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.