Source: New York Post
Just before the pandemic forced us to close our doors, stay socially distant and waste two years of our lives, I met an avid baseball fan in the middle of a snowstorm in Saratoga Springs, New York. I spoke to this amazing guy and his dad at a wine tasting. My friend and I decided to stop after snowshoeing in Saratoga State Park. We spoke with Josh and his dad, Ted, for a while about baseball, but it wasn’t until later that evening that we learned they were the founders and owners of Thirsty Owl Winery on Cayuga Lake. , NY and their Bistro at Saratoga Springs.
Via Thirsty Owl Bistro
Their knowledge of baseball was extraordinary, as was their approach to wine, might I add. After we met, Josh asked to write an article for BYB and he did just that in EARPIECES, GET-OVER-IT-ISM & GERRIT RELATABILITY: A GUIDE TO LOVING BASEBALL IN 2020. Fast forward to In 2022, Josh Cupp is back to it – excited about the recent events MLB has put us through over the past 100 days. I hope you get as much or maybe more from Josh’s wise words below. Josh, I appreciate your passion for baseball and I share some of it with all of us here at BYB.
“I’m really excited to say that Major League Baseball is back and we’re going to play 162 games,” commissioner Rob Manfred said. “I want to start by apologizing to our fans. I know the last few months have been difficult.
“With this news/quote at 3:26 p.m. Thursday, we’re all supposed to be relieved, we’re ready to start loving MLB again like nothing happened. Manfred’s mandatory apology is the ultimate smokescreen. My plea is to not let it happen. Love the game. Love the smells of the ballpark. Love or hate that the “Ball recovered by Buckner!“Enjoy the feelings the game has evoked in your life. Today’s resolution or a continued lockout was irrelevant to me – my relationship with baseball is stronger than ever. I have to coach my kid’s Little League team in just a few weeks. My connection to MLB is fractured. I want to share how I got here. I have an unconditional love for baseball, but not for MLB.
Throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball. I’m all in there with the basic fundamentals. Add to that all the numbers, the statistics, the quantitative measures of performance and success and I’m mesmerized. A triple slash line of BA/OBP/SLG, you can instantly measure the value of a position player. Define value, success and value. Yes please. Wouldn’t it be amazing to measure an elected politician that way, or a significant other? I digress. Fuel value of statistics for a ball player, his financial value. Everyone knows that. I’m ok with that, it’s just that the baseline has changed. Salaries, even with the adjustment for inflation, have increased so much that the net income of owners is embarrassing and we have lost our way. Everything has changed subtly over time, and TV has stolen the relatability of the game and it won’t give it back. The consumer is the only one with the power to take it back.
Check out these indisputable quantitative metrics and be your own judge.
1. I believe Babe Ruth’s best season was 1918 while he was still a member of the Red Sox. He hit .300/.411/.555 and also won 13 games and posted a 2.22 ERA in 166 innings of work. How incredible, considering 2021 AL MVP Shohei Ohtani posted .257/.372/.592 with the bat and a 3.18 ERA in 22 percent fewer innings. The Babe raised $7,000 in 1918 for his efforts, $135,000 in 2022 adjusted for inflation, or 4.8 times more than the average annual salary ($1,518) of people who rushed to Fenway Park to watch the 23-year-old play. His highest salary was $80,000 (the highest in the game at the time) in 1930 and even that considerable sum was 57 times that of the average stadium patron. $80,000 in 2022 is less than $1.4M. In 1930, the average admission ticket to Yankee Stadium was $1.10, or $17.75 in 2022.
2. Fast forward. The highest paid MLber of 2021 was Max Scherzer at $43.3 million. The average income of MLB’s estimated 50 million fans is $52,000. Max earned 850 times the average annual salary of fans attending his games. Does everyone agree with that? The AVERAGE MLB salary is $4.2 million or 80 times that $52,000 mark. I can’t throw a baseball at 99 MPH but I can open a bottle of wine in 4.8 seconds (I’ve been trained, my family runs a winery in upstate New York). They’re both pretty arbitrary skill sets, I wish mine paid more. The comedy break is over. Ready to get deeply offended?
3. The average minor league player earns about $15,000 a year. Not a typo. Are we still okay with that? If you are, you’re a ***. The cost for a major league team to pay ALL of its players the national average annual salary of $52,000? Less than US$6 million. The Yankee franchise is currently valued at just under US$7 billion. Even John Sherman and Stuart Sternberg (owners of the Royals and Rays, respectively) can find $6 million between the cushions of their Peugeot’s Onyx couch. Question: In recent months, have owners or players sought to override the Supreme Court’s 1922 decision to grant MLB an exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act which allows owners of MLB teams to pay such shocking wages to its farm workers. No, no, they didn’t. MLB is the only one of our country’s four major sports to benefit from this exemption.
4. There are approximately 900 humans who make up the total number of MLB players, owners, and executives. The fanbase just in the US is 70-100 million+. Understand it. Do you like baseball or does it have to be MLB? My son, Ceko, and I attended a Tri City ValleyCats game not too long ago and we watched travel-size Cuban Franny Cobos warm up in a game he was watching. has begun. While concentrating intently on her craft, Franny still saw my child studying her set and delivery trying to catch any clues on how to improve her own game. After the session, Franny asked for Ceko’s name and signed a ball and threw it at him. Franny then threw a ball at Ceko and asked for her autograph. Talk about easy to root. After researching this article, I guess Franny made around $8,000 that season.
Suzie Pinstripe is gonna kill me if I don’t button this up sooner rather than later. I’m not supposed to write an opinion piece and tell anyone reading this how to deal with their baseball addiction. I will be happy to explain to you my relationship with the best game in the world. Baseball will always be my true love, the GAME of baseball. If only I could be so lucky in forty years to have my last thoughts and memories warm Ceko before a Little League game. My relationship with MLB, well, it’s more complicated. There will always be ebbs and flows. Decline and rebirth. I am currently on a steep decline.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune
Like the lover you swore, it was too complicated. Maybe the complexity is part of the attraction. If you can’t take care of those who buy your product, you don’t deserve our affection. I can make this decision to support the game in another way. Minor leaguers cannot. They love the game the owners think they own and the owners don’t love them back. Fix that. Make this game accessible again. Kids and the people who bring them to a game should revere the players for their bustle, immense talent and love of the game, not be impressed by the type of car they drove to the ballpark. The game should remind us of what was once good and what could be good again. Instead, it reflects the deep divide between that top less than 1% and the rest of us. “
Source: Thirsty Owl
Thanks Josh. Maybe we can catch a minor league game this summer when I come to visit you at the Thirsty Owl. And for all the fans out there, I’m glad MLB has worked things out for now. But rest assured, just like Josh, I don’t know if I’ll like MLB today like I did before this and before the pandemic.
It’s complicated, like Josh said, it still takes time to reflect and heal. But this piece gives me some hope that I can do it. And you?
BYB Senior Editor