On this day in 1927, Babe Ruth became the highest paid player in major league history when the Yankees announced the Bambino would earn $70,000 per season for the next three years. The historic deal is struck when the ‘Sultan of Swat’, who had asked for $100,000, met with Colonel Jacob Ruppert, the club’s owner at the Ruppert Brewery in the Yorkville section of Manhattan. The Colonel got his money’s worth. On the 15th of April, Babe hit the first of his historic 60 home runs off of Howard Ehmke who would go on to win 12 games that season and only give up 13 home runs all season long for the Philadelphia A’s. On May 31st, Babe hit another off of Ehmke on his way to #60 which came off of Tlm Zachary of the Washington Senators on September 30th. If you would like to see it, click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOt0Tmwc2Rk.
George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth scored 158 runs that season; drove in 164 RBIs; 29 Doubles; 8 Triples; he hit .356 and had a slugging percentage of .772 with an OPS of 1.258. In the World Series that season, he hit .400, had 2 home runs and the Yankees won the Championship. All in all, Mr Ruth earned his $70,000 and more.
The Yankee’s payroll was $250,000 that year. The Bambino’s salary was 28% of the entire team’s payroll.
Let’s take a look at what some teams are paying their top player and see if it can guarantee what the Colonel got from Babe’s contract.
The team that has a player who was closest to what Babe was paid in terms of percentage of payroll this coming season the Twins, the Mariners, the Astros and the Mets. First the Minnesota Twins have an estimated team payroll of $82.5 million. Joe Mauer, playing First Base this season will be paid $23 million or 27.9% of the team’s payroll. All Mr. Mauer has to do is hit 60 home runs, drive in 160+ RBIs, have his team win the pennant AND win the World Series. Can he carry his team to the heights to reach the playoffs? That’s what he’s paid to do.
In the Northwest, the Seattle Mariners this season will have a team payroll of $87.5 million and Robinson Cano, their newly acquired Second Baseman will earn $24 million or 27.45% of the team’s payroll. We all know what he has to do to equal and earn this Ruthian salary. All Cano has to do is have his team perform like they haven’t since….well, years and jump over the Angels, the Rangers and the A’s to get into the playoffs. But that’s what Cano is paid to do this year.
Down in Houston, they have a payroll of $49 million. This is the second lowest in the Major League this season. They have good reason for such a low salary. They are in a dispute with their local cable vendor who reportedly have not paid them since the middle of last season. It seems that the affiliate of Comcast, the media giant, has put its affiliate into bankruptcy. What a mess. Therefore, their highest paid ballplayer, a starting pitcher, Scott Feldman, will earn $12 million or 24.5% of the teams entire payroll. If he pulls off his Ruthian equal, that achievement in 2014 will be classified a ‘miracle’.
Then there are the New York Mets. With a team payroll of $82 million, their top player, David Wright who is their Third Baseman, will earn $20 million or 24.4% of the team’s entire salary. If Wright does earn the Ruthian standard set in 1927, the Met’s still will have a struggle to reach the playoffs this season. But that is what Wright is paid to pull off.
As for the other 26 teams, the Indians have a payroll of $80 million and Nick Swisher will make $20 million (18.75%); The Rays with a modest budget of $75.5 million will have David Price making $14 million (18.55%); the Rangers with a payroll of $131 million will have Prince Fielder earning $24 million (18.3%); Pirates payroll is $71.5 and Wandy Rodriguez will be earning $13 million of that or 18.2%. The Cardinals will have a payroll of $108.5 million the most in the Central Division of the National League and they will be paying Adam Wainwright $$19.5 million equal to 18% of the team’s payroll. The White Sox will have a payroll of $89 million and John Danks will be paid $15.75 million (17.7%).
The Rockies have a payroll of $91 million and their All-Star Shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki will make $16 million or 15.9% of the Colorado payroll. In Milwaukee, they will have the third highest payroll in the Central Division of the National League, just north of $100 million and Third Baseman, Aramis Ramirez will make $16 million or 15.9% of the Brewers team payroll. Washington will have a team payroll of $130.5 million and Jayson Werth, their Right Fielder, will be paid $20 million, 571 thousand, 429 Dollars or 15.75% of the National’s payroll. Meanwhile those mighty Marlins will have a team payroll of $42.5 million and one of the best ballplayers in the Show, Giancarlo Stanton, will make $6.5 million or 15.3% of the Miami payroll.
Then there are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their estimated payroll of $151 million dollars, the sixth highest in the Major Leagues and fourth biggest in the American League, will have to pay Albert Pujols, their aging First Baseman $23 million or 15.25% of the team’s payroll. Can he pull off a season of Ruthian standard and carry his team to the top?
For the remaining 15 teams, all of them will pay their top player 15% or less of their team’s payroll. And it appears as though this is where the World Champion will come from. The top salary in baseball this season will be $26 million and will be paid to Zach Greinke of the Dodgers who will have a payroll of $223,000,000. He will only be 11.7% of their payroll. For that amount of money, they better win the pennant, the World Series and a trip to Disneyland, by the bus that will take them there and give everyone FREE Dodger Dogs in the City of Angels for the next year.
Newton’s Theory of Relativity is absolute. What goes up must come down. This bubble will burst. It simply cannot go on forever. Baseball teams are playing with funny money. Television fees are paid because of content that gains eyeballs. Eyeballs bring advertisers. And advertising brings sales. If eyeballs leave, for whatever reason, prices for advertising come down and rights fees decrease. But some of these teams have long-term cable rights for 20-30 years. What if a cable network can’t get the advertisers to pay the teams what they have contracted for? Will it be a giant, Houston Astros v Comcast all over again, but this time on an avalanche sized financial rush downward?
Look, no network pays for boxing rights today. At one time, boxing was the biggest draw on television. The audience left boxing and turned to something else. The Pabst Blue Ribbon Fight Night no longer exists. Neither does the original Pabst Brewing Co.
Money, money, money. Can today’s players really earn the money they are being paid this season? Can their clubs with the pennant?