Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Discount

By Nick McCann

“If a guy is, in essence, willing to stay here for less because he likes the place, we want to ensure for a significant portion of whatever contract he signs, that he's still going to be here,”

– Barry Axelrod, Jake Peavy's agent at the 2007 winter meetings.
Peavy’s contract before extension: Due $6.5 million in 2008 and $11 million in 2009.

Peavy’s 2007 extension: $50 million deal through the 2012 season with salary incentives and no trade provision included.

Jake Peavy's salary terms reflect his respect for the Padres’ pitching coaches, manager Bud Black and the club's training and conditioning staff, not to mention any pitcher's love of Petco Park, but there is definitely more to it.

San Diego is one of the best markets to be a professional athlete with a family. Peavy, a young father, has spent his entire professional career in San Diego, and has had many opportunities to see his other options after touring the country every summer since he was 22. Now in 2008, he is probably embarking on his best season ever, and it feels like it is being wasted. This has forced rumblings from most San Diego fans (and people who understand the game of baseball who are not blind) because they feel bad for him being on a team that can’t protect a lead or score runs. Sure, this feeling is with in a context outside of the obvious reality that he is a young millionaire who throws a piece of leather for a living, but more that he is a part of a group effort that is severely lopsided.

Hard working people felt for Jake Peavy on Sunday when he went up against arguably the only pitcher better than him in the division, Brandon Webb, and got beat because the offense didn’t show up (again).

Peavy’s passionate, yet frustrated, demeanor often lends itself to being admired by people (or everybody) who have had to deal with bad co-workers and have had to squash their true feelings. Peavy can’t say he hates playing with Brian Giles, even though he should.

This makes for great theater, but besides identifying with Peavy and his work experience, the bigger problem is that people feel for him because the Padres might have screwed him by selling him on what has widely been coined by people outside of the organization, “The San Diego Discount.” What does that really mean? Why do San Diegans use this term and accept it, even though it makes no sense? And more importantly, who is really getting screwed?

San Diego is an expensive city to live in, along with every other major city in California. Yet there are other markets in the country that have to compete with player prices on a national level that can offer a much lower cost of living. If a player for the Marlins made 5 million dollars (HA!), he would have to pay considerably lower taxes on his salary because Florida is a basically a free for all. Nobody ever refers to a new Marlin player taking a 700k deal as taking a discount because of the way the state is set up, but that is basically what happens if the Marlins are cheap in nature. The same thing goes on with players playing for franchises in Texas and other parts of the Mid West who have real money to spend.

Peavy took considerably less money to play in America’s finest city because there is something more attractive about this market than money.

San Diego is a family city, and in an industry that can punish you and your family for you missing a ground ball at the wrong moment when the stakes are the highest, a city like San Diego is forgiving to a fault. Example: if the Padres had made it to the World Series when Ryan Klesko played here, and he had let a ground ball go through his legs to lose it all, his children living in Poway would not get death threats (not that any child ever should). But Klesko would come home in the off-season and do a commercial for a local car dealership where he would say, “This financing is so crazy it is like we are letting the ball go right through our legs!” And it would work.

Jake Peavy took less money because he wanted an easier life off the field. Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman did the same. Do you think Khalil Greene could hang in the big apple? What have we created?

On Saturday May 10th the Padres will play the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park in a game labeled Jake Peavy T-Shirt Night. A hard working construction worker will take his family of four to the game buying the Coca Cola Family and Friends ticket deal where he will get 4 Upper Reserved tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 Cokes for only $55. In the beginning of the 6th inning, Peavy will strike out his 7th batter, after the Padres will have just left three runners on in the bottom of the fifth. The score will be 1-0 Rockies. Then the man will stand up, leave his family, go buy a 9$ Budweiser in a plastic bottle, and he will feel bad for Jake.

Life is better with Baseball on Channel 4.

1 comment:

Liz said...

No kids should ever get death threats and Boston fans may have slightly over-reacted to the Buckner thing. (Maybe. Though actually, according to the man himself, the fans weren't that bad. It was "the media.") But I sometimes wonder if the players felt a little more pressure - if they new they were going to get the tiniest bit of crap for leaving 37 men on base every night while their starters throw 9 3-hit innings, they might spend a little more time in the batting cages.

Just saying.