The Baseball Desert

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

How To Be A Big-League Ballplayer

All the controversy surrounding steroid use in baseball has some people contemplating a glass which looks half-empty, but for my part I subscribe to the David Ortiz 'glass-is-half-full' school of thinking. On the day that Giambi and Bonds reported to Spring Training amid speculation and rumour as to their performance, both past and future, Ortiz was to be found spreading his infectious smile all over Fort Myers.

I hear all the time how we should stop setting our sports heroes up as role models, because we're almost always headed for disappointment. The problem is that having these heroes is a natural by-product of the game, whether you're 5 or 35 years old, so maybe what we should be doing is concentrating our efforts on those who are worthy of such attention, and Ortiz definitely falls into this category.

Since Ortiz helped the Red Sox to their first World Series victory in 86 years and was handsomely paid for doing so, it would be easy to argue that he has every reason to be happy with his lot, but one glance around the major leagues will tell you that a fat contract does not necessarily a happy ballplayer make.

I have little patience with any ballplayer who bemoans his working / salary conditions. I don't care what the relative value of their talents is (i.e. are they making as much as they ought to, given what owners seem to be raking in?), because in absolute terms (i.e. with regard to the average salary of average folks), getting paid anywhere from $400,000 to $18m to play baseball is a better deal than most of us will see in any number of lifetimes. I'm with Ben Folds' songwriting protagonist on this one - I hate hearing belly-aching rockstars (or ballplayers) whine and sob.

With that in mind, it was good to read what Papi had to say yesterday:
"Money is not everything in life, you know," said Ortiz. "I think if you look back, I bet you all of us have been in worse situations before and you don't know where you're going to be next. I really think that every day that you wake up in life, you have to appreciate and thank God for that. That's me. I was born with nothing and now I have something. Now that I have something, I'm not going to be picky about it, you know. I appreciate what I have and what I got."
Words to live by...