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Fans of Birds and why they’re Dumb…

Sports fans are morons.  I say that fully admitting that I’m one of them, and with the realization that it’s a somewhat polarising and subversive statement.  Obviously the fans who are empowered in their rightouesness would argue that it’s just me that’s a moron, but seriously, we’re dumb.  It is, after all, in the nature of fandom.  We’re fanatics and thus cannot always see the forrest for the trees.  Depending on our personal inclination, we think that either everyone on our team is the second coming of Mickey Mantle, or that they’re the second coming of Mickey Mouse.  It’s what makes Laker fans think that a deal of Andruw Bynum and Luke Walton will get them Dwight Howard.

I assume that it has always been so for fans, but the good old interweb just exacerbates the problem of fandom, giving people hidden perches from which to spout obnoxious nonsense (again, I firmly acknowledge the pot calling the kettle nature of this post).  As an example of what I mean, look no further than this week’s reaction to Albert Pujols leaving his “hometown” team to sign with the LA Angels.  The reaction by Cardinal fans was akin to if Pujols had burned the city down and pissed on the ashes.

Actually, what he did was make a life decision.  A life decision that he’s perfectly entitled to make.  Lets be clear about something Cardinal fans, Albert Pujols isn’t FROM St. Louis.  He didn’t choose to live there, nor did he owe the town anything.  As a result of drafting him, the Cardinals and their fans received 11 phenomenal years of baseball.  Eleven years that rank among the two best career starts in league history (guess the only player to have more WAR in his first 11 years?).  Eleven years that included ten top five MVP finishes.  Yes, I said TEN, and the only year he missed out on the top 5, he finished 9th.  He hit 445 home runs.  He won five out of six fielding bible awards (and yes, only one Gold Glove, but that speaks more to absentee selection process of that award than Pujols’ fielding ability), and he was the leader of a team that won 7 division titles, three pennants, and – oh yeah – two world series.

That’s pretty darn good folks.  That’s a career.  And, when his time came, when he was an unrestricted free agent, able to choose where he wanted to live, for whom he wanted to play, and how much money he wanted to play for, Albert picked what he suited him and his family.  You can scoff at the money, say that St. Louis’ offer was rich enough – and it was – but, 34 million is a pretty significant difference, however rich you are.  But, that’s beside the point, the point is that it’s his decision, a decision he earned by playing out his contract.

What smart fans would do, is say, “damn it’s hard to see him go, but thank you Albert for elven amazing years.”  What moron fans do, is burn his jersey, question his loyalty, and take to the internet to defile him and question his integrity.  Loyalty.  That great word that only works one way.  Guess what Card fans?  St. Louis actually isn’t Albert’s hometown, he’s not from there (is that a shot at LeBron?  I’m not even really sure), he doesn’t need to be loyal to there and hasn’t he been loyal enough already?  He did after all sign a below market deal with his last contract; a contract by the way that covered those two world series.

He could have left long ago.  Be thankful to what you got, be gracious and accept that this is his right. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to mourn, but don’t be ugly about your grief. I’m pretty sure every other franchise in baseball would be happy to have those 11 seasons from Albert and then lose him to another franchise for what will inevitably be his decline phase.

Of course, I started this by saying that fans are morons, not that Card fans are morons.  And, that’s because there’s another group of fans that right now are basically making asses of themselves.  And, unfortunately, they’re a fan base to which I firmly belong.  Last week Jays fans, desperate for the team to sabotage it’s longterm prospects by tying itself financially to the world’s largest vegan, started an online petition to “force” Rogers to sign Prince Fielder.

It’s actually kind of quaint if you think about it.  The group threatens Rogers, a telecommunications giant, with cable and internet cancellations if the coporartion doesn’t intercede with the baseball team and force Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos to sign the robust first baseman.  They do understand that it’s going to cost at least a 160 million (and possibly significantly more) to ink Fielder.  Seriously, that’s A LOT of cable subscriptions…  Anyhow, you can see the form here and, well, like I said, it’s sweet that they think this will actually work, but really it’s just dumb.

First of all, I know that each one of us armchair GMs know what’s best, but  – really?!? In his first couple years in charge, AA has taken one misstep: he traded Mike Naopli (5.6 WAR) to Texas for Frank Francisco (0.5 WAR), and while I didn’t like the deal at the time, it had solid foundation.  Otherwise, Anthopoulos has merely built one of the five worst farm systems into one of the five best; acquired Colby Rasmus, Yunel Escobar, and – best of all – Brett Lawrie; signed Jose Bautista to an under-market contract; and – oh yeah- convinced the Angels to take Vernon Wells’ entire contract.  I understand that you know what’s best for this franchise and that you think giving 150-200 million dollars to a guy who might weigh 350 pounds in five years and will be DHing in three is a solid plan, but don’t you think, that maybe, just maybe, Anthopoulos has earned the right to take a different path?

It’s like these fans don’t remember the Vernon Wells – Alex Rios era, or the Roger Clemens era?  Instead of following the prudent and meticulous path set forth by AA, they want to open up the vault for a kid named Prince.  Look, I get excited by the thought of Prince in the lineup.  A 3-4-5 of Bautista, Prince and Lawrie might be the best in baseball and he is an awesome hitter and buoyant personality, but why risk your one massive contract on a body that just doesn’t seem built for the long term.  While the Jays have money, their pockets aren’t quite at New York or Boston depth for eating mistakes.  Signing Prince seems great now, but ultimately it just doesn’t make sense, which is something AA understands and keeps articulating.

So, why don’t we just accept that he knows something about what he’s doing and leave him be?  Oh right, because we’re fans, and we’re morons…

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