The trials and tribulations of a small market team dictate short hero-worshiping periods. Fans in Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Oakland, San Diego and Seattle see their biggest young stars leave with kids proudly displaying their hero’s name on their back of their newly purchased uniform jersey. Greinke, CC, Bell, The Kid and A-Rod all have broken hearts for bigger dollars elsewhere. The days of Yount and Brett staying despite their ability to gain more fortune are over.
There are no more daydreams for these cities. They have been heartbroken before.
The reality of the moment is that young star players use these cities to make their mark and then go to teams in larger cities that can pay them the most. Quality of life is not in their mind in this age or at their age. It’s all about the buck. It’s all about the cash. It’s all about the new Mercedes AMG.
These are not the ballplayers who loved their local fans in return. Heck, some don’t even talk to the press unless their PR firms tell them to do so. The days of having fans claim you as their own and players appreciating it enough to stay in these cities are long gone. Some say all of that ended when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, the Giants left for San Francisco. But the timeline for ‘flight for the bigger buck’ happened when the Braves left Milwaukee.
That’s when players cried at leaving a city that led the major leagues in attendance for those few short years and made names like Mathews, Spahn, Aaron, Burdette, Adcock and Logan the heroes of the highest order. They could have run for office (opps, Logan later did…and lost). That is when fans, fought through the courts to stop a carpet bagging owner from removing their heroes to a Southern city in the heart of Dixie. To no avail, fans hearts were broken. They were gutted to know there would be no more baseball in the summer in Milwaukee. No more of Earl Gillespie’s smooth voice ringing out the melody of horsehide meeting wood. No more rosin. No more sound. Quiet.
Now the carpetbaggers are no longer owners. It is the star younger players who will take their talent to the land of New York or Anaheim, Dallas or Boston, Miami or that town in the heart of Dixie. That’s where the money is. That’s where they can fill up their tanks with high-test. That’s where Jimmy who cried himself to sleep over a dumb baseball player leaving his favorite team in the middle of the season comes in.
It wasn’t just Jimmy’s favorite team. It was that he had given his baseball heart to some player he never met, nor ever will. He tied his dreams to some guy who didn’t even know who Jimmy was.
The world if full of Jimmy’s. But that doesn’t matter in the chase for more cash. If you make $12 million a year, what will $20 million give you that you already cannot afford? Will it put you in the VIP line of the IRS? If your PR man tells their players to talk about how they love their current city, their current owner, they will do exactly that. It’s called pandering to the masses. It’s giving hope when all is lost. When you hear it, you know it is over.
So say goodbye to Greinke, Milwaukee Jimmy. To Greinke, say goodbye to the running bratwurst and wiener, Polish, Italian and spicy Mexican sausage races during the sixth inning of home games where you have never lost a game in your entire career in the Cream City. Imagine, you have set a record for one of the few pitchers in baseball history to start in three consecutive games. You have a mound that absolutely matches your pitching style. Try to find that in the Bank of Dallas (name your own city). Oh, by the way, Miller Park is covered. Perfect conditions. Always able to throw when scheduled. Routine is guaranteed.
That can’t be said for any of those other BIG market cash carrying teams.
So you think that this soliloquy is foolish and that anyone who would turn down these bigger dollars is crazy. Just ask Robin Yount how he feels about staying with the Brewers his entire career or ask George Brett how he feels about his entire career playing in Kansas City. Bet they both have money in the bank and enjoying life. Most of all you can bet that they would not have changed their career choice, and yes they both had the opportunity to jump to other cities that could pay them bigger dollars, when that decision faced them.
It is a fool who does not see the opportunity around them in a place where Jimmy’s adore them. To those who dream, hope. To those who don’t go on to play not knowing what hope is all about.