Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bid'ness

All this talk about Wily Mo, while leading to very interesting electronic conversation, is getting us off my main topic, which is the way Bronson Arroyo was treated.

I know that supposedly there was no "handshake agreement." And I know that Bronson will turn out fine, move on to his new place, and make a go of it over at Grover Cleveland, so to speak. (That reference would've been perfect if he'd been traded to Cleveland. Damn, I should have thought of that for Marte.) Maybe we and Bronson were never meant to be, just maybe think of him once in a while.

Talk about getting off topic.

So...

I'm not saying we should feel bad for Bronson. But, you know what? I do anyway. I read his reaction to the trade and it made me sad. As I thought he would, he showed a lot of class (I hate that word, with it's meaningless connection to the yankee organization, much like how WCSG always points out how hard it's become to listen to "Enter Sandman") in his departure. It was hard to read his words--saying how he just would've loved to be here, even if he had to come out of the bullpen. And how much he loved coming to Fenway, and the fans, and how he just thought he'd be here for a while.

I really don't know much about business. But it seems like common sense to keep a person like that on your side. Especially since, on top of all that other stuff, he helped win us a World Series, which is the ultimate goal.

I'd like to propose the following notion: Baseball is not a business. There, I proverbially said it. "Major League Baseball" is a business. The game played within that league is, obviously, baseball. But that doesn't make "baseball," as a whole, a business. If it was, we wouldn't go to the games, sit in the stands, cheer, boo, or write pages and pages about it. We wouldn't cry either of the two tear groups over it.

The difference between the Red Sox and Microsoft is that the stock we put into the Sox is emotional. Stockholders of a company get paid in actual currency when their favorite does well. We get something, good or bad, that can't be measured in loonies and twonies.

The "nerd" thing was cute at first. Theo came in here with a crapload of knowledge that a lot of other teams are still trying to figure out. But if you take it to the point where you're trading away David Ortiz for an infant because "in the past, babies born with large femurs have developed into great opposite field hitters," well, you're going to piss some people off.

The message Theo is sending is that even if I do fall in love with Wily Mo, and he takes us to another championship, and he says "I'll take less money to be here because I love it here so much," Theo will have no problem staring him in the face and saying, "Sorry, we found a guy with more potential. He's totally unproven, and you're the king of the town, but, sorry, business is business. Bye."

I want to like players and be able to grow attached without thinking that they're just going to be tossed out as soon as they have a bad month. I love seeing my team win because they had more heart than the team that was meticulously put together with computers. And I don't just blindly love every guy. Read my thoughts on Edgar Renteria. I just think there should be a lot of factors that go into building and maintaining a ballclub. It shouldn't all be based on stats, and projections that mean nothing.

If baseball were a business, the teams would just go strictly by stats, getting the exact player they need for each specific situation, and play the games in a big vacuum with no spectators. The winning front office at the end of each year would divide up their money, and have a little private party. The stockholders would get their checks in the mail.

And that's the way it looks to be leaning. The problem with doing everything by the book, and not considering players' or fans' feelings, is that the players will stop coming to your team, and the fans will stop coming to your park.

Eventually. People like me and you--a person who cares enough about the Red Sox to go searching the internet to find other fans' opinions on a transaction--will always be there. But we're getting old. Young kids don't care about baseball. They're too busy having sex with their teachers and thinking there's something independent about indie rock. So what these teams are doing is playing a dangerous game, stretching every dollar out of our loyalty. They seem to want to win so that they can make more money, not to make us happy--which should be their number one job. They didn't stop to consider the fact that some people would rather see someone they've grown attached to.

Theo proved me wrong with Nomar. But that was in a situation where something needed to be done right away, he made the call, and we saw immediate results. (Although had Dave Roberts eaten one less Wheatie on the morning of his fateful steal, who knows what crazy alternate universe we'd all be living in.)

That was the old Theo, though. I am starting to think that when he left, he was buried in the old Micmac burial ground. Once they're in there, you have to leave 'em there. You can dig 'em up, but they won't be the same.

The thing is, even if he "proves me wrong" with the on-field results of this trade, I'll still be kind of pissed at how this all went down, and what it really means for the future of the Red Sox.

Comments:
Your post mirrors exactly how I feel, Jere. Thanks for writing it. I'm getting a little tired of everyone telling me I shouldn't be as upset about the way Bronson was treated as I am.

I know he's a rich dude who will go on...but tonight he's just a regular guy who's hurting and I feel really, really sorry for him.

My heart is with him...I don't care how corny that sounds.
 
Glad we can relate on this issue, Cyn.

Also, I'm glad the people who disagree have been respectful and thoughtful in their comments, which I guess is what happens when the argument has no Dunbar fans involved in it.

