Two magic words. Spring training. That is all it takes to warm my bones from another cold New York winter. Knowing its just a few more weeks of possible snow, ice, sleet etc. Hopefully just a few days of it here and there. And those words always bring debatable issues with them. How about this one: Are there any baseball players worth the price of admission alone? In my 45+ years of watching sports, i can think of only a few that were so exciting, so riveting, they got me out of my seat. Mario Lemieux rushing up the ice on a breakaway, Michael Jordan with the ball in his hands, needing a game ending shot to win, and John Elway at work in the 2 minute drill.
There is only one baseball player I would pay to see. Bryce Harper.
(photo not mine)
After all the hype for years touted to be the next “great one”, he finally lived up to the expectations with a breakout year. For all the naysayers claiming he was overrated, lets remember one thing. He had a historic offensive season before he turned 23. Baseball is not an easy game. The hardest thing to do in sports is to hit a round ball, with a round bat squarely. He did it about as well or better than anyone in the last 20 to 30 years. Finally buying in to the concept of discipline at the plate, his numbers can be talked about in the same conversation as Ted Williams. For me his at bats are events. What a thrill to see him locked in knowing he may only get one good pitch to hit. His eyes looking for a certain pitch it in a certain spot and when he gets it, smacks a line drive or hits a long home run. Awesome.
Now considered a generational type player, there has been recent discussion about his worth. And should he be given a huge contract. And how much? And when? The Nats own the rights to him for three more years. Do they give it to him now or wait until after his contract and arbitration eligible years take him to free agency. And risk losing him. There is risk, sacrifice and returns all around. If they give him the big money now, they lose out on paying him relatively cheap for the next few years while still owning the rights to him. But by signing him now to a long term/lifetime type deal, the fans will sense a serious commitment from ownership to win. Not waiting 1 to 3 years to do the deal could potentially save them hundreds of millions of dollars. Locking him up now also enables them to market the team around their “franchise” player which could translate into huge revenue from a cable/radio/television rights deal. And what about the question of how much. $400MM? $500MM? And for how long. 10 yrs? 12yrs? Those details are to be worked out between the owners, Harper and Mr Boras.
As a baseball fan, I`d say lock him up now with whatever numbers work for all parties. If the Nats really want him for life, why wait? The price could only go up if he stays healthy and continues having a few more monster seasons. And each year would bring him closer to free agency where he could be tempted to test the market and maybe become the first billion dollar athlete should a serious bidding war breakout among a few of the richest owners.
Finally, if you are an investor of collectibles- you can buy and sell Bryce Harper baseball cards at thepit.com.
The Price for Bryce is King!