I try to steer clear of doing editorials on ridiculous salaries in sports because outrageous contracts have become so commonplace that it's akin to commenting on the sunrise, but an agreement was struck this week that cries out for commentary because of its extraordinary stupidity.
Not surprisingly, it's a baseball contract. The Chicago Cubs have signed first baseman Carlos Pena to a one year free agent deal worth 10 million dollars, which doesn't even put Pena in the top 25 as baseball salaries go, but here's where it gets surreal: Pena hit .196 last season. ONE-NINETY-SIX. That's below the Mendoza Line - baseball's folkloric threshold for incompetent hitting, named for banjo-hitting former major league shortstop Mario Mendoza, and symbolic of a batting average below .200. There was a time when you'd be lucky to still be in baseball if you hit a buck-96 over a full season. In the early 21st century, it'll get you 10 million dollars a year.
Yes, I know Pena hit 28 home runs this year - or about one homer every 17 at bats - but those are only fair-to-middling numbers for a power hitter, and he also struck out 158 times, or about once every three at bats. More power to him if he can parlay that kind of brutally disproportionate success-to-failure ratio into 10 million dollars, but that's a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a one-dimensional feast or famine hitter whose a lot more familiar with famine than he is with feast.