Who cares what Ryan Braun said yesterday?

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I touched on this some last night when I talked about how Ryan Braun doesn’t answer to anyone apart from his teammates, those he personally lied to and people he directly harmed as a result of his lying. Those are folks to whom he owes apologies, not anyone else. Certainly not the general public.

But I am fascinated this morning how hung up people are on the words he used in his public statement yesterday.  The height of this comes in Buster Olney’s column today in which he parses, line-by-line, Braun’s public statement to show us just how disingenuous and insufficient it is.

Why do we care?

We know for a fact that Ryan Braun lied last year. We know for a fact that he has cheated. We know, pretty clearly, that Braun is not a good person in a lot of ways and that we couldn’t trust him as far as we can throw him.  Now ask yourself: if you knew a person like that in your life, would you listen to him at all? Would you care about a thing he says? Or would you ignore it as the words of someone you already know everything you need to know about. Of course Ryan Braun is being self-serving. He’s been nothing but self-serving. This is a surprise now? This is where we should be outraged? People have spent the past year saying that the words which come out of Ryan Braun’s mouth are worthless. Why, now, do we expect anything else?

Players owe us nothing. We have come to think they do due to some romantic and childlike notion about what professional sports are all about, but they really and truly owe us nothing. They owe things to their teams and teammates and the people in their lives, but common fans who don’t know them from Adam really aren’t owed a thing.  At the same time, we do not owe them loyalty or our credulousness. We are free to call Ryan Braun a lowlife if he acts that way, but if we are feel betrayed by them we have no one to blame but ourselves for putting trust in them that they neither earned nor deserved.

Ryan Braun could have sung all four verses of the “Star Spangled Banner” yesterday, followed by an announcement of his allegiance to Lucifer. I wouldn’t care. People are what they do, not what they say. Especially people who have said garbage in the past. Why do we care about his words?

Mike Trout has no interest in being a superstar

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At The Ringer, Michael Baumann published a terrific feature on Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Trout, 25, is a two-time American League MVP Award-winner and the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner. He’s already the greatest position player of his generation and is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Recently, I ruffled a few feathers here by calling Trout boring. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said as much last year. And the simple truth is that, for reasons Baumann explains, he is boring by choice. Trout wants to be a role model for kids. His agent Craig Landis said, “I have Little League and high school coaches come up to me all the time and tell me that they tell their kids, ‘This is how you do it. Period. In all aspects. This is your role model.'” Trout is the only active big league client Landis has. If he wanted to, Trout could have super-agent Scott Boras on bended knee begging for him to sign.

Trout is friendly to everyone and doesn’t come close to controversy when he speaks to the media. The most controversial thing Trout has said, Baumann recalls, is that his go-to order at Wawa is chicken noodle soup. For the uninitiated, Wawa is a popular gas station-slash-convenience store in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey as well as Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. Wawa is known for its coffee and its hoagies, even starting “Hoagiefest” almost a decade ago offering discounts on hoagies to its patrons. To go to Wawa just to get chicken noodle soup is akin to sacrilege — just ask any Wawa devotee. There are lots of them.

Trout does not bark at other players for playing the game differently, more emotionally. He himself doesn’t celebrate wildly when he does something great on the field, which happens to be quite often. He has taken what is, for a player of his stature, the bare minimum in endorsement deals.

It is a shame for Major League Baseball, and for its fans, that Trout has no interest in becoming a superstar. As you’ve no doubt read here, baseball has had trouble reaching younger audiences. The only sports with a lower percentage of kids 17 years of age or younger watching are golf and NASCAR. 17 percent of those aged 18-34 watch baseball, a far cry from the NBA’s 32 percent and the NHL’s 28 percent. When I was a kid, Ken Griffey, Jr. was arguably the most popular athlete among my peers. We imitated his batting stance when we played backyard baseball and stepped into the batter’s box in Little League. MLB marketed him like no baseball player had ever been marketed before, bringing him into our households on a regular basis. Griffey was in countless commercials, put his face on video games, and was a pop culture personality. Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a kid who cares who Mike Trout is — or even Bryce Harper or Clayton Kershaw, for that matter — because they’re watching basketball, football, YouTube, Twitch and numerous other venues of entertainment. And MLB hasn’t made much of an effort to capture their attention.

Major League Baseball should be beating down our doors attempting to show us Trout’s otherworldly talent. Unfortunately, Trout has no interest in becoming the face of the sport the way Griffey did.

Rougned Odor received two horses as part of his contract extension with Rangers

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Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor reached an agreement with the Rangers on a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension. It was announced on Saturday and finalized on Thursday. The contract is pretty typical — a signing bonus, escalating salaries each year — except for one thing: Odor received two elite horses as well, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.

Here are those horses, per Jared Sandler of 1053 The Fan:

Players do sometimes get perks as part of their contracts. Usually it’s mundane stuff like extra game tickets for family and friends, use of a suite, limo rides, or plane tickets. Sometimes they can get rather specific. For example, in 2005, Troy Glaus got $250,000 per year in “personal business expenses” from the Diamondbacks, which was for his wife’s equestrian training. Hall of Famer George Brett got a 10 percent stake in an apartment complex in Memphis when he signed an extension with the Royals in the mid-1980’s. But as far as my research was able to go, no one received any horses, so that’s new.

Of course, the Rangers certainly think Odor is worth the perks. Last season, Odor hit .271/.296/.502 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. And at just 23 years old, he has plenty of room to improve.