Sunday, February 03, 2008

Millionare Ball Players Vs. The Hometown Hero

Baseball is one of my only materialistic external passions. I can only imagine at the turn of the century how exciting it must have been to sit in the stands and root for hometown heroes. The Walter "Big Train" Johnsons and the Honus Wagners of the league that were on YOUR team for their entire career. Jackie Robinson was as much a part a Brooklyn as the Brooklyn Bridge. Even latter day heroes like Mike Schmidt and Cal Ripken were just a few of the hometown heroes that only wore one MLB uniform.

When I was a kid; Willie Mays was as much a part of San Francisco as dungeness Crab or sour dough bread.

But with free agency came the end of America's past time as we knew it. Only the player with a dedication to his community or his team would stick with the team. As of late, my kudos go out to

1. Eric Chavez Oak. 3b

2. Ichiro Suzuki Sea. OF

3. Frank Thomas * not his fault he got traded

4. Roy Halladay Tor. P

5. John Smoltz Atl. P

6. Mark Buhrle CHW. P

7. Michael Young Tex. SS

8. Todd Helton Col. 1b

9. Craig Biggio/Jeff Bagwell Hou. OF/1b

10. Garrett Anderson CA. OF

Perhaps there are 3 or 4 more I missed that belong on this list. But I'm really sorry that it is so short.

I'll be brief with the list of money hungry heart breakers:

1. AROD (aka PayRod) Sea/Tex/NYY/NYY
2. Alfonso Soriano Tex/WA/ChC
3. Barry Zito Oak/SF
4. Miguel Tejada Oak/Balt
5. Roger Clemens Bos/Tor/NyY/Hou/NyY/?

I could go on and on but it would just be a waste of energy. Right or wrong, MLB players use to be examples for the youth of the world. If you work hard and follow your dream, you could play amongst the best. Now to take it one step further, if you work really hard. Perhaps enhance your performance with drugs if needed, you can put yourself up for sale on the free agent market after 5 years.

This is teaching the youth of America that BBD concept. In other words, you only need to be as loyal to your club and teammates (and especially your fans) until the "Bigger/Better" Deal comes along.

That's sort of how 50 percent of married couples look at marriage.

What happened to faithfulness? Talk to a 49er fan. They'll tell you about faith.

It's just aweful that teams go to the trouble of drafting fine prospects just to prepare to replace them in 5 years. Even Billy Beane can't keep the bucket loaded that quickly. And what does a fan have to keep him coming back? Why should a fan get excited over a rookie of the year on their team when they know that if the team doesn't have deep pockets like the Red Sox and Yankees, they'll end up on the east coast in 5 years.

Baseball whores are what they've become. Steroid whores at that.

Now let me see it from the other side. Let's say I'm drafted by a poor small market club like Kansas City. Let's say I'm an adequate pitcher that wins 14 games a year for 5 years. If my E.R.A. is somewhere in the mid 3's I'm guarunteed a great contract with the Yankees. Because Kansas will be outbidded by anything NY has to offer. But what do I owe the Royals? Are 5 good seasons a quid pro quo transaction? What if I'm on a team with no defense. Then perhaps my ERA goes from 3.50 to 4.60. and instead of 14 wins a year I'm barely breaking double digits. Then the offers are only coming from my own team. So the better I am, the more I owe my teammates. Don't I? Not to mention the fans holding the signs of support for me for 5 years. How can I in good faith say, "Up your's, I'm getting a Steinbrenner contract"?

I honestly feel that scouts should re-prioritize their scouting criteria with a parameter of not just "signability" but "re-signability". If I grew up in the rural Kansas City area I might be more prone to stay with the team I called mine for 18 years.

Or perhaps salary caps need to come to the MLB. With MLB in such a flux these days, drastic cures are needed. If the Mega Million dollar contracts are no longer being thrown around like Cocaine at Club 51 in 1976, then perhaps the players won't be using steroids to get themselves a sweet deal. We might even see the return of the hometown Hero.


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