We're not going to solve this year in a chat about baseball. I am the son of a school teacher and my parents met while both were math teachers. Many, many of my friends are teachers or counselors at schools. I adore them. I'll tell the whole story: The other day, when I got the phone call about an award, I happened to be leaving The Post-Dispatch office and stopped to take the call. As I was listening to the gentlemen tell me some particulars, a book caught my eye. It was in a stack on an abandoned desk, and it read, "Ravenhill" By Timothy Hillmer.
That was my seventh English teacher. He was really the first teacher who urged me to write and write a lot and to read authors who would show me different ways to write. He got involved in the school's literary magazine. He was our coach for Odyssey of the Mind. He catapulted me into an interest in writing -- even showing me how if I wanted to draw cartoons or comics, I better learn to write them, too. I'm not in that newsroom at that moment getting that phone call without him -- and there is the novel he wrote in Boulder, Colo., and it's there on a desk in St. Louis at that moment.
Teachers deserve more than we can give them. Always have.
That said, we cannot ignore the value our society also puts on entertainment. That's what this is. I don't hear much hand-wringing about the money Tom Cruise makes for a movie or the billion that Aquaman just pulled in or the billions that Marvel makes or the billion billions Disney does with its armada of content. And, yet, there's no difference between Cruise and Trout, no difference between Stanton and The Avengers -- all are blockbusters meant for entertainment. If 40,000 people paid to watch me type, my salary would be higher, for sure. Forty thousand do show up to watch baseball players play, and even more tune in at home. It's a form of entertainment, and moreover elite baseball players -- and that's what they are -- are performing this entertainment at a level only athletes reach. That's what drives salaries. Your interest in watching the best at their best do their best. I can say I wish teachers were paid more and that our culture values them more and still be OK with the salaries baseball players make. Other people in demand (actors, authors, artists, CEOs, lawyers) at their peak make a lot of money too. That's where the meritocracy works.