I want more money. Why not? Ryne Sandberg got a contract extension worth $28.4 million over four years, Bobby Bonilla is earning $29 million over five years, and even Mike Morgan, a prune pit of a pitcher with a 67-104 career record, is being paid $12.5 million for four years' work. These skyward salaries are largely a result of baseball's lavish national television contracts. NFL and NBA players are reaping a similar broadcast bounty. Well, I watch a lot of TV, and I write a lot about TV, so it's time for this TV largesse to trickle down to my typing fingers.
Yes, I want a new deal, I want it for beau-coup bucks, and I want it now.
And I don't want to hear anything about a salary cap.
Kevin Maas, meanwhile, needs a thinking cap. He hit .220 last year, and the Yankees only raised his annual income from $250,000 to $255,000. "Is that fair?" says Maas. Actually, it's not, Kevin. You should've taken a pay cut, YOU POP-UP-MAKING, STRIKEOUT-COMPILING, DOUBLE PLAY-HITTING POOCH OF A PLAYER. Maas, in fact, should send the extra five grand to New Yorkers, who not only had to watch his performance but also had to listen to Phil Rizzuto describe it.
Speaking, if I may, for American sports viewers, we would like to earn a raise for watching the games and buying the products that keep these athletes limping to the bank. After all, there's a lot of monetary movement out there: Hockey players are talking strike because they're not getting enough of NHL revenues, and NFL owners are talking refund to networks because the networks are taking a bath on their contract with the league. But how about us? We just get more commercials and higher ticket prices. Isn't it time for a cost-of-viewing break at home and at the gate?
Of course, it's logistically unrealistic for leagues to hand out money to all viewers and fans, so I figured I would take charge, cut a terrific deal for myself and then share my windfall with folks as I run into them on the street.
It's time to talk turkey!
I am in the option year of my SPORTS ILLUSTRATED contract—meaning, at the end of 1992, I have the option to go elsewhere, while the magazine has the option to insist I go elsewhere. I don't want negotiations to drag on, so I am setting a signing deadline of April 1. If the deadline is not met, I will submit all subsequent columns in French.
(Here's what I would lead with in the May 25 issue: "La pensée moderne a réalisé un progrès considérable en réduisant l'existant à la série des apparitions qui le manifestent. On visait par là à supprimer un certain nombre de dualismes qui embarrassaient la philosophie. Et puis, bien entendu, il y a la télévision et, naturellement, Ahmad Rashad.")
I want top-of-the-line sportswriters' pay. My model is New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, whose three-year, $39.1 zillion contract, I'm told, includes two parking spaces in midtown Manhattan and a company car with editor-resistant power windows. I'm willing to take a little less money than Lupica if I can get a Smart Window TV set and a yearlong supply of Combos.