Why Boston might be best
I often hear media members and sports ‘experts’ this time of year discussing the ‘details’ on free agents. Everything from ‘close friend says’ to ‘his choice is to live in’ and I wonder just how much you believe, and what you think they really know.
I spent almost 10 years with a total no-trade clause due to the fact that I was a ‘his choice is to live in’ guy. I can speak from the experience of my situation, as well as what I learned from discussions with many players about this very thing.
The first piece to the decision-making process for me was upbringing. I grew up in a lower middle-class suburban neighborhood, and that had a huge impact on where I lived once I played and had the money to make that choice. I despise big-city living, can’t stand it, and that was the reason behind living 40 minutes outside the city for almost a decade in Philly, 30 or so minutes away from Bank One in Arizona and about 45 minutes from Fenway when playing in Boston.
Don’t get me wrong, I love playing in that big-city, huge-expectations environment; I just couldn’t stand living in it.
You hear many things about Mark Teixeira and his ‘wants,’ ‘needs’ and ‘desires.’ I only know Mark from competing against him but I would make a few arguments on the premise that he won’t sign for top dollar just because it’s top dollar. He doesn’t have to unless someone steps in and beats the #2 offer by 20-30 or 40 million total dollars (which in this day and age is not out of the question).
I would think, based on what I hear, that his incredibly positive experience in Anaheim gives the Angels a very nice inroad if they field a competitive offer (which I hear they did in fact make). I don’t know if he’s a big city guy or a small town guy but Anaheim is a place to get both and be a part of a very good organization run by good people.
I understand Mark is from the DC/Baltimore area and can speak first-hand to the allure of that place. I’m talking Baltimore though. Fantastic city, great fans and you have your pick of big city apartment or house in horse country. Not sure D.C. offers that second option or whether or not that matters, but I know going back to Arizona felt like ‘coming home’ and that was a huge draw for me.
Boston obviously appears to be as interested, if not more so, than anyone. Boston does in fact offer that big city living space, or the small town suburbia home depending on what he and his family are after.
The trump card though, for me anyway, is that Boston offers something far beyond what any team or city can hope to bring to the table. It’s a new age here, there are completely different expectations each year for the Red Sox, and from Sox Nation. I can’t imagine not having experienced this city, the fans, the ballpark, as a hometown player prior to my last year (if this is fact my last one).
Think Packer football, Cowboy football, Yankee baseball, Penn State football, ‘Bama football, all rolled into one.
Boston has become a sports mecca in a way. The Pats are the class of the NFL, the Bruins are the best team in the NHL, the Celts are defending World Champs and the Sox have created a new breed of sports fan. Gone are the loveable losers; now it’s about winning it all, all the time. It’s a 162-game football season with 19 Super Bowls (games vs. Yanks) thrown in. It’s the topic of conversation every day of every week of every month.
But there’s also the feeling that not so long ago it was different. I am not so sure we handled that first title in ’04 with the class we would have liked and it’s also very clear that the nation has taken a very keen interest in hating everything Boston these days. It’s a smidgen of a taste of what Yankee fans endured in the late ‘90s. People hate winners. It’s weird but true. The Sox went from the bandwagon of all bandwagons to social lepers in sports circles. Everyone loves to hate anyone who is on top for a lengthy period of time and this city is on top right now.
But to suit up in this uniform, take the field as a member of this team and play for these fans, there’s nothing like it in my 23 years of professional baseball to compare it to. Nothing. Whether I come back or not, part of me will always be tied to this franchise and that roster of 25 guys that believed when no one else did or would.
When CHB called us ‘Frauds’ we busted our asses to not retort and validate anything about him, but we didn’t need a sportswriter to tell us what we woke up and knew every single day. Until a ring was won here it wouldn’t matter how many HR’s you hit, games you won, MVP’s, Cy’s, nothing. Until you won the ring you were just like all the rest. Loveable? Maybe. But no different in the end.
That happened, and when it did this city changed, these fans changed and Fenway Park became a place I wish any player the thrill of playing in as a hometown player. No dollar amount or contract length can replace the things that happen in front of those fans on that field.
If the dollars end up comparable, I can’t imagine spending eight years in a more enjoyable, passionate and winning environment than what has been created here.
Mark Teixeira, The One That Got Away from the Red Sox – By Rob Bradford