Paul Daugherty has written the kind of column for which I have absolutely no use:
Baseball has never been more disconnected.
The national pastime has never been less representative of the nation. As agent Scott Boras marshals his small army of colleagues at the baseball winter meetings in Las Vegas, seeking to thin the wallets of owners, workers are stilled and businesses are shuttered. Layoffs steal the twinkle from Christmas. Pain is all around . . . Here in the real world, we watch our futures constrict. Our 401(k)s shrink, along with the 529 college funds. Just about everything we’ve worked for wobbles like a three-legged chair, and more of us will face the fright of running out of money before running out of month. In BorasVille and MannyLand, well, the $45 mil is nice, but we’d like a few more years on the deal.
This is what one writer recently called “the floodlit, perspectiveless world of fame.” It makes you wince.
Because ballplayers are technically paid “salaries,” certain people will always draw unfavorable comparisons between what a ballplayer makes and what an auto worker makes. In a practical sense, however, ballplayers are not truly salaried employees. They’re private contractors or suppliers on par with steel companies and the petroleum industry: suppliers of essential manufacturing components without which the entire enterprise is impossible. Quick: is anyone criticizing an iron ore mine for not having “perspective”?
But Daugherty is no dummy. He understands baseball economics, and he understands that comparing a left fielder to a normal American worker makes no sense, and that’s what makes this an exercise in transparent populism.