Follow the Money—Sports

Why Guys Are Getting Paid Big

How the Other Half Lives

I’ve been focusing 99 percent of my energy on how prices have gone up for free agents and rookies alike, but what about the other guys?

You know who I’m talking about: the guys who aren’t fortunate enough to have the pay checks, talent or maybe even the agents to pull off some of the largest, most incredible contracts in sports.

Today, I’m celebrating the guys making the league minimum, or close to it. You may find some names you recognize.

Exhibit A–Chris Douglas-Roberts–New Jersey Nets. He’s only a rookie this year, so his contract wasn’t going to huge anyway, per NBA rules. But still, he’s a fairly prominent name in the world of basketball over the last year because of his stellar work at Memphis. This season, the swingman is making $442,114. We salute you, Chris.

wizards3_resizeExhibit B–Juan Dixon–Washington Wizards. I love to talk about journeyman players. My buddies and I like to drop the names of players who haven’t made a big impact on the sport and joke about them. While I greatly respect Juan Dixon for his work at Maryland in college, he’s amounted to being a true journeyman in the NBA. Appropriately, he’s making $998,398 this season.

ExhibCardinals Rockies Baseballit C–Ryan Ludwick–St. Louis Cardinals. This guy had a productive season last year, making the NL All-Star team. But here’s the deal: Ludwick has bounced around in his career, and had the best season of his life at age 30. He hasn’t just bounced around MLB teams either. He’s been in and out of the minor leagues for most of his career. Last season, he made $411,000.

Exhibit D–Josh Hamilton–Texas Rangers. I saw this guy’s name next to his salary and did an instant double-take. Hamilton was the feel-good story of the year in baseball, and put up numbers that could very well earn him AL MVP this week. Really, he’s been very productive his last two seasons. In 2008, he’s making a grand total of $396,830. Wow.

ruudhandsmallapsmallExhibit E–Barrett Ruud–Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ruud wasn’t much of a household name until the current season, where he’s put together a heck of a year, anchoring one of the NFL’s best defenses from the linebacker position. This season, Ruud’s making a miniscule (by pro sports standards) $523,840. Compare that to a player such as recently-benched Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson, who recently got a $7 million signing bonus in the offseason. That’s a signing bonus, not based on any 2008 games. People who aren’t even playing are making more money up front than Ruud will make for an entire 2008 season of toil.

Oy, how the other half lives.

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November 18, 2008 - Posted by | League Minimum Guys

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