It’s hard to disagree with Michael Baumann’s rundown of the 25 worst contracts in baseball over at The Ringer. All of the stinkers are on it: Jose Altuve‘s terrible deal. Mike Trout‘s albatross of a contract. Sal Perez’s highway robbery of a pact. Adam Eaton‘s deal which, frankly, is hamstringing.
Wait, you say those are good deals? Well, silly, that’s because you’re seeing them from the team’s perspective, and not the players’:
In the grand scheme of injustices, athletes making less than they’re worth is a small one, but the rhetoric surrounding labor couldn’t be more important, because it shows up in our everyday lives. It’s not “bad” that a worker, particularly one who’s put in his time, negotiates a favorable contract with his employer. It’s not “good” that young workers sell off their future earnings cheaply in order to ensure some measure of long-term security, all so that billionaires can keep labor costs down.
A deal has two parties and a deal can be good or bad from either party’s perspective. Yet, as Baumann points out, fans almost uniformly talk about contracts that benefit the team more than the player as “good” and contracts which benefit the player more than the team as “bad.”
The billionaires who own baseball teams are quite happy that you do that, by the way. It’s in their best interests for you to think of them as benevolent protectors of some public trust rather than businessmen. It makes it easier for them to get you to pay for their new stadiums and stuff. It’s also in their best interests for you to think of their workers as greedy and overpaid because, well, business owners have always liked that in literally every industry ever.
You don’t have to think that way, though. You can, and maybe should, examine why, exactly, you do.