Tom Keegan: Winning more expensive than ever
If you want to be remembered in sports, generate a buzz, become the center of attention, you have to win. Sometimes, especially in desperate times, that means you must keep on spending money until you get it right.
The 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers stand as the greatest example in the history of sports. They had not been to the World Series since 1988. Finally, they spent their way to center stage, falling short of a championship in Game 7 of the World Series.
Thanks to the wonderful website baseball-reference.com, I researched some numbers that should you decide to proceed will knock your eyeballs out of their sockets, so consider yourself warned.
I haven’t seen these numbers written anywhere else because when you reach the top the talk understandably is about the things you did right to get there, not about the money you wasted along the way.
OK, here goes: By my calculations, with the help of salaries listed on baseball-reference.com (courtesy of Doug Pappas and the Society for American Baseball Research), the Dodgers paid $93.4 million dollars to nine players who did not appear in the field, at the plate or on the mound for them in this memorable World Series they lost to the Houston Astros.
The nine men out (and what they were paid in 2017, rounded to the nearest $100,000):
Adrian Gonzalez ($22.4 million): First baseman missed the postseason with back injury and has one year, $22.4 million remaining on contract. Hit .242 with three home runs and 30 RBIs in 71 games.
Carl Crawford ($21.9 million): Released in mid-June 2016 with 1 1/2 years remaining on his seven-year, $142 million deal.
Scott Kazmir ($17.7 million): Signed three-year, $48 million deal, went 10-6 with a 4.56 ERA in the first year of it and missed all of 2017 with a variety of physical ailments.
Hyun-jin Ryu ($7.8 million): Left-hander was left off post-season roster, his chance of making it vanishing when he allowed five runs and three home runs in two innings in his final appearance.
Alex Guerrero ($7.5 million): Released by the Dodgers in May, 2016, Guerrero played this season for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan.
Erisbel Arruebarrena ($5.5 million): Shortstop made his major-league debut in 2014, played in 22 games and hit .195. Hasn’t made it back to the majors since. Suspended multiple times, Arruebarrena has combined for 276 at bats in the past three minor-league seasons.
Hector Olivera ($4.7 million): Dealt in a three-team trade in 2015, the Dodgers agreed to pay a portion of his salary each season and will continue to do so through 2020.
Yaisel Sierra ($2.5 million): Right-hander signed six-year, $30-million deal in 2016. Sierra, 26, is 11-8 with a 4.62 ERA in two minor-league seasons.
Matt Kemp ($3.5 million): When the Dodgers traded him to the San Diego Padres they agreed to pay $18 million of his salary in 2015 and $3.5 million each season from 2016 through 2019.
Comparing Major League Baseball dollars to those in college athletics is an apples-oranges deal because of disparate revenue sources, but as a Big 12 member, Kansas does receive a big annual check ($38 million this year) from the Big 12, which creates a little breathing room in the budget. If things don’t take a serious turn for the better for the football program, KU could be faced with trying to figure out how to pay buyouts of $1.4 million for athletic director Sheahon Zenger, whose contract was extended by outgoing chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, and $3.2 million for head coach David Beaty, whose pay was doubled and his contract extended by Zenger after an overtime victory against Texas in Lawrence last November. Buying out assistant coaches wouldn’t be cheap either.
Then again, nobody’s thoughts should be on money this weekend considering that Baylor’s visit to Memorial Stadium represents KU’s best shot at a second victory, the first coming in the season-opener against FCS school Southeast Missouri State.