"The truth we fear to reveal"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
I know I said I wouldn’t be blogging for a few days, but that was before I opened this morning’s Cleveland Plain Dealer to find a 6-foot-7, 290-pound man sticking his size-15 foot in his mouth.
This was what AL All-Star CC Sabathia had to say when asked about the disintegration of the 2007 Cleveland Indians team that fell a win shy of the World Series:
“That wasn’t our fault,” Sabathia said. “They traded us. That’s on them.”
Sabathia went on to say, “If [ownership] had kept everybody for at least two more years, I think we had a chance of having a really good team.”
Is Sabathia delusional? Or is he merely the latest member of the Yankees to “misremember” something?
I’ll submit that neither is the case. Sabathia, you see, is taking advantage of the opportunity the July 2008 trade that sent him to Milwaukee afforded him to divorce himself from all blame or finger-pointing and to feed off the raw emotions of those who have done little to nothing to understand the Indians’ economic position in an unbalanced marketplace.
Sabathia says something insipid like, “It’s on them,” because he’ll say anything to avoid looking like the bad guy. And this isn’t the first time.
Throughout the phantom contract negotiation process before the 2008 season, when it was clear the Indians were as likely to get Sabathia to commit to a long-term deal as they were to throw a dome on Progressive Field, CC would say things like, “Hopefully we can get something done.” Because that was a lot easier and less publicly damaging than saying, “The Indians have no chance of offering me the kind of money I feel I’m worth.”
In the winter before the ’08 season, when the Indians offered Sabathia around $18 million a year through 2012 — the largest offer the franchise has ever come up with for a player — he didn’t so much as sleep on it. He knew he was gone, and he broke off negotiations before they even started in Spring Training.
This is the reality. But now, two and a half years later, CC — which, in this case, stands for Clouded Context — is selling a fantasy. An alternate universe in which those heinous, loveless Indians owners cast him out of the place he loved.
Essentially, Sabathia got lucky. Because 50 years from now, Indians fans won’t remember him as the guy who walked away from the Tribe for the big payday elsewhere. He won’t go down with the likes of Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Rather, he’ll be remembered as the Cy Young winner the Indians stupidly dealt in his prime.
Nevermind, of course, that the Indians were forced to deal Sabathia because he was going to walk away three months later and because he and his teammates crumbled upon the weight of expectations in 2008. Nevermind that the primary reason that ’07 team — a “good team” in its own right, having won 96 games in the regular season — didn’t ascend to the World Series like it should have was because Sabathia was outpitched in Games 1 and 5.
If Sabathia were being honest with himself and honest with the fans, he would have said, “This is a business, and it’s difficult for a team in a smaller market like Cleveland to afford to keep its core intact. That’s why it’s a shame we weren’t able to take advantage of the special opportunity we had in ’07. And as the ace of that pitching staff, I take the brunt of the blame.”
Fat chance of the big man uttering those words.
Sabathia was treated very well here. The Indians drafted him, gave him a Major League opportunity on a playoff team when he was just 20 years old, helped mold him into a man off the field, taught him to control his emotions on it and groomed him into a Cy Young winner. Lord knows they fed him well.
That’s what makes CC’s comments above so disappointing. They reek of him being another pampered athlete with no grasp of reality or understanding of accountability.
In my view, the player-fan relationship is pretty simple. You earn our appreciation by giving your best effort on the field. Off the field, by all means, seek out your worth, find a place that you find rewarding on a personal, professional and competitive level. Chase every last dollar for you and your kids and your kids’ kids and your kids’ kids’ kids. It’s your right as a talented athlete in a lucrative game.
But please, whatever you do and wherever you go, don’t insult our intelligence along the way.