current minimum salary for all MLB players over the same duration of time. This means that perhaps the greatest player in the history of the game would be making just $122,623.56 per year in the modern day.

Babe Ruth's 1919 baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox. [Formatted]

Also by comparison, $330 million is enough money to finance 25 man rosters for a 17 team baseball league with a median salary of $60,000… for a full 13 years! In other words, Bryce Harper’s salary would pay the salaries of 425 baseball players in a provincial baseball league for 13 seasons. Of course, there would be additional costs associated with such a league—building/leasing stadiums, hiring/paying administrative staff, team travel costs, and so on—so maybe cut the total time down to five years from 13.

The sports world is paying one baseball player’s salary instead of purchasing five years of provincial baseball with fair salaries for 425 highly capable players, many of whom would gladly go toe-to-toe with Mr. Harper on the ballfield. WHAT—THE—FUCK?!?

Definition of the Word “Sport”

Golf is a very peculiar sport. A person hits a ball across wide expanses of land to try to put it into a tiny little hole that is far, far away. In between, there is water, short grass, tall grass, and sand traps in random configurations to make this task more varied. This is done 18 times over many hours and, at the end, the person with the lowest score wins.

It is a game that can be played by only one person, unlike most other sports where two or more people are required. Strangest of all, there is no running in golf. This seems contradictory—how can a sport not have any running in it? That’s like a sandwich without bread, a dog that doesn’t bark, or an ice cream parlor that doesn’t have ice cream cones.

Golf is most certainly a game, but is it a sport? I would say it has more in common with video games than it does with baseball, soccer, football, or hockey. With video games there are eSports icon-external-link-12x12, but are video games really sports? I think if golf is a sport then so are video games; and by that same measure, if video games are not a sport then neither is golf.

Cover art to the video game "Beavis and Butt-head Bunghole in One". [Formatted]

Regardless, there are a number of things about golf that are really lame. Firstly, no running, as mentioned above—this makes it very attractive to people who only do things that don’t require any physical activity. Secondly, the average 18 hole golf course requires somewhere around 150 acres of land—this is enough space to build about 50 [!] baseball fields (~3 acre requirement), or build 750 homes (~5 homes per acre). And what is the upkeep like for so much land? I can only imagine the irrigation and gardening bills to maintain 150 acres… and some of these fancier golf courses are pristine. Thirdly, golf is strongly associated with higher living. This means that it attracts a lot of rich assholes, and wannabe rich assholes. Apparently, the more money you have, the more free time you have to spend at the golf course and so the better your game gets. This makes sense—what else would you do with your free time other than devise clever and subtle ways to flaunt your success in front of others? “Hey Charlie, I scored another birdie on the third hole. That’s the second time this week!” “Hey, that’s great, Ralph. (Way to go, you fucking piece of shit..!)”

There are aspects of golf that I definitely appreciate, such as the extreme physical control that is necessary to land a ball on the green from 250 yards out, and to sink a putt from 8 yards across uneven ground. The mental aspect of the game is very high, and it is perhaps the only “sport” that bests baseball in this area. Still, I think the world would be better off if there were more baseball fields and less golf courses. From an economic and health-conscious point of view, it makes too much sense: more people would be serviced by the land, there would be less cost in maintaining the grounds, and people’s sports interests would shift more toward playing baseball which is actually physically demanding and thus promotes exercise and a good diet.

I have played a little golf in the past, and probably will again in the future, but it will most likely be with my baseball buddies. Truth be told, there is a good chance we will be drinking a little beer and making inappropriate remarks at other golfers, particularly the ones who have been spending too much time on the putting green. In other words, we will be drawing attention to the bad behavior that already exists around us and doing so for our own personal delight.

First Rays of the New Rising Sun

Game picture of the Redding Ringtails vs. the Redding Colt 45s. [Formatted]

In baseball, there exists an intangible called flow. It is imperceivable to many, but is the most important element of the game.

When flow is present, baseball’s majesty is revealed. Some people might say that this is when a team becomes greater than the collection of its individual players, and a game becomes greater than the two teams competing in it. (The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.)

When flow is with you, the experience is better than anything—win or lose. It represents the prospect of becoming an unstoppable force and creates within a person the most powerful drive to perform.

When flow is with your opponent more than it is with you, defeat is inevitable but you improve and still savor the fight.

Baseball without flow—or without the potential for it—is a broken down machine that can be very difficult or even impossible to fix. Yet some people still continue to play with the hope that it may come to exist again.

This is why baseball is life.

Repetitive Redundancies

On Facebook, it is possible to have a dedicated page for a baseball team. It is also possible to have a private group for the players of said team. These exist as two separate entities until the dedicated page is made to be an administrator of the private group—at this point they become linked together.

Confusing? Yes. Apparently it is confusing to Facebook as well. When the page and the group share the same name, goofy things like this start to happen:

"Redding Ringtails Baseball Club made Redding Ringtails Baseball Club an admin of the group Redding Ringtails Baseball Club," brought to you by Redding Ringtails Baseball Club.

To translate, this is Facebook sending out an announcement to all members of the group Redding Ringtails Baseball Club that Redding Ringtails Baseball Club the group made Redding Ringtails Baseball Club the site an administrator of Redding Ringtails Baseball Club the group.

If one our players hadn’t “liked” the posting then I never would have noticed that Facebook was capable of such silliness. (Having a keen sense of humor is an unspoken requirement in becoming an official member of this team.)