It is no secret that the Detroit Tigers have some of the highest priced contracts in the MLB. The Tigers are not the only team with outrageous contracts. This begs the question: What happened to the hometown discount?
Being a young, aspiring baseball player there is nothing that gets me more twisted up than watching my role models in Major League Baseball complain about how much they get paid and complaining about their “home team” not giving them enough money. This feeling has been stirred up most recently by Jose Bautista. In an interview Bautista stated about the hometown discount, “In my world, that doesn’t exist. … In my eyes, I’ve given this organization a five-year hometown discount already.” Comments like this just get my blood boiling. I don’t get how millionaires who make money playing a game can’t just take some money off their contract for the good of the organization.
I love this great game, but it really saddens me to see such talented players disrespect the teams that believed in them for so long by wringing every penny they can out of the organization, especially when the players are already making tens of millions of dollars. I get that money is important – despite what some people will tell you – but why don’t players stay with their favorite teams for a reasonable salary?This is the same game that a high school and college baseball player would play for free if asked to – we all want to make it to the big leagues!
In recent memory, fans have seen the likes of Robinson Cano, James Shields, Hanley Ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury, and many other players leave their “hometown team” in pursuit of more money. On one hand, that’s great and they’re probably worth the money; but, why leave a winning ball club? It bewilders me to think that Cano honestly left the New York Yankees to go to the Seattle Mariners thinking there was a better chance to win the World Series.
Then there are the players who do stay with their hometown team and just choke their teams with their contracts, the Detroit Tigers have this issue. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera have absolutely massive contracts, in a place that they love and would never leave. So why does Miggy have to make $31 million to play the game he loves in the place he loves? Same with JV? Why does he need the $27 million? Don’t get me wrong, they shouldn’t be making much less than that, but once you get start to make over $20 million, do you really need more?
Miggy and JV are valuable assets as long as they still can play at a high level and have the leadership qualities and personalities to change a team. But how long will this last? As long as their contracts?
Back to Bautista: He is 35 years old in a game where players rarely make it to 40. The game appears to be changing in a way that doesn’t seem to be helpful for Joey Bats. Organizations aren’t signing, or are reluctantly signing older players. Not to mention that Bautista is a polarizing player that could potentially cause ripples anywhere he goes because of the things he says. The thing I do agree with him on is there shouldn’t be a long drawn out negotiation process in baseball. Players and organizations shouldn’t be fighting over every last dollar.
I get that a lot of the players’ money goes into charities and local baseball organizations; which is absolutely phenomenal, but why not take a discount for the love of the fans, the team, and the game? Maybe this would lower ticket prices? Then, more fans could get to the games. It could also open up more money for the minor leaguers who are just scraping by.
I am obviously on the outside looking in, I have no idea what is like the be a multi-millionaire or play in front of millions of fans. But as baseball player who loves to play the game and – right now would play for no cost – why not just give your loyal owners a break? This would be an honorable thing to do.