Yu Darvish is going to the Chicago Cubs for six years and $126 million according to a source not authorized to comment publicly.
The newly hired bus driver for your local public school system is making $22 an hour (only because the district agreed to pay new hires a bit more to address a driver shortage).
The server that brings your food and coffee to you at the diner makes $2.13 an hour plus tips.
Firefighters and police officers do not average at least six figure salaries for reasons beyond my comprehension.
I understand the argument that jobs pay what the market will bear.
Well, the stock markets adjusted last week and I think it’s time the salaries of professional athletes undergo a correction of their own.
How high is too high?
What is the tipping point for salary structures that reward mediocrity or unproven (over time) bodies of work?
Yu Darvish was a dominant pitcher for several seasons. However, he was less than a .500 regular season pitcher last year, having lost more than he won (10-12 combined with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers). He did win his starts in the playoffs, before imploding in two starts against the Houston Astros during the World Series—including the game seven loss.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s body of work includes a 7-0 career record, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Pundits are saying quarterback pay will be out of control from here on out and we should expect continued, escalating QB salaries indefinitely. Garoppolo is making more than any of the established star quarterbacks. Whether or not he is overpaid only time will tell.
Same goes for Darvish.
Garoppolo benefitted from being Tom Brady’s understudy—both in knowledge of the game and being able to cash in once he left the New England Patriots. Matt Cassel did the same when he signed a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs after leaving the Patriots.
As a National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) fan, I no longer can shrug my shoulders and adopt an, “It is what it is” attitude regarding what guys make playing in both leagues.
I don’t knock players, especially (not for long) NFL athletes getting the most dollars possible during careers averaging three years.
“The NFL is a business.”
Yes it is. It’s also one challenged with getting in front of its head injury crisis. And for a number of market-affecting reasons, television ratings are down. The sustainability of the league is being called into question for the first time.
Baseball fans are passing through turnstiles in droves to watch average baseball players make hundreds of millions of dollars playing a child’s game. Stable, if not growing attendance combined with still-lucrative television and streaming deals feed the cash cow that is MLB.
Meanwhile, the other-than-one-percent continue at their jobs day in and day out. They perform to the highest degree possible because they need the work. And they need their jobs.
They want to hold on to their obscenely-modest-by-comparison paychecks, always going the extra mile because they understand that job retention, let alone annual raises, are not givens the market will bear for mediocre or unproven performance.