February 13, 2013, will forever be enshrined in history as the day that King Felix finally took his place atop baseball’s pitching throne.
When Felix Hernandez put pen to paper Wednesday, he made history by becoming the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history by agreeing to a seven-year, $175 million extension with the Seattle Mariners. But this deal was much more than a rich man getting richer.
However outrageous the number might seem, this deal rewarded a humble, hard-working man who’s one of the greatest athletes the city of Seattle has ever seen. His humility was on full display when tears streamed down his face after witnessing the celebration the Mariners threw for him. Emotionally overcome, Hernandez merely uttered, “Wow,” and proceeded to hold his head in his hands. For not only was the Mariners organization celebrating a great player’s decision to re-sign with it, but also the decision to remain loyal to his team. His team has finished last in the AL West for the past three seasons, but it is also the team that gave him opportunity.
"I'm doing this because I love Seattle," King Felix stated. "This has been my life. This has been my family."
In sports today, that combination of talent, humility, and loyalty is hard to come by and should not go unnoticed.
The ironic, almost alarming, part of this deal is that had Hernandez waited two more years for his previous contract to expire, he would have set himself up perfectly to watch MLB front offices fight to pay him over $200 million for his services. Now, Hernandez has most likely set up Clayton Kershaw, perhaps the best left-handed starting pitcher in the game, to sign a deal worth over $200 million as his current, two-year, $19.5 million contract with the Dodgers expires after this season. Also ironic is the fact that Kershaw is very quiet and humble in his own right, so after next season, the two highest-paid pitchers in the history of the league could also be two of the most humble the league has ever seen.
Some could ask the Mariners to justify spending such a lavish amount of money on one player, especially during such a critical economic time period. In my opinion, sports contracts, especially
baseball deals, began to get out of control in 1999 when Kevin Brown signed his seven-year, $105 million deal with the Dodgers. But, not even 15 years later, that price has more than doubled with Alex Rodriguez’s $252 and $275 million respective Ranger and Yankee deals. With Kershaw set to sign a deal that will most likely eclipse $200 million next season, instances of athletes signing eye-popping deals will soon develop into the norm. So, where does this rapid inflation stop?