Whether your taste is Green Day or Don Meredith, we sing a song to mercifully bid this season adieu. We dive head first into some exit interview discussion, talk a bit about some surprises, and give credit where credit is due. Chantel McCabe from Fox Sports Carolinas is our guest this week and she is great, as usual. The beer this week, much like this podcast, was fine. Thanks for listening folks, and dammit, we mean it.
If I asked you who the three most criticized players were on the Carolina Hurricanes this season, chances are that you’d nail all three: Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, and Cam Ward.
If I asked you who the three highest paid players were on the Hurricanes, especially after the previous question, you’d get that right too – it’s EStaal, Semin, and Ward.
The connection isn’t coincidental. Whether intentional or not, we – as a fanbase – ramp up the criticism the more a player makes. This isn’t isolated to Hurricanes fans or even hockey fans – this has been going on ever since we learned what professional athletes made. In 1930, a reporter criticized Babe Ruth’s demand for an $80,000 salary, which was $5,000 more than President Herbert Hoover made at the time. Ruth’s response? “I know – but I had a better year than Hoover.”
Try having a conversation with someone at PNC Arena or listen to an Aftermath caller talking about one of those three players without their salary being brought up. It doesn’t happen. Salary has become a statistic, right next to goals and assists, and figures completely into the equation – if Player A has 20 goals and 25 assists and Player B has 10 goals and 15 assists, we begin to think that Player A is playing better, until we learn that Player A makes $5 million a year, while Player B makes $600,000. Now, suddenly, Player B is a damned hero, while Player A is a lazy-ass slacker who kicks puppies and gives out Game of Thrones spoilers during intermission interviews.
How did we get this way? Why are we this way? Are we jealous? All three players I mentioned earlier make over $6 million a year, while the average household makes a little over $50,000. Sure, but the minimum salary for a player in the National Hockey League during the 2014-15 season was $550,000, more than ten times that average household. Chances are if you’re reading this that the lowest paid player on your favorite major sports team* makes a lot more than you do, and if they don’t, please let me know in the comments because we should really hang out more often.
[*does not apply to soccer]
It’s easy to point to expectations. After all, players signed to a higher salary are expected to perform at a higher level than those who were given a lower salary. That makes sense. But really, that should only work for players who were signed by the organization, and not players acquired through other means, such as waivers, a trade, or even an expansion draft.
Why? OK – let’s say you work in an office, and you decide to have lunch in the office cafeteria, because some places actually have those instead of a snack machine with Skittles and Chex Mix. The special today is lobster – $20. Well damn, you sure do love lobster, and while $20 is a little much for lunch, you can taste the drawn butter now. You get the lobster, crack it open, dig out some claw meat and… what is this, rubber? They boiled this crustacean about four hours too long. You could eat it, but you’re afraid it’s going to ruin your taste for lobster for the rest of your life, leaving you emotionally scarred enough that you’ll never set foot in Maine again. If only there were a way to get rid of it.
Then suddenly, you see your coworker sitting at another table. The coworker… oh, I don’t know, let’s call him Nave Donis – always buys too much food. You see a cheeseburger on his table, barely touched. You ask Nave if he’s going to eat it. He says no, but he’s not going to give it to you – he paid $15 for that cheeseburger. After thinking “who the hell pays $15 for a cheeseburger”, you make an offer – you’ll give Nave your delicious lobster for his cheeseburger, as long as he throws in five bucks to make up the difference, and… well, maybe that bag of oyster crackers. Donis says “deal”, and you both go off to your respective corners of the lunchroom to finish your meal.
Now, you eat the cheeseburger, and it’s just that – a cheeseburger. It’s certainly not a $15 cheeseburger, but it also doesn’t taste like a bag of vomit. In the end, you have a decent meal, got a little of your money back, and hey – oyster crackers! But as sports fans, we sit there the whole lunch break pissed off because we can’t believe we spent FIFTEEN FRIGGIN’ DOLLARS on a CHEESEBURGER, despite the fact that ten minutes earlier we had spent twenty on something that was giving us the dry heaves. Regardless, money was spent, and we want to see every cent of it earned.
“Tom,” you say, as if we’re that close, “I’m not mad at the players for trying to make as much as they can. I just get frustrated because tickets/concessions/parking/foam fingers are so expensive, and these guys are the reason for it.”
