Of course, me putting the way I did in the headline is totally loaded. I did that on purpose, because that’s how fans and writers almost always talk about players changing teams in free agency. As if they “left” or as if they were greedy and did something to their old team and its fan base. As if they did something wrong, even. It’s kind of nuts.
But today Max Scherzer talked about his decision to go to the Nationals. After noting that Tigers players could see that changes were going to be coming eventually — as long as two years ago — he put what motivated him into very clear terms:
“It’s the business part of the game. The business part of the game is ugly. I mean, look at it from the other side. I’ve seen so many of my friends get cut and released and all taken advantage of because at the end of the day, we say it’s the business part of the game. I just took advantage of the business side of the game to benefit me.”
And players do that a fraction of the amount that owners do. At least in major ways like Scherzer did here. There are a handful of big free agent signings each year and scores of small moves by teams — DFAs, automatic renewals for pre-arbitration players, service time manipulation, etc. — that are a function of a team exercising its power over players. No one says boo to that. But players, “well, how dare they leave us?” “How dare they seek the highest dollar?” Bonus points if the speaker uses the word “almighty” before “dollar.” Then you know you’re dealing with a sharp one.
Good for Max for knowing what time it was.