Thursday, July 8, 2010

Free Agents

There is a lot of talk this week about where free agents will end up. I know, they’re not baseball free agents, but it makes me think about baseball. Specifically, Mark Teixeira.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I found the press coverage and the decisions of Teixeira, and other similar free agents, interesting. Teixeira seemed to narrow things down to Washington and New York (and, maybe, Boston). There was a lot of discussion as to what kind of man Teixeira was. Was he a greedy money grabber? Did he want to win? In the end, Teixeira chased the rings, and went to New York. It wasn’t a unique decision. Since the mid nineties, free agents have been flocking to the Yankees. Many have even taken less money, just to get a chance to get a ring. People have hailed them as “winners” by hitching their star to a championship wagon. But, that’s not happening this week.

LeBron James has, of course, decided to reveal the team he will be playing for tonight. As the ESPN wheels get rolling there are several rumors as to what the results will finally be. Maybe it’s the Knicks, or the Heat, or the Nets. Maybe the Bulls or the Clippers. What you don’t hear are the Celtics or the Lakers. Why not? Wouldn’t that be the baseball way of doing things? Take the Celtics, for example. Rasheed Wallace retired, which frees up a mid-level exception or some other jumbled term from the NBA salary structure. I know it’s not “max money,” but it’s a bit, right? Why isn’t LeBron calling up Danny Ainge and saying he’ll take that slot. After all, he’s a winner, and he wants to win. So, obviously he’d take less money to join the defending Eastern Conference Champs. If he wins the next two NBA titles in a starting five of Rondo, Allen, LeBron, Pierce and Garnet wouldn’t his career be set? He’d be a winner. Bingo.

But, again, that’s not his style (I assume). I don’t expect him to be wearing a Celtics or Lakers jersey at the end of tonight. I’ve often said that the only thing I ever liked about Curt Schilling is that he came to Boston to make the difference. He didn’t go to a team that was already winning, and go along for the ride. He looked at a team and said, “I’m the difference maker. If I go there, they’re a contending team.” (Yeah, I know, Boston was pretty good before he came, but you get my point.) It looks like LeBron is doing the same thing. Other than the Heat who already added Chris Bosh to a team that was already playoff caliber, LeBron is considering himself the difference maker. He’s not riding on coattails. He’s going for it. I like it.

I just wish more baseball players made the same decision.

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