By: Kurt Snyder
Over the years, I have become numb to the contracts being signed for the supposed stars of the game. As a fan of the Tigers, it can be easy to do that, given all the money Mike Ilitch has shelled out over the course of his tenure.
But now that they are looking to change course and get some bottom-line control, I am back to shaking my head at contracts. I used to try to put myself in their shoes. As one of the better talents in the game, why wouldn’t I try to make as much money as I could for as long as I could? Shoot, careers can be shortened so quickly by a serious injury. And if the owner is going to pay it, why blame the player?
That’s the way I thought. I would defend the Max Scherzers of the world. But lately I have to question a player’s desire to win. Scherzer went to Washington because they gave him the best chance to win. Not because they were the ones that offered the most money, but because they offered the best chance to win. I believe my very first blog on this forum was on that subject. We were supposed to believe all that.
Now no one can question the work ethic of Max Scherzer. No one can question his desire to dominate hitters every time he goes to the mound. He has become a ferociously dominant pitcher. His career has exploded since he went to Washington. But he has still yet to win a World Series.
As a sports fan, I believe the older you get, the more put off you are by salaries being paid and salaries being demanded. But, why do we care how much a player makes, just as long as they produce for our team. How often do you hear those words? Or, why should I care, it’s not my money. We hear these words all the time, as well.
We have experienced the impact of big salaries as fans of the Tigers. And as we have spun our wheels over the last several years subscribing to our owner’s belief that more money will finally get us the Holy Grail, we are finally realizing that too many big, long-term contracts are bound to hurt you.
But where is that will to win as a player? Not just to compete. We can come up with a long list of players in baseball who are competitors. But how many who make the really big bucks care about being the last to stand there at the end with the trophy?
It’s been reported that Bryce Harper’s next salary demand could well eclipse the $400 million mark. $40 million a season! After I picked myself up off the floor, I asked myself a question. Who demands that much money and at the same time considers how difficult it will be for his team to win it all? Who actually believes that the chances are good for a team to win a World Series by shelling out $40 million to one player?
The Tigers have struggled enough trying to win a title while paying a handful of players at least $20 million a season. And it is breaking them.
The Arizona Diamondbacks somehow felt it was in their best interests to sign Zach Greinke, someone who plays every fifth day, over $34 million a season. I am going to go on record right now and say the trophy isn’t visiting Arizona anytime soon.
Where does it all end? The Washington Nationals are a very good baseball team. And thankfully, it sounds like they will pass on Harper if 40 is his new number come contract time. But if there is a fan in Washington who feels Bryce Harper is about winning when they hear a demand like that, then they have become numb to the game.
When you require that much money, winning only finds you by chance. It doesn’t find you because of you, but in spite of you. A salary demand that high will never be about winning a championship and a title will likely not land in a city saddled with a player with that level of selfishness.