Monday, February 08, 2010

Real Life Versus Unreal Life

Life takes on new perspective when money is tight. When money is tight and life is about survival from week to week, which it is for 90 percent of us in this country, then the unreality of someone paying $103,579 for a baseball...any surreal. But that is how much money it cost some lucky bid winner to buy the baseball that Alex Rodriguez hit for his 500th homer.

Normally, this Fan doesn't exercise in this kind of futility when players' salaries are discussed. After all, $4 million a year for marginal players is not even computable in this Fan's brain. But a number like $103, 579 is a number that the brain can wrap around. It's not so big a number that the average Joe cannot understand what it means. And for most of us, it means a lot.

To put it into perspective, that much money would buy 36,992 gallons of heating oil, or enough to completely fill a home owner or renter's home tank 148 times. That would get you through a few winters, eh? For the struggling family, that amount of money would supply over 1,000 weeks of groceries. It would pay 695 power bills. It would pay 1726 months of cell phone service. For those of us who dream of traveling for vacation, it would buy 478 plane tickets. It would buy five modest new vehicles for families or 50 used ones.

All that money for a baseball that because of our obsession with stats and numbers, is seemingly worth so much more than the 499th homer or the 501st. All that money was spent for a baseball that will sit in someone's trophy case and do nothing for nobody.

Look, the Fan gets it. The Fan once spent $275 for a 1968 Mickey Mantle (Topps) baseball card. It's cool to collect things...that is until you fall on hard times and the money seems like a travesty. Imagine how many folks in Haiti that money would help. But the story has a good flip side. The average Joe who happened to be lucky enough to catch Alex Rodriguez's 500th homer ball, just made enough money (minus the auctioneer's take) to buy all that fuel oil, groceries, cars or plane tickets. Good for him.

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