Late-career championship mercenaries

Late-career championship mercenaries

There’s lots of talk in sports circles about Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson and his desire to be traded from the fast-sinking team to go to a team that has a chance to go to the World Series. But what he really wants is more than a chance to go to the Series, but a near-guarantee, specifically by going to the New York Yankees. (Editorial disclaimer: I hate the Yankees.) According to media reports, he has said he doesn’t want to go to the Red Sox, as he doesn’t think their chances are good (which is admittedly true, at least at this point.)

Johnson is not the first superstar athlete who, late in his career, has asked to be traded from his mediocre team to a team that has a chance to win a championship so he can end his career with a championship ring. A few years ago, Ray Bourque, after a couple of decades playing for the Boston Bruins, asked to be traded to the Colorado Avalanche mid-season because the Avs had a good chance to win the Stanley Cup (and did). Now I don’t begrudge any player his chance to win at the top of his game. But there’s something a little mercenary about the practice, especially when you do it in the middle of the season.

  • I hate the Yankees, too.  To quote Dave Barry:

    “The Yankees are evil.”

    But I think Johnson is a little different from Bourque (whom I genuinely sympathized with and rooted for) and others who don’t have rings after long and distinguished careers—the Karl Malones, the Dominik Haseks, etc.  The latter men don’t sport championship rings—but Johnson does.  The windows were shutting on the other guys (and have probably shut for Malone), so I can’t really find it in myself to criticize them.  In the Big Unit’s case, I think he’s trying to get out of a miserable situation—the Diamondbacks are horrible, and look likely to remain horrible. 

    Which is more “mercenary”?  Hard to say, really.  I can understand the motivations in both kinds of cases—the common denominator being careers in twilight and a determination to go down on one last run. 

    All I can say for sure is that if Johnson goes to the Evil Empire, I will vomit.

  • Oh, and another thing—I have no sympathy for Malone at all.  Considering the despicable elbow to the head he inflicted on Isiah, retiring ringless is a fitting punishment.

  • There’s been some hope of bringing him to StL, but I would bet against. Too much cash involved. NYY seems to fit because of the cash. Colangelo knew this day was coming they’re out of money and in big time debt. Abou tthe only guy I can see playing for one team his whole career is Pujols – for now. I admire the guys in the past that did it – T. Williams, Mantle, Musial, Ripken. They loved the game more than the hardware.

  • BTW, loved Varitek’s move on Saturday. Funny, A-Rod leaves and the Rangers are in it from day one. Yanks go through a stretch where thay have to rely on…dare I say it?…Donovan Osborn! I’m rootin’ for the Red Stockings. Daubach is a friend and I’d hope he makes the 40 man… and I hope you guys make a big run.

  • Randy may be looking for more than just another championship (though, I’m sure he’d like that too!).  Right now he has 240 wins and has an outside chance at 300 depending on how much longer he pitches.  But, he won’t get there losing 2-1 ballgames with Arizona’s horrible offense.
    I don’t see him going to New York either.  Selig is not going to approve a trade for cash and from what I hear NY doesn’t have much else to throw in the deal.  I’ve also heard that it can’t be a deadline deal, so if he’s not traded by Thursday or Friday, he’s not going anywhere. 
    Should be an interesting week!

  • Another team that has been in the rumors is the Angels. I would not be surprised to see Johnson in pinstripes though, the Yankees always get what they want. Yankees S*%#, Go Sox!!!

  • I am deeply shocked and appalled at the uncharitable attitudes expressed here regarding New York City’s storied American League franchise.  Yeah, they’ll probably get the Big Unit (one of the worst baseball nicknames ever), but as Dom points out, there’s nothing particularly new about a money player looking to go to a contender.  Personally, I’m not sure yet how I’ll root for a guy I’ve hated for years.  (A win or two in pinstripes might change that…)

    OTOH, I’m still trying to understand how folks root for a team with a catcher who attacks a batter’s face while leaving his own mask on and a first baseman who gripes about the fans and then, when he has the opportunity to show a little fan appreciation, ignores the paying fan and high-fives the biggest stiff in the stands (who also thinks there’s someone on the team named “Manny Ortez”).

    Signed, your faithful reader and Yankee fan wink