A Sad Reminder that Sports is Just a Business

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Allow me if you will to do what I almost always do; deviate from our regularly scheduled programming. For the moment I’d like to cast our gaze Northeast across the Truman Sports Complex to Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Its been two years since the tragic death of the controversial young Royals star pitcher Yordano “Ace” Ventura, and the affairs of his estate are just as volatile and toxic as his trouble life was reported to be behind closed doors. The Kansas City Star recently reported on turbulence left behind in the wake of Ventura’s passing.

Two years after Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a single-car crash in his native Dominican Republic, the $20.25 million remaining on his contract has not been paid. And his estate is broke. Ventura’s 5-year-old daughter is listed as the sole heir of his estate, according to court documents. As the executor of the estate, her mother has hired attorneys to pursue the money left on the contract. The matter is currently being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, a grievance process that is kept confidential, multiple sources told The Star.

Its a stark reminder that at the end of the day, our favorite players for our favorite teams are in a business relationship with each other, and while not always the case, personal sentiments are often the sole assumptions of we as fans. All too often I hear a player should take less money to stay with the team that developed him or take a pay cut to stay, but the reality is they are human beings like everyone else, and ultimately must choose to do what is in the best interest for them and their family’s. Typically that comes in the form of doing what will pay them the most for their services rendered in the shortest amount of time, even if that means refusing to re-structure and risk being cut or sitting out a season if the belief is there that the next contract will maximize their earning potential.

This mindset has been promoted throughout time by owners always looking out for their bottom dollar, forcing players to employ the “strike while the irons hot” strategy when it comes to getting paid. Even in baseball, where the contracts are fully guaranteed, owners scour the books looking for an opportunity to not fulfill their obligation to the player and will continue to do so as long as we as fans devote our loyalty to the name on the front of the jersey instead of the one on the back.

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