Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's all about the Benjamin$, baby.

You know, just once I would like to see a press conference introducing a player contain some honest candor. When the press asks you why you are on the podium in Boston, New York, or Philly instead of Tampa, Pittsburgh, or Kansas, tell it like it is:

"Honestly, it came down to the money. This club was willing to throw buckets of cash in my general direction, and I just want to be super-duper rich. Sure, it helps that they win and stuff, but it's all about the Benjamins, baby."

Executives, agents, and players are always telling us that baseball is a business when something bad happens - when a player doesn't get resigned, unpopular trades occur, etc. - but when there's a cause for celebration, all that talk gets swept under the rug, and it's all sunshine and rainbows and the love of the game.

Sure, it's nice when players get up their and wax poetic about Ted Williams or Carl Yastrzemski, or talk about how much they're looking forward to playing with the current members of the team, or how the fans' passion was a deciding factor. I'm sure all these things are true to a fault, and maybe it is every young Californian's dream to play in Boston or New York, but in the end, we all know it's the money and years that get things done.

"I appreciate the history of the franchise, but I also really just want more watches like this."

There is the occasional player that is willing to look closely at things besides the dollars, like proximity to family, or a winning atmosphere, but no one in their right mind will take (hypothetically) an offer of $1 million for one year from New York over $25 million over three years to play in San Diego.

I would just like to state that there is nothing wrong with this. It is human nature to always strive for the most - and the best - of everything. If Carl Crawford is coming to Boston, I don't particularly care if it's true that he values the fan involvement more than the millions of dollars, so long as he'll work hard and help us win.

It is, of course, in the player's best interest to suck up to the fans and the media, because no one wants to get booed by their own home crowd, and the media controls public perception of them to a large degree. The smart players start this butt-kissing when they're first officially introduced to the team. for instance, Carl Crawford was introduced at 10am, and by 2pm, he was addressing Sox fans on Twitter.

I'm sure Crawford is legitimately excited to finally play in front of a capacity crowd for 81+ games, but I'm equally certain that if Tampa Bay or Anaheim or anyone else had been able to top the Sox's offer, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

So why the cynicism? I'm not trying to ruin this joyous occasion for Red Sox Nation, just offering up a realistic view of the process. The system is built so that players will end up with the richest teams, and then praise them like the money didn't have anything to do with it. True Red Sox fans should be able to look at this and appreciate how damned lucky we are, because it doesn't matter how passionate your fans are if the money isn't there to back them up.

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