Requests for Shane Victorino's Los Angeles Dodgers' jersey and Hunter Pence's San Francisco Giants' T-shirts might be more prevalent in Philadelphia than they will be in the two cities where both men were traded to today. Such are the understandable reactions of hardcore baseball fans.
I remember when the Philadelphia Phillies were rumored to be trading Mike Schmidt to the California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) in the late 1970s. I was about 10 at the time and swore that if 'Schmidty' was dealt, that I would start rooting for his new team and stop supporting the Phillies. Fortunately he never was dealt and I didn't have to make that decision.
Many of us recall when the logic of baseball wasn't part of our world view. Through the years the game has remained important to us and our response to it has matured.
He's my guy
It's far too cold to state that baseball players are simply pieces on some diamond chess board. It's also childish to believe that an employee of a professional sports' team is similar to a trusted friend, or a cherished family member.
One of the most interesting aspects of baseball involves observing how the individual personalities of fans are extensively expressed throughout a long season. The specific length of the baseball year helps to create the belief that a personalized culture actually does exist.
Listen for the emotion as you hear critiques (presented as pure logic) about general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., manager Charlie Manuel and a whole host of other targets that will be on the Phillies' map this week.
No hypocrite here
I've been able to make a living by working in and writing about baseball at points in my career for over two decades. So, I'm at least as much (if not more) appreciative for the place that this specific sport holds within our society. Baseball has been, is and will hopefully always be one part of my full life.
Jaded personality types are generally unappreciative of many things, including the positive aspects of sports. Those of us who haven't allowed ourselves to become misguided value all athletes. We also respect the talent, time and effort needed to create every professional career that exists within the sports' world.
Victorino's most electrifying Phillies' career moment came when he hit the team's first-ever postseason grand slam off Milwaukee Brewers' starter CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the 2008 National League Division Series. No one will forget the passion that he exhibited during victory celebrations after the Dodgers were defeated in the National League Championship Series and after the Tampa Bay Rays were stopped in the World Series.
Pence's time was short in Philadelphia. The pure joy that he exuded in the locker room last fall, while the Phillies were celebrating another playoff entrance (and his first), was classic. Hopefully, he will be able to help the Giants make their own playoff push this fall.
It's tough for all fans to see human beings who they personally like leave their teams. But, part of the business side of the game involves trades that must be made.
Last week, Cole Hamels' contract extension spread relief across the region. Today, some of his teammates were dealt. But, there are scheduled games left to be played and seasons yet to be scheduled.
Honoring the past, living in the present moment and choosing to look forward is far from easy. Being a fan of any baseball team isn't simple either.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
More from this author and the Yahoo Contributor Network:
- Sports & Recreation
- Philadelphia Phillies
- San Francisco Giants
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Shane Victorino
- California Angels
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim