By Mike Steffanos
I received an email earlier this week from a blogger from StalkingStevePhillips.com who thought I might be interested in his take on Jayson Bay and Johnny Damon.
Actually, most of the piece was on Damon, with the following on Bay towards the end:
Mr. Bay, at your press conference, you stated that the Mets were on your "short list" and that you were here because you "wanted to be here" and that you "wouldn't be here if I didn't want to be or if I wasn't happy. That couldn't be further from the truth. You don't get a lot of chances to pick where you're going to go and ultimately Omar (Minaya) and Jeff (Wilpon) made it known from Day 1 that they were very interested, and their pursuit and their want for me was a big factor."
Really Jason? Do you expect us Average Joes to believe that bullshit as well? The Mets were the only team willing to pay you and you know it. Cut the crap.
There were articles out there all winter questioning Bay's desire to play for the Mets, both before and after he signed. Peter Gammons famously put Queens below Beirut on the slugger's wish list. While I believe some of this stuff was overblown and even over the top, I have little doubt that there were other teams that Bay would rather have signed with.
This whole thing reminds me a little of Carlos Beltran's reported desire to sign with the Yankees rather than the Mets, even reportedly offering them a last minute discount. That topic seemed to get quite a few folks worked up and has probably contributed to the ongoing mistrust of a small segment of the fan base towards Beltran.
Look, I consider myself an Average Joe type of guy like the above-quoted author. I don't make a ton of money and live in a small 50-year-old house on the outskirts of Waterbury, CT -- a blue collar city that, like me, is somewhat past its prime. I am also something the author didn't appear to be, an actual fan of the team that Bay did sign with this winter.
Despite the fact that I am both an Average Joe and a Mets fan, I have to confess that I'm not going to lose any sleep wondering about how high the Mets were on Jason Bay's wish list. I know this is something that's going to keep popping up in the local papers all summer and beyond, but I honestly believe that the question of how much a player want to play for the team he signs with is one of the most overhyped issues in modern baseball.
It's easy to look at the salaries that top players like Jason Bay makes and allow myself to get real bitter over it, but I don't see the point. If I had his skills I would try to make top dollar during the brief window of opportunity a baseball career affords, too. As far as baseball contract negotiations go it seems to me that Bay didn't do anything out of line or unprofessional.
When we Average Joes make career decisions we weigh a lot of factors -- money, working conditions, location, etc. -- in deciding who were going to work for. We often don't the job we want the most, but wind up settling for something that falls farther down the wish list.
What's really important to our employers isn't how much we wanted to work there as much as how we produce when take the job. They expect us to be professionals and simply do our jobs.
I'll get into evaluating the past winter more this coming week, but basically I believe Bay was a decent signing on the part of the Mets. I don't believe the fact that the Mets weren't his first choice will really matter that much. I think he's a pro and will be a good addition to the lineup. If I worry about anything it is simply that he holds up physically during the contract.