Help for Hacks: A Comprehensive List of Athletes Getting Paid More Than the Astros' Entire Payroll

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Comedy is a combination of hard work, creativity and timing, and -- depending on which comedians you talk to -- an ample amount of drugs may or may not be involved as well.

I don't claim to be a professional comedian. Not even close. But I do think I have a decent ear for humor, an ability to discern not only whether or not humor exists, but also what the shelf lives are for certain jokes or stories. Very few things are funny forever. Hell, in 2013, very few things are funny for more than a few days.

So I can say without hesitation that, after a shelf life of a solid three or four days, the jokes about "_________ is getting paid more than the Houston Astros in 2013." are played out. Toast. Done.

Naturally, my assessment won't stop the talking heads on Baseball Tonight or other wisecrackers from oozing their inevitable snark any time the Astros, Alex Rodriguez or money are topical. And God forbid the Astros are actually relevant for any period of time this season (1-0 as I type this!), we will have a legion of standup comedians on our hands every night on SportsCenter reminding us of the depths to which Jim Crane has plunged the talent expenditures at the Major League level.

The Astros don't spend much on players right now. We got it.

(Point of clarification: I have ZERO problem, by the way, with the Astros' $25 million payroll. Some do, I don't. I understand that in a massive rebuilding mode, it makes no sense to spend $50 million to win 70 games when you can spend $25 million to win 60. I'm fine with this, PROVIDED THAT when the time comes to win 85 games, the payroll expands, and when the time comes to win 95 games, the payroll expands further. Just had to make that clear.)

So, in order to get this out of the way, I am letting all of the comics and quip-masters out there know that we realize the following all make more in one year than the entire Houston Astros roster:

5. BASEBALL Thankfully, the list of baseball players is actually very short with Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees, $29,000,000) and Johan Santana (New York Mets, $25,500,000) topping the list for 2013 salaries and Justin Verlander's new deal giving him an average of $28,000,000 per year a potential talking point, at least. Rodriguez is actually out until August and Santana appears to be done for the season, so we may be safer from bad humor than we think.

4, BASKETBALL From a pure salary standpoint, only Kobe Bryant ($27,849,149) is slated to make more this season than the Astros, but if we start to add in endorsements (and as long as Rick Reilly walks this earth, we have to assume that no stone for lame humor will go unturned), we also must add in the following:

LeBron James: $53,000,000 Dwight Howard: $25,600,000 Kevin Durant: $25,500,000

And let's not put it past Stuart Scott to round up on Dwyane Wade's $24,700,000 number. Don't underestimate DJ Jazzy Stu.

3. FOOTBALL Just know right now that any substantial free agent in the NFL, while they may wind up with a salary cap number significantly lower than $25,000,000 in their first year, probably is getting duked a signing bonus somewhere near $25,000,000, even if they're not even close to worth it (*cough*...Mario Williams...*cough*). In fact, it just so happens that's the exact amount that Tony Romo got as a signing bonus on his new deal. Tom Brady wound up getting $30 million this coming season for restructuring and extending his deal. Lots of big numbers out there in football free agency, and therefore, lots of potentially lame Astro payroll jokes.

2. BOXING One thing is for sure, if Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao ever decide to fight, then money will be a central storyline. It's inevitable that we will hear "During the last calendar year, Mayweather and Pacquiao were the highest-paid athletes on the planet at $85,000,000 and $62,000,000, respectively. DID YOU REALIZE THAT'S NEARLY SIX TIMES THE ASTROS' PAYROLL!!!" Hell, once they're done fighting each other, they might be able to buy the team, assuming they're as cool with debt as current ownership.

1. OTHER ATHLETES Just to exhaust the entire list and call dibs on any and all "Astro payroll" jokes involving athletes, let it be known that we all know the following athletes had incomes of more than $25,000,000 in the past year, salary/winnings plus endorsements:

Tiger Woods: $59,400,000 Roger Federer: $52,700,000 Phil Mickelson: $47,800,000 David Beckham: $46,000,000 Cristiano Ronaldo: $42,500,000 Lionel Messi: $39,000,000 Rafael Nadal: $33,200,000 Fernando Alonso: $32,000,000 Valentino Rossi: $30,000,000 Michael Schumacher: $30,000,000 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: $28,200,000 Lewis Hamilton: $28,000,000 Wladimir Klitschko: $28,000,000 Maria Sharapova: $27,900,000 Mahendra Singh Dhoni: $26,500,000

Before we wrap up the list, just to close off any potential gaps in our lame joke "land rush," performing a quick Google search on "things that cost more than $25 million per year," we find that the following things also make more than the Astros entire roster in 2013:

-- All of the athletics departments in the Pac-12, thanks to their new TV deal

-- Prince Edward Island's government, thanks to the Harmonized Sales Tax

-- Microsoft, thanks to some "vendor chargeback" program that I got bored to tears reading about

-- A bunch of Congress members, assholes

There, that should just about cover it.

So if you make wisecracks about the Astros payroll being less than any of the things I've outlined in this here blog post, you're a hack, a scrub, the Brian Scalabrine of comedians.

Your move, Rick Reilly.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

Follow Hair Balls News on Facebook and on Twitter @HairBallsNews.

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