It’s All About the Money

This was a comment posted yesterday by loyal MetsToday reader “Rob”:

In the last week we’ve been subjected to press conferences where free agent player (Reyes, Pujols, Wilson) thanks his fans for their years of following, tells them that it was the hardest decision in the world to leave the only team they’ve ever known, and observes that the deal offered by the signing team showed too much love to pass up…so sayonara and god bless. We’ve also heard from the team GM’s that losing the player was “just business,” recognizing that the game is really just a business and nothing more. This got me to thinking. We as fans become emotionally invested in the game of pro baseball, primarily at the behest of the team and the players. The team tries to get us to buy season tickets and player jerseys, promotes the club by enticing fans to come out and see “Player X or Player Y” and generally tries to invoke an emotional devotion to the club. The players do the same thing…they sell their jerseys, give away their autographs and strive to become a household name with each of their fans because fan love equates to selling tickets. Yes…production matters, but let’s assume that the players that become household names are the players who invoke the most fan affection.

This goes on for so long as the players are under contract. Come and see us, they say…root for us…wear our jersey and show us the love, they say.

Then comes contract negotiation time and all of a sudden, the fan love and devotion that every team and every great player has promoted for all those years goes right out the window in favor of the “it’s just business” excuse. It’s just business that Reyes signed with the Marlins and dissed his fans for a few million more; it’s just business that the Mets didn’t try to sign him to a larger contract; it’s just business that Pujols left St. Louis, the only place he’s ever known…where fans have treated him like a god among men…for the sake of tens of millions of dollars more than the hundreds of millions of dollars that he would have made had he stayed; it’s just business that St. Louis didn’t show him more love by paying him a few million more per year.

The fans are asked to become emotionally invested in every great player that a team develops…then those same fans are asked to just sit helplessly by while everyone ignores the emotional investment and just factors in the money…because that’s what the game is all about today…the money. But that’s not what’s they say it’s all about when they’re getting us to buy the tickets and the caps and the jerseys and the pictures…its about the love.

So what can I conclude about this game today? It’s a sham. It’s a fraud on all of the millions of fans who have been induced to fall in love with their favorite players on their favorite team, hoping that they’ll stay together for the lifetime of that player’s career…only to be told at the height of that career that it’s just business when that player bolts for another higher-paying team.

How does this fit into this discuss? Does anyone believe after the events of the last week that any of these teams give two shakes of a lambs tail about what the fans think? Does anyone think that they care at all about the time and money that each fan has emotionally invested in the team? Does anyone think that anyone factors any of that into their “negotiations” and deliberations? I don’t think so. And where winning comes into that equation? That’s open for debate. I’d argue that the emotional investment is there because the fan wants to see his team win. If the owner is unwilling to spend money on the favorite player, he’s ignoring the fans emotions and by the same token doesn’t care about winning…because it’s just business.

I’m thinking long and hard over this offseason as to whether I’m a pro baseball fan anymore. I can’t invest that kind of emotion and love in a team and its players if they’re just going to let the players go like it doesn’t matter to us…because it does. And maybe they’ll never recognize that…and maybe I’m just naive. But I thought baseball was supposed to be more than just about the money.


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. John December 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm
    This seems like an awful lot of whining for something that is obvious to everyone. Yes, the Mets decided that Reyes wasn’t worth what the Marlins were offering. Yes, Reyes accepted a deal. Yes, the fans come a distant third in all sports.

    However, a player and team cannot let fans dictate what they do. Why should Reyes sign for less money to play for the Mets? You wouldn’t accept less money to stay at your job if there was someone else offering substantially more money. Why should Reyes stay for Mets fans? He owes us nothing. The only thing he owed us was to play hard for the Mets so we wouldn’t feel like we wasted our money.

    Also, why should the Mets be forced to keep him? (NOTE: I firmly believe the Mets blew this one). There was an outcry when Mazzilli was traded? Was everyone angry at the Mets when Ron Darling took the mound in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series? No. Mets Management has to operate in a fashion that they feel is best for the team.

    The only reason you should be upset is with is at least the perception that the Wilpons don’t have the money to operate the Mets as effectively as possible. Depending on your point of view, this may be exemplified by the fact that they did not resign Reyes. The $40 million dollar loan they recently obtained is further evidence of this. The reason why you should be upset at this is that in some way, shape, or form you have invested money into a team that is not willing to invest it back.

    Overall, be a baseball fan because you love the sport. Watch games for events like the Game 6’s we saw in 1986, 1991, or 2011. Watch it because you remember your dream was to be up with bases loaded and 2 outs in Game 7 of the World Series with your team down 3.

    Don’t base your judgment on the fact that this is a business. If that is true, stop watching TV or movies because the actors certainly care a lot less about you than they care about their extra homes or celebrity status. At least players come out for autographs and try to spread the sport to their homes to give children the opportunity to achieve what they were able to.

  2. Dallas December 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm
    I’m not happy about losing Reyes either. Mets are a big market club and these things shouldnt happen. However listen to how entitled I sound. Because I’m a Mets fan we should be more entitled to sign our free agents vs the Royals? Where was all the disgust about baseball when the Mets signed Beltran? Pedro? Santanta? Its unfortunate that unless you are the Yankees that career players no longer seem to exist. The fact is they have dropped off precipitously a long time ago. I don’t think you will find many arguments that this isnt a good thing and its not just baseball.
    • Steve S. December 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm
      Yes, the Mets are a large market team—and except for being owned by the Wilponzis—they would be competing for the top free agents now.

      And we fans will howl for that to happen again if and when the Wilponzis are finally forced to sell.

      Yes, if we had been able to sign guys like Papelbon and even Edwin Jackson this winter, we’d be ecstatic.

  3. Jay December 13, 2011 at 7:51 pm
    I say occupy Citifield! No, really, I have to agree with Joe in this article. It is the main reason why I decided not to buy Reyes jersey this year. I knew he would walk because the Mets do not have a history of not being lyal to good players- only mediocre players. In a sense, they didn’t get my money- I never bought that jersey- I know its just business. Unfortunately, it is the wrong business model. Take a look at the cross town rivals the yankees. Now here is a team that is commited to paying for good players. Result: the most successful franchise in baseball, with limitless revenue streams, and an international fan base. Now that’s “just business.”
    • John December 14, 2011 at 11:50 am
      The last thing we need to do is Occupy Citi Field. Rather, we need to Vacate Citi Field.