Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today Tony Massarotti has a piece about Jason Varitek in the Globe online. There are two possibilities:
  • Massarotti has lost all perspective about Jason Varitek
  • Massarotti has simply lost his mind in the context of baseball and modern America
We are in the midst of the biggest financial crisis in the past seventy-nine years. Unemployment has surged, Americans are struggling as many have not in our lifetime, and the American standard of living is falling.

Meanwhile, Massarotti worries about how the Red Sox might be hurting the feelings of an aging star with declining skills whose principal worry is where his next twelve to twenty million dollars comes from.

Nobody questions Varitek's work ethic. We willingly grant him credit for his role in shepherding the Red Sox pitching staff through recent success, achievement earned through a greater focus on run prevention. Varitek has sacrificed his body for the Red Sox, from daily ice immersions to recovery from serious injury. But we also recognize that payment accrues for real and anticipated production, not solely for past accomplishments.

It really doesn't matter that many Bay Staters work far more hours than Varitek, for causes often more noble, teachers, nurses, public safety officials, and others simply just trying to feed their families, heat their homes, and educate their children. Virtually all of these residents didn't each earn forty million bucks the past four years.

Athletes and entertainers simply get paid on a different scale, as their performance is scalable, as their product attracts more paying customers.

I hope that Jason Varitek returns to the Red Sox next season. His contribution to the organization deserves recognition, and his charity minigolf fundraising deserves recognition, too. But let's be realistic about the distinction between price and value. An overinflated price is what the Red Sox will pay. Declining value is what the Red Sox are likely to get.

We also realize the role of limited supply and demand for strength "up the middle."

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