Quite a bit has been said lately regarding the contract Alex
Rodriguez received from the Texas Rangers — the richest in the history
of professional sports.
From so-called experts to fans, from the media to sportscasters to
the hierarchy of the baseball world, everyone, it seems, has an opinion
about the 10-year $252 million deal.
Now I’d like to toss in my two cents on the subject. And quite
possibly that’s all my comments are worth.
As a former major league player myself and now in the arena of
everyday life, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to see things from
all sides of the issue. My question is: Why the uproar? How is it that
in America today we have become so selectively obsessed with how other
people spend their money and how much they earn?
Everyone has an opinion, for instance, on whether Alex Rodriguez is
“worth” $252 million. But why is it that nothing is said when the owner
of the Texas Rangers buys a Learjet, a Gulfstream or some other luxury
item. I haven’t heard anyone complain about Elton John spending 2
million per month. That’s just considered celebrity flamboyance. But oh,
spend money on something “ridiculous,” like the excellent baseball
player A-Rod is, and there is an outcry about the ruination of the game
and the unfairness of it all.
Our society’s obsession with egalitarianism is at the root of this
foolishness. I was not good enough to command the money of the
superstars. But I consider myself blessed to have been able to don a
major league uniform. And I can say unequivocally that Alex’s teammates
don’t give a rip as to what he is earning. In fact, they’re happy he’s
with them because his presence and ability increases their chances for
success. Their concern as professionals is with their own station in the
game and how they can help their team.
I cannot understand those calling in to radio shows saying they will
not allow their children to wear an A-Rod jersey any longer. It’s time
to step back, take a deep breath and get a grip on reality.
How many people out there, if they were offered multiple times what
they currently make, would turn it down? The answer is zero! Why is it
that people such as Demi Moore, Jim Carey, Jack Nicholson and Alec
Baldwin, if he’s still in the country, can make up to $20 million per
picture, and no one turns green with envy? Yet people are hollering at
Alex Rodriguez’s $25 million per year. Actors make their living
pretending to be someone else. A-Rod is the only person in the world who
can do what he does — be himself.
And, while we’re on the subject, why does America really care what
the Rosannes and Madonnas and Streisands of the world have to say
anyway? Why should their voices carry more weight than that of the
average citizen? Why should mine? Why don’t we get to hear from the
electricians, the plumbers, the CPAs, the secretaries, the policemen
and others who carry on the everyday jobs of life? Isn’t that
inequitable, too? I say it’s time for us to honor the masses, the
everyday folks for the hard work they perform to make this country work.
We don’t have enough awards for the moms out there raising families and
holding down jobs, or for dads setting examples for their children.
We were all put here by God and blessed with certain inalienable
rights. Let’s all be good stewards to that with which we’ve been
This brings me to Alex Rodriguez. How many of you were there when —
during the hot days of summer while all his friends where going to the
beach or parties — he was swinging a bat until blisters formed on his
hands? Do you have any idea how many ground balls he fielded until his
feet hurt and his chest ached from bad hops? Will he be crippled when
he’s done? Does anyone outside of the game understand what kind of toll
professional athletics takes on one’s body? The average major league
baseball career is under four years.
High achievers in any arena make huge sacrifices. A-Rod pushed
himself beyond what everyone else was or is willing to go through to
achieve excellence. Why should he have venom spewed at him because the
market is now willing to reward him for that effort?
Jealousy and envy are ugly characteristics. We once looked up to high
achievers — be they chief executive officers or great athletes. Why is
it that Americans today seem obsessed with knocking achievement down?
On top of everything else, Alex Rodriguez is a tremendous human
being. You’ve not read about him being in detox, driving his car off the
road, or slapping an ex-girlfriend around. He doesn’t wake up in
somebody else’s home, in somebody else’s bed. He’s not on his second,
third, fourth or more chances with drugs. He’s not even on his first.
This is an articulate, upstanding and God-fearing young man. If
anything, you should hope your children strive to emulate his ways. He’s
a role model.
If Alex Rodriguez wasn’t worth the money, he wouldn’t receive it. The
owners simply wouldn’t make the offer. That’s the way free markets work.
It’s the good old-fashioned principle of supply and demand. It’s as
American as mom, apple pie and, well, baseball.
Baseball is still America’s favorite pastime. Baseball will continue
to be one of the most wholesome activities that can be enjoyed by the
whole family. And that is why the salaries are going up. People want to
see A-Rod play. Who wouldn’t want to see this artist at work.
Think about it. How many wholesome movies can you take the entire
family to see? The answer is not many. But the baseball season is still
162 games long, not counting pre-season and post-season play. The magic
is still special when a father takes his son to his first game. Who can
forget that special feeling? Think back to that wonderful feeling of
sitting in the sun — coke and a dog in one hand, son in the other.
Remember? Remember the smells of the ballpark? This is what it’s all
I wish everyone would join me in saying to Alex Rodriguez, “God bless
you, Alex. Great job. You made it. Good for you. I wish I had your
ability. But I don’t. But thanks for giving us all something to strive
for. You’ve earned this, Alex. Now don’t let us down. Honor your elite
position. And make us all proud of you, so that we can applaud the
way you carry yourself.”
The most fortunate of us will strive to implement that same drive,
determination and work ethic into our own lives — to be the best that
we can be. Alex Rodriguez should be an inspiration to us all. He
shouldn’t divide us. His achievements should unite us.
If you’d like to sound off on this issue, please take part in the