Well, of course they are, and at the same time, no they’re not. Player salaries are one of the main expenses that a professional sports team has on a year-to-year basis. If $60 million in player salaries were to suddenly come off the books, I’m sure that prices would go down, at least to some extent.
That said, that’s not going to happen, so let’s look at the extent of the salaries. After all, fans don’t seem to have so much of an issue with lower-salary guys; it’s the multi-millionaires that bleed us dry. In the NHL, for the 2014-15 season, the salary cap (the maximum a team was supposed to spend on players) was $69 million. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a team can only spend $69 million on players, as there are exceptions and some players only count a certain percentage if they’re in the minors against the cap, but for argument’s sake, let’s say it is. The league’s salary floor (the minimum a team could spend on player salaries) was $51 million. That’s only an $18 million difference between a team that wants to spend as much as it can and a team that wants to save every nickel. Assuming a franchise could keep a competitive team together at the league minimum, do you think that the $18 million saved would go to reduced prices? Considering almost two-thirds (19 of 30) of the franchises failed to turn a profit of $18 million last year, it’s likely any benefit seen from that $18 million retained by fans would be minimal.
What it all boils down to is, as fans, we’re going to like certain players and dislike others, and most of the time, it’s for no real reason except that’s how our mind works.
And that’s OK. It’s healthy. (Well, keep it healthy. No death threats or anything.)
We end up getting in trouble when we start trying to justify our player likes and dislikes to others with facts and statistics under the guise of common knowledge. Telling a fan that their player is bad because they had a subpar season is like telling a kid to ignore the ice cream man because we already have some in the freezer.
It. Doesn’t. Matter.
Fandom doesn’t need to have good justification. It can be because of looks, jersey number, one particular play, a chance meeting – whatever. If a particular player causes you to enjoy the sport more, then that’s a good thing. Embrace it. Just don’t take it too far – there’s a reason restraining orders exist.
And when it comes to anti-fandom (sure – let’s call it that), learn to embrace that too, and by that I mean accept the fact that you just don’t like a certain player or players. It’s allowed. Stop trying to justify your reasoning, because you end up sounding like that racist uncle at Thanksgiving who spends half the Dallas game explaining to you how he’s not racist while indirectly proving that he is.
Statistics can be used to prove a lot of things in sports, but they don’t have to used to prove everything. It’s OK to be a fan (or a hater). Now have a beer and shut up about it.
Some folks think Ron Simmons, some folks think Chris Tucker, but after last night, we think Keegan Lowe when we hear DAMN. It’s been a topsy turvy week in Caniacland but we push on and have a ton of fun. We take your listener questions and spend some quality time w/ Kyle of Winging It In Motown. Since it’s NC Beer Month, we enjoyed a tasty IPA from Foothills Brewing. Thanks as always for listening, and we hope to see you at the tailgate this weekend!
The Canes have seemingly been winging it the last couple of games, so we tried it on for size to see how we liked it. Hopefully it’s not as poor a result as our favorite hockey club. Fear not though, Mike Maniscalco joins us to ensure we deliver you some quality hockey talk. Good news, the beer this week was delicious!
Does it feel like we’ve been here before; Six consecutive home losses, Penguins prepared to invade PNC, and fans not happy about visiting fan? Well, we discuss all this and more on this weeks episode. Josh Yohe from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review joins us and drops some candid insight on the Penguins and we close it out with a great value stout from Olde Hickory Brewing. As always, thanks for listening, and we’ll come see you at the PNC Arena!
Sure, this season has been a disappointment, but the podcast is rolling along and bringing you all the info we can. This week, voice of the Checkers Jason Shaya joins us to discuss life on the farm and discuss some guys futures. We also discuss NHL rule changes, #NCTwitterBracket 2015 with Sherrell McMillan, and drink a damn fine brew from Apocalypse Ale Works. So, before all that roundball madness gets started, take a listen to this weeks episode. We appreciate you listening!
With all the talk around #CaniacNation about the changes to the Hurricanes Season Ticket packages, we had to go to the source for some answers. Gale Force Sports and Entertainment President Don Waddell joins us on the podcast this week to discuss tickets, changes in staff, and his thoughts on advertising on sweaters. We take a walk down memory lane to discuss the 1 win, 3 loss week, and enjoy a great collaboration brew from Terrapin and New Belgium. Don doesn’t pull any punches and we think that you, the Caniacs, will be pleased. As always, thanks for listening, and feel free to rate us over on iTunes and Stitcher. We appreciate it more than you know!