In many ways, Ortiz may have gotten the truck because he isn't paid enough. It turns out that in today's market, Ortiz's $12.5 million contract is a relative bargain, which, as much as I like the guy, is a tough sentence to type.
When you think about it, this is sort of like your boss giving you a small gift to show his or her appreciation in lieu of a raise. It's just that the numbers are a lot bigger. A bottle of wine, a basket of decorative soap, a bookstore gift certificate? Well, when you're shopping for a millionaire, these just won't cut it. Sometimes, you need to go with a big shiny truck.
To express this mathematically:
Where X equals whatever token of appreciation your boss has given you to say, "Job well done."
Not to go all Bill James on you, but if you want to know what type of thank you gift you should receive at work, you can use this handy formula:
Note: In some cases, this number may appear negative, in which case you should really give your boss a gift. Luckily, in my case, I seem to have earned myself a brand new box of Fig Newtons.
While players usually don't get gifts like Ortiz, contract perks are common. Daisuke Matsuzaka's contract, for example, is loaded with them. To help with the transition to a new country, he is getting eight round-trip plane tickets to Japan per year, his own interpreter, and a Red Sox employee to deal exclusively with Japanese media requests.
Admittedly, these perks aren't that ridiculous. The trips to Japan are probably the equivalent of you getting a discounted T-pass through your employer. As for the interpreter, it seems reasonable; I've had many jobs where I could have used one to understand exactly what my boss wanted. And who among us hasn't wanted an extra employee to handle all the paparazzi?
Matsuzaka does get his own personal masseuse, which is a bit of a luxury. Then again, I've recently asked my boss for a personal masseuse. I haven't heard back yet, but fingers crossed!
There's also his $75,000 housing allowance. One wonders if a man with a $52.5 million contract really needs a $75,000 housing allowance. But that's nothing compared to the six premium tickets that he gets to each Red Sox home game. Just think how much he could get for those on eBay!
Ichiro also gets a housing allowance, and many players on other teams get hotel suites on the road, including Alfonso Soriano, Barry Zito, and inexplicably Paul Byrd. New Sox outfielder, J.D. Drew gets one too, unless his pre-existing shoulder injury kicks in, in which case he will lose the hotel suite for 2010 and be relegated to a cot in the corner of Terry Francona's room during 2011. Actually, I'm lying. Drew's contract doesn't provide him with a hotel suite. Instead, he'll have to find a way to pay for one himself with some of his $14 million salary.
Not all perks are so great. According to the web site Cots' Baseball Contracts (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com), poor Dave Roberts has a provision in his contract allowing him the right to BUY four premium season tickets for San Francisco Giants games. This is essentially the equivalent of your boss giving you the right to buy four premium sodas from the soda machine in the break room. Luckily, I believe Roberts also has the right to get whatever he wants at the concession stand, provided, of course, that he pays for it.
Finally, the somewhat obscure pitcher Gil Meche has struck it rich with the Kansas City Royals this year. In addition to $55 million over five years, he will also get a $100,000 bonus if he is somehow named World Series MVP while playing for the Kansas City Royals. This, of course, would be the equivalent of your boss offering you a $100,000 bonus for being named World Series MVP while playing for the Kansas City Royals. (Go ahead. Ask for it in your next performance review.) Statistically speaking, being a major leaguer and all, Gil Meche does have a better chance than you of being named World Series MVP, but only just.