Dan Kukla

One hundred and sixty-one million dollars.

In today’s major league baseball market, that kind of money can buy you a former Cy Young award winning starting pitcher for seven years. It can also buy you every single player on the Florida Marlins … for seven years.

The New York Yankees are up to their usual tricks, reaching a preliminary agreement with CC Sabathia on a seven-year, $161 million contract Wednesday. For those of you keeping score at home that’s $23 million a year.

Meanwhile, the Florida Marlins dished out a payroll of just less than $22 million in 2008. Nevertheless, they finished the year with an 84-77 record-a mere 4.5 games behind the Yanks and their $209 million payroll.

Now, I could write this column about how a situation like the one described above screams and begs for a MLB salary cap.

This column would most assuredly mention that all three other major sports (yes, I still include hockey here) have one. Just like the Big 12 should have followed the lead of the SEC and ACC in breaking its three-way tie for the southern division title, major league baseball should follow the lead of the NBA, NFL and NHL in distributing its money among players.

My column would also mention that it is quite difficult to justify a system that discourages success for small-market teams. When the Marlins won the World Series in 1997 and 2003, they were forced to immediately dismantle their team because they could no longer afford to pay any of their players.

But after giving this all much consideration, I decided that it would be much more fun to think of all the ways I could make the number $161 million sound as absurd as possible. Here’s what I came up with:

-If you stacked 161 million dollar bills on top of one another, your pile would be roughly 111,805 feet tall-in other words, 89 Empire State Buildings high.

-Repeat this exercise with 161 million quarters and you get 670 Empire State Buildings (multiply by four if you want $161 million worth of quarters).

-For all you Christmas shoppers out there, $161 million will buy you 703,056 iPod Touches.

Hopefully that’s enough to cover all your Facebook.com friends.

-In case your school needs a new head football coach, $161 million big ones will buy you 644 Shane Montgomeries.

-If you just really love it here, or are having a tough time passing that pesky O-Chem class, $161 million will pay for 3,845 years as a Miami student, all expenses included (disregarding the annual hike in tuition of course).

-Every day should start with a healthy breakfast. For all you cereal lovers out there, 161 million honey nut cheerios supplies you with 355,408 bowls of deliciousness.

-Want to be like Lebron James? Who needs one 35,000 square foot house when you have the cash to buy 76.

-Forget digging to China. At 7’6″, 161 million Yao Mings can reach from here to the moon!

-Unfortunately, 161 million licks will only get you to the center of one tootsie pop.

-Somewhere around day 10 of Christmas break you will get the feeling that your entire family is from Mars.

Well, with $161 million you can buy 109,523,809 gallons of gas, which at 23 mpg is enough to drive from Oxford to Mars at its farthest point from Earth.

-What can’t $161 million buy? An MLB commissioner and players union that actually work together (there’s a novel idea) and install a salary cap.