As news travelled throughout the sports world that Manny Ramirez, the power-hitting baseball star who spent the last months of the 2008 season in Los Angeles, was turning down a one year, $25 million contract, Mississippians were finding out that their Governor, Haley Barbour, was planning to turn down $2 billion from the Federal Government, that is if the stimulus package passes.
Both men are making their case on principle. Ramirez, who is about 36, thinks that he has at least three more years left to play at a major league level, so instead of signing one year deals, he wants security. I can understand that, but the reality is that not many teams are going to take a chance on older players hanging on, especially after what we are finding out about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons, both players who played into their forties, with what looks like a little synthetic help.
Barbour said that he is not going to accept the stimulus funds that will go to schools, transportation and Medicaid because the legislation will have too many restrictions on the funds. Let me translate: the Governor cannot move the funds around to pay for any other government projects or items in the state general budget. Barbour wants that flexibility and I understand that. The reality is that Mississippi is lucky to be getting a dime. The political stance Mississippi took in the last election did not put us at the head of the line as far as the Obama administration is concerned.
So for Mississippi to get a commitment of $2 billion out of a $800-900 billion stimulus package is good for right now. To turn it down would not be the Mississippi thing to do. This is the Hospitality State after all.
In short, in tough times, we all have to make some sacrifices, and check down our egos. Ramirez has more room to negotiate than Barbour, but in the end, Ramirez will not get a three year deal. Barbour will have to accept the funds. As the old folks say, "Live to fight another day."