I wrote my debut column for the D League show based out of Arizona last night and it was run this morning on their site, TheDLeague.com.
Here’s the blog titled “For money or the love of the game.”
It’s a question asked in all sports: is he doing it for the money or the love of the game?
With the recent dollars swirling around over-paid stars Derek Jeter and Jayson Werth, one has to ask what these guys motives are. Both Jeter and Werth are ring-bearers and both played for two of the biggest markets in MLB last season.
Jeter and his life-time club, the New York Yankees, were in heated contract negotiations the past several weeks, with Jeter and the Yankees finally settling on a three-year, $51 million deal.
What Jeter did is not surprising. He found himself in a unique situation. Jeter, 36, is the face of the New York Yankees and is solely responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars the Steinbrenner-owned brand accumulated during his 16-year career. Surely the Yankees couldn’t let Jeter walk and therefor have to accommodate the short stop’s demands despite him being past his prime and a decade older than some of the game’s best.
So when the Yankees offered Jeter the $15 million-per-year deal and he felt insulted, he was mainly playing hardball with the only team he played for. He demanded money upwards of $24 million a year! The Yankees didn’t budge, letting Jeter know they could let him walk if the aging short stop wanted to take advantage of New York.
Jeter, who many children grew up idolizing as their favorite player, had this question asked of him. Was he in it for the money? Were the $200+ million he made in the first 16 years of his career not enough? Was he really playing hardball with the Yankees for a couple more million dollars a year?
That brings us to Werth, one of the biggest free agents of the off season. Werth, who was making $7 million in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies, found himself being courted by three of the best teams in baseball: the Phillies, Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. Instead of signing with one of those three teams and giving them a distinct advantage heading into the 2011 season, Werth signed a very generous deal with perennial cellar dwellers, the Washington Nationals.
The Nats gave Werth a seven-year, $126 million contract that became the 12th richest contract in baseball history. It was nearly identical to the contract Matt Holliday received from St. Louis two years ago.
Phillies fans were outraged. The rest of the baseball world was appalled. How could a player who was in the post season the last four years choose to take the highest deal possible with a team not set to compete for another couple of years over teams ready to reach the fall classic? What will this mean for free agent outfielder Carl Crawford and pitcher Cliff Lee, who both could be seeing contracts just as rich, if not more in the upcoming weeks?
So Werth, we ask you: was it all about the money? I’d like the think no but it’s not going to be easy to do so when you’re laughing all the way to the bank… and to the bottom of the standings.