Vaught's Views: Why pay all-star bonus?

July 07, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Debate the voting process for next week's baseball all-star game all that you want. Debate whether the designated hitter should or should not be used in the game. Debate whether it's right to give home field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins.

Just don't debate whether it is right for players selected to play in the game to also get incentive bonuses for making the team because there's no way that should happen.

Take Boston pitcher Curt Schilling.

He signed a lucrative free agent contract with Boston last year that landed him a $12 million salary this year. Again, that's $12 M-I-L-L-I-O-N. Even the Los Angeles Lakers didn't throw that kind of money at Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski when they tried to lure him out of Blue Devil Land.

However, Schilling evidently was either worried he couldn't live on $12 million this year or else he had no intentions of having an all-star season for a mere $12 million because he negotiated a bonus clause into his already ridiculous contract. For just making the American League team, he gets a $100,000 bonus. But get this: If he starts the game, he gets another $50,000.


Schilling is 11-4 with a 3.08 earned run average and certainly has to be one of no more than three pitchers being considered for the starting nod by manager Joe Torre, who openly joked this week that he might start Schilling if the pitcher would split the bonus money with him.

If that's not enough, Schilling also managed to convince Boston to throw in another $2 million this year if the Red Sox win the World Series, something that any Boston fan will tell you is not likely to happen.

But why do players with lucrative salaries expect to have even more money thrown their way for doing their job? Have you ever heard of a player giving money back when he didn't have a banner year? Certainly not - and you never will.

But can we go to our bosses and say, "Since we did what you asked us to do, we want more money?" Probably not.

It's not just Schilling cashing in on baseball owners' inability to say no to anything that most superstars want.

Forty-three players will earn bonuses

In a survey by The Associated Press, 43 players on the two all-star teams will earn bonuses totalling just over $2 million for making the team. Six players will receive $100,000 each: San Francisco's Barry Bonds, Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez, Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia and Schilling.

And one wonders why many fans no longer are willing to pay the high ticket, parking and concession prices to go to a major league baseball game.

If there are going to be incentive clauses, make them like the one Cincinnati first baseman Sean Casey has. He's become one of the National League's best hitters. He was picked to play in the all-star game this year but will miss the game because of a strained right calf.

However, his contract calls for an $8.5 million option for the 2006 season to become guaranteed if he makes the all-star team twice from 2002-2005. That means if he can make the all-star roster again next year, he gets the $8.5 million in 2006 since that would be his second all-star selection.

But if he doesn't make the team, the Reds don't have to pick up the $8.5 million option.

That's an incentive clause I can accept. Just don't try to tell me, though, that all these overpaid players need more money just for doing their jobs or being fan favorites.

If you believe that, then please send your bonus money for reading this column care of me at The Advocate-Messenger sports department.

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