I suppose it is easy for us fans to take cheap shots at players who take the money and run. It is just that if we were given the opportunity, we would all play for our favourite teams and we would not care what we were paid. Heck, even if we got the league minimum we would still be making more money than we could ever dream of making!
Yep, we would all be the star on our hometown team living the good life. Over time though, I suppose the team might not appreciate us as much as we appreciate them. Sure a hometown discount is fine we think, but there needs to be a bit of respect paid to our skills. Uh oh, management is starting to take advantage of us. What? I can’t believe they just signed that bum and they are paying him more than we make!
And on and on it goes. Give a man enough time with his own thoughts and who knows what kind of warped sense of reality he will create. Give that same man an agent and the picture suddenly becomes clearer…
Back in October I wrote about the reasons why very few players seem to want to play in Edmonton. More to the point, I came up with six reasons why players play where they do. I think these reasons apply to baseball just as they do to hockey:
I. Team has a good chance at winning the World Series now
II. Team has a good chance at winning the World Series soon
III. Player has not yet hit unrestricted free agency thus they are stuck
IV. Money, money, money!
V. Family considerations/ hometown discount
VI. Only the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates were willing to sign the player.
For a large percentage of the players in the league, the length of their careers is somewhat uncertain as are their career prospects after baseball. They may have risen up from a poor village or city somewhere to make the show. Perhaps they gave up the opportunity to pursue a college education to chase their dreams of playing in the big leagues. For these players, I can get my head around chasing the money and chasing after it now. They might only have 4 or 5 years to make enough money to provide for themselves and their families for the rest of their lives.
The above paragraph does not describe Jason Bay. Jason Bay is a star who has made a lot of money and will certainly make a lot more over his career. After already having made $18.9 million thus far in his career, he just signed a 4 year, $66 million contract to play for the New York Mets. ESPN has a salary calculator to enable to you see how long it takes Bay to make your annual salary. It also tells you how many years you would need to work to earn one year of Bay’s salary. It is a lot of fun and it will get you a little hot under the collar. They used to have one up with ARod; it takes him the pregame stretch and ball toss to cover me for the year.
Perhaps I am being unfair to Jason. Perhaps I am trying to hold him to an unreasonable standard. For any Canadian born baseball star, we Canadian baseball fans tend to hold on tight with a sincere hope they do us proud. Eric Gagne winning the Cy Young was huge for us; Larry Walker and Justin Morneau winning the MVP award was even bigger. Ferguson Jenkins winning a Cy Young and being inducted into the Hall of Fame is the current barometer for baseball greatness in Canada.
Who knows where Jason Bay might end up on the list of all time greats from the Great White North? My suspicion is that he just traded in a chance at the top of the list in exchange for a bunch of extra dollars.
I do know that there has never been a Canadian baseball player that was a key piece to a World Series championship team *. Any player that manages to play a crucial role in helping a team win it all will immediately move up to the front of the list of all time great Canadian baseball players. Mike Weir wins the Masters and he receives a free pass in our hearts for life. Should someone win a tennis major, the same perks will be granted. We as a nation have a bit of an inferiority complex and we take great pride, perhaps unreasonable pride in the accomplishments of others. Martin Short hasn’t been funny in quite awhile now but we still roll out the red carpet every time he comes home. You win and you are in. Howie Mandel even sells out comedy shows in our great land.
* At least in my lifetime, which started somewhere around the mid 1970s
And it is for this reason that I am taking a bit of a shot at Jason Bay. I don’t know what happened during his talks with the Boston Red Sox. I am not sure what make him decide that Boston wasn’t going to work out. I am pretty sure that I can glean out what made him sign with the Mets. It wasn’t the chance to win a World Series next year; sorry Mets fans.
I don’t think he signed because there was a chance to win a World Series soon, though I am sure that Jason has convinced himself that this is the case to facilitate sleeping each night. He wasn’t giving a hometown discount to Pittsburgh nor was he signing with the Royals.
Sigh… We are only down to one reason and one reason only for Jason Bay signing with the Mets over the Red Sox. $$$$$$$. Personally, I am not a big fan of the Sox and do not really have a need to see them win another title. That said, I sure would have felt immensely proud if the Sox won it again and Bay was part of the team. For robbing us of that chance, Canada has collectively borrowed Dikembe Mutombo’s finger and are waggling it at you Jason. You have let us down in exchange for more money than you will know what to do with. Next thing we know we will hear that you have applied for US citizenship. What? You already did that? Ok, never mind. We’ll find someone else to get behind. I hear that Joey Votto is available.