Smoltzy’s Here to Stay

The news that Smoltz signed a contract extension is not exactly surprising, but it’s definitely a comfort. I really admire him for staying with one team throughout his entire career, and I admire the Braves for being the type of organization that makes players want to stay. I hope it starts happening more often. Smoltzy’s final contract makes me wonder why he stayed while Maddux and Glavine didn’t. Did the move to the bullpen have something to do with it? Was it just a money thing for Glavine, just a Cubs thing for Maddux? Why don’t more players stay loyal to teams who treat them well? Money, obviously, but is there anything major league baseball could do to change that, and should they even want to?

There was a post about this in Alyssa Milano’s baseball blog recently (shut up, it was linked from Fire Joe Morgan). She talks specifically about how losing a free agent to another team can hurt a team’s female fan base. Are women that much more player-oriented? I hate to make a blanket statement, but a lot of the female fans I’ve encountered do seem to get more attached to specific players than male fans do. I personally became a baseball fan by watching my brother’s little league games, and grew up caring more about those games than major league baseball, though I followed that, too. I learned about and came to love the game while watching people I cared about playing it, so I’ve always needed to be invested in players’ personal struggles and victories in order to really care about a team.

Seeing free agents leave teams has affected my interest in the past. Maddux was the one who really killed me. I didn’t watch much baseball in 2004 or most of 2005, but it wasn’t some conscious decision I made out of anger, I just lost that obsessive interest I’d once had. I continued to follow the Braves casually, and didn’t really get back into it until the end of 2005 when the Heap and Frenchy era began. My loyalty has really always been to teams first, though I do get wistful when I hear the names of guys who’ve left the Braves mentioned. And there are some players I’ve always liked regardless of team; I still love Moises Alou, even as a Met, though I can’t really root for him anymore. It’s complicated.

Milano wonders if less free agent team-jumping would bring in more female fans. I’m not sure, but I do think women approach the game differently as fans. If something (God forbid) happened to Heap (GOD FORBID) and Salty came up in his place and was amazing . . . I’d still be heartbroken as all hell. Guys might feel bad for him, but would it really bother them to see a favorite player replaced by someone who ends up being just as good?

The difference with losing someone I liked to free agency would be that I’d initially be a little pissed. I think both male and female fans would eventually say “to hell with him” if a player abandoned their team for more money. If Andruw leaves, he will basically become what Maddux has become for me now: someone I once really liked (though I never liked Andruw as well as Maddux, sorry, Druwski) who I will still be glad to see doing well if I hear his name on Sportscenter, but I won’t search for news about him or really care all that much. I won’t be hateful — it’s fine, it’s part of the business — but I won’t respect him as much as Smoltz, who stayed. I expect male and female fans would have identical reactions to a free agent leaving: brief annoyance followed by hopes that we can find someone good to replace him.

Anyway, just in case your Friday afternoon hasn’t been weird enough, please enjoy a video of Frenchy speaking to a church group (thanks to Leah for the link). Doesn’t sound all that weird? Well, he’s also pacing furiously and talking fast enough to be almost incomprehensible, though he does talk about the dangers of looking at “pictures that aren’t right” at one point. Also, the stage he’s on is taken like, directly from the set of Saved!, and I was so waiting for him to pick up one of the many guitars lying around and start rocking out. Maybe next time.



, , ,




One response to “Smoltzy’s Here to Stay”

  1. Leah Avatar

    Very well put post. I agree with you on everything you said. I just hope Druw doesn’t turn out to be that way at the end of the season and leave to find more money.

    By the way, I commented with a very nice picture of Mac on your LJ not too long ago. I didn’t know if you’d seen it or not. It’s worth looking at, trust me. ;)

Leave a Reply