January 12, 2011
Don't get too excited, Jays fans: Vernon Wells(notes) didn't utter that quote in the above headline because he's releasing the team from the final four years of its rather large financial commitment to him.
Wells' sound byte, rather, was dropped near the end of a column written by Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.
In that piece, Wells — who's currently spreading cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays' winter caravan — details how he's made peace with his infamous seven-year, $126 million deal and a performance that has rarely come close to living up to those outsized dollar figures.
His main rationalization is something fans often say: No athlete is really worth $126 million. Also, he's able to route a lot of it toward charity.
(You might say this seems kind of trite and cliché, but when's the last time you actually heard an athlete directly say that he's not worth the money he's earning, no matter what the context?)
"I think the most important thing about getting contracts like this is you get to go out and do so many different things in the community.
"You get to go out and impact lives. The way I feel about it, I was blessed with that contract to go out and do things. Everybody would say I'm not worth the money and I would totally agree that I'm not worth that contract, but I don't think there is anybody ... but I know what I can do with that contract will far outdo what that contract's worth."
Undoubtedly, the resolute Blue Jays fan will say that he doesn't care about any charity that doesn't involve ending Toronto's drought of AL East titles. He or she will also say that without Wells patrolling center field, there's a good chance that Roy Halladay(notes) would still be thrilling the crowd from the Rogers Centre mound.
But seeing as how Wells' unmovable contract — often mentioned as one of history's worst — now ranks as a sunk cost, there should be plenty of reason for Jays fans to nod their heads in support and let him believe whatever he wants to believe. After all, maybe this new outlook will mean that his 2011 performance is a lot closer to 2010's solid effort (31 homers, 88 RBIs, 127 OPS+) than 2009's dismal one (15 homers, 66 RBI, 86 OPS+).
And as we all know, Doc is not walking back through that door.