At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Monday, December 12, 2005

Memo to Disgruntled Stars: You Can't Have it Both Ways

Am I the only one who is growing tired of hearing major league baseball players whine about where they are playing and ask for trades to play elsewhere? Red Sox left-fielder Manny Ramirez, of course, has famously been singing this song for some time now, and he was joined last week by Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, who apparently is dissatisfied with the way his team has approached its roster building this off season. But when the Boston Globe reported this morning that Edgar Renteria had added his voice to the noise – citing of all things a poor infield at Fenway Park – well, that really was the last straw.

Never mind, Edgar, that the infield on which you played is but one season old. Never mind, Miguel, that this off-season so far has lasted barely more than one month, and that your team until recently was critically hamstrung by budget woes caused by a number of bad signings in the past. Never mind, Manny, that all your team does is contend year after year and that you are celebrated like few other athletes are in few other places in the world.

You all chose to play in the cities in which you did this summer, and you signed contracts to do so that made you richer than many developing nations. But now you are unhappy because you are too much in the public spotlight (Ramirez), or because you’ve done so much and the team isn’t doing well (Tejada), or because “the ball bounces too much” (Renteria)? Well, grow up: you made a deal, now live with the consequences.

Understand, too, that those of us who work for a living don’t feel bad for you. Most of us spend our days doing things of which we are not especially fond, in places we often do not especially like, for salaries that frequently don’t comfortably cover such basic necessities as food, clothing, and housing. And we have no respect for someone who evidently considers a contract to be a mere inconvenience, nonbinding for the player, but cast iron for the team. I mean, I have never heard any player express any willingness to forgo the rest of his salary in return for his freedom of movement. Instead, each and every one expects to receive the rest of his millions, and more often than not, he makes his approval of the trade he demanded contingent upon the new team’s renegotiation of his existing contract!

I tell you now what I tell my children: you can’t have it both ways. If you want the security of a long-term contract for significant money, then be prepared to make the same commitment to your team that the team has made to you. Otherwise, stop acting so hurt and surprised when you are treated like assets to be treasured, leveraged, and resold according to the market condition. You asked for this, and you got it: now live with the result you created.

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