I just read a story over at MLB.com on baseball economics this year. While some high profile players have received big deals, many major leaguers are feeling the pinch of our struggling economy. Some big names have settled for small money (Milton Bradley with the Cubs for 10 million a season, Pat Burrell with the Rays for 8 million). While the figures might not seem small, they compare to a baseball economy 2 and 3 years ago that saw anybody on an all-star roster earning 15 million a season (above average guys like Johnny Damon, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew and Alfonso Soriano come to mind). We're not talking about the superstar, "can't go to the bathroom or I'll miss his at bat" guys, but rather the quality, impact starters that fall just below that threshold.
But even those guys are feeling it this year. Jason Varitek is expected to see his pay reduced in half after one poor season. Bobby Abreau, a formidable OPS guy, can't find a long-term deal. Neither can Adam Dunn, one of my favorite players to watch (and someone who hits balls somewhere in the vicinity of Venus). I'll leave Manny out of this right now since I think his lack of contract is a baseball penance... The pinch is everywhere. Teams in baseball aren't necessarily trying to "win" this year--they are trying to survive. You'll see a lot of minor leaguers filling out major league rosters this year, while a few veterans with fuel in their tanks sit home.
That got me to thinking that this is probably true across our whole country. We are all very much in a cultural atmosphere of survival. I wonder how the oppulance of the Superbowl will feel this year--if something pathetically won't quite jive. I can say I don't feel like celebrating anything. I also wonder how this attitude plays into Obama's election--did we vote for him out of hope for a better future, or rather for the fact that he didn't believe we were winning, that things weren't right. Didn't we need a leader to give us that kind of honesty? I would propose that we were not, as some critics might have us believe, deceived by a dream; we were convinced by the nakedness of honest, self-directed criticism. Perhaps. We certainly did celebrate his election... could that have only been little more than a week ago?
The exception to my baseball analogy, of course, would be the Yankees, who spent around 440 million dollars in about 10 days. They are out there trying to win. But, I think I hate the Yankees as much as the rest of the country seems to hate Republicans, so lets not include them in that "everybody."