It was once known as the “people’s game” because tickets were inexpensive, and even free sometimes in the “bleachers”. I grew up watching the Dodgers, and a decent seat at Dodger Stadium was $3.50. Hot dogs and sodas were a dollar each.
When I lived in San Diego from 1977 until 1986, I became a Padres fan. It wasn’t easy to desert my beloved Dodgers, but when Steve Garvey was traded to them, it made it easier.
My girlfriend and I loved to take our kids to Padres’ games. We each had two, and we would go to at least one game as a family during each home stand. We discovered seats on the second level, behind home plate, in “foul ball territory”. The tickets cost $4.50 each, for a total of $27.00 for the six of us. And the concession prices were still reasonable. It cost me in the neighborhood of $60.00 for the entire wonderful experience.
Those same seats start at $30.00 each today, that’s $180.00 for 6 people. I couldn’t afford it. Between concession prices and the cost of tickets the figure reaches $300.00 for one game. I can see better on television, and I can pause my TIVO and not miss a great play while I go to the bathroom.
All professional sports have priced themselves out of reason for most working men and their families.
The primary reason is that professional sports are more business than entertainment. Both players and management are to blame. Greed has eliminated the “people’s game”.
Two positions on a baseball team involve continuous involvement, pitchers and catchers. It is entirely possible that an outfielder never has a baseball hit to him in nine innings. The only time he is part of the game is when he is at bat. If he is successful 30% of the time, he’s done a superior job.
Quality pitchers deserve pay commensurate with their success and value. But even that gets to the point of being outrageous.
Earlier today I wrote a piece about Johan Santana and his season ending injury.
Justin Verlander has just signed a contract extension with the Detroit Tigers. It begins in 2015 and goes through the 2019 season with an option for 2020. He will be paid 180 million dollars for this, 202 million if he stays through 2020. He is 30 years old. In 2011 he was the AL Most Valuable Player and the Cy Young Award winner.
The regular baseball season lasts 162 games. Seldom, if ever, does a single player participate in all 162. Of course that’s an impossibility for pitchers. In previous years pitchers were in the rotation every 4 games, now it’s 5.
Let’s take a look at the value of Mr. Verlander last season. He won 17 games last season and lost 8. I have no way of knowing the number of “no decisions” in which he pitched, so I’ll only be able to value his record.
He was responsible for 25 wins or losses. So his net is 9 wins out of 162 games his team played.
I am in no way implying he is not a great pitcher. He posted a 2.64 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 238 1/3 innings last season. He led the American League in innings pitched, strikeouts and complete games (six).
Between 2015 and 2019, he will make an average of 36 million dollars a year. If he has the same record each of those years as he did in 2012, that means he will make 2.5 million dollars for each winning game he nets for Detroit.
Now I understand why my Padres’ seats cost 7 times what they did in the 1980’s.
My recliner’s much more comfortable than their plastic seats anyway.
Columnist-The Guardian Express