MLB would like us to think that there was a poignant moment in the A’s-Astros game, and to a lesser extent the Mariners one. It’s when Carlos Correa and Kyle Seager were pulled from the game mid-inning to receive a standing ovation from the crowd.
Are these players retiring? No. Have they played for only losing teams that are allowing them to get one last run at a World Series somewhere in their last years in MLB? No, in fact Correa has never known non-contention in seven years. Seager might have been that long-suffering player, except the Mariners are on the upswing and he’s only 33.
Both players are merely heading to free agency, and in Seager’s case, he has a $20 million team option next year. It seems a foregone conclusion that Correa is leaving Houston — the only team he’s played for, the one he’s been a major part of for years — simply because he’s going to ask to be paid what he’s worth. Why do Houston fans take it as such a given that he’s gone? And why are they so ready to accept it?
Fans have been so conditioned, or beaten down, by teams chasing efficiency that there’s almost no pushback when a major pillar like Correa is just going to head for the exit. You’ll see Astros fans argue about how Pedro León could just take over at short — or Alex Bregman moving over from third — and this is just the way of things and about how you can’t pay Correa into his 30s because that’ll just hamstring the payroll. Maybe Seager even replaces him on the roster. Some of it is right, some of it isn’t, It just shouldn’t be so accepted.
MLB executives have successfully beaten fans and media alike into submission that would-be free agents are simply goners from their original teams. That you move on from the fanbase as soon as you want real money. That paying your free agents is actually bad, and when they get to that point, everyone’s happy to have that last standing ovation. It’s part of the routine now. As if they’re moving to a new league or something. It just looked like the actions of brain-washed masses.
These are probably some of the things the new CBA will address, but teams will always find ways to pay less for more. And there will be more moments of fans rising as one to salute a player who is simply moving on to find the proper check.