Thursday, May 26, 2016
For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that there are two types of amateur prospects: You have the elite ones who ultimately get big signing bonuses. Then you have the non-elite ones who aren’t good enough to get big signing bonuses. If you are in the first group, you’re certainly going to go pro regardless of your socioeconomic status. You get a big signing bonus and get to play baseball for a living. That’s a win-win.
Now let’s say you’re a player in this second group. You’re good enough to go pro, but not good enough to command more than a few thousand in signing bonus. Let’s split this group into sub-groups.
If you’re rich, you probably go pro since the money isn’t a huge factor for you. You probably have some money in savings and/or a family willing to support you. But, since you were a fringy prospect to begin with, you probably don’t make it to the majors. This drives down the overall success rate for the rich.
If you’re poor, the decision is a tougher one. While the idea of playing baseball for a living sounds great, you also need to put food on the table. You may have very little savings, and your family may not have the means to support you. As a result, an outsized share of the poor group are the guys who got big bonuses (who are also likely to play in the majors). In other words, the low wages are basically weeding out the fringy low-income prospects, which drives up the major league success rate for the poor.
Friday, March 04, 2016
The Chicago Cubs and third baseman Kris Bryant, the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year, agreed to a one-year, $652,000 contract.
Bryant will receive a raise of more than $145,000 - a substantial amount considering he has less than one full year of major league service time. Bryant also will receive $111,000 more than Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, who will earn $541,000 despite more than two years of service time.
This almost most likely doesn’t help the Cubs sign him in 6 years, or to an extension before then, but it’s definitely a gesture, with relative chump change, that surely helps the relationship even if last year’s promotegate was overblown.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Because telling young football players to just play baseball isn’t that simple.
First of all, most young athletes don’t have the choice. Not every two-sport high schooler is Deion Sanders, or even Jeff Samardzija. Consider how small a segment of the population can play high-level college or pro baseball or football, and consider how much smaller a segment of the population is capable of doing both. Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, a 20-yeear-old listed at 6-foot-4, 312 pounds, is ideally suited for pushing large men and tackling small ones, which are skills as useless to baseball as Joey Votto’s ability to hit a small ball with a round bat is to football.
But that’s obvious. Let’s address the case of the day, players like Antwaan Randle El, who actually had the choice between football and baseball and chose the former. Saying “just choose baseball” ignores the profound economic disparities between amateur baseball and football.
For all its other faults, the route to fame and fortune in football is one of the most meritocratic in sports. There are elite private clinics for kids, particularly quarterbacks, but—ironically, perhaps because of the brutality of the sport—football players, most of the time, play for their high schools and nowhere else. Colleges scout and recruit high schoolers at their schools, and pro teams scout colleges. Acknowledging that rich parents can hire personal trainers, or send their kids to private schools, or pay for sessions with George Whitfield, you can get noticed by Alabama or Florida State, and in turn by the NFL, if you just show up for your high school football team.
That’s much less true in baseball, and it’s one of the sport’s most severe and least-discussed problems when it comes to spreading the game at the grassroots level. Once the amateur game becomes essentially privatized—a year-round phenomenon where travel teams and private showcases supplement and supplant school teams—it gets expensive, quickly.
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