Wretched excess

I sometimes shake my head in wonder at how utterly detached from everyday reality our role Article-0-0D4F3118000005DC-11_634x381 models have become.

Take the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter. Please. I think the Yankees would like another team to take the aging superstar off their hands. In addition to his eroding, on-the-field skill set, Jeter just brought himself and the Yankees some very unnecessary publicity with the construction of a 30,875-ft palatial estate in Tampa which neighbors are calling “St. Jetersburg”. Yankees fans may be struggling to make ends meet, but their captain has built himself a Vatican City-sized enclave that serves to only further illustrate the increasing gap between the ‘haves and have nots’ in the America of 2011.

At the same time, at least one Major League Baseball general manager is finally stepping up to the plate and drawing a line in the sand (infield dirt?). Kenny Williams of the Chicago White Sox described talk of $30 million-a-year ballplayers as “asinine” and said he'd support a work stoppage to bring fiscal sanity back to baseball. Good. Someone has to stop the ever-escalating madness. Compensation for major league sports stars is way out of line, especially in the midst of a continued weak economy and nine percent unemployment.

Then again, why should Derek Jeter care what the great, unwashed masses think? And why should St. Louis Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols think twice about demanding the equivalent of the gross national product of a small Caribbean nation when negotiating his next contract?

I once worked for a semi-delusional CEO who kept predicting a secular crisis between the haves and have nots. I don't think we'll be seeing an Egyptian or Libyan-type insurrection anytime soon in America. But, I do think what we're seeing in Wisconsin and other states is an indirect backlash at the wretched excess of detached, uncaring and pampered superstars like Derek Jeter who think they deserve to live in mansions that would make King Louis XIV of France green with envy.

Where will it all end?

16 thoughts on “Wretched excess

  1. Good for you, Lunch. It would be interesting if St. Jetersburg turned out to be a lemon and had all sorts of construction flaws, etc.

  2. While I think it is obscene the amount of money some sports and entertainment figures earn, I also see nothing wrong with Jeter enjoying the fruits of his labor. I am not a proponent of conspicuous consumption to the extent of Jetersberg, but he does have the right to spend his money any way he wants to.

  3. The gap between the haves and have nots has widened considerably in the last thirty years, due largely to a conservatism that gives an approving nod to Gordon Gekko’s greed-is-good mantra while creating an every-man-for-himself ideal. And it’s worth noting that the purveyors of this dogma have succeeded, convincing even the dirt poor to support policies that should be anathema to them, because of their mastery of…wait for it…public relations.
    Make no mistake about it: The group that has changed this culture so drastically and so rapidly were able to do so because they understood the PR game much, much better than the other side.
    As for Kenny Williams, if the White Sox aren’t losing money, how can a $30-million salary be seen as “asinine”? That’s market value, no? What Williams is really saying is that such a salary would cut into management’s profits. Not only does Kenny know that greed is good, he also knows how to lob a PR missive out there to support this case.

  4. Good for you, Lunch. It would be interesting if St. Jetersburg turned out to be a lemon and had all sorts of construction flaws, etc.

  5. Yes. Florida is a mecca for athletes and former jocks. OJ Simpson lived in Florida after wiping out his wife and before being thrown in jail for armed robbery.

  6. Well, from the looks of the home, it seems that he has way too much flat roofing. Let’s all pray for a lot of rain and hope that it causes his roof to leak so that contractor work and endless noise never ends at St. Jetersburg. That will show him!

  7. I’m sure he does give back, Trish. But, there’s also a fine line between elegance and excess. Jeter’s aircraft carrier-sized mansion is over the top. It sends the wrong image and is an updated, baseball version of Marie Antoinette’s ‘Let them eat cake’ viewpoint.

  8. I hear you loud and clear, Book. There’s arguably never been a wider gap between those that do and those that don’t. And, the middle class is being squeezed as never before. That’s why I think ‘role models’ like Jeter should think twice about ‘excess’ and ‘wretched excess’. His 30,000 ft. Supersized McMansion is simply too much.

  9. Bravo, Book. And Rep, Jeter’s Turn Two foundation donates much to charity and he also works extensively with the Make A Wish foundation. Again here, not sure many others among his caliber in the sporting arena, can say the same.

  10. While I’d agree that Jeter is a class act, his supersized McMansion is anything but classy, Tricia. Why not build something a little less ostentatious and donate, say, $10 million to a worthy charity instead? Does he really need seven bedrooms? Heck, the entire starting infield and outfield would have their own rooms.

  11. Since I’m a have not, I find it amusing that Rep considers himself in the same league as moi. Don’t you think that the trickle down effect is that anyone who has some money enlarges his own personal space to impress others? I may be a fan of Jeters, not his home but I’m also not a fan of the McMansions not too far from your lovely home and while in no way shape or form is it Jeter-esque, if you head a little more toward the north of your humble abode, you will truly see that the have nots do not have much. Just my two cents.

  12. Absurd, Rep. DJ is, without a doubt, one of the most positive role models around in sports today. So what, he’s building a mansion? Would you prefer if he built his kingdom in the DR such as the likes of Pedro Martinez or Sammy Sosa? Whether you’d like to admit it or not, he is the epitome of class – both on and off the field, and few others who have spent their entire career in any professional sport (nowadays) can claim the same. In the world of steroids, dog fighting, assaults, and overall Lindsey Lohan behavior, Jeter showcases a sense of professionalism rarely seen in today’s athletes. Utterly detached? Better he spend his millions building a mansion than shoving it up his nose (hello Darryl strawberry) or shooting up (Arod and practically every other “All-star”), in my opinion.

  13. Exactly. And I have been saying this for years. TV networks continue to fork over the big bucks and increase their advertising rates. And the revenues that owners generate from putting fannies in the seats pale in comparison to what they receive for TV. Is Jeter or the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant or Colts’ Peyton Manning or Patriots’ Tom Brady worth that much more than other players?
    Fans need to boycott the games. They are available on TV and in all likelihood will eventually go to pay TV. The Jets just moved into a new stadium with the Giants last year and charged outrageous Personal Seat License fees. Now, they have a winning season and once again they are increasing ticket prices. Sure, it’s nice to go to a ballgame once in awhile but the local minor league baseball team is a fun night out, you are closer to the field and pay a fraction of the cost.
    And what’s sad about it, RepMan, is when you hear of all the millions the players are getting and then years later, they file for bankruptcy. It’s absolutely mind-boggling.