They aren’t your friends. On a personal level, you never had a special relationship. Ultimately, you don’t influence their life decisions.
Sure, that comes across as a bitter, cynical curmudgeon like take on ex-Yankee Robinson Cano and ex-Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury, but it’s the truth.
This week, both bolted from the only professional home they ever knew, as Cano switched coasts and signed a 10-year deal with the Mariners and Ellsbury switched Northeast laundry and inked with the Yankees. Both saw the biggest payday of their young lives in front of their faces and they took it. Elsewhere.
As fans, the idea of departing the only team that groomed you, prepared you, and embraced you is as foreign as the metric system. Yeah, some people partake in it, but not “our guys”. WE watched their maturation from green rookie to veteran World Series champion. From afar WE watched like proud parents, in some special way felt an inkling of responsibility in their success. “That’s my guy. I remember when he was just a kid. He’s come a long way”, we’d say.
But, in a sad realistic way, WE really have to take a step back and realize what this is all about: a business. Both Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury have a small window in their lives to make an obscene amount of money. Being a professional athlete is not like other professions in terms of supply and demand. When both are 45 years old, no one is interested in Ellsbury’s base running or Cano’s swing because at that point those depleted intangibles are only appealing to beer drinking softball leagues and barstool experts.
I know many are thinking, “That’s bullshit. He loved being here. He was one of us”. Because of some big rally, an adrenaline fueled celebration, or a goosebump inducing curtain call, you felt some extra special connection to someone you never met. Truth be told, there actually are some moments of massive fan and player interaction that will sappily resonate between both parties, but at the end of the day it’s just a job for them. Expressing logical human nature, fans look at baseball as that game that conjures up nostalgia from our youth, while players rightfully view it as the sole depositor of their checking account.
There are those “legacy” players, like Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia, who will stay put with their original teams. In all likelihood, both will never leave their respective baseball homes and will be stamped as that ultra-rare one team guy. For so long, “The Captain” and “Petey” have been the face of their franchises, something that never seemed to genuinely click with Cano or Ellsbury.
You can call them traitors or “traders”, but you’d be wrong, especially on the latter unless you have proof either buys and sells financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives. Because when the stadium lights are turned off and the last beat writer has left the park, it’s not about the fans roar or the teammate camaraderie. It’s about the all mighty dollar. Just like it has been and always will be.
Just like it would be for you and I.