This will be the last installment of this series which morphed from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ arbitration results for pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, hence its inclusion in the Money Speaks category. Ohlendorf was the beneficiary of a significant salary increase through arbitration despite being oft injured and possessing a woeful pitching record in 2010. Arbiters determined and the Pirates accepted and paid Mr. Ohlendorf over $2 million dollars for his services in 2011. As the Pirates head home for their last home stand of the season this sticky note was attached to my morning paper.
It is not surprising that the organization is touting the special events of the games like “Free Shirt Day” and an appearance by The Steve Miller Band (Mr. Miller has been anchoring the end of season concert for many many years) as a number of weeks ago they were eliminated from playoff contention and more recently had secured another record for the 19th losing season in a row. Nearly two decades of losing should be an embarrassment, but there is always next year. Many find comfort that this season was “different” as the Pirates owners opened their checkbooks and signed some potential stars and didn’t dump/trade their better players to contending teams.
What is also different is the fact that the team usually finishes strong as the younger players seem to grow together and improve. This has not been the case for the 2011 campaign. In July the team actually was in first place in their division even though they were only a few games over 0.500. It helps to be in a weak division. There actually was a little buzz about them in the Burgh and even die-hard Pirate bashers briefly jumped on the band wagon. I even heard one sports commentator compliment the team owners to whom he usually derided. I believe at that point they had one of the top records in baseball. That was before their precipitous fall. Fast forward two months and they now can brag about the fact that there are worse teams in the league, unfortunately there are only seven. I guess that is better than being the worst team in baseball though little constellation.
There was some good news last week as Ross Ohlendorf got a win, his first this year, against the Dodgers, but the joy did not last long as he lost another today bringing his total losses to three. With the end of the season approaching it is unlikely that he can achieve a 0.500 record, but with a win he’ll earn over $1 million dollars per win. Ohlendorf spent the majority of the season injured and has battled back yet by giving up seven runs in two innings today his ERA is a season high of 8.29. He has pitched 33.2 innings (or $60,993.98 per inning pitched) and has given up over twice as many hits as strike outs (55 : 24). Baseball is a game of millionaires (players) and billionaires (owners) and the fans pay the price.
At least the money from the fans is voluntary.