Baseball in its early days was billed as America’s favorite pastime.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, the song goes.

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Cheverolet, went a commercial jingle.

Out of hand

Commercializing the game is nothing new, but did the business end of things get a little too out of hand in recent days?

Out of hand? How about: ridiculous.

The Philadelphia Phillies in Major League Baseball inked a record-breaking deal by signing star player Bryce Harper to a whopping $330 million, 13-year contract.

That’s right, $330 million. For one man.

Oh but wait.

Not to be outdone, superstar Mike Trout came along and, as several jokesters have sarcastically quipped on social media, said hold my beer.

He stepped up to bat and signed an even newer record contract with the Los Angeles Angels:

$426.5 million, over 12 years.

Seriously?!?

Oh but wait, there’s more.

Ah yes, the benefits

Trout gets a $20 million signing bonus payable this March 31 and salaries of $16 million this year, $36 million in 2020 and $35.45 million in each of the final 10 years, reports the Associated Press.

He cannot be traded without his consent.

He gets his own hotel suite on road trips.

He also receives four Diamond Club tickets plus a luxury suite for 20 games this year. For the remainder of the contract by each Jan. 2 he can pick either the Diamond Clubs tickets or the suite dates for that season.

He is now under contract to the Angels through the 2030 season, when he will turn 39.

The real heroes

Let’s now re-enter the real world and put that ridiculousness into perspective.

The average salary of a firefighter in Alabama is roughly $42,000 a year, meaning some make more, some less than that, but it’s the average, according to one online source.

The average annual salary for an Alabama police officer who serves and protects us is close to $50,000.

American soldiers who train to defend us in combat earn an average of $34,000.

American doctors who invest years of their lives in education to help heal us can earn an annual average of $200,000.

Baseball player Mike Trout will earn an average, more or less, of $35.6 million a year.

Leave it a game

The game itself is great, and the best players TO the game are those found in back yards and on high school and community recreation fields across America.

The business of baseball?

Well, let’s just say that in the sandlot near my house, no one would have any trouble at all telling Mr. Moneybags what he can do with his beer.

Ridiculous.

Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He can be contacted at tturner@oanow.com and followed on Twitter @troyturnernews.

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Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He previously served as the news editor in New York for the nation's second largest newspaper company, and as the senior editor at several other news entities around the nation. He is an Auburn alum.

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