In defense of the fan
The usually reliable Chad Finn has a sorry post on his Touching All the Bases blog. It is sad for a number of reasons, beginning with the lack of any heart on the part of the author. Finn wants us to forget passion for the game and just look at is the metrics, as if just raw numbers are the measure of a player or a team. He wants to strip away loyalty to a player — in this case Mike Lowell — and replace it with the reference book.
But there is nothing rational about being a fan of a team or a player. Think about it. Is it rational to pay $50 (plus probably another $75 or more for parking, food etc…) to attend a game played by adult millionaire men? Who would do such a thing? But we do, because we are fans.
So, of course, you can make a case for trading Mike Lowell. You can make a case for trading anyone, but if you do not have an attachment to these players, why are you a fan? I was an ardent Red Sox fan for 35 years before they won a World Series title. If I were only concerned with the numbers — i.e. the number of World Series championships — I would have been a Yankee fan. And I don’t feel more strongly about the Red Sox now that they have won two World Series. In fact, I would trade those crowns for the chance to watch Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Carl Yastrzemski in their primes play the game again.
Mike Lowell has always been a pawn in the Red Sox plans… even, in fact, before he was a member of the team, when he was included as the salary-dump in the trade that brought Josh Beckett to Boston. He was the odd man out last winter when the Sox were chasing Mark Teixeira, and again this summer when they landed Victor Martinez. And this off season he was actually traded to the Rangers, in a deal that fell through when Texas learned he needed thumb surgery.
Through it all, Mike Lowell has played hard with class and dignity, which is more than can be said for the Boston media or even Theo Epstein for that matter (trading a guy who needs surgery is not very classy). And, despite Finn’s commentary about how often Mike Lowell has been injured the past two seasons, Lowell has played in comparably as many games in that span (232) as Finn favorite J.D. Drew (246). Lowell has more RBI (148 to 132). And Lowell plays hurt, unlike Drew who takes himself out of games with a hangnail.
Look, I’m not suggesting Lowell is a better — or even as good a — player as Drew. I’m just saying you can’t say that Drew and his $14 million salary are THAT much more valuable than Lowell. And I can tell you that I’d rather watch Mike Lowell play baseball than J.D. Drew. Lowell plays with passion, while Drew approaches the game the way an accountant approaches an audit. And, come to think of it, that appears to be the way Chad Finn approaches being a fan of the Red Sox.
Theo Epstein may very well trade Mike Lowell before the start of the season. If he does, a lot of fans will be sad, but we’ll get over it. Until then, however, Mike Lowell deserves better than to have the likes of Chad Finn beating the drum in favor of casting him to the garbage heap.