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Jeter: Great Player...But Overcompensated

There are 15 millionaires on the current Yankee payroll; how many $10 beers can you afford?

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.

It’s obscene.

Jennifer Hochberg July 16, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Thank you for this eye-opener of an article. I feel that those who are in the 'pros', whether it be baseball, basketball, football, or hockey, get paid way too much in my book. I do hear of many players contributing to charities though which is a good thing. However, this also opens another door: how much do women athletes get paid, notably in the WNBA....how come they're not paid as much as the men in the NBA? I feel that women play just as well, if not better in some instances. Women I feel personify 'teamwork' and don't necessarily have a stand-out player like the men do. I have friends/acquaintances who are die-hard Yankee fans (also Mets, Red Sox) and are willing to spend the dough to go to their games, I respect that. What I don't like is the fact that in order to enjoy oneself at a major-league ballpark these days, one has to cough up $$ like its going out of style. Thankfully, at least locally we have the Bridgeport Bluefish---the tickets are reasonable and so on.
Wally July 16, 2011 at 02:36 PM
So don, who gets to keep the revenue?
Wally July 16, 2011 at 05:41 PM
And Jennifer, the WNBA players don't get paid because nobody wants to watch them, at least en masse. The product is not as good and less people care. The bluefish can get away with charging ten bucks because the baseball stinks and that's all people are willing to pay for bad baseball. People are willing to pay 100 a ticket to see the Yankees because they are good. Jeter makes them good, Jeter gets a taste. See how supply and demand works, nifty, no?
Jennifer Hochberg July 16, 2011 at 07:56 PM
I hear you there, but with the WNBA for starters, if its promoted properly, the people will come. If folks can pack it in at a UConn women's basketball game (using them as an example), it certainly can be done on a pro level. The Bridgeport Bluefish is another 'ballgame'---they do many promotions (example, ads in the sports section of the CT Post); its just a matter of folks going down to Harbor Yard; the opportunity is there to support a local team and have a fun night out with family and/or friends, AND its a positive way to promote locality and the Park City.
Heather Dean July 16, 2011 at 08:28 PM
I agree with Mr. Harrison. What if instead of buying a Yankee ticket, you bought a Bluefish one? Imagine the revenue that could be brought in and thereby draw in better players for a better game? I got to believe it's the whole baseball game experience, not anyone player, that keeps everyone coming back for more. And, yes, I can knit and watch a baseball game too.
Infield_Chatter July 16, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Sorry but youre wrong Blame ticket prices and beer less on the players and more on the 45,000 fans going and paying the prices Its simple supply and demand. Supply is the total number of seats, demand is the 45000 fans, and the result are the profit margins that the yankees are making Supply and demand does not factor in costs. If you over compensate players and jack ticket prices as a result then profits will go wayyyyyyy down. If you want there to be a change in costs for the fans, dont buy beer and stay home. But from the looks of things, plenty of other people are willing to The high prices are the cost of popularity and success. If you want affordability in a free and fair market, then cheer for the Royals Http://infieldchatter.blog.com
Jeff July 17, 2011 at 04:17 AM
Don't blame the players, a fool and his money will soon part. Don't blame the owners, for as Barnum said, there's a sucker born every minute. Blame the fan (sucker) who is dumb enough to pay the obscene prices they demand.
Michael Dinan (Editor) July 17, 2011 at 04:36 AM
Speaking of the Royals, just read today's IC blog post. Separate & apart from players' salaries & NYY ticket prices ... Let's say this week's starts by Colon & Garcia (woeful) were indicative of they're coming back to earth in the 2nd half: What SP do you think the Yanks may try & trade for?

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