I am going to write this as delicately as I can because this is subject that a baseball fan of the Texas Rangers must be gentle when broaching.
I guess I am starting to wonder just why Michael Young is so beloved to the point of blind adoration.
In the wake of the latest round of rumors concerning the future of Michael Young with the Texas Rangers, including reports that he wants out from Arlington so he can continue to play in the field instead of being the Rangers primary DH this season and beyond, I have stumbled upon many dissenting comments on various comment sections of reports around the Internet from Rangers fans about the team's treatment of its longest tenured player and even some remarks to the fact that if Michael Young is traded, so will the allegiance of the fan be traded as well.
So, here it comes. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on just why it is that Michael Young is so revered that his absence is more important to a fan of the team than the team itself.
I respect Michael Young and have a lot of great memories of him as a Texas Ranger. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a slam Micheal Young piece. I know now that a part of me will deeply feel an ending has come to a particular duration of my sports fan existence when Michael Young is no longer a part of the Rangers. I was at The Coliseum in Oakland when the Rangers clinched the 2010 A.L. West title and watched each member of the team shake Michael Young's hand. I will never forget that. I get that aspect.
I was sad when Joaquin Benoit was unceremoniously dumped. I was sad when news broke that Frank Francisco had been traded even though I agreed with the move from a baseball standpoint. I was even a little blue when the Orioles made their announcement that they had completed a deal for Vladimir Guerrero and he was around as long as Clint Hurdle. Michael Young has been around practically forever in baseball lifespans.
I get it. Being a sports fan is being a fan of laundry and all that. But the cold harsh reality of rooting for laundry means the memories of your favorite moments begin to fade with each wash. But somehow Michael Young seems to make the whites whiter and the brights brighter in the minds of Rangers fans.
Michael Young is not now nor has he ever really been an upper-echelon baseball player. He has been a very good baseball player. And for this franchise, perhaps that is enough. But his best years came when the team had one of its worst eras. His legacy is one of a guy who played for the same team for a long time in a time when that is rare with his most heralded attribute often being the one that is least quantifiable, leadership and intangibles.
So, why? Is it that we project ourselves onto Michael Young and that is why we like him? And by we I mean the baseball fan. Do we like him because we hope for a hardworking success story with a long-term affiliation where respect is the currency and hold onto it when it comes at last?
Is Michael Young possibly not being a Ranger anymore like finding out your father--whom would come home from another hard day, plop down on his worn-in easy chair with a groan, and put on the ball game--is getting laid off from his job after training his replacement? Is it the supposed indignity that cuts at us?
I definitely can understand the dissention if the opinion is that moving Young makes the team worse for an important 2011 season. I happen to believe that the premise is debatable and if moving Young allows the team to free up money to extend the contention window while not suffering a large amount of production loss in the present, it is a move that has to be considered. And yet, somehow, when looking at it from a dollars and cents, plus future value to the team perspective, it seems to strip away the emotions we have attached to the player. That somehow the player has earned more latitude than the betterment of the team.
Another aspect in this saga to consider is any potential deal now would be nothing less than mutual. If Michael Young has made it clear to the front office that he no longer wants to be a Texas Ranger, as has been reported by local and national media sources, how does that change the opinion? I am not going to bash Michael Young for wanting to enjoy the job he does to what he feels is the fullest. But then I am not going to bash the team either for obliging the guy when the alternative is a lose-lose for both parties.
Please forgive the heresy, but I cannot even fathom considering not being a fan of the Texas Rangers anymore because Michael Young is not a member of the team.