David Ortiz is simply the best in the world at what he does. Ortiz has a unique skill for which his employer, the Boston Red Sox, pay him an exorbitant amount of money. The reality is, Ortiz is worth it in the context of the market. Baseball is entertainment and Ortiz has been the Sinatra of his role – designated hitter – for a decade. To put it in perspective, Ortiz probably earns less than Kim Kardashian.
Ortiz plays what is often referred as a child’s game. At his level, it is a game played intensely by professionals who demand and receive enormous compensation. They are under intense public scrutiny. That goes with the territory and Ortiz can whine all he wants. The reason is simple for the compensation MLB performers (players) receive. The potential revenue. In any market you place a premium on employees with unique skills who can have a positive impact on the bottom line. In sports it is the proverbial double-edged sword of risk and reward. You have a proven record of accomplishment or a potential for outstanding accomplishment and you will be paid and paid handsomely.
How important is this “child’s game” to society? Franklin Roosevelt recognized the importance of baseball in the most harrowing and tumultuous of times – World War II. FDR felt baseball was crucial to the war effort both for morale and as a diversion for workers, showing why it was called “Fortress America.” Baseball responded by piecing together teams and leagues as best they could. Even using a child in fifteen year old Joe Nuxhall at the MLB level.
Baseball de World is a wonderful site for baseball worldwide. Take a look. Teams everywhere. Every continent except Antarctica – but who knows, maybe a penguin league has started? Hundreds of professional and semi-professional teams dotting our humble planet. Then toss in Major League Baseball and the extensive farm system. And, don’t forget all the independent leagues. Count up all those local leagues such as the Park League in Boston, and then the college ranks and their summer league. Thousands of players. Professional, non professional and collegiate. Maybe thousands of teams? Almost all have designated hitters. The Boston Red Sox, in Ortiz, have the best one in the world and the best one that has existed since Ron Blomberg grabbed a bat.
Now you can apply this to just about any position. Fact is, if you are absolutely one of the worst third baseman in MLB, you are still one of the best in the world. You have, as virtually all players have, risen through the ranks. At each level, more and more are weaned out.
Fifteen minutes in the majors means you are a great baseball player. Jim Leyland
I may begrudge the enormous salaries since I am old enough to remember when even a star player would sometimes have a winter job. Times have certainly changed as even the minimum salary approaches a half-million dollars. As the late Ralph Kiner once reportedly said: “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords.” Now after a few years, it’s a Bentley. I now accept the salaries. I realize my past is not the present.