Whenever I read reports about the salaries being paid to today’s pro athletes, I am drawn back to when I was a kid who idolized earlier athletic icons.
Mike Trout, the best Major League Baseball player on Earth, has signed a deal worth $430 million over the next 12 years. He plays centerfield for the Los Angeles Angels, who want to keep him on their roster seemingly for the rest of his playing career.
Wow! That is a ton of scratch, man.
I won’t argue the point about the rightness or the wrongness of these salaries. It’s what sports franchise owners are willing to pay. If they’re willing, then athletes are entitled to ask for it.
Still, I cannot help but wonder what some of these iconic athletes I used to admire would earn. Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Henry Aaron, Ted Williams? I figure it would be in the gazillions!
I read these “sports” stories today and wonder whether competent sports writing these days requires advanced degrees in economics. These news stories revolve around “salary caps,” and “room” at the top of teams’ payrolls and all those complications that muddy it all up.
Congratulations, Mike Trout. You’re set for several lifetimes. Behave yourself and — dare I say it? — don’t get hurt!
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred no doubt meant well when he said some nice things about Mike Trout, who is generally considered to be the best player in baseball.
He said Trout, a center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, would be an even “bigger star” if he “spent more time marketing himself.”
How about that? The commissioner is encouraging a young, relatively humble star athlete to engage in more self-aggrandizement.
Then came the response from the Angels organization. It was classic. The team’s response? Mike Trout is not wired in the way Manfred would like: “Combined with his talent, his solid character creates a perfect role model for young people everywhere. Each year, Mike devotes a tremendous amount of his time and effort contributing to our Organization and marketing Major League Baseball. He continually chooses to participate in the community, visiting hospitals, schools and countless other charities.”
Trout said: “I do as much as I can. But it’s a long baseball season. I got to pick and choose when I want to do things and go from there.”
It’s rare these days to see blue-chip athletes who earn millions of dollars annually to play a kids’ game who are not interested in looking for ways to improve their brand.
From all that I’ve read about Mike Trout — admittedly it’s not a great deal, but enough — he seems to be the genuine article. He is one hell of a baseball talent. He’s well compensated for his skill as a hitter, a defensive player and as a great teammate.
I won’t condemn the MLB commissioner for seeking even more glory for one of his sport’s premier athletes.
I will salute, however, Mike Trout and his team for saying, in effect: Thanks … but no thanks.
I used to watch baseball religiously. I don’t do so much any longer.
Free agency kind of took a lot of the fun out of the game for me. Athletes are getting paid a lot of money to play a game. Many of them behave badly when they get those millions of bucks. They move around from team to team, looking to play for the outfit that offers them the most money.
Many others of them keep it all in perspective.
One player I do enjoy watching is a future Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols. Yes, Pujols looked for a fat contract after playing many years in St. Louis. He’s now a first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels. His best years likely are behind him.
He also has maintained his reputation as a thoroughly decent human being.
This link is about Pujols meeting a young man with Down syndrome, something about which Pujols has intimate knowledge: His eldest daughter, Isabella, also has the disease.
This story is heartwarming in the extreme and it illustrates that goodness does reside even inside ballplayers who often are tempted to look the other way when given a chance to demonstrate an act of kindness toward those who follow their athletic exploits.
Well done, Albert.