First off, I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. I was going to post something before the holiday, but I kind of enjoyed not doing anything at all for a couple of days so I hope you can forgive me. As it stands, there’s likely not going to be anything newsworthy happening for a week or so here because baseball enjoys the winter holidays as much as any sport.
At dinner last night, I had a chance to talk with my uncle about baseball some. He’s a pretty casual fan, so he was asking a bit about the Yankees and all the money they were spending as well as the Pirates and when I thought they might be turning things around. The conversation didn’t progress much past that, but it did get me thinking about the differences baseball’s salary structure (or lack thereof) creates. In Pittsburgh, Pirate fans are fans of players. Most fans (even me, a little) will be sad when Jack Wilson gets traded because we’ve watched Jack Wilson’s whole career. We know he’s a good guy, we know he loves to play baseball, etc. This is part of the reason there’s a general public backlash to the Jason Bay trade. Bay was, for lack of a better way to put it, one of our guys and when he’s gone and not immediately replaced with a similar player, people get upset.
In New York, the loyalty is almost completely to the Yankees themselves. Besides maybe two players (Jeter and Rivera), everyone is a hired gun brought in to win a World Series for the Yankees because they’re the Yankees. Teixeira and Sabathia and Burnett were just guys that spent their careers somewhere else a couple weeks ago, but now the almighty dollar has brought them together in pinstripes and to Yankees fans, those guys are Yankees. It’s not that I think there’s any sort of loyalty in sports these days, because I know there’s very little, but it’s just kind of a foreign concept to me as a Pirate fan when I really sit down and think about it. I’m not even necessarily criticizing here, they’ve got the money and it’s within the rules to spend like they do. I don’t think it’s particularly wise to rely on free agency to replenish talent the way they do because it prevents you from acquiring young talent (this has been their problem the last seven years, not “bad chemistry” or whatever mumbo jumbo people are currently blaming it on, and that’s why they might not be better than the Red Sox or Rays despite spending half a billion dollars this offseason), but it’s a method that has them contending perennially and that’s more than we can say for the Pirates.
Anyways, I’m not trying to draw some kind of division between fans here, I just think it’s interesting how different fans cope and what sort of loyalty (or lack thereof) certain teams inspire.