I was better than Albert Pujols but never made $2,863.88 an hour

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to know that the Los Angeles Angels have signed Uber-free agent Albert Pujols to a contract worth $25 Million Dollars a year. That’s about $68,000 a day. Break it down further and Al’s hourly rate is $2863.88, or slightly more than minimum wage.

Big Al has the stats to command such a salary in today’s hyperthyroid free-agency market. He has hit 445 home runs during his 11 year career, which averages out to 40 HRs per year. He has knocked in 1329 runs. His career batting average is .328, which means while in the batter’s box he failed to do something positive more than 67% of the time. I will stipulate to the fact that hitting a baseball moving 90 miles an hour is about the most difficult thing to do in sports – except for hitting a golf ball that is standing still. Yet, there is no getting around the fact that Albert failed dismally slightly more than six out of ten chances. I will also stipulate that Albert is a fine defensive player, but if you are good at defense and hit around the Mendoza Line you’re not going to command the bucks Albert does.

Now I am going to stun you by stating unequivocally that during my lengthy career in sales I was better at my job than Albert is at his. Had I sold my product to only 30% of the prospects I came in contact with I would have been relegated to corporate America’s Bush League. There is another factor that made me better at my job than Albert is at his. I was on a straight commission for my entire career. My mantra was that every day I woke up unemployed – until I made that first sale of the day. During 2012 if Albert’s stats fell to say, the kind of stats I would produce if I tried to play baseball, he would still collect his $2 mil a month. And if he has a miserable 2013 his weekly gross will remain  in the neighborhood of $480,000 – enough to keep him out of the cheese line.

I am not the only person I know who is better than Albert Pujols but doesn’t earn his big bucks. My son is the best fourth grade teacher I know. I don’t think he makes in a year what Albert makes in a day. Our local Costco’s greeter, Thelma Howard, is hands down the best greeter on this planet. I think if you asked Thelma, she would tell you her hourly rate is less than $2,863.88. There is no doubt that you or  many people you know outperform Albert in their jobs.

The difference between Albert and me is that 70,000 people never forked over $30 – $100.00 to watch me work. There was no television network clambering to give my employer millions of dollars to televise me in action.

But you know something? There should have been. Put me one on one with a prospect and I was Magic Johnson. Put an objection in front of me and I could finesse it into a benefit. I knew when to stop being a pitchman and become a salesman. It was a moment worth televising. I’ll bet you were just as good at what you did as Albert is at what he does.

Believe it or not I do not begrudge Albert’s compensation, just as I don’t begrudge the money paid to college athletes who leave school early to play professional sports. If during my sophomore year a publishing house had offered me a multimillion dollar, no-cut contract with an obscenely high signing bonus to write for them, do you think I would have stayed in school?

Things are a little out of whack, though. Maybe it is time to start an Occupy Albert Pujols Movement. If I did I’ll bet those Los Angeles Angels would drop their halos and knock me onto those fake rocks beyond the center field fence.

It is a conundrum that we protest Wall Street bankers making millions of dollars but smile, and willingly buy a $35.00 dollar ticket, and fork over thirteen bucks for a beer and a hotdog while watching Albert and his teammates. Why? For sure, because it’s a diversion from all the problems those Wall Street bankers caused. Maybe it is because we are revisiting our childhood years,  a time far removed from sub-prime mortgages, short sales, and being upside down. Many of us grew up wanting to be Joe DiMaggio, or Hank Aaron, or Willie Mays, just as today’s kids dream of being Albert Pujols … but no kid I know dreams of growing up to become Tim Geithner. Things will always be out of whack. Teachers, firefighters, policeman, and the barista who gets my day off to a great start with the best mocha in the world will never be paid what they are worth even though what they do impacts our lives in a way that Albert, and other athletes, movie stars, and rocks star can. As I alluded to earlier, if someone wanted to pay me three grand an hour for doing my job, I would have taken it.

So enjoy your windfall, Albert. You’ve earned it. I wish I could congratulate Albert on his good fortune in person.  I would need a minute of his time … or put another way … about forty-seven dollars and seventy-three cents of his time.


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2 Responses to I was better than Albert Pujols but never made $2,863.88 an hour

  1. Lou Panetta says:

    Right on Gerry!

    I marveled long ago that the same people who rail at corporate execs, celebrate Arod’s, Kobe’s and Pop Rock Star’s money … in fact try to emulate them.

    Corporate execs don’t brand themselves as sports figures do … at least as their teams brand them. No long curly hair, no touchdown dance, etc.

    Lee Iococca was probably the last CEO with a fairly wholesome image … mainly beccause he marketed himselp. Excellent column.


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