He is not yet St. Derek, but even Red Sox partisans will admit there is a lot to like about Derek Jeter.
He “plays the game the right way,” they say, whether it’s running full tilt to first base on an apparent routine ground ball (of which there have been many this season) or diving into the third base stands in pursuit of a foul ball.
Last Saturday’s performance at the Stadium, in which he scaled the 3,000-hit plateau with a mammoth home run and then capped the afternoon with his fifth hit, the game-winning RBI single, will go down in Yankee lore.
He’s right up there with the other pinstriped gods – Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Ford, et al.
Is Derek Jeter a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Yessir.
That said, I’m going to blame Jeter and many of his Yankee playmates – starting with A-Rod and then, in descending order, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher – for what’s transpiring off the field at Yankee Stadium. The $10 beers. The $8 hot dogs. The $6 sodas. The $25 parking. Heck, even the $25 Yankee yearbook.
Those of us in the mainstream cannot afford to visit Yankee Stadium more than once a year anymore. It’s gotten too expensive.
Why? Blame the players’ inflated salaries. The 2011 Yankees have the heftiest payroll in baseball, at $196,854,630. (The Phillies are second, at $172,976,381.) The current Yankee roster has no fewer than 15 millionaires, guys who will receive (but not necessarily earn) a bare minimum of $1 million this season. Even a mediocre relief pitcher like Sergio Mitre will command $900,000 this season. There’s a lot wrong here.
Here are the main culprits:
- Alex Rodriguez, 3B: $32 million. Based on a 162-game schedule, that translates to $197,530 PER GAME. Because of the recent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, A-Rod figures to miss a minimum of 40 games this season. So the per-game average soars to $266,000 plus.
- CC Sabathia, P: $24,285,714. A tough competitor and clearly the Yankee ace. Based on his two-year average of 34 starts in pinstripes, that salary computes to a whopping $714,285 PER APPEARANCE.
- Mark Teixeira, 1B: $23,125,000. The game’s greatest fielding first baseman and a power-hitter of note. Still, based on a 162-game schedule, that figure translates to $142,746 PER GAME.
- A.J. Burnett, P: $16,500,000. Possessor of a world of stuff, but has delivered little. Based on his two-year average of 33 starts in pinstripes, that computes to a whopping $500,000 PER APPEARANCE. You’ve got to be kidding.
- Mariano Rivera, RP: $14,911,701. He may be the greatest relief pitcher of all time, but even if Rivera were to match his 80 innings pitched in 2001, his compensation this year will translate to $186,396 PER INNING.
- Derek Jeter, SS: $14,729,365. At 37, on the down side of a Hall-of-Fame career. Based on a 162-game schedule, that salary translates to $90,922 PER GAME this year. But in the previous five seasons, he averaged $21.6 million per year or $133,333 PER GAME.
- Jorge Posada, DH: $13,100,000. He’ll turn 40 in mid-August, he can’t catch anymore and his hitting has deteriorated. So what do we base his overpriced salary on? One hundred games? OK, then he’ll receive $131,000 PER APPEARANCE.
- Robinson Cano, 2B: $10 million. Perhaps the finest all-round second baseman in baseball. Still, based on the 162-game schedule, I don’t believe he’s worth $61,728 PER GAME.
- Nick Swisher, OF: $9,100,000. A colorful, likable character who can hit and play the field quite well. Still, he isn’t worth $56,172 PER GAME.
When will this madness stop? What do you think? Aren’t you tired of getting ripped off at Yankee Stadium? At Fenway Park? At Citi Field?
I grew up a Brooklyn Dodger fan, in an era when only the superstars – Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial – were able to pull down $100,000 per season. Yes, those guys were under-compensated.
In the mid-1990s, I became a Yankee rooter (hope my late father will forgive me), but this year I’ve made the decision to refrain from going to Yankee Stadium any longer. I’m not going to underwrite these seven- and eight-figure salaries anymore. It’s wrong.