As much as I love professional sports, nothing turns me off
like players complaining about how much money they make.

Even if athletes make the league minimum ($380,000 in baseball),
they still are earning more money than 99 percent of Americans to play a game
they love.

That?s why I was disappointed when I heard over the weekend
that Milwaukee Brewers first basemen Price Fielder was complaining about having
his contract renewed for $670,000.

Fielder had a great year last season, at 23 becoming the
youngest player in baseball history to hit 50 home runs. He also drove in 119
while batting .280 and finished third in the MVP voting.

Now after praising the organization last season, even
telling his agent Scott Boras how much he loved it in Milwaukee, Fielder is
singing a different tune.

However, Fielder seems to have forgotten how the system
works.

For the first three years of a player?s career the club has
all the power in contract negotiations. Once players get to arbitration they
get a say in how much they will make, and three years later they hit free
agency and pretty much have all the control.

Brewers? general managers Doug Melvin uses a system for
rookies to third-year players that pays them based on performance. He has
insisted that this year Fielder will make more than any player with the same
service time, except those who have signed a contract that bought out
arbitration years.

Last spring, after Fielder finished seventh in the NL Rookie
of the Year voting, the Brewers renewed his contract, and he didn?t have a
problem. But now he does.

It seems to me that after another good year, Fiedler has
finally bowed to his ?show me the money? super agent.

It?s no secret that Boras has probably been comparing
Fielder with another slugging first baseman ? Ryan Howard of the Phillies, who
made $900,000 in his last year before arbitration.?

And while Howard and Fielder had similar stats in their
first two years, there is one big difference between them. Howard won the
Rookie of the Year in 2005 and the MVP in 2006. Melvin even said that had
Fielder won the MVP last year, his salary would have approached what Howard
made last year.

But Fielder didn?t win the MVP. Yes, he had a great year,
but he needs to take a cue from his teammates. Ryan Braun, NL Rookie of the
Year, and Corey Hart both had their contracts renewed and didn?t say a word
because they understand the system and are more focused on getting the Brewers
in the playoffs.

Instead, by opening his mouth Fielder is letting everyone
know he has a rift with the organization he said he loved just one year ago.

His time will come, as he clearly told the press.

He is only 23, and after this year he will enter
arbitration. He has plenty of time to make lots of money in this league.

After the year, Fielder and his agent will probably submit a
figure similar to Howard’s of $10 million, and Melvin will most likely have his
first arbitration hearing since coming to Milwaukee.

Until that time though, Fielder needs to just shut up and
play.

If he leads Milwaukee to the playoffs for the first time
since 1982, there is no doubt the Brew Crew will reward him with a huge payday.

?

Greg is a senior majoring in communication arts. Think
players have become too concerned with money? Let him know at [email protected]