clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What a Player Owes

An athlete’s opinion about his job shouldn’t matter, but seems to stir controversy anyways

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you who don’t know there was a mild twitter controversy the other day involving everyone’s favorite haymaking quote author, Dallas Keuchel.

Before his start against the White Sox, a reporter in the clubhouse heard Dallas mention that he was getting two wins that day, the one he would get on the mound and getting out of picture day. Basically Dallas was happy that, since he was starting that day, he didn’t have to go and pose for a bunch of pictures and give autographs to fans before the game like some other players did. The reporter then put that quote out via tweet.

The act of tweeting out an overheard clubhouse quote itself ignited some controversy. Alex Bregman tweeted to the reporter that he was no longer welcome in the clubhouse and the offending tweet was eventually deleted. Much discussion was had on the journalistic wisdom of putting the quote out. But, of course, a lot of the focus centered on Keuchel and his offense of not wanting to pose for pictures.

Now, of course, Dallas has had a history of poorly worded quotes where he can sound like less than a team player, so some of that fueled the reaction. But there has always been this underlying current of thought from some fans that a player owes his attention and gratitude in return for the emotions we invest in the team. But those fans usually don’t see the player’s perspective in this.

First off, just to get the basics out of the way, a player is a human being and all human beings are different in their own ways. Not all players are gregarious and outgoing because not all people are. Some simply don’t like interacting with other people but understand that it comes with the territory and do so with grace and a happy public face because they sincerely appreciate the fans’ passion for them and the team. However, sincerity and enjoyment are two different things.

There’s also a strain of thinking that just because they’re paid so much money to play a game that they must always scream gratitude. Though I’m sure a lot of players do feel thankful for the opportunities afforded to them, fans should also endeavor to understand that these people weren’t handed these things. They had to train their bodies and sacrifice to stay ahead of the next guy up who wants their spot as much as they do. They earned the right to be here and they’re paid a premium for services that can only be rendered by a relatively small number of people.

But ultimately, for baseball players, this is a job. And like all of us there are some aspects they like and some they don’t. I’m sure there are some people and players out there who sincerely enjoy every aspect of their job, but for most of us parts can grow tedious. Not to mention that it’s not usually an orderly, pleasant line of fans politely requesting pictures and autographs. Some people are there to make money and there’s always going to be a jerk or two in a bunch, all of which players have to put up with. I’m sure it’s tiring.

As for this incident, I side on the idea that it was poor form for this reporter to send out the tweet, though he definitely had the right to do so. Keuchel’s allowed the opinion that he doesn’t enjoy being at the whim of a crowd trying to pull him in so many different directions. Considering it a “win” that he doesn’t have to participate isn’t him putting down fans, it’s just a worker pumped about getting out of some undesirable part of his job. Stating that in an unguarded moment while surrounded by your peers and friends is not a crime and didn’t deserve public scrutiny.

While holding our heroes and those we respect to higher standards is an expected and common part of being fans, they also need some sort of space that allows them to be human. I won’t ever fault a player for seeking that out.