Also, it's kind of weird how Damon said some of the same things I said here. But he shouldn't be opening his mouth about this. Had he taken less money to stay, like Bronson did, they actually would have kept him.
 
Excellent, well said. I may print that out, frame it and hang it on my wall.
 
Wow, that's taking "mom hanging your report card on the fridge" to the next level. Thanks, gagknee.
 
I agree with this, also. Very well put, Jere.

Cyn - your sentiments aren't corny at all. I share them, too.
 
Thanks.

I forgot to make "WCSG" a link. Will fix that.

Also, I've been trying to think of the two parts of the deal separately. The business and the emtions. I'll still debate the trade as a business decision, and still will hope that it works out in our favor. And I'm psyched for Wily Mo.

I don't mean to imply here that the people that like the trade have no emotion or are robots or whatever. I think they maybe just do a better job of separating than I do.

Whatever it is, I think the emotional side is the one I relate to more, the reason that I'm a fan, so I'm not going to hide or pretend that I don't have them.

Can I just say that all the aspects of this one trade alone prove that baseball is the best game.
 
There is a difference, in fact they are two completely different things. They being the business of baseball and the game of baseball. Sometimes they wind around each other like chewing gum around your finger. In best times, they do not.
 
I believe that Bill James said this once (a very long time ago) much, much better than I will, but baseball is not a business to you or me. For us, it starts out at one level as an entertainment, or a pastime, and of course soon transcends that to become a passion and source of much enjoyment in life.

However, for the owners and executive employees of the Boston Red Sox, it absolutely is a business…and that’s exactly how it has been since Connie Mack broke up and rebuilt the Philadelphia A’s twice, as well as how it should be. Theo Epstein has an obligation to devise and execute a strategy to make the Red Sox as competitive a franchise as they can be over the long term; if he comprises on that, then he is very simply not doing his job as general manager. It is very important, of course, that Theo and the rest of the Sox front office conduct business in an ethical and honest manner, but by all accounts that I’ve read he dealt fairly and honestly with Arroyo. I appreciate how much Bronson enjoyed playing for the Sox and living in Boston, and feel for him, but in the end that’s not enough to reject a trade that very likely benefits the team both this season and in future years (as I believe the Pena trade will). I wish Bronson well in Cincy, but as JackLamabe65 on SoSH frequently says: “They come, they go, we stay”

Let me put it this way: if Theo and the FO made decisions based on players’ wishes, then Manny Ramirez would (based on what we as outsiders know) no longer be playing for the Red Sox, and the team would have likely gotten back much less than fair market value for Manny in return.

I have to say, the line about kids having sex with their teachers cracked me up. Sorry for the late reply; I meant to post this morning, but work got in the way...ironic, huh?
 
Ironic indeed.

I still say, in arguing the trade on strictly the business side, that it was made based on unproven things. If we could guarantee Wily Mo will play to his potential, and that Bronson has already peaked, well, A. of course it's a great move and B. that wouldn't be fun for me to already to know what will happen before it does.

Couldn't you say the same things about any minor leaguer that people are saying about Wily Mo? "He hasn't proven himself yet, but he's got loads of potential." Theo himself has admitted the risk involved in this deal. I usually look at the bright side of all things Red Sox, but to base a trade on nothing factual just doesn't sit well with me.

It's kind of like picking the NCAA pool. You could pick all the 16 seeds, and if you win, you'll look like a total genius. But if you really wnat to have a chance to win, you should definitely NOT do that.

I like risks and stuff. But, I don't know, this one seems more Riske than David.
 
Guys, when you start hesitating to trade middle rotation pitchers like Arroyo, who have been around just three years, and who are going to the bullpen where their value will decrease by the day, because they contributed to something special two years ago and "really want to stay in Boston," you end up with a losing team. I'd say the team owed a whole lot less to Arroyo than to Millar or Mueller, but one didn't hit for a whole seaon at an offensive spot and the other was getting old, so they both had to go and good for the Sox for recognizing it. Teams trade from strength; teams move around non-stars; teams look to get better, and nothing has changed about that in 70 years.
Ken Harrelson saved the team from collapse in 1968, was the most entertaining character in years, led the league in RBI, a real rock star, and he said he'd never leave Boston. And when the starting rotation turned up short in the spring of '69 and it was claer the team had bats to spare, off he went to Cleveland for two good pitchers. That's baseball, not just business.
 
I just stumbled onto this blog from Surviving Grady. I think you captured the business versus emotional value better than just about anything else I've read on the subject.
 
1st Jack: I think you can read my defense in all I've written about this already.

2nd Jack: Wow. Thank you. I appreciate it. Look for me to take the topic to "overkill" level soon.
 

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