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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: I’m starting to feel a little disrespected

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Right up there with “frozen rope,” “at the end of the day,” “coast to coast,” and “a win is a win,” I always figured the phrase, “They disrespected me,” to be just another sports cliche.

But then sports is a game of inches, and today it’s a whole new ballgame. I mean even if you give 110 percent, take it one play at a time and God is on your side, you don’t want to feel disrespected.

I don’t like to complain, but where is it written that professional athletes are the only ones who like to be respected?

None of us likes being disrespected, no matter what our career or position in life. I know that includes professional athletes, who need more than a little ego to do what they do. After all, how can you be respected if you don’t have a house big enough to host your own fan club or afford a limo that takes up three parking spaces? Most of us are just happy to find a metered space somewhere where we can avoid getting a ticket.

Still, it was more than a little surprising when now former New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano told his former bosses he felt “disrespected” by their offer of $175 million for a seven-year contract.

He made the remarks at a news conference in Seattle at Safeco Field where the Seattle Mariners demonstrated their respect by giving the five-time All-Star a 10-year pact for $240 million.

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So that’s the price of respect. Makes you think you should have groveled a little more during your last job evaluation, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s a tad more than you might have been considering when asking for a raise next year. I have to admit that any feelings of disrespect I might have around the Type and Gripe factory could be healed quickly for $240 million. In fact, I believe I would have felt no disrespect accepting $175 million, almost enough to pay off our credit card bills and that present I’m still thinking of for the Frau this Christmas.

Listen, I would be the last person to say a person shouldn’t get what he or she deserves. It just happens we live in a world where professional athletes have a value just a few notches up the ladder from the rest of us. It may be that Cano is a great second baseman, but my guess is if he had been on our old Tribune softball team, the Gnus, it wouldn’t have made that much difference to our record.

I did a little looking around at salaries in the Tampa Bay area and you probably would not be shocked to learn that not only is $240 million way off the charts, $175 million would be showing a lot of respect to anyone getting a check like that.

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I went shopping in the malls earlier this week. The biggest crowd I saw all day was at the convenience store where I got gas. Inside there was a line that went all the way back to where you buy ice. It was full of people waiting to buy lottery tickets.

The jackpot was already more than $600 million. Apparently the people in line figured nobody would be disrespecting them if they won.

We ran a story in Mother Trib about some of the things you could buy with $600 million, including your own cruise ship or a new baseball arena.

I don’t know. If I won and built the stadium, pretty soon somebody would build a bigger one somewhere else and steal my team and I would be disrespected all over.

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