I have nothing against Giancarlo Stanton, personally. As a matter of fact, I feel downright bad for the poor kid.
Perhaps "poor" is a bad choice of words, though.
This 25-year-old just signed a 13-year contract with the Florida Marlins for $325 million. As we watched him sign the contract, live on ESPN this morning, we could almost see the visions of sugar plum Ferraries dancing in his smile.
I, however, shook my head at the ludicrousness of the deal. Here's why.
1. 13 Years Is a Long Time.
This is the longest deal in sports history. The only reason I see for the offer of such a long deal is to draw attention (see below, #4). Normally, contracts are shorter because almost every athlete comes across a career-threatening injury, or another reason leading to decline in productivity, at some point in his career. Rare are the Nolan Ryans who get better with age, and even more rare is the ability to predict who could become one. Shorter contracts are the team (company)'s insurance policy against having to pay through the decline. It also gives a chance for the team to re-evaluate the athlete to see if he is still worth the investment. Without having that back -up, there could be hard feelings from the team when they have to pay a player high amounts of money for less-than-stellar performance.
2. There's Really No Way Out.
And the flip side, Stanton is stuck with the Marlins, for better or for worse. Although, he has an opt-out clause until 2021, the deal is back-loaded. No one is going to be able to afford to buy out his contract. (Though, if you are going to be stuck somewhere, I guess you may as well be stuck in Florida.)
3. He Will Always Be Known as "That Guy."
Who's Giancarlo Stanton? You know, "that guy" who's making $325 million. That will trump any mention of being that guy who led the league by hitting 37 home runs in 2014.
I follow baseball, moderately. I am a Phillies fan and a Giants fan. So, I know the players on those two teams. I am aware of the "special players" on other teams, like Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. (Note: My satellite TV provider does not carry the network that broadcasts my Phillies games, so I can only listen on the radio, which I do sometimes, or follow online box scores, which I do more often.) To think Stanton plays in our division, and I had to look up who he was tells me he's not exactly off the charts with buzz about his talent. (His stats this year do lend him credit, but he's not a regular mention on Sports Center.)
4. It's Just a Publicity Stunt
Here's why I really feel badly. It's not about giving a kid what he's earned or deserves. (Does anyone ever DESERVE $325 million? Maybe if you find a cure for Diabetes, I'd consider it, but to play baseball?)
If the deal were being offered to Mike Trout, no one would be looking at the Angels, wondering what they were up to. They would say, "No one has talent like that, and the Angels were afraid to lose him." So why is the media asking more questions now about the Marlins and not specifically about Stanton?
The Marlins just built a new stadium that bought no more new fans, but plenty of angry taxpayers. They are desperately trying to jumpstart their team. Because, if you are looking for a team to cheer on, you look at the Yankees or the Red Sox. No one says, "Hey, how 'bout those Marlins?"
Now, heads will turn so they can watch the $325 million man. Which leads me to my next point...
5. Too Much Pressure!
This kid is 25 years old. He's pretty good right now. He isn't a pitcher, so he has a little more longevity. But the fans' heads will still turn when he is 38, always asking, "Are you worth the largest contract ever offered to any North American professional athlete?"
Every time he commits an error, the crowd will ask, "Is this what we paid for?" If he gets injured, the crowd will say, "For 325 mil, you can tough it out." Even if he has the perfect career, all he can hope for is, "Well, for 325 million, he BETTER hitting [insert record here]." It will never be about his performance again, it will be about the money. And, as I indicated before, does anyone really play at the level of $325 million?
Putting things into perspective, the total amount isn't as crazy as it sounds. (The length of time, however, is ridiculous.) Stanton is only (ha!) banking $10 million in the first few years of his contract. It will increase from there, and by that time, more players will be making similar amounts in their salaries.
However, this contract has shown a light on the incredible amounts of money professional athletes are paid. When professional sports pull off stunts like this, I think we have made a mockery of the American dream.
T.C. Slonaker, Eagles fan
Sports Made Simple!