At the onset, if we are going anywhere with this you have to agree with me on one thing……….. And it’s that professional ball players are (above all else) entertainers. However, the trouble with that is that when Jennifer Lawrence appears on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon we have no issue with us being “entertained” for fifteen minutes………but for some reason when Andrew McCutchen steps in to face Clayton Kershaw we tend to see it in a different dimension (usually as a conflict between pitcher and hitter) and not simply as another form of entertainment.
To put it another way, whether we go to see a ballgame or a movie we are essentially doing the same thing. We are seeking an outlet from the daily routine. We want to laugh and maybe even cry. We also want to be around others who enjoy doing the same thing. We want to indulge ourselves in food we know we shouldn’t eat (buttered popcorn and a pack of Raisinets at the movies and a couple of hot dogs and a bag of peanuts at the ballpark)…….but bottom line……….we are there to enjoy ourselves and be entertained by someone else doing all the work………..
Now, you may have already guessed where I’m going with this, but who do you think gets paid the most…….the actors and actresses on the screen or the ball players who “play” the game of baseball…….
As the title of the post suggests, while salaries for the best of the best in MLB are high and climbing, when viewed in the context of earnings in other forms of entertainment they fall well short of what we perceive as exorbitant. Unless of course you would say they’re ALL overpaid. Which, in another context would be a viable argument (How much, for example, is a good teacher worth?) but let’s stay on point here……
And let’s get to the point……….Robert Downey Jr. ($80 million), Dwayne Johnson, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Will Smith , and Mark Wahlberg (according to Forbes Magazine) all earned more in 2015 than the highest salaried Major League ball player – Clayton Kershaw at $30 million. Kershaw’s earnings include a portion of his signing bonus ($6 million) plus endorsements. (Read more as Forbes goes into detail about his and other player’s contracts).
I could argue vehemently about the degree of acting talent someone like a Robert Downey Jr possesses compared to (pick a name) Dustin Hoffman?… but that’s not the point which is that as entertainers they are worth only as much as someone is willing to pay them for the unique talent(s) they possess. Nothing else matters.
But what does matter is that athletes have a built in life span while actors can work “forever”. When Clayton Kershaw (as a continuing example) reaches the age of 40, his big pay days are behind him. Moreover, he makes 35 starts a season every fifth day. On the other hand, Downey Jr ( continuing with him as an example) makes how many movies in a year – I don’t know and don’t really care to know- but it’s probably one or maybe two at the most. And of the time it takes to make a movie these days, how many days is he actually required to be on the set? Who’s working harder?
All entertainers (if they’re good) make their craft seem easy. And maybe that’s why we question the validity of the money they earn. That’s a argument for another day in another place. The point here is, as hard as it is for most of us to grasp, major league ball players like their actor counterparts provide a unique brand of entertainment – and in spite of the common perception that ball players are overpaid…….if you want to go there…… just keep in mind that they don’t even approach what these “stars” in Hollywood command for our attention……..