Sports fans love to pretend they would play for free.
Today, 9-time Gold Glove winning outfielder Torii Hunter signed with the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers happen to be my favorite baseball team, so I was pretty excited. Even more, he fills a need for the team. And, coming off arguably the best season of his career at the plate, his reported 2yr deal worth $26 million, is well worth it…even for a 36 year old veteran.
I checked out Torii’s Twitter account and even left his a message, welcoming him to Motown. But, in searching his replies, I saw the dark side of sports fandom that always shows up every time a player signs for big money. Now, granted, most fans wished him luck. But there were a few who called him named for leaving their beloved Angels team, despite the fact that the Angels gave him an insulting offer for a player of his talent, and is basically ready to move on with younger players. The Angels will be fine. And yet, there were the fans, spitting vile. Telling him he is only doing this for the money.
Well, yeah. It may not all be about the money, but part of it certainly is. And what is wrong with that? Hunter is chasing a ring and a team in position to possibly make a World Series run again next season just offered him 26 million dollars. You would turn that down? And what? Play for free? Play for considerably less than you are worth just because you “love the game.” Sure you would. Until the injuries start piling up, or the guy next to you on the bench signs for millions.
Ha! Sports fans are insane. It’s a great thing to be great in a career you love. Torii Hunter has that with baseball, but many men and women across the country have jobs they enjoy as well. How many of them would stop asking to get paid on Fridays just because they love their job so much? Exactly zero. How many in Torii Hunter’s position would have taken the low ball offer and watched as management moved other players into your old spot? Exactly zero. But, sports fans, aside from being insane, love to pretend that it’s all about the love of the game. That it’s not a job, it’s a privilege to play major league baseball. That players should feel lucky.
Well, guess what? They do feel lucky. And today, Torii Hunter feels a whole lot richer, too. Everyone deserves to get paid a fair market value for the job they do. Baseball players are no exception. Grow up, sports fans.