As our scene opens here on Baseball Card of the Week Theatre, we find CC Sabathia, a pitcher newly signed by the New York Yankees, talking to an excited sports reporter. Let's take a listen, shall we?
So, CC Sabathia! You've just signed the largest free agent contract in history for a pitcher! You're going to be playing on the biggest stage in all of sports, Yankee Stadium (and a new one at that!), and getting paid roughly two bajillion dollars to do so! Any thoughts?
CC Sabathia: Well, I'll tell you what. This is awfully gratifying and all, but what I'd really like to do is have one of my baseball cards featured in an alternative newspaper's sports blog. If I could see that, I feel like maybe then my career would truly be on the right track. In fact, it's long been a dream of my family. When I was little, my mother used to tell me all the time, "CC, you've just got to get someone to use up some bandwidth on your baseball cards. You've just got to!" But man, I just don't know if it's going to happen.
Reporter: Well, CC, I was trying to keep this a surprise, but I may just have some very good news for you.
CC: What? You don't mean?
Reporter: That's right, CC.
What we have here today, folks, is a 2004 Donruss Elite CC Sabathia card. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of this series of cards, just because of the funny, pseudo-futuristic graphics, but hey, somebody had to think it was a good idea, right?
CC Sabathia just signed a deal with the New York Yankees that will pay him $161 million over seven years. Now, I'm not one usually to balk at player salaries; whatever the market is willing to bear, great. If an owner is dumb enough to think you're worth it, go for it, kid. Hey, I may be a liberal crackpot, but I still have red capitalist blood flowing through my veins, you know. But honestly? We've got auto companies threatening to go bankrupt, the jobless rate is shooting up through the roof, and you're offering a baseball player $161 million, Yankees?
Again, I don't usually complain about these things, but this just seems a bit outlandish to me.
What's even worse, though, is the fact that Sabathia's contract contains one of those opt-out clauses. The first opt out I can think of off the top of my head was the A-Rod one, which he excercised during the 2007 World Series, mostly because both Alex Rodriguez and Scott Boras are total douchebags. Anyway, back to the point at hand.
This particular opt-out clause allows Sabathia to get out of his contract after three years, scott-free, if he so wishes. Do I really have to explain why this is such a bad idea? I do? Well, okay, Mr. Steinbrenner, but just this once.
See, if CC pitches brilliantly, which is what you're hoping for, of course, then at the end of three years, he simply says, "See ya!" and goes on his merry way. At this point, you can either pony up for an even bigger piece of pie in order to retain him, or you can watch him walk away, possibly to pitch for one of your rivals. You're out a great pitcher, and may have to face him in the other dugout. Sucks, huh?
If, on the other hand, he falls apart and goes all Kevin Brown on everybody, CC can just sit there and let the checks roll in, despite the fact that he's no longer really contributing to your cause. You can't stop paying him, 'cause this is baseball, stupid! Contracts is all guaranteed!
Do you see the problem now, Mr. Steinbrenner? Um, Mr. Steinbrenner? Hank? Oh, come on, would someone take those keys away from him! Yes, yes. Shiny. I know. Sigh. Somehow, I don't think I'm getting through.
So congratulations, CC Sabathia. You just signed an enormous contract to play for the most storied franchise in all of baseball. Life is very, very good. And hey, if things go well, you could be in for an even bigger payday in a couple of years! Bonus, right?
And congratulations to the Yankees and Mr. Steinbrenner as well. You got the biggest name on the free agent market, and in the process reminded the rest of us of an axiom we should never forget:
Money can't buy brains.