The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

The Rich Get Richer…

Word is that the Nationals have signed free agent pitcher Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal.  Scherzer joins Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister and Tanner Roark in an unbelievable rotation.  It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nationals win a hundred games in 2015.  They led the N.L. with 96 wins last year, and that was with Bryce Harper missing 62 games, and Ryan Zimmerman missing 101 games.  Adding Scherzer to this squad is akin to cutting Mitt Romney’s capital gains tax by another 10%.  The rich just got richer.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, the world’s richest 85 people now have as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.5 billion. Oxfam now estimates that by next year, the richest 1% will own about 50% of the world’s wealth.  Currently in the U.S., the bottom 90% of American families average wealth is exactly the same as it was in 1986, meaning that despite all the productivity gains that have occurred over the past quarter of a century, in effect, none of those gains have benefited the vast majority of Americans.  The richest 10%, however, have seen their cumulative wealth triple during that same period of time.

The wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of us combined.  Yet, in a gratuitous display of ignorance characterized by being completely immune from the real world, in a recent poll, the wealthy apparently truly believe that the poor “have it easy.”

But Americans have long history of obsequious fascination with the rich, and the upper middle class in particular seem to personally identify with the wealthiest Americans more than they do with the poorest Americans, or even with the working class, to whom in reality they are much closer (economically speaking) than they are to the wealthy.

Similarly, in baseball, Americans love a winner.  With the impressive roster that the Nationals have accumulated this year, attendance should be strong in Washington, D.C. for the Nats home games, just as it was in New York when the Yankees were the strongest team in baseball about fifteen years ago.

A nation of optimists, we identify with those who publicly display confidence, success and a sunny disposition, as Americans did when Ronald Reagan was President during the 1980’s.  We live vicariously through their success stories as we dream that someday they could one day be our own, even as those with the sunny smiles are already busily creating the conditions that actually ensure fewer and fewer of us will ever be able to reach those lofty summits.

While no one should feel sorry for the mere millionaires who own the struggling Major League franchises due to sheer incompetence or poorly executed planning, for the millions of struggling people in America, and throughout the world, life is not a game where we even if we screw up, at the end of the day we still get to sit in our private luxury box, secure and confident in our privileged lives which we begin to rationalize are of necessity worth far more than the lives of the millions around us, and of whom even God himself must deign to smile upon if he hopes to remain relevant.

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22 thoughts on “The Rich Get Richer…

  1. Hey, I didn’t see YOU sneak in??? I somehow missed your comeback, Bill!

    Welcome back! You were gone a long time! Were the keys on the keyboard a bit squeaky and you had to oil it?

    I guess it’s sometimes like that great John Lennon song, “I’m Just Sitting Here Watching The Wheels Go Round”. Sometimes you just got to let it go! And now you’re back, fresh and relaxed!

    I loved this paragraph——–

    “A nation of optimists, we identify with those who publicly display confidence, success and a sunny disposition, as Americans did when Ronald Reagan was President during the 1980’s. We live vicariously through their success stories as we dream that someday they could one day be our own, even as those with the sunny smiles are already busily creating the conditions that actually ensure fewer and fewer of us will ever be able to reach those lofty summits.”

    Yeah. Tell me about it. I fell for his B.S. Hook, line, and sinker. I fell for it in 1980. First time I ever voted, and I’m a registered Democrat, and was then, too, and I voted for that bastard. It didn’t take long before I knew I’d been had, when he fired the airport control tower guys and thus started the demise of unions. He was the one who really got my once wonderful country going downhill to where it is today. I will always hate Reagan so much for it.

    Again, welcome back, Bill.

    Glen

    PS I’ve got to catch up and read the other ones you’ve written since you’ve returned.

    • Hi Glen, Thanks for the kind words. I do intend to try and blog from time to time, but probably not as much as I used to. Just too much stuff going on around the house for me to ever be all that consistent. Maybe in the future I’ll get to do as much writing as I’d like.
      Good to hear from you,
      -Bill

  2. As a fellow member of the 99%, I echo the sentiments of others welcoming you back to the ether.

  3. Mike Cornelius on said:

    Well done Bill. Though as you point out at the end, not just in baseball but in every sport the “have not” owners are merely filthy rich as opposed to obscenely so. Great to see you posting again.

    Mike

  4. Jason M. on said:

    Right on, brother. Nodding my head vigorously with every paragraph.

    Scherzer is gonna have an amazing year for the Nats, though… having pitchers to strike out 2-3 times a game, and facing the anemic, horrid, Mets, Braves & Phillies lineups probably 15 times a year. Dude should post a sub-1.75 ERA in 2015 ..,

  5. Good column by Charles Blow in yesterday’s online NY Times, “How expensive it is to be poor”. I like your comment about those with the sunny smiles. How true.

    Regarding Scherzer, if George Steinbrenner were still with us Max would probably be wearing pinstripes.

    • I actually did read that column by Charles Blow. He nailed it. Beware the smiling salesman with the too good to be true pitch. And yeah, Steinbrenner would definitely have signed Scherzer, just as predictably as the Mets never would.

  6. You’re talking more about the overall society/economy here than baseball, but it’s true that it’s very hard to honestly rationalize the salaries paid to top-level pro athletes. Imagine aliens asking us “Why do those men get paid so much for being good at throwing a ball around?” Could anyone give a convincing answer?

  7. Well said!

    I never begrudge a player his millions — he’s in an industry that can afford his salary. I’m a fan of a small (small-ish) market team, but we will probably go over the $100-million mark in payroll this year … and yet we’re considered one of baseball’s cheapskates. (I always hope they’ll open their checkbook in the off-season and surprise us with an amazing free agent. They never do.)

    But, your juxtaposition is a good one to remember.

    While $5 million is chump change to snag a mediocre, aging utility guy in the outfield, at the same time so many people today work mighty hard and yet struggle because most industries can’t — or, more often, won’t — pay a modest living wage to its employees.

    Sigh.

  8. Bill, it is great to have you back and you have hit a Grand Slam with this post.

  9. I’ve been waiting…I know it’s tough to talk and wade through the muck in order to talk about the game….

  10. Welcome back, Bill. Glad to hear from you again.
    v

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