Flip the calendar! It’s May now, and you know what that means right? Flowers, warmer weather, MLB teams separating themselves from the pack, and Top Prospects who “Just needed a little more seasoning” are getting the call up to the big leagues finally. Coincidentally resetting their service clock allowing the team one more year of contractual control.
What are the rules regarding service time you ask? Well, prospects must have 6 full years of service time to then become free agents, emphasis on FULL. Typically, the six years a player spends in an organization are broken down to three pre-arbitration seasons, in which a player is owed nothing more than the league minimum, and then three arbitration years. Based on performance, players begin slowly making more money in those “arb” years, assuming a team doesn’t just prefer to buy them out with an early contract extension or decline to tender the player a contract letting him out of the organization. Since free-agency eligibility requires six full seasons, a player can be shorted a full season of service time at any point in his career and wind up spending more than six actual years under team control. A sneaky move, one that I consider to be maddening and without merit.
You know what else happens in May (besides everyone sharing that stupid GIF of Justin Timberlake)? All the bandwagon fans are fleeing sinking ships like rats and hopping on another team’s bandwagon. I see it every year, a team will start off hot and will somehow gain thousands of loyal “long-term” fans. Oh, they have the merchandise; the hats and shirts, they talk the talk about how they have been there through the tough times and that this year is “our” year. And just like that the calendar flips, the team slips in the standings, and that fan is long gone onto root on their “real” team. Sickening! Just makes me sick to my stomach. Stick with the partner you brought to the dance.
I guess that I shouldn’t go too hard on them, as baseball has seen a decline in attendance at MLB ball parks. They are annoying to sit next to and makes me want to rip my ears off when I hear them cheer on the visiting team like they are groupies who follow the team around the country attending every game. But if you look at them like they are just people who are a fan of the game and not one team, maybe just maybe you can make it through without dumping that $9 beer over their heads. Whether you have a team that you have followed faithfully through good and bad times or are just one of the people who like to be on the winning side. Go outside, grab a mitt and a bat, and Play Ball.