Just when you think it can’t get any weirder surrounding the Baltimore Orioles!
Could you walk away from $2,000,000? Not gonna lie, though I’ve done unusually well in life while serving in a career notorious for living on the threshold of poverty, that 2-mil number is a good bit more than what will be the total lifetime earnings I accumulate. So it is a big number, probably not just for me, but also for most of you reading this. But it is not actually terribly large in the world of professional sports.
Could I walk away from it? The honest answer is “yes” – especially if it was preceded by 20 times that amount in the previous four years. Especially if most of that time I was unable to perform my tasks. Especially if I loved my team and city and all that had preceded this moment.
I suppose it is easy to say what one might have done in a particular moment when one will never be in a place to do such a thing. But here is what I truly believe I would have done in Brian Roberts’ shoes coming into the 2014 season. I really believe I would have written a letter like this:
Dear Mr. Angelos and Mr. Duquette:
As we have now ended my current contract and approach a new season, I thought it appropriate to write this note to you.
Let me say that I am thankful for the years I have had in Baltimore, especially to see the recent successes that have come to this organization, the city, and its fans. I would have liked to play a larger role in that revival, but in any event I am thankful for my contributions and to have been able to see it occur after those many years of difficulty.
Looking forward, I believe I have more to give and would really like to, if at all possible, finish my career well by playing for this franchise that drafted me at the very beginning in 1999. I know a day comes when you must move on and grant the position to an upcoming player. This is the cycle of life.
Let me make a proposition. In that I have recently completed a 4-year contract in the amount of $40 million, and in that I have cumulatively earned $62,310,000 over my 13 years as an Oriole, may I propose that I will submit to playing this next season for the league minimum. I extend this offer in the spirit of the sport I love, the city that has embraced me, and the opportunity to finish and win with the core of friends that have brought new life to Orioles baseball.
Let me say that I highly respect Brian Roberts. Though we’ve never hung out, it has always struck me that he’d be the first guy on the list of Orioles with whom that would be most enjoyable. I understand that he is a gracious and generous fellow in the community. And perhaps there is more to the story than I know (and there almost certainly is). Perhaps there is some hurt or disrespect that he feels or has experienced that is not public knowledge. Perhaps some sense of violated honor leads him to a sort of “parting shot” of pinstripes in the face.
But it seems to me that there is the matter of a legacy that should find its way across the landscapes of the minds of some of these fellows who have gotten the rare privilege to be paid huge amounts to play a child’s game.
This piece likely sounds or may come off as angrier or more snarky than it is intended. I still like BRob and am glad for his years as an Oriole – they will remain warm memories. And maybe he is the victim (such as there is a victim at this level of life … understanding that in my world I sometimes work with real victims of real-life crud). But on the surface, this is very, very sad in so many ways.
UPDATE: The day after writing this, Roch Kubatko of MASN wrote of this Roberts situation …
Guess it was time for a change. As I speculated yesterday, Roberts probably felt that the Yankees gave him a better chance to appear in his first postseason. He cleaned out his locker after the final game on Sept. 29, giving the impression that he wasn’t coming back.
Roberts hasn’t returned my calls and text messages, which is fairly typical. He’s never been the most accessible player on the team. Quite the opposite.
I’m really surprised by all of that. And it adds to the disappointment. SMH!