by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

If I were in charge of baseball, there would be no spring training lockout. I would simply take the two negotiators, Donald Fehr and Chuck O’Connor, stick them in a hotel room, tie them to the bedpost alongside a drooling German Shepherd and have the door hermetically sealed. Then I would inform the world that they had run off to Mexico together. And the players and owners, none of whom really know what’s going on anyhow, would shrug and say, “Well, shoot,
(spit) heck, (scratch) let’s play ball.”

Unfortunately, I am not in charge. And so today, because owners and players are deadlocked on Basic Agreement negotiations, which is an old baseball phrase meaning, “August, if you’re lucky,” the camps are closed. And these are the headlines in the sports sections:



This makes me sad. I was really looking forward to all the great traditions of spring training, such as standing behind the old batting cage, under a warm Florida sun, and falling asleep.

Clearly, it is time for the little people to end this stalemate. We must come up with the solution. The owners have proposed a Performance Pay Scale, which has caused great dispute. First, you’re docked this . . .

No problem. May I propose a new pay scale that would settle all disputes. I call it My Pay Scale That Would Settle All Disputes. Under this system, each player would begin with the major league average of $650,000 per year.
(This really is the major league average. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?)

From that figure, however, we would deduct:

$1000 for every strikeout with the bases loaded.

$1000 for every hanging curveball.

$1000 for every ball through the legs.

$2000 for scratching himself.

$3000 for scratching himself on camera.

$4000 for each time he calls a woman “Cutey,” “Babe” “Sweet Cakes,” or
“Shut Up And Drive.”

$5000 for not waving back to any fan under the age of 8.

$100,000 for the first failed drug test.

$200,000 for the second failed drug test.

$3000 for running like Lou Whitaker.

$5000 for being married to any of Steve Garvey’s ex- girlfriends.

Let’s make it $300,000 for that drug test thing.

$1000 each time he says, “We have to take it one game at a time.”

$1000 each time he says “It was God’s will” — especially when he drops a fly ball in fair territory.

$3000 for wanting to play in New York.

$4000 for blaming an ingrown toenail.

$5000 for saying “I just gamble a little bit. It’s no problem.”

$10,000 for hitting into a double play when the last thing on earth you should do is hit into a double play.

$15,000 for wearing a uniform that has any of the following colors: magenta, lime green, chartreuse, turquoise, beige, or pink. This is baseball, not the Laker Girls.

$16,000 for each hobby with the letters N, F, L.

$35,000 for refusing to sign autographs.

$50,000 for charging for autographs.

$175,000 for dumping ice water on a sports writer. I don’t know why, but this one really bugs me.

$9000 for every wad of chewing tobacco that is bigger than the head of an elephant.

$1,200 per spit.

Based on this system, if the player commits all of the above, he will finish with an annual salary of three dollars a year — which is plenty, I figure, for the job of being a Total Jerk.

. . . But you can earn this

But wait. That’s just the half of it. Under my pay scale, we would also have an incentive program, by which the player could turn his Already Huge And Laughable Salary into an Absolutely Ridiculous Ha Ha I Can’t Believe One Man Can Make That You Must Be Joking Can I Borrow Two Million Please Salary.

For example, we would add:

$10,000 for every hospital visit.

$20,000 for saying something intelligent during an interview.

$30,000 for coming out during a rain delay and taking kids on a mud slide from first to second.

$35,000 for a grand slam in the ninth.

$50,000 for refusing to work for George Steinbrenner, saying “I’m sorry. The man is a pig.”

$55,000 for turning down a beer commercial.

$70,000 for running out every pop fly.

$72,000 for taking the wad of tobacco from his mouth and saying “This is a really stupid habit.”

$80,000 for living in the city where he plays.

$83,000 for simple, basic manners.

$90,000 for a solo triple play.

$95,000 for turning in the middle of an at-bat and asking the organist to play “As Time Goes By.”

$100,000 if he dedicates it to his wife.

Under this pay scale, the average player could make a hefty $10 million per year. And you know what? Nobody would complain. Except maybe the owners. But under my system, the owners would make no money. They would be in it for the love of the game.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to flap my wings and fly to the moon.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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