By Anna Milyak
Everyone has a favorite team and a favorite player. He is the first player that comes to your mind when someone says the team’s name. He is the player you cheer the loudest for when he steps up to the plate. You wear his jersey to every game, and line up along the fence waiting for his autograph.
Not only is he your favorite player, but he makes a huge contribution to the team as well. The guys in the clubhouse love being around him, and he has great stats to back him up. Before every game you can count on him signing autographs, taking pictures, and throwing balls to fans. He spends so much time interacting with fans, both in person, and on social media.
But then before you know it, he’s gone, he was traded. Fans are upset, they almost feel betrayed. How could they do that? Our team needed him, how are we going to win without him? What about free agents? Doesn’t it hurt just as bad when a player that your team developed signs somewhere else? Why didn’t he want to stay?
In these situations’ fans come up with lists of reasons as to why these players should still be on the team. When he is traded, fans argue that he led the team in stolen bases, he had the highest OPS, and he hit .300 last season. When he is a free agent the argument fans make is that they put their support behind him, and the coaching staff and fellow teammates helped build him into the phenomenal player he has become.
For Red Sox fans, you are probably thinking about the Mookie Betts deal from this offseason. Why did they trade him? He has a career average of .301 and hit a career high .346 in 2018. He was a four-time all-star and won an MVP award. He won four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers. Above all, he was a key piece in winning the 2018 World Series.
Most Pirate fans will never get over the Andrew McCutchen trade from years ago. I mean, he named his son Steel after the city. Not only is he a genuine guy and true to Pittsburgh, he helped the team get back to the postseason for the first time in 21 years. He won an MVP award, a Gold Glove, four Silver Sluggers, and he is a five-time All-Star. He got fans excited for what was to come and had such a positive influence in the clubhouse.
Giants fans, how did it feel when Madison Bumgarner signed with the Diamondbacks? He helped lead the team to a World Series while winning series MVP. The Giants coaching staff helped form him into the pitcher he is today, and he chose to sign elsewhere.
Nationals fans were devastated when Bryce Harper chose to move on. He was the 2012 rookie of the year, the 2015 MVP, and a six-time All-Star. Then, within the blink of an eye he chose to sign with the Phillies.
Personally, the Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow trade upset me the most. I felt that together they had the potential to get Pittsburgh back to the postseason and win a World Series. I was there for their debuts and continued to look forward to seeing them perform. Then, the day after I met them and got their autographs, they were traded. I felt as though General Manager Neal Huntington let me down.
We almost always have to part ways with these players that we love so much. He ends up on another team, and that city gets to support him just as much as you did. Their fans get to interact with him every home game. That clubhouse gets this new addition, that your team cherished so much.
As fans, we need to accept that trades and free agency are part of the business side of the game. When these trades happen, we look at what we got in return. When a free agent chooses to sign somewhere else, we can focus on developing the next top prospect to fill the void, in hopes that they will lead the team to the postseason.
Although, these trades do not always seem to work out. Sometimes the players you get in return do not live up to the expectations of your team, and not all prospects reach the level of success you had set. It is important to remember that these decisions are made with good intentions. That it is ok to continue to support that player and wish them well as individuals and the utmost success on the field.
In the end, we know that baseball goes on. You are a fan of the team and a fan of the game that we all love. It will not be long until another player fills those shoes. You will have a new favorite number and will be lining up for his autograph soon.