Soap Box

I don’t know how true this might be, but back in the 1980’s I read where George Brett met with the Kansas City owner, Ewing Kauffman, before the start of every season.  They would decide on a fair salary for George.  They would shake hands and George went on to become the only Kansas City Royal in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

This year, the Kansas City Royals made what baseball calls a qualifying offer to three of their players.  A qualifying offer is a one-year contract of $17.4 million.  All three turned it down.  Two of the three got multiyear contracts with other teams.  One did not.

Mike Moustakas couldn’t find anybody that wanted to meet his price.  He settled on a $6.5 million, one-year contract with the Royals.  You might say Moustakas made a mistake.  If I was Mike, I might look for another agent and tell the Player’s Association to get lost.  They were the reason he held out so long.

A one-year, hand shake deal must sound pretty good right now.  Sure, multi-year contracts assure the player’s future.  $17.4 million could assure my future, even for a single year.

I heard that St. Louis offered Albert Pujols a $200 million, eight-year contract a few years ago.  My son, Sam, told his pre-kindergarten teacher his last name was Pujols.  That’s the sign of a true hero to a kid in the state of Missouri.

So, what did Pujols do?  The man who calls Kansas City home took a 10-year deal worth $254 million to go to the west coast and play with the Angels.  It was reported that Pujols wanted to stay in St. Louis, but the Player’s Association wanted him to take the biggest deal.

George Brett grew up in California.  He could have become a free agent and fled the cold winters of Kansas City.  After all, he only signed one-year contracts.  How much respect does Brett have in the Kansas City community?  What is the value of the community loyalty to Brett and his family?

Alex Gordon signed a 4-year, $72 million contract three years ago.  He has one year left on it.  I don’t think even Alex Gordon feels he played well enough to earn even a faction of that money.  I hear everyone say that after next year, Alex Gordon will no longer be a Royal.

I don’t get it.  Why does that have to happen?  Alex has made his money.  Now pay Kansas City back for their loyalty to him.  After next year, walk into the general manager’s office and ask for a one-year, $1 million contract.

The Player’s Association would go nuts, but you could save a nice slice of the pie by dumping your agent.  After his career, if all with Kansas City, Gordon would be held in high esteem.  Maybe not quite as high as George Brett, but Kansas City appreciates loyalty.

Is there a better example of a player that really screwed up than Billy Butler?  Butler incorrectly thought as an overweight designated hitter with below average power, he was valuable as a baseball player.  When the Royals didn’t make him a qualifying offer, instead of taking a pay cut after a poor 2014 season, he ran to the Oakland A’s for a 3-year, $30 million contract.

Before the end of the three years, Butler is out of baseball and he missed the World Series Championship.  Now, even the Royals won’t look at him for a minor league contract.

There’s one more factor in big contracts.  Many times, the players realize they are set for life.  Baseball contracts are guaranteed, no matter how poorly the individual plays.  In some cases, that must have a negative influence on their motivation.

There are some great examples of money having a poor affect on quality of play.  Probably the biggest bust of all time was Josh Hamilton.  A recovering addict, he excelled in Texas.  He even had a personal counselor follow him on the road to keep him on the straight and narrow.  He earned the American League Most Valuable Player award for the Texas Rangers.

The Los Angeles Angels got him to leave the comfortable confines of Texas for a five-year, $125 million-dollar contract.  Not only did he perform poorly, he relapsed into addiction.  He too is now out of baseball.  Rich, but out of baseball.

I hardly ever talk about national sports.  I tell local stories that I hope people can relate.   Let’s put this whole thing into context.  As a coach, Matt Webb has won three state championships and never lost more than one game during a season, except for this past year.  He lost two games but won a state championship.  Why should the school district be restricted by some teaching scale to keep Matt Webb at Maryville?

Take this thing another step.  Trudy Kinman has been the speech teacher at Maryville High School for many years.  Each year, she helps with many extracurricular activities.  Her students are always at the top of any speech contest.

I have no personal knowledge of this fact, but I’m willing to bet Trudy has never been paid a bonus for her students performing at a high level.  I know her motivation is not related to the school’s pay schedule.

Why can’t we reward a great performance like Trudy Kinman?  There’s many more examples of hard working educators trapped by a pay schedule.  One example at a lower class is Lynette Tappmeyer at Horace Mann School on the Northwest Missouri State campus.

Sam had Lynette as a teacher.  I never saw a harder working elementary school teacher.  Likewise, I never knew a better college basketball coach than her husband, Steve Tappmeyer.  Steve spent 21 years as the Bearcats men’s basketball coach.

I know for a fact, Steve was rewarded for each conference championship with bonus pay.  His salary was increased when it became apparent he was making less than many of his fellow MIAA coaches.  Steve absolutely deserved all this and more.  I think I’m safe in saying Lynette never received bonus pay for great performance.  Why can’t schools see the benefit in keeping great educators like Lynette?

I don’t usually get on a soap box.  I like bonus pay for good coaching performance.  Won’t it be great if principals had a bonus schedule for great teaching performances?

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