Agree completely. The business of top level sport is so different now that comparisons to even 1980s players’ careers are fatally flawed.
I too am more familiar with MLB than other sports, but in many ways, the business of the teams is not playing games; it’s player development. The profit comes not from the gate nor the TV revenue. The profit comes from getting a promising player for cheap, growing them to be valuable, then selling them on to another team.
Back in the day, a World Series winning team would be reliably formidable the next year. Now, many of them sell off a big chunk of the winning squad at temporarily inflated prices and field a bunch of comparative noobs next year. Why? Money.
Another thought unrelated to the above:
As to the whole thread … When comparing players across sports or across time, we should bear in mind the number of teams in the relevant league. Playing on 6 of 12 teams in a league is a very different accomplishment versus playing on 6 of 36 teams in a different league.
In one sense they’re similar, because each represents 5 trades and given the relatively short careers of most athletes, there’s only so many trading opportunities. At the same time, covering half the teams of a small league will be an example of a bigger fish in a smaller pond vs 15% of the teams in a much larger league.