SHOW ME THE MONEY! – Garry Armstrong

I’m just back from running an errand. I had the car radio on the local sports radio station, the flagship station for the Boston Red Sox radio network. The regular season starts next week and I’m excited as you would expect of a guy who’s grown up with baseball as a passion.

From my youth in the ’40s and ’50s, following the fortunes of Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer to the early ’60s, tracking the daily misfortunes of Casey’s Amazin’ Mets to the present, hyperventilating over the sons of Teddy Ballgame playing at Fenway Park, the so-called cathedral of baseball.

This is the time of year when we scour pre-season predictions of all the major league teams. We look at stats and projections for all the players.

Politics and other breaking news is set aside to focus on how OUR team will fare. During ancient times, preceding 24/7 online coverage, we studied the magazines that featured baseball experts, looking through their crystal balls, telling us who would be good and who would be lousy. I spent more time on these magazines than on my homework.

Hell, baseball was more important than history, science, geography, math, and science combined.

Cuba Gooding: “Show me the money!”

Ironically, decades later, I’d use my weak math skills to understand crucial baseball stuff, namely contracts. Contracts garner today’s headlines because of the money shelled out to today’s biggest baseball stars.

As I write, Mike Trout is at the top of the world, Ma, agreeing to a multi-year 400-million-dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels. I wonder if Gene Autry, the original Angels owner, is scratching his head at the big Melody Ranch In The Sky.

Trout’s record-shattering contract tops last week’s record-shattering deal by Bryce Harper with the Philadelphia Phillies. Harper’s “It’s not about the money — I love baseball” proclamation covers the multi-year 300 million dollar bonanza for the former Washington Nats star.

Sports media yakkers and writers have been foaming at their collective mouths over Red Sox star and last year’s A.L MVP, Mookie Betts who stands to be new man atop the world when he hits Free Agency in 2 years. Mookie is staying mum, saying “he just wants to play baseball.” Right.

So, I’m listening to talk radio, expecting a little yak about the dough, then moving onto assessing the upcoming season.

Red Sox Nation wonders about last year’s astounding 119 wins –including regular and postseason momentum, including the World Series championship. That was a once-in-a-generation season. Hard to top. I and many other fans are already worried.

We don’t have a decent bullpen, let alone a postseason-caliber roster of relievers. We bid adieu to ace closer Craig Kimbrel who wanted BIG money as one of baseball’s top closers.  We also bid “vaya con dios” to Joe Kelly, the master curve ball artist who presumably could’ve replaced Kimbrel. Kelly went west for big money with the Dodgers.

I’m listening to the radio gas baggers, waiting for some chat about the Red Sox plans for the bullpen, not to mention how the rest of the team looks. They’ve looked pretty bad in Spring Training even though we know Grapefruit League games don’t matter. They are exercises intended to get the team ready for the regular season. Still, you’d like to see the pitchers evolve from rusty to sharp. You’d like them to at least look ready for the real games coming up in just a few weeks, wouldn’t you?

Bosox pitchers have looked like hamburger helpers in the Grapefruit League. The rest of the team looks very iffy, save a few hitters who’ve been slugging like they’re hitting grapefruit instead of horsehide.

The pennant at Fenway

The Talkers also slide over to politics and whether the Sox should pay the traditional championship visit to the White House this year. A number of players have made it clear Donzo is not their kind of guy and have sent regrets to the Oval Office.

I timed half an hour of money talk — and Donzo’s affability — by the yakkers, and callers who seemed to be off their meds.

This isn’t “Field of Dreams” stuff. It’s an offshoot of Cuba Gooding’s famous line in “Jerry McGuire.” We laughed long and loud when Gooding’s baseball player screamed at Tom Cruise’s agent, “Show me the money!”

We’re not laughing now.

Categories: Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, Garry Armstrong, News, Sports

Tags: , , , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. Sadly most major sports seem to be all about the money. I’m not as knowledgable as you Garry, but I can see it in cricket as well. Over the past decade, money has started to dictate when and where games are played and what people are able to see on free to air TV. Sadly that has not made it cheaper to attend especially in Sydney and Melbourne and as for merchandise you almost need to take out a loan to kit yourself out in your team’s official gear. Players get paid more, that started as a good thing as I understand that up until the 70s many had to give up playing for their country because they didn’t earn enough to support their families. Now they are full-time professionals and many travel the world playing cricket in our offseason. Some international players from countries whose national teams don’t earn as much may even choose to freelance in preference to representing their country although most Australian players value the “Baggy Green” cap more than anything. In our domestic T20 league players tend to follow the money too. Last season it irked me to see many former Hobart Hurricanes playing for other teams. Still, as fans do whether it is cricket or football, soccer or baseball a new season is always an exciting time. You start out full of hope and excitement to see what it will bring. Have a good summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If Cricket migrates to the Americas, watch those prices skyrocket and those salaries go completely nuts. The mores there are and the more countries play the gamer, the more players move around the planet getting “the best deals.” It’s “never about the money” but somehow, in the end, it’s ALWAYS about the money.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tas, your share triggers the Chicago Black Sox story — “8 Men Out”. Shoeless Joe Jackson and teammates threw games for bribes from gamblers. It was “show me the money” way back in 1919.
      And, the kids moaned, “Say it ain’t so, Joe”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Should be an interesting year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Leslie. It should. t’ll be interesting to see how the mega-contract guys perform. They’ll get lots of face time with their mega contracts getting more time than the games.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unbelievable isn’t it?

        Liked by 2 people

        • Leslie, an old friend who lives in Philly writes that the local media is hyperventilating over Bryce Harper. He supposedly adores the limelight and attention – but I think this will be a stressful first season in Philly for him. Lots of people expect Harper to lead the Phillies to the promised land (The World Series). Philly fans may be the harshest — if you fail.

          I remember Roger Maris with the Yankees back in ’61 when he was trying to break Babe Ruth’s then unreachable 60 homers in a season. As the season wound down and Maris neared the Bambino’s record, he was beseiged by media and fans everywhere. His hair began to fall out and he fell into a deep depression. Still, he broke the Babe’s record (Naturally, the record setting homer was off a Boston pitcher, Tracy Stallard).

          The following year, I got to interview Roger Maris. He was still traumatized by his record setting season. He looked much older than 35 (?). His face was sunken, his eyes hollow and he talked in a whisper. I could see how painful it was for him and tried to get through the interview as quickly as possible.
          Mickey Mantle was the next interview. The Mick was the opposite of Maris. He was a cheery, good ol’ boy. Mick had chased Maris’ run for the record and he was the hometown favorite which further bothered Maris. Mick also retreated to Johnny Walker to bolster his spirits.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I keep wondering where the money comes from. Or if it was there all along and the owners were keeping it all. I am happy to see it going to the players instead of all sticking in the owners pockets. Spread it around.
    Back to the first question. Ticket prices are so high only corporations by most of the tickets. They deduct the expense from their taxable income. Average families cannot afford to add the games. Trlsvions revenue paid for by advertisers who could be using the money to reduce the price of their products.

    I stopped keeping up s few years ago after Ted Turner sold the Braves and the team sank to the bottom or near there.

    The nineties were great to be a Braves fan. Playoff and World Series games. Sold out games, He chop and the chant.
    Pitching staff was unbelievable.

    Enjoy the Red Sox. I am pulling for a Braves Red Sox World Series this year. Braves to win in seven with a walk off single to left with Sid Bream scoring from se one. Dreams are good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OG, I’m with you. I think, in baseball and other major sports, the money funnels from TV revenue at the top of the pyramid. Big corporations give TV the moolah to advertise their products in those gynormous commercial blocks that slow down the games to almost a halt. The Team suits cut deals with the TV networks to showcase their clubs in prime time and garner bigly ratings. The ratings translate into more money for folks at the top of the pyramid. The major market teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies and Dodgers reap in the most Benjamin Franklins from their TV deals and revenue from team owned TV and radio outlets. Those outlets sell time which rings up more ka-chings. All this adds up to billions in revenue for team owners and major league baseball. Billions! The players, prompted by agents and their union, want bigger and bigger slices of the pie. Arbitration and free agency give the players more leverage. It’s also why players have become gunslingers for hire. They move from team to team with opt outs or contract epiration — the team offering the most money usually gets the star player who attracts bigger crowds. More Benjamins.
      The “old” days of players staying with one team for their entire career — is history. Those of us of a certain age point to heroes like Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, PeeWee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Yogi Berra and others who played before Curt Flood stood up against the “Plantation system” of old baseball which prevented players from seeking jobs with other teams if they were unhappy with contracts. We saw heroes like Gil Hodges, Bob Feller, Robin Roberts and Don Drysdale — have lengthy and superb careers, playing for one team, often making less money than their peers.
      As fans, we used to count on these players being on our teams “forever”. We had the lineups – with the same players — branded in our sense memory. It’s how -at one point — I could memorize the batting orders of ALL teams before baseball expanded and free agency changed the fabric of America’s favorite past time.

      This Bud is for Sid Bream.


  4. Seriously Garry, I don’t even know what you do with that much money. ‘Anything you want’ would be the snappy comeback, but these salaries border on obscene. And the players that hold out for more…..more what? What do you need that $300 million won’t buy?! Obviously, don’t get me started…… Happy weekend to you and Marilyn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lois, I agree. I’ve always wondered what one does with that kind of money. I’ve read those stories about lavish lifestyles that include muliple ritzy homes around the world, high end cars, planes and boats. I can’t really wrap my head around that style of living. Naturally, I’m envious. More so now that we’re living on a razor thin senior cirtzien’s income of social security and puny pensions. A pause here to acknowledge that we’re doing better than many other folks in our age group. So not pity is expected. Still my eyes glaze over when I see those 9 figure salaries and people holding out for more — so “they can put food on the table for their families”.
      Lois, happy weekend to you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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