Hometown Heroes

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Growing up, my goal in life was
to be a major league baseball player. Apparently, though, there’s this rule
that says you have to be good to make it to the majors. Rats… Missed it by THAT
much.

 

As I grew older, however, and the
dream of being a big-league ball player became more and more real (in my mind,
at least), I could only think of a handful of teams I wanted to play for. The
motivation behind this list had nothing to do with money, either.

 

I am no professional athlete and,
barring some kind of miracle, I will never know what it’s like to earn $1
million dollars in one year. But this is the time of year where the guys who did make it to the big leagues are
trying to figure out just how many millions of dollars they want to earn for
the next few years at least.

 

This phenomenon will always blow
my mind.

 

What goes through a man like Mark
Teixeira’s mind when deciding between a handful of teams, all of which are
offering millions upon millions? What is his motivation? How do you decide?

 

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When I look at free agency, I try
to figure out who will go where. Sometimes, you hear the term “hometown club”
thrown around as if it is some kind of X-Factor in a deal. It happens all the
time. I remember hearing reports about CC Sabathia possibly being lured by the
Dodgers and Angels. The reason? He is from southern California. Where did he end
up? New York who offered the big contract.

 

Now I’m hearing that Tex is
receiving an offer from the Baltimore Orioles who play not so far from Severna
Park, Maryland where he grew up. Is this something that will motivate him to
sign with the O’s? Or will he ultimately end up in Boston where he is offered
something ridiculous like $200 million?

 

If I was a ball player, and I was
offered two contracts: (6yrs/$60million from Philadelphia and 8yrs/$150million
from New York) I would pick the Phillies, hands-down, no hesitation. To me, it’s
a no brainer. I would take less money to play for the team I grew up loving
over a truck-load of money and a pool full of green jell-o from either New York
team.

 

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I don’t understand how more
players are not motivated by this same sense of hometown pride. During the
world series, it was well documented that Jamie Moyer grew up a Phillies fan
and was overjoyed by the opportunity to pitch for them in the world series, to
the extent that he started game 3 despite suffering from the stomach flu the
day before.

 

Am I the only crazy one here? Or
has free agency become about nothing but dollars and cents?

8 Comments

Scott – there are still players who feel a loyalty to a home town or a team. Dustin Pedroia signed a long term contract with the Red Sox, making less then if he went else where, because he loves playing with the Sox and didn’t want to go anywhere else. Things mattered to him besides money.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Yeah, the hometown thing usually happens a lot with the Padres. In 2005, Trevor Hoffman accepted a lot less money just to stay in San Diego. A lot of players live around here, and the weather is great for baseball. Like, the Padres are looking for a backup veteran catcher right now, and Brad Aumus’s name has been thrown around a lot because 1) he is a veteran catcher, and 2) he lives in San Diego. I really do wonder about these guys too, though. The ones who are getting offered so much money, and they can’t decide? I mean, I would play major league baseball for $10 a month if a got the chance :)
http://kaybee.mlblogs.com

The Moyer deal baffles me?! That’s a lot of money to keep him in town. I know the Brewers were looking into making him an offer…probably was nothing more than an inquiry, though.

I understand your point about making a million, but I think the majority of us would accept the largest offer in return for our services. It’s all temporary-and remember, baseball contracts are guaranteed. I could resume my fandom of my team when I’m retired and have a ton of cash to boot! I don’t know, I guess I couldn’t say for sure unless I was in that position…which I’ll never have to worry about. :(

http://thehappyyoungster.mlblogs.com/

Youngster,
You make a valid point and I don’t doubt that most people would take the most money. Money is a powerful thing in this world which is such a shame. Money means absolutely nothing to me (I guess that’s why I’m a writer), and I would play for the Phillies for free. Business, retail jobs, all that kind of stuff is all about the money because I don’t love the job. I’m only there to make money. In my opinion, if you’re playing professional baseball because you want to make tons of money and not because you love the game, you’re a fraud. I guess that’s just the baseball purist in me because a lot of people seem to disagree.
I have a few buddies who studied finance in college and are on their way to making a killing on Wall Street. But I love my writing and I love my baseball. Money is just a fringe benefit.
I always try to look at things as how I’ll remember them when I’m old. Personally, I’d rather look back on a career playing for the Philadelphia Phillies for less than the peanut guy makes than look back on a career playing for the Mets for a billion dollars. Life’s about so much more than money. I wish more people realized that.

Scott,
I am afraid I have to agree. Now I am NOT saying everyone is in it for the money, but some have to be. Not everyone says, “Oh, Im a big-league player! But, I dont care if I get payed or not.” If everyone said that I would look like this ; O_o – Because they would be lieing. C.C, on the other hand..he was on our team once. But for some reason I cant even understand, he was traded. I miss him, but I know that he will be just fine in NY. I dont think he did it all for money..they are a good team. But I cant help think that he did it part for money. ): Which I dont think of him that way though..I dont know, it’s kinda confusing. http://tribechick.mlblogs.com/

You also make good points, tribechick. Players want to win and they want to play for teams who have a good chance to win. I remember my mom always getting angry at former Phillies (Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen) who left Philly for a contender. I don’t have one problem with this.
Sure, I would like to see some players stick around and help the team turn it around, but there are some organizations who aren’t committed to winning. The Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox and Mets, they’re all committed to winning year after year. Some teams are not, which is why the Indians traded CC last season. He was in a contract year and it was known throughout the organization that he had no interest in re-signing. So they traded him while they could still get some value for him instead of losing him for nothing. That’s just the business of baseball.
Maybe I exaggerated when I said I would play for nothing. It was a figure of speech that I think you’re taking a bit to literally. Players have to get paid and I’ve always defended high salaries in pro sports. The purpose of this entry was to question why a player chooses money OVER the opportunity to play for their childhood team, that’s all. If someone offered me 100 million dollars to play baseball, my response would be “where do I sign?” My point was I would take less money (say 50 million) to play for the Phillies. It’s still a ton of cash either way and I can’t put a price on playing in red pinstripes.

I would also take less money to play for the Braves. I would also never accept any offer from the Yankees. Playing for the Braves was my dream before reality set in. Playing somewhere else may make me richer but playing for the Braves would make me truly happy.
http://hardballblog.mlblogs.com/

Adda boy, blue!

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