What's Your Worth?

Baseball, like nature, has 4 seasons. There’s the preseason (Spring Training), the regular season, the postseason, and finally HOT STOVE season. When Anthony Rizzo caught the ball from Kris Bryant to end the 108 year drought, the postseason ended and the Hot Stove season began. What is the Hot Stove season? Well, for those of you not familiar with this phrase, let me explain. It is the time of year that is commonly called “Winter”. During the winter time there is no baseball being played (unless you live in the Dominican or Arizona).  Many of the baseball fans living in the United States are cold during the winter (like I said unless you live in Arizona). In the days of old, you might gather around a hot stove (which was huge and took up a good part of the room) to keep warm. What would you discuss while you and your amazing friends huddled around the hot stove? Politics? No, that would be foolish. The correct answer is baseball. The phrase has stuck even though we have replaced hot stoves with TVs and microwaves.

Hot Stove season is spent discussing players and the new teams they could be playing on. Free Agents have the right to sign with new teams and teams that can’t afford to sign really good players will spend this time discussing and making trades to improve their team (on the field or in the financial books). This is an exciting time for baseball fans because you can have a lot of those “What-If” discussions and dream the big dreams. It is like the fiction portion of a nonfiction sport.

The biggest question that comes up during this time is the idea of worth.

“Do you think he’s worth that kind of money?”

“They really think he’s worth trading that many prospects for?”

“That guy is worth way more than the other guy!”

We openly and blatantly discuss another man’s worth. It's not a common practice normally, especially when that worth is tied to a monetary amount, and in this case a monetary amount that isn’t fathomable to most of our minds.

For example, Major League Baseball has what’s known as a “Qualifying Offer” (Click here to get the full definition). This year that qualifying offer that teams can make to impending free agents is $17.2 million dollars. (That looks like this written out… $17,200,000.00) Can you fathom that much money? See, I told you we couldn’t.

This year this offer was extended to 10 players. 10 players were told that they were valued enough to get a one year contract for $17.2 Million. Of those 10, only one accepted that offer. Let that sink in for a second. Only one guy was like “Yeah, that sounds like a fair deal.” Whereas the other 9 were all “Uh, nah, thanks though. I’m gonna go see if I can get more than that.”

I don’t know what it is like to have someone offer me that amount of money. However, I have experienced someone showing me what I was worth to them. Like those 10 guys, I had to determine if I was going to accept it or not.

When I became a teacher, I did it because I thought I could change lives. Though after 6 years, I began to feel like I was spending my time changing more diapers than changing lives. (That’s not literal, I taught 6th grade. No real diapers. Its a metaphor.) I was babysitting kids while trying to teach them complex ideas of math, science, social studies and literature. I was quickly beginning to see that the impact I was hoping to create was being diminished by my frustration of the system I was part of.

Of course if this would have happened during the time of the pay freezes and furloughs, it would have been really easy to say enough is a enough and move on. However, the state just passed a measure that meant a pay increase if I stuck around for year 7. So, I had a choice. Continue to be miserable with a couple extra thousand dollars in my pocket or move on and find another path of impact and happiness. That choice wouldn’t be made easily. I have a wife and 5 children. I have bills to pay. Food to put on the table. Lots of responsibility. There were many nights of discussions with my wife about what to do. Would I screw up my whole family with this choice? Unfortunately, I didn’t have any agents or advisors to bounce ideas off of. I just had me, my wife and many prayers.

Ultimately, I chose to decline the offer. I gave up the “guaranteed” money of being a public school teacher for the chance of making more money and impact as an entrepreneur. Was it a gamble? Yes. Could it all blow up in my face someday? Possibly. But, I had to decide what my own worth was and is.

Could declining the qualifying offer be a mistake for some of those players? Maybe. But they decided that their worth was different. I hope they all get huge contracts and set their families up financially for years to come. And if not, they had the guts to take a gamble on themselves. I have to appreciate that.

We all have worth. If we feel like the value of our worth doesn’t match up with those we associate ourselves with, why would we stick around? I don’t see any reason. Selling myself short doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend my life. I’d rather take a chance, because I'm worth